Kill Phase

After writing my last post I started reading and following the Gut Health Protocol by John Herron.  The author has a Facebook group and willingly gives guidance to the confused and sickly masses.  An all-around decent and altruistic guy.

So, a summary of my gut-struggles thus far.  Interestingly, a gut problem was the last thing I suspected over the years, since I don’t have much in the way of GI distress.  After finally connecting my awful mood swings to eating certain things (fiber and starch) I tested for SIBO (it was negative). Stool testing, however, indicated there is an overgrowth of a bacteria called Citrobacter Braakii.  What I know is that whenever I eat starch or fiber – with few exceptions – I become depressed, tired, unable to pay attention, irritable, and basically a giant pain in the ass to live with. I’ve learned that gram-negative bacteria  (Citrobacter Braakii is one) put out lipopolysaccharides (aka “LPS”, aka “endotoxin”) when they grow.  This bacteria seems to feed on fiber and starch, and the only way I’ve been able to avoid this debilitating depression is to completely avoid fiber and starch.  This leaves out many fruits, vegetables, and all starches – and it’s much worse when those starches are the low-glycemic variety, such as brown rice, lentils, and beans.

So why is this a problem?  Can’t I just avoid starches and call it a day?  Well, sure…and I have for the last 2-3 years.  However, in that time I’ve developed type-2 diabetes and gained about 20 pounds (now about 50 pounds overweight), and I have high levels of persistent hunger despite eating over 2000 calories a day.  When I eat simple carbohydrates (non-starches) my triglycerides shoot up to 500 and I gain weight rapidly.  I’m unable to lose weight, even following a LCHF diet with 98% dilligence for months at a time. I suppose I could get over the vanity aspect of being obese if my health was improving, but it’s not.  I’m taking 2 Big Pharma medications to control high blood pressure, and I’m going against doctor’s recommendations by not taking the others she has prescribed (statins and Metformin). My labs indicate that I have a high level of chronic inflammation, despite diet changes. None of this is getting better.

I’d like to be able to eat low-glycemic carbohydrates that will keep me full and satisfied between meals, so I can follow a lower-calorie diet.  I’m also tired of getting depressed and irritable – because despite being pretty damn vigilant, it’s really hard to avoid all starches and fiber all the time(Side note: I’ve actually had to put a “yelling jar” in my house to ameliorate the psychological damage I do to my kid by yelling at her.  Every time I yell I put a dollar in the jar that she and her dad can spend together.  She takes great joy in this.)  I’m also concerned about my prognosis.  Type-2 Diabetes, LPS toxicity, and my genetic profile (APOE4 gene) likely adds up to Alzheimer’s Disease in my future.  I’m fairly sure the inflammation that is being caused by the LPS put out by this pathogen is responsible for a lot of my health problems (check out that C-Reactive Protein…not good.)

My Great Garlic Experiment (thanks to Ray Medina) a couple years ago gave me temporary freedom from the beast – the depression – the pathogen.  I felt much better but stopped using garlic when I started getting bloated all the time.  (I now realize I probably let yeast overgrow by not using probiotics at the right time or in the right amount.)  A couple weeks ago I started using raw garlic again along with some other antimicrobials and antifungals recommended in the Gut Health Protocol.  I’m currently in the kill phase and feeling pretty great.

John Herron recommends fermented foods starting day 1, including during the kill phase.  I’ve been eating (and starting to crave) unpasturized sauerkraut and kefir, and have also been taking soil-based probiotics – several hours apart from antimicrobials – twice per day.  Lots of good coming in and lots of killing of the bad.  In my next post I’ll detail exactly what supplements I’m using. My goal is to fix my gut problem – that means killing off The Beast, improving the integrity of the intestinal wall, adding probiotics and fermented foods, and eating LCHF (for now).  I’m taking a lot of supplements right now, but it feels like the right thing to do.  The kill phase will be another couple of weeks or so….maybe longer.

