Setback

Things were starting to improve.  For a few days there my mood was back to “fine” – a definite step up from depression but not quite at “happy”.  I have an idea….let’s use pictures to demonstrate.  None of these are me, by the way (thanks, Google images):

Depressed:

depressed

That’s where I was for about a week after eating tons of fibrous fruits and vegetables.

Then, for the last 3 days I was “Fine”, which to me feels like this:

ennui

Fine = Life is manageable…I’m up and out of the house, I’m able to work, but still life feels a little overwhelming and not much fun.

Then, last night I ate some raw carrots – probably 4 ounces of them.  More than usual, but I’m trying to kill this heartburn that has returned again.  And now I’m back to feeling depressed.  Even carrots are making me depressed now.  Too much fiber.  Yes, I know, eat them with fat, blah blah blah.  I’ve always eaten carrots plain and they never had a negative effect on my mood before this.

I hope one day to get back to happy:

serene

Again, this lovely person is not me.

My moods are costing me relationships.  People have lost patience with me.  I feel I must eat only the most easily digestible of the Peat-inspired foods for the rest of my life and maybe…MAYBE…I’ll be able to avoid pissing everyone off.

I wish I could escape me.

Recent Wins and Fails

Hm….It seems it’s been a week since I’ve written anything!

Time for an update post.  This will be disjointed and possibly rambling.  I just haven’t been struck by the literary genius lately.

  • Depression is still gone.  Yay for garlic!  If I wouldn’t have been screwing around with starches (a la the Perfect Health Diet and the Resistant Starch craze) I wouldn’t have needed it. But I did. So I did.
  • I’ve eliminated starches again…not because I have to but because I want to.  It’s time for me to get serious!  I can’t be dilly dallying around any more!  Ray Peat says starches aren’t optimal food, so I’m done with them for a while. Plus someone on the internet told me he fixed his high triglycerides by eliminating starches…and I believe everything I read on the internet.  So I’m in!
  • I’ve increased my magnesium supplementation from 200mg/day to 600mg/day in the last few days.  My blood pressure has dropped 10 points.  I’m going to keep increasing and see if it improves further.  I figure I’ll get up to 1g a day, and if things aren’t better I’ll drop back to where I am now.  Blood pressure today was 138/88.  Yesterday it was 132/76.  Crazy low for me!  I took it 3 times to make sure it was right.  By the way, I stopped taking my blood pressure medication 5 days ago.  I’m done with it.
  • Still taking niacinamide and aspirin 3 times a day.  I find it very relaxing.  My pulse dropped into the 70s from the 80s when I started that.  I attribute that to reduced stress hormones (thanks, niacinamide).
  • I’ve had some real culinary FAILS lately.  I tried making liver pate using beef liver.  So awful.  I tried making pancakes out of 1 banana and 2 eggs…cuz I saw it on the internet. It tasted like a flat hot banana.
  • A culinary WIN today.  This video:

I never liked fruit much (and perhaps this contributed to my current state of poor health).  But through sheer will and determination I’ve found a few items I can tolerate.  Watermelon is one of them.  I actually really like it.  OJ also….excellent.  Grapes can be good too.  The rest of them…ok in a smoothie, and that’s about it.

  • Another culinary WIN, learned today.  I figured out how to eat liver without gagging.  For a while there I was eating it raw.  Sounds gross, but actually much easier for me than chewing it cooked. It was the perfect way to avoid both the taste and the texture of liver. Then I learned that there are some pathogens (e. coli, for example) that can survive being frozen, so I stopped eating it raw.  The last couple of weeks I’ve just choked it down.  But today I decided to eat it with pickles.  Crunchy, strong-tasting Vlassic dill pickles.  Every bite of liver has a pickle companion.  Like this:

pickle

The pickle completely kicks the liver’s ass!  The crunch and sharp pickle taste overpowers the liver’s ick!  I’m not afraid of you anymore, Liver!

Hm….what else…I guess that’s about it.  No starches, yes fruit and honey.  Yes magnesium.  Yes pickles and liver.  I guess that about covers it.

Till next time!

