Like Being In School Again

Ray Peat has written a lot of articles outlining his views on physiology and nutrition.  I’ve tried sitting and reading them but they require a certain amount of attention and concentration, especially if you’re not yet familiar with some of his ideas (like me).  I find that I hit a sentence or two or three that I don’t understand and my mind starts wandering.  I suppose it is a defense mechanism so my ego doesn’t have to feel so STOOPID.

I’m really more of an auditory learner, so podcasts are ideal for me.  Fortunately he’s got a lot of those too, and I’ve listened to several.  They’re time consuming but great for long drives in the car (as long as I’m alone….I’m pretty sure no one else in my life wants to hear Ray talking about cholesterol and pregnenolone for 90 minutes). Fortunately this awesome site has links to many (if not all) of the podcasts on which Ray Peat appears.

Still, I want to read the articles because he’s taken the time to organize them and provide citations that support his conclusions.  I’ve decided that I’m going to read each article but rather than just trying to plow through them and feel STOOPID when my mind keeps wandering to my shopping list or whatever, I’m going to take notes on them.  Just like in college.  I kept myself focused on the endless readings by taking notes, paraphrasing, and putting things into my own words.  That way when it comes time to review them or look something up I can reference my own notes, which I understand because I wrote them.

I read and paraphrased one today.  I’m just randomly selecting from the list of articles on his site, according to what sounds interesting in the moment.  Today’s article was called Progesterone, not estrogen, is the coronary protection factor of women.  I’ll paraphrase what it says here (partly to share with other reading-challenged folk, but also to review the content again for myself.)

He starts with a bit of history – back in the 1940s research began demonstrating that estrogen was tied to excessive blood clotting, cancer, PMS and other problems, but this wasn’t widely accepted because people believed estrogen was protective – after all, fewer women died of heart attacks than men.  A study was done in which men were given estrogen to see if they could have these protective benefits too, but they ended up having more (not less) heart attacks.  Oops.  The study was stopped early.

In the 40s it was also learned that the negative effects of estrogen were made worse by unsaturated fats (vegetable oils) in the system. Vitamin E, fortunately, was shown to protect against the negative effects of estrogen and also of unsaturated fats.  Huzzah!  Around this time the seed industry started promoting itself as having the healthy alternative to butter.  However, science continued to find that vegetable oils caused more heart attacks and cancer.

Estrogen lowers cholesterol in the blood.  (I can personally attest to this – when I was having fertility treatments and taking estrogen supplements my cholesterol numbers dropped 40 points. I had no idea why that happened.  My doctor was so happy! I let her think I was following her “heart-healthy diet” recommendations.)  This was important because people believed cholesterol caused heart disease. Also, the vein-dilating effect of estrogen was seen as a way to avoid high blood pressure.”Yay for estrogen!”  they all said.  Actually, the vein-dilating effect of estrogen causes blood clots, varicose veins, and other problems.

It was discovered that nitric oxide – a free radical – is associated with estrogen and increases as estrogen levels increase.  Women ovulating breathe out much higher quantities of nitric oxide than women with lower levels of estrogen.  Nitric oxide interacts with unsaturated fats to reduce oxygen, damage mitochondria, and cause edema.  Basically, it causes aging.

Then he gets pretty science-y, which I don’t mind and which is understandable, but it would take me a long time to paraphrase it.  Essentially, hypothyroidism causes a chain of physiological problems related to stress hormones being high.  Estrogen in the system makes everything worse.  Progesterone is antagonistic to these effects, however, which is why non-menopausal women don’t have many heart attacks.  Progesterone decreases nitric oxide, decreases edema, strengthens the heart beat, relaxes the arteries.

Takeaway point: Progesterone is protective against vascular and heart disease.

I ordered some Progest-E today.

Reading this made me think back to my experiments with Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy.  I gained weight, retained water (edema), developed high blood pressure, and became (more) hypothyroid during that 8 months.  I thought it was because of the progesterone, but I don’t remember why I came to that conclusion – probably because of the edema which felt similar to being pregnant, which is a high-progesterone biological condition.  After reading this I think it was the estrogen that was the problem. Since I quit the hormone protocol I no longer have massive violent mood swings.  It wasn’t good for me.  I’ll be interested to see the effects of supplementing with just progesterone.