Keto: 2 Month Review and a New Plan

My Keto 2 month anniversary came and went 5 or 6 days ago.  It was without fanfare.  I’m fairly confident I was sticking to a high fat, low carb diet that should have been ketogenic.  Unfortunately, my Ketonix meter indicated I was producing only “small traces of ketones” every day.   I tried lots of different food combinations and timing exercise differently, but wasn’t able to get up to “moderate” ketone production, according to the meter.  I tried to not eat till later in the day.  I tried to eat 90% fat.  I went days at a time eating only egg yolks, oil, and olives, with a little meat here and there just to hush my hunger.  No dice.  Only “small traces of ketones”.  This resulted in very slow weight loss, and in the last few weeks, increasingly poor sleep.

I started getting tired of oily egg yolks, olives, and avocados.  I could have lived with it if I was losing body fat, pounds, or feeling better….I guess I was feeling ok most days, but it was tiresome eating weird food – and not too much of it – and not seeing much progress.  I only lost a few pounds in 2 months.

So a few days ago I started eating some carbs at night, and sleep improved right away.  The very first carbohydrate meal I ate involved about 3/4 cup of rice noodles.  Unfortunately the next day – Depression.  It’s as if I hadn’t JUST spent the last 2 months eating absolutely nothing starchy.  First time I have it again, the depression is back.  Poisoned again by endotoxin (aka lipopolysaccharides, aka LPS).

So I got to thinking about this.

For years now, whenever I eat lots of fiber or starch my monster of a gut pathogen dumps all over the place, screwing up my ability to think, reason, and get through the evening without yelling at someone.  It makes me depressed, irritable, tired, hopeless, and mean.  A while ago – I don’t know when – maybe after my 2nd round of antimicrobials last year that made no difference – I came to accept that this intruder was always going to be with me and I just had to work around it.  Never eat starch, and if I did, follow it with lots of activated charcoal.  I said to myself, I’ll just never eat raw fiber – I’ll accept that vegetables must be well cooked.  Say good bye to salads, apples, and most other things that normal people eat when they try to eat a nutrient-dense diet.  (Side note: I have no idea why I’m able to eat avocados. They have lots of soluble fiber in them.  Must not be what my pet pathogen likes to eat.)  I’d already said good bye to dairy, sugar, starch, polyunsaturated fats, most processed food, nightshades.  Not much left, but I was willing to do it.

But not if I’m getting no results.

Anyway, I’ve decided to refocus.  Stop worrying about weight loss (I took the scale out of my house, in fact), stop worrying about what I can and can’t eat.   My singular focus right now is on eradicating this endotoxin-producing gram-negative madness from my gut.  I think my gut is keeping me inflamed, hence my inability to lose weight.  Sure, it’s possible insulin is still playing a role (and I haven’t tested it again since 1 month into keto when my level was 20), but really…I just can’t believe that with exercise and LCHF it’s not come down to an acceptable level by now.

I saw some progress in my attempts to slay The Beast with my Great Garlic Experiment in 2014.  I was able to eat starches for a while afterward, without depression.  I think that it’s susceptible to the antimicrobial properties of garlic.  I’ve decided to do the garlic thing again.  In the meantime I’m learning everything I can about LPS, how to kill it, how to neutralize the inflammation it creates. There’s really no good how-to manual on this.  Nourish Balance Thrive had me take probiotics with lots of fibers.  Maybe that works for most people, but for me that turned out to be a very bad idea.

I’m going to kill this bitch.  Pubmed is going to help 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!

Low Stress = Happy

I think most people (particularly non-Peat folks) would see the title of this post and think that by “stress” I mean emotional stress.  I don’t mean that, although emotional stress certainly is a joy killer.  I mean stress hormones, which can be caused by emotional and environmental factors, as well as biological processes that aren’t functioning optimally for one reason or another.

I’m still taking niacinamide and aspirin, 100mg of each, 3 times a day to inhibit fatty acid release (and thus to inhibit cortisol/stress).  I can really tell a difference in my mood now when I don’t take them.  I feel ok, but there’s definitely a more *happy* feeling when I do take them.  I think it’s stress hormones that have kept me from feeling that sense of happiness, and when I do the things that inhibit them I feel pretty great.