A New Phase

Welcome to Lanie’s House of Surly.  I seem to have taken a turn from depressed to irritable.  Two sides of the same coin, I suppose.  At least this way I can get some things done.  Depression sucks.

Know what else sucks?  High blood pressure.  It seems to me, after a month of being on beta blockers, including a failed attempt to get off of them, that they do nothing for me and I can manage this bitch completely by better managing my intake of minerals (potassium, calcium, magnesium).  I just took my blood pressure.  159/91.  That’s on beta blockers, and with NOT watching mineral intake for a week.  (And my meter measures low, by the way.)  That’s eating a generally healthy diet, not using the salt shaker, but not being so obsessive about it that I avoid all food that contains sodium.  I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and I think I’m going to be informing her that it is NOT “fine to just stop taking [beta blockers]” after taking them for only 3 weeks, and that I’d like a diuretic instead.  As well as a better plan to get off of these physically addictive craptastic pills without sending my adrenaline and blood pressure to the moon.

I’ve been reading Ray Medina’s blog lately.  Very interesting stuff, and he seems to be just a regular person – not a scientist or a doctor – just a guy who has done a ton of his own research on the role of gut bacteria in health.  Just like Ray Peat seems to think everything comes back to the thyroid, Ray Medina blames the ills of society on pathogenic gut bacteria.  I don’t know who’s right, but RM makes a lot of sense.  He seems to recommend a gut-healthy diet, something along the lines of Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet, which is basically Paleo plus “safe starches”.  Yeah, I tried eating “safe starches” and I haven’t felt happy since.  After spending hours reading his blog and not finding answers to my specific issues, I wrote to him to ask:

Q: Is there such thing as a pathogenic bacteria that may cause an endotoxin problem only in the presence of starches?

A: Interesting question.

Gut pathogens, like most living organisms, utilize glucose and iron for their metabolism, although not all. Lactobacillus bacteria, for example, do not require iron for growth. Other pathogens like Candida can utilize both glucose and ketones for their metabolism. I suspect this is why so many low-carb dieters are beset by yeast infections even when glucose intake is low.

It’s impossible for me to tell whether your problem is caused by bacteria or yeast. It may be one, the other, or both.

We know that lipopolysaccharides can initiate the inflammatory cascade that results in depression. Translocation of these types of gram-negative bacterial components to systemic circulation is dependent on their concentration in the gut, whether they are kept in check by beneficial bacteria, the condition of the mucus that coats the digestive tract, the state of the cells lining the gut wall, and the tight junction proteins that bind them together.

Best regards,

Ray

He states on his site that he’s not all about giving people medical advice, so I was pretty happy he even wrote back.  What I take from his answer is that lipopolysaccharides (LPS, also known as endotoxin) can cause depression.  Various factors, such as the balance of good bacteria vs. bad and gut leakiness have a lot to do with whether they become problematic.  Ray Peat says basically the same thing, and recommends eating a raw carrot salad daily to address this (antibacterial carrot + oil + vinegar).  Ray Medina stated also that yeast may be playing a role.

Who the hell knows.

I’m not sure what to do about this.  Medina recommends a probiotic (he has his own, the production of which has been discontinued) and there are others he seems to think highly of. None are the soil-based probiotics recommended by Nikoley and crew.  The challenge with probiotics seems to be getting the microbes to survive the stomach acid, which kills most of what we ingest. I ordered one of the last 5 bottles produced by Medina himself.  Add it to the collection.

In other news, I got a Fitbit Flex for my birthday yesterday.  I’ve walked 7800 steps today.  That doesn’t include the steps during which I was pushing a stroller, because apparently it doesn’t count those.  Awesome.

Ok, I’ve lost interest in writing.  Time to go be surly somewhere else.

Where Things Went Wrong

Looking back over old posts, I appeared to be doing really well around late February early March of this year.  On March 6th I wrote the following:

Did I mention that I feel really good almost every day now?  Now if my mood is low or I feel tired I can usually directly attribute it to something I did differently than usual, like eating starches or experimenting with a new supplement.  Before Peat-ing I was tired, depressed, and anxious most days.  I never felt “happy”.  Then after adopting some of Peat’s recommendations I started feeling better in the mornings – not every morning, but a lot of them, and in the afternoon I’d go back to feeling low-energy.  Now almost every morning is delightful and a few times a week I feel great all day long.