By the way I felt awesome today.  Tons of energy.  Started the day with 16 oz of milk and 8 oz of orange juice.  Did the same thing 4 hours later.  Ate a typical lunch (chicken, more juice, more milk), a date bar for a snack, and had liver (with lots of ketchup) and grapes for dinner.  Tried a bamboo shoot and hated it.  Spit it out.  Will stick with carrots.

More tomorrow.

CW – Week 1 in Review

Well, I’ve been following Conventional Wisdom – “eat less and exercise more” for 1 week now.  Let’s review my progress.

Weight

  • Starting weight: 203 lbs.
  • Today’s weight:  200.4 lbs.
  • Weight change this week: – 2.6 lbs
  • Overall weight change: – 2.6 lbs

Analysis:  I’m not impressed by this.  The first 3 pounds or so always comes off easily – I think it’s water weight.

I was aiming for 1500 net calories per day (after exercise is factored in).  According to my Lose It app, on which I track calories/nutrients, this week I ate at total of 1425 calories over that.  So even if I would have been perfect in my calorie intake, 1425 calories represents less than half a pound of body fat (if you believe the calories in/calories out theory of fat gain/loss).  So best case scenario I would have been down another half pound.

As far as macronutrient breakdown, I’m really just eating whatever I want (but no gluten/wheat).  I have not been making much of an effort to eat more produce, so that’s something I’ll be working on this week.  Here’s the macronutrient breakdown for the past week:

  • Fat calories – 57% (751g)
  • Carb calories – 28% (827g)
  • Protein calories – 34% (1008g)

Ok, so I guess this isn’t exactly conventional wisdom, which says a low-fat diet is recommended for losing weight.  Maybe I should try a low-fat diet for a week and see how that goes?  For now I’m going to do another week just eating what I want to see if it’s possible to lose weight eating lower-calorie and fairly high fat.

Blood Sugar

Ok, but now here’s some good news.  Check out my fasting blood glucose this week (the far right side of the graph):

bg

Fasting blood glucose (average) during the week prior to starting bicycling/no boozing and then during the past week:

Before (avg): 118

After (avg): 105

Hm…on average, that’s a 13 point drop in fasting blood sugar in 1 week of exercising and not drinking alcohol.  Pretty cool!  Even if it doesn’t result in weight loss it seems important to exercise for blood sugar management.  I don’t know if all types of exercise will have this effect.  Yoga didn’t (see “DDP Yoga” on graph).

And interestingly…eating NO carbs (or only like 2% of calories from carb) didn’t result in this kind of improvement in blood sugar (see period of “Nutritional Ketosis” on graph).  This suggests that something OTHER than macronutrient intake has a dramatic effect on blood sugar and/or insulin levels.

Things I’m learning:

1. Eating carbs prevents hypoglycemia.  I had all but given up drinking coffee (which I love) and turned to caffeine pills because of the hypoglycemia that followed coffee drinking.  I learned from Ray Peat that adding sugar/carbs to coffee (and meals, for that matter) prevents that blood sugar drop (which my mind interprets as hunger).  It works!  If I put sugar in my coffee I don’t get ravenously hungry after drinking coffee.  How nice.  And as you can see (graph, above) my blood sugar is not suffering from this sugar-in-coffee experiment.  Maybe sugar in small amounts isn’t the devil after all.

That being said…

2. I feel better if I DON’T have a lot of carbs for breakfast.  I can eat a 500 calorie breakfast of all protein/fat and I feel satisfied for 4-5 hours. If I eat carbs I get hungry within 2 hours.

2.  Juicing isn’t my problem.  I have been continuing to drink vegetable and fruit juice over the past week and my fasting blood sugar has been dropping.  Either fresh-squeezed juice doesn’t affect blood sugar much or exercise reverses a LOT of problems.

3. I don’t need to kill myself with exercise to get benefit.  I’m riding on flat terrain and not pushing myself very hard at all.  10 mph on a bicycle isn’t very fast.  For 30 minutes or so.

4.  I need to prepare more if I expect to eat more veggies.  Still laziness prevails. If I don’t have vegetables washed and cut and ready to eat I just won’t eat them.  I’ll work on that this week.  I think this is why I’ve been eating more overall calories than planned – I’m not filling up on produce as planned.