So to inhibit cortisol, here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • Every time I eat I make sure there’s some kind of fruit/juice/sugar involved, some kind of fat, and some kind of protein.  If I don’t overdo it on the carbohydrate I don’t have any blood sugar issues.  Previously when I was eating fruit/sugar I was drinking 8 oz of orange juice at a time – now I only drink 2-3 oz at a time, and it’s always paired with protein/fat.
  • Eating frequent small meals.
  • I’m keeping lights on at night until I go to sleep, rather than spending time awake in the dark.
  • Taking niacinamide/aspirin 3x a day.  I’ve also started taking cynomel (T3) once a day, just 1 mcg.  I actually cut up a single 25mcg tablet into 25 pieces and I take one itsy bitsy piece of it a day.  I took 2 the first couple days and my heart was pounding after the second one.  So going very….very….slowly.
  • Eating before bed and right when I wake up in the AM (the opposite of intermittent fasting, really).
  • Eating raw garlic to inhibit the proliferation of bad gut bacteria, minimizing the endotoxin –> inflammation –> cortisol cascade. At least 1 clove per day, sometimes as much as 4.
  • Minimizing PUFA (of course…this goes without saying now, really.  And yet, I said it.)
  • Red light/sunlight – as much as possible.

An interesting thing about garlic – I can’t stop eating it.  I’m completely addicted to raw garlic now.  I’ve been cutting it up and putting it in my food…and now I really like how it tastes when I chew it – it no longer tastes too strong, provided there’s other food in my mouth at the same time.

Here’s what else I’m doing these days (and I’m writing this as much for me as for anyone reading this….one day if the *happy* goes away again, I want to be able to refer to this page to determine where I may have gone off track):

  • Beef liver 1x/week (about 5 oz)
  • Shellfish (shrimp, crab, or smoked oysters) – 2-3x per week
  • Vitamin A 10,000 IU (on days I don’t have liver)
  • Vitamin D 5,000 IU/day
  • Vitamin K 4mg/day
  • Vitamin E 400 IU 2-3 days/week
  • Progest E – 3 drops/day during second half of my cycle
  • Magnesium Glycinate 200mg/day
  • Pregnenolone 1000mg 1x/week (or every 2 weeks)
  • Diet of milk, cheese, eggs, OJ, fruit, coconut oil, butter, raw carrots, chocolate, beef, lean chicken/ham, spinach, kale, bone broth, and sometimes starches (rice, potatoes, or gluten-free bread)

I feel really good these days.  Happy.

Update (forgot a couple things):

I’m also taking:

  • A probiotic and prebiotic supplement once per day, first thing in the AM before eating
  • Hydrochlorothiazide (HTZ) for my high blood pressure.  I notice my blood pressure is higher when I miss a dose of my magnesium than a dose of the HTZ though.  Hope to be phasing this out soon.  I’ll be experimenting soon with taking more magnesium.

Cortisol, Inflammation, and New Garlic

I started with a new brand of organic garlic a few days ago.  It’s like the experiment is starting over again!  Another round of swollen, tender lymph nodes, some minor GI issues, and re-enlargement of my spleen (or whatever).  Ray Medina has mentioned somewhere in his blog that different brands of garlic resulted in different bodily responses for him.  Targeting different bacteria?  More/less effective?  I’m just gonna go with it.  Currently doing the garlic only twice a day.  Mostly because it’s not such a big deal anymore and I tend to forget sometimes.  Yesterday I actually craved garlic.  Weird huh?  I chopped it up and put it all over something I ate.  Raw.  Maybe my new happy bugs are hungry and are looking for the prebiotic inulin in the garlic.  Quite a bacterial fantasy life I have now.