In that same post, I wrote that I was 1 week into a weight-training program designed for me by a trainer at the gym.  I also wrote that the trainer gave me a crappy diet to follow, including tons of starches and restrictions on sugar.  I had tried the diet and didn’t get to lunch on day 1 before realizing there was no way I could eat that food.  The oats for breakfast made me tired and depressed.

My next post on March 16 says the following:

I haven’t written much because it’s been a rough week. I definitely have ups and downs, more so now that I’m following Peat because I didn’t used to have many “ups”…To summarize, my depression returned and stuck around for a week.

There were several variables at play, but looking back I was really stressing my body with that workout.  I kept at it for a while – maybe 6 or 7 weeks, and the workouts were too long and too hard.  The plan designed for me included 16 different resistance exercises, and she wanted me to do 2 sets of 15 for each one, with only very short breaks between sets.  I was nauseated several times in the middle of the workout, and for the first month I never fully allowed myself to recover.  I was working out 2x a week, but it took more than 3-4 days to recover from these workouts.  I was just so determined to get better, to be strong and fit again, that I continued even when my body was telling me to stop.  I made the mistake of having the plan designed by the owner of the gym.  She was always there.  Sometimes she would see me resting between sets and bark at me from across the room, “What are you taking a nap there?”  Or she’d see me finish a set without resorting to poor form and she’d walk over and tap on the heavier weights, as if to say, “Time to move up to the heavier ones.”  I started hating going there.  It was no fun and every time I went it got harder.  I finally quit going to the gym altogether.  Boy, that whole thing sucked.

Of course, then I went and tinkered some more.  Low fat, Vitamin B6, more sugar, starches…and I completely stopped having that happy feeling.  I don’t think I’ve felt it since.

For right now I’m going to back to straight up Peat-inspired eating and living.  No weird stuff.  No biohacks.  No experiments.  I just want to feel happy again.  No exercise for now.  My blood pressure is still not well controlled, and I think working out caused my depression to return in March.  I’m just going to keep it simple – something along the lines I described previously toward the bottom of this post.

Crazy Train

All Aboard the Crazy Train.  Guess who’s conducting.

I’ve had some stressful things come up.  I’ve been crying and worrying.  I thought all the crying and worrying was because of the stressful things.

Nope.

Let me back up a bit.

I was eating simple sugars as my primary source of carbohydrates for 2 or 3 months there, from January or February through April of this year.  Occasionally I’d have starches and I’d invariably regret it, because it would almost always make me unbearably depressed.  A few days later, after being off of them again my mood would improve.I realize this isn’t normal, and have accepted that there’s some bad stuff going on in my gut, including lots of serotonin being produced and released into the bloodstream when I eat starches. In March my serotonin level was 155 (range 11-204) – fairly high.  And that was on a GOOD day.  Hence, the depression that is always just under the surface.

Well I felt GREAT eating sugar, but it seemed that doing so was making some of my labs worse, so I decided to stop and to instead eat starches.  It was rough going – depression, irritability – these things became commonplace to me again, after feeling so much better for a long time.  There were some days that felt a little better, but in general I struggled during those few starchy weeks.

About a week ago I noticed my 4-year old becoming more anxious and telling me she’s scared of me when I yell.  She became unwilling to let go of me when it was time to say goodbye in the morning. She was crying more and was startling more easily.  I realized I had to stop with the starches again.  It was more important that my daughter have a sane mom than for me to have triglycerides in the normal range.  Today, at least.  So after 3 weeks of eating them, I again stopped.

I’ve been back to sugars again the last few days.  But I haven’t been able to regain that sense of calm.  I’ve been crying and sad – less aggressive maybe, but still depressed.  My dad is having health problems, which scares me, and things are changing in my work life.  I thought these stressors might be putting me over the edge.  It was in this frame of mind that I wrote my last two posts, and called to make a doctor’s appointment, thus giving up my quest for unmedicated health.