5.  Nobody has all the answers for everybody.   Everyone is different.  What works for one person doesn’t work for another.  I was listening to Jimmy Moore‘s podcasts yesterday on a long road trip.  Jimmy insists that people just need to give up the carbs and their blood sugars will drop.  Hm…then how come he takes Glycosolve for his blood sugar?  I actually really love and appreciate Jimmy Moore, and he’s usually the first to say you have to find what works for you. However, among the low-carb community there seems to be this idea that this strategy will work the same way for everyone.  Low-carb clearly wasn’t enough for me.  He interviewed Sarah Fragoso on one of the podcasts I listened to yesterday…and she stated that people with a high CRP (C-Reactive Protein) pretty much always have some massive health problem like rheumatoid arthritis or cancer.  I sure hope she’s wrong.  Anyway, bottom line is you DO have to find what works for you.  Give up looking for a guru.  Experiment.

Ok, that’s enough reflecting for one week.  I’m going to continue this plan for now and see where it gets me.

New New Plan

My old new plan wasn’t drastic enough.

My new new plan involves juicing.

I have a suspicion that my current state of malaise and poor health (as evidenced by labs) has something to do with a nutritional deficiency.  I could spend $350 in addition to the thousand or so I’m already in the process of spending to find out if I indeed have a nutrient deficiency…or I could spend $100 on a juicer and give it a try.  I opt for the latter.

I have 2 inspirations for this choice: the first is Terry Wahls and her journey toward health and recovery from Multiple Sclerosis.  Here’s her Ted talk:

She recommends eating 9 cups of fruits and vegetables a day.  In addition to a paleo template.  That seems like an awful lot of work to me.  These days I can’t seem to bring myself to nuke frozen broccoli.  The payoff isn’t great enough for having to endure the taste, texture, and limited nutritional benefit available from consuming one vegetable.  So I don’t.  But I have great respect for Ms. Wahls’ journey, and think she’s on to something.

My other inspiration is Joe Cross from Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  Here’s the trailer for his flick (available on Netflix and Hulu for free):

I feel depressed and anxious…all the time.   There’s no good reason for it.  I look around me and there’s NOTHING WRONG.  My little girl is beautiful and thriving, my husband loves me and never gives me a reason to doubt anything about our relationship, I have a good job and live in a beautiful place….and yet I’m always feeling like crap and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Well newsflash, THERE’S NO SHOE.  The first one hasn’t even dropped yet.  This afternoon I was sitting out on our balcony with my 2 year old blowing bubbles and it felt like “something is wrong.”  What the hell could be wrong?  Nothing.  That’s how I know this is biological.  There’s something wrong with my body that is screwing with my thoughts.  I’m sick of it.  Eating meat, eating seafood, eating fat – none of this is hurting (and I feel a lot better than I used to) but I don’t feel GOOD yet.  I’m tired of feeling this way.

I remember when I was in my 20s I used to get on the back of some dude’s motorcycle – no helmet, mind you – and drive off to the nearest lake or bar, and just have fun.  When is the last time I had fun…?  Really.  REALLY!  I don’t have fun.  There’s something wrong with my body and my brain and I need to fix it.  And doing more of the same thing that isn’t working isn’t going to help.

So bring on the nutrients.   Beginning tomorrow I’m going to eat a high protein breakfast (probably seafood and eggs) and nothing but juice for the rest of the day.  I’m going to do this for a few days.  After 3 days I’m going to try to drink fresh vegetable/fruit juice all day long.  I’m going to give my brain – my mitochondria – what it needs to operate.  It’s amazing how much nutrition you can pack into a cup of juice.  Way more kale, zucchini, apple, carrot, and spinach than you can possibly eat.

This may be expensive…I don’t care.  I just saved $350 by not getting nutritional testing done.  Right?

I’m going to do this for at least 10 days.  Maybe longer.  What I’m looking for is relief – relief from the depression, the anxiety, the fatigue.

I’ll report back.

A final note about labs – some of the testing I’m having done is in the works and will take a while to get back.  I’ll post when I have news.  Also, along with my cortisol testing I ordered a DHEA test – they forgot to include that with my results, and will have it for me this week.  I’ll post when I have it.