I’ve been reading a lot over at Ray Medina’s site.  He’s really got my situation nailed with his Inflammatory-Cortisol Ballet series.  I’ve only read it once (so far), but it’s like he’s talking about me.  It makes a lot of sense – gut dysbiosis leads to inflammation (um….hs-CRP of over 8?), and the body produces cortisol to cope with the inflammation.  I do have the classic metabolic syndrome/high cortisol body.  A nurse I knew once used to call it the “diabetic body shape”.  Fat accumulation around the waist, skinny arms and legs.  Anyway, because the inflammation is chronic, the high cortisol becomes chronic, which leads to a crap-ton of symptoms, many of which I have, including weight gain, obesity, high insulin level, insulin resistance and diabetes, high blood pressure…basically all the metabolic syndrome stuff.

I think it’s interesting that while Ray Peat and Ray Medina don’t agree about everything, they agree about a lot of things that no one else seems to say, mainly that chronically high stress hormones are behind the most common chronic ailments.  They disagree somewhat about how to treat this – Peat says to eat enough sugar and protein, get enough light, and eat a thyroid-friendly diet.  Medina says to eradicate gut pathogens, take probiotics, and eat a gut-friendly diet.  I don’t see why I can’t do both!

Still feeling very emotionally stable no matter what I eat, since starting the Great Garlic Experiment.  Depression seems to be gone.  My husband says he’ll believe it’s gone if a month passes without seeing it.  It’s been only a week and a half.

The Great Garlic Experiment – Day 7

I should update on my abdominal issue – the one for which I’ve scheduled an ultrasound for the end of the month.  I put it off till then, hoping the Great Garlic Experiment might cause a shift of some kind making it unnecessary.

This issue has been going on for months.  Back in April I ordered labs because I was worried this pressure up against my left ribcage might mean my spleen was enlarged, which can indicate liver problems, leukemia, lymphoma, and other problems.  My labs were fine though.

Then I became concerned my pancreas was having problems – after all, my blood sugar has been high and my triglycerides were over 500.  I convinced myself that my symptoms were an early sign of pancreatitis.

Not long after that I became convinced I had pancreatic cancer, and tested myself for CA 19-9 – a blood marker that can indicate the presence of tumors and/or cancer.  I did not have an elevation of CA 19-9.  Probably no cancer.  Relieved.

But still…what’s with this THING in my abdomen?

This week there has been a huge improvement.  I didn’t feel it at all today, until I lay down on my back for about a half hour – after a while I could feel it a little bit.  A week ago, lying on my back was so uncomfortable that I just didn’t do it.  Now I can do it easily, and the internal pressure is 95% improved.  It’s almost gone.

I think I actually do/did have an enlarged spleen.  I’m not sure what the relationship of the spleen is to the bacteria in my gut.  The pressure got greater on day 2 of the Great Garlic Experiment when the rest of my lymphatic system seemed to be swollen and tender, and it’s almost disappeared since then.  Maybe my liver was just overburdened by endotoxin, and now things are flowing more smoothly.  Anyway, I’ll be canceling that ultrasound.

I think I’ll continue the garlic for a couple more days – maybe twice a day – until I can’t feel the pressure anymore.

The Great Garlic Experiment – Day 6

Today was much like yesterday.  Good energy, good mood.  The scale was up a couple pounds.  Apparently just because I CAN now eat unlimited starches (with butter all over them, of course) doesn’t mean I SHOULD.

And on that note, I wonder if this wouldn’t be a good time to start counting calories (and possibly fat grams) toward the end of losing weight. Now that I have the option of eating starches – once in a while, at least – my available repertoire of low-fat and low-calorie meals has expanded so I don’t think deprivation and monotony will be a factor.  Plus, starchy foods keep me satisfied much longer than simple sugars or fruits, both of which make me hungry within an hour, despite eating calorie-dense foods.  Worth a try anyway.

I’m feeling very grateful right now to Ray Medina for his innovative garlic cure for gut dysbiosis, and to Ray Peat for everything else that has helped me to feel better over the past year.  I doubt either of them will read this, but I’m yelling it loudly from my little corner of the web.  Thank you Ray and Ray for your generous and tireless work and willingness to share it all with the world for free.

And thanks so much to those who take the time to comment on here.  Without you, I wouldn’t have found the Rays and I’d still be fumbling around in the dark.  I’m very grateful for you.