I figured maybe 3 weeks of eating starches had raised my serotonin so high that now I couldn’t cope with life. Today, while unable to concentrate on my work, I started researching Cyproheptadine, an antihistamine that Ray Peat says can be effective at reducing serotonin.  It’s not without side effects though – most commonly sedation and sometimes weight gain.  Neither of those sounded good to me, which is why I’ve hesitated to try it thus far.  Then I came across a thread from a month or two ago on my Facebook Ray Peat group.  Someone asked the group if there was a NON-SEDATING way to reduce serotonin.  One person suggested black tea, saying it was helpful for her in that respect, and a couple others agreed.  Worth a try, right?  I went to the store and bought some Luzianne iced tea bags – iced tea is double the strength because you’re likely to water it down with ice cubes after it’s made.

About 20 minutes into this cup of tea I started feeling like myself again – able to concentrate, to sit up straight, clear headed and emotionally stable.  Happy even!  What a relief.  Now I know the depression wasn’t due to life circumstances (though of course they’re on my mind)…because they haven’t changed.  They’re still there.  My dad’s still not well, and my work is still stressful.  But now I feel like I can cope again.

Black tea.  Serotonin reducer.

I know it’s not the caffeine that made the difference because I’ve been drinking coffee and swallowing caffeine tablets on top of it, trying to muster enough energy to get through the day.

Depressed?  Drink black tea.

I’m so going to cancel that doctor’s appointment.

Starch Almost Killed Me Today

True story.  Today I was on the road for 5 hours, round trip.  Before making the return trip my family and I ate lunch at a Chinese buffet.  Not ideal health-wise, I know, but I made the best of it. I ate some seafood (shrimp, scallops in butter), a teeny tiny hot dog with bacon wrapped around it, some beef dish (avoiding the PUFA-laden sauce as much as possible), and 3 sections of a California roll.  They looked like this:

sushi

Only, 3 instead of 4.

I love sushi with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.  Not eating starches for several months there was tough for me in part because I love sushi so much, and sashimi just doesn’t do it for me.  But I digress.

I had 3 pieces of California roll.  Now, how much rice do you suppose is in 3 pieces?  Maybe a quarter cup?

After lunch I got in the car to drive the 2.5 hours back home, my little girl in the back seat. About 30 minutes in I was fighting to stay awake.  FIGHTING.  At one point I almost dozed off behind the wheel.  I haven’t done that for years, despite frequently driving long distances like this.  Gee….I wonder why I was so tired…I mean, I slept well last night, as I usually do…I had a couple hundred milligrams of caffeine in me this morning…so weird…Hm.  Oh yeah…THE RICE.  THE DAMN RICE MADE ME SO TIRED I ALMOST FELL ASLEEP BEHIND THE WHEEL.

I haven’t felt the need to take mid-day naps for months until I started eating starches.  Now, like clockwork, I eat something starchy and within 45 minutes or so, I’m exhausted.  My muscles feel weak, my eyelids heavy.  All I can say is, thank goodness for this song, which helped to wake me up again.  I had to turn it up really loud and car-dance to avoid further life-threatening sleepiness.  I hope my daughter didn’t listen to the lyrics.

So…starches aren’t working out for me.

Know what else isn’t working out?  Free-wheeling it with my diet and hoping it all falls into place.  My [lack of] health is past that point, I’m afraid.  The last few days my mood has been all over the place, my temper has been short, I’m tired, and my motivation to do things like play with my kid is very very low.

So new diet plan (4.0?):  Every. Single. Thing. I eat needs to be high in nutrient density.  No more doing the minimum necessary to get in all my nutrients so I don’t feel guilty eating the stuff I really want to eat (I’m looking at you, grilled cheese on gluten-free bread).  Now the ONLY things I’ll be eating will be high in nutrient density.  I’m going to assault my body with micronutrients so it doesn’t need as much food. If my inability to tolerate foods is killing me and/or making me want to kill others (stupid serotonin), I’ll just have to reduce the quantity of food.

I might even eat berries.

No more starches for a while, except maybe at night when I don’t need to be productive afterward…and when there are fewer hours left in the day for me to pick fights with jerks on Facebook.

Biking is going well though… Went for a ride at 6:30AM after a breakfast of 3 scrambled eggs and no carbohydrates.  Felt awesome.  Unfortunately, it was downhill from there.

There’s always tomorrow.

Stream of Consciousness

After eating starches for a few days – some potatoes one day, a cup of brown rice pasta another day, and some homemade gluten-free bread another day, I spent the last 4 or 5 days being depressed, irritable, and tired.  I turned off the starch spigot 2 days ago, and last night I finally started to feel better.  Still have a short fuse though.

My body is sick.

I started feeling sick around December 2012 (here’s a random post from around that time, but there are many like it), when I was in the midst of a very stressful time in my life and was trying to maintain my health on a low-carb diet.  I now realize that that was just stupid.  The human body needs carbohydrates for fuel – especially when it’s stressed, as stress devours nutrients.  Low carb folks don’t realize this, however, because they do fine – great, even – for 6 months or a year, they lose weight, it’s all very rewarding.  And then at some point it catches up.  They’re cold all the time, they stop sleeping well, they become tired and their bodies stop fighting infections well.  I lurk over at Jack Kruse’s site sometimes and of the 5 or 10 long term followers still hanging out in the forums there, most are having worsening health problems.  They refuse to question the good doctor though.  They believe him when he says it’s their “zip code” that’s the problem (all of the EMF, you know), and several of them are planning out of state moves – uprooting their kids, quitting their jobs.  Because Jack Kruse said to!  They’re ignoring all information to the contrary, blaming themselves for their health problems rather than blaming the TERRIBLE ADVICE THEY’RE GETTING.

EAT SOME CARBS, DAMMIT!

It’s easy to sit and judge from outside, but I know I’ve fallen into the same trap.  I’ve gotten caught up in what someone is saying and I stop listening to the messages my body is sending.  I followed the low-carb path out of habit long after it stopped feeling good.

I was feeling great on a Peat-inspired high-carbohydrate (high-sugar) diet for a few months.  I felt happy – free of depression and anxiety for the first time…ever.  It was great.  I thought anxious was my personality.  Nope.  It wasn’t.  I know that now because I’ve seen what it’s like to not have it.  The last time I felt that way was about 2 weeks ago.  I remember watching my daughter play and having that feeling – that great feeling of “there’s nothing wrong.”  Even my bad body image takes a break during these periods of time, which last only a few hours. I look back my diet log in Cronometer and around then I was eating a high sugar, moderately low-fat diet at the time, no starches.

Well, that’s great, except my diabetes is probably causing endothelial damage as we speak…and of course then there’s the rising triglycerides/cholesterol (read: impending heart disease).

I’m on a merry go round of silly dietary stuff. I’m pretty tired of tracking what I eat. It would be worth the effort if I was seeing some improvement, but…I’m not. I’m tired of looking around and seeing nothing I can eat that isn’t in some way making me more sick (except milk….hm….all-milk diet?).  I’m avoiding going to the doctor because I think what’s next for me is 2-3 prescription medications, none of which I want to take, because it feels like I’m giving up.  I broke my body (somehow) – I should be able to fix it!  I’m intelligent and determined!

But also tired of running into brick walls.

I’ve decided to start another resistant starch experiment.  I ordered – and received – the 3 probiotic products (scroll a bit to see the “Frequently Bought Together” section) recommended by RN over at Free The Animal.  I may use Dr. BG’s 7 step fix-your-gut protocol. I don’t know if I’ll be using potato starch or not.  Pros: It’s still in my kitchen cabinet and it’s easy and tasteless.  Cons: Possible organ failure related to long-term use.  I’m at the point now where I’m willing to roll the dice on this one.  Or, maybe I’ll find a resistant starch that has a smaller granule size, thus side-stepping the organ death thing.  Don’t know.  I’m not going to do anything though, until I get my gut critters analyzed.  A year ago I ordered a sample kit from the American Gut Project, out of curiosity.  Then I moved 3 times within about 6 months and never got around to using it.  Only problem is, now I can’t find the sample kit. Guess I have some house cleaning to do today.

What else…oh, the hot flashes stopped a couple days ago.  Don’t know why they started.  Don’t know why they stopped.

/stream of consciousness.