Upswing

Ok, I seem to have turned a corner on the depression.  Last night I was able to get up and be productive.  People keep asking if I’m excited about moving to California.  I’ve tried various responses.  I’ve tried honesty:  “No, not yet.  I’m too busy being sad about leaving people.”  I’ve tried optimism:  “I think I will be soon.  I’m just too focused right now on what needs to be done.”  I’ve tried outright lying: “Yes!” (<– not convincing when said with a shaky voice.)  Bottom line is this – I’m not excited about moving.  Right now it feels like a plan that is completely out of my control and that could take any number of bad turns.  The best case scenario is that we love it out there and we do well at our jobs.  The worst case is that we come back.  That’s not so bad.  I guess the real worst case is that we get buried in an earthquake.  That might be bad.  But unlikely.

Got my results from Life Line Screening.  The testing they did indicate I am not terribly unehealthy in some respects.  I do NOT appear to have lots of plaque buildup in my arteries, nor do I have atrial fibrillation, an aortic aneurysm, osteoporosis, or peripheral artery disease.  Yay! 

I did have a cavity filled at the dentist last week, however. 

Lots of work left to do before leaving in 2 days.

Cheers.

 

Wednesday

I lied in my last post…well, that’s not true…I didn’t lie.  I was just wrong.  I work this week and then we go to see my family…and then I work next week and then we see David’s family…and then we leave.  Only 1.5 weeks of work left.

I’ve been quickly getting in all of my maintenance medical appointments while I have comprehensive medical coverage with a very small copay.  Today I’m doing a Life Line Screening that I’ve been meaning to do for a few years now.  It uses ultrasound technology to evaluate for stroke (carotid artery), atrial fibrillation, abdominal aortic aneurysm, peripheral arterial disease, and osteoporosis.  This actually isn’t covered by insurance but I just want to do it to get baseline data and they happen to be offering it in my area this week.  Tomorrow I’m having an eye exam so I can order more contact lenses.  Then Monday I’m going to the dentist.  Insurance with my new job is an HSA – a Health Savings Account.  That basically means a very high deductible.  No incentive financially to do preventitive care, so getting it all done now.  I also ordered 2 months worth of hormones.  I hope it’s a smooth transition to a new doc when I get out there.

Yesterday I ate shrimp and chopped clams cooked in bacon fat for lunch (with an almond cookie) and then for dinner I had cocoa crack.  Not very nutritious and not optimal, but that’s what I wanted.  And some chicken.

  • Weight this morning: 184.6
  • Fasting blood sugar: 94
  • Breakfast this morning: hamburger patty, cod, and eggs.

In Hot Water

A quick set of updates before I go off to work…

In my microcosm…

  • Freezer appears to have died already.  Got a good solid day of use out of it though!  Oh well…these are the risks we take with craigslist items.  Not sure what my plan will be going forward re: ice.
  • I am now declaring a moratorium on using “hot” or “cold” in the titles of my blog posts.
  • I’m no longer avoiding coconut manna or oil.  I was really hungry yesterday.  I’m done screwing around with my diet.  No more attempting to follow the Leptin Reset and “kinda” restrict calories too.  If I don’t lose weight after 6 months of the Reset and CT then I’ll declare it ineffective for weight loss.  In the meantime, I’m just going to do what I have to do for my body and not try to deprive myself – by following a ketogenic Paleo template and eating as much as my body needs to not feel hungry.
  • Had CB #18 yesterday.  Water 62 deg F for 30 minutes.  Felt cool throughout the time, but not cold.  I don’t feel chilled afterward at all – just sort of like my body is air conditioned.  The CBs have just become part of my routine now.

In the Paleo Macrocosm:  Jack Kruse is in the hot seat again.

He’s being called a liar for things he seems to have put on Facebook which clearly are not true.  He insists his Facebook page was hacked.  You know, even if JK does lie, he could still be a brilliant/crazed individual with amazing insight into human physiology.  I choose to believe this.

For the last 3 months that I’ve followed Dr. K’s advice I have been FREE of emotional eating.  That has been the greatest accomplishment I can imagine, after 20+ years of struggling with it.  Jack Kruse and his Leptin Reset protocol has helped me to feel better most days, taught me how to take control of my own health, and has ENDED my emotional eating.  My labs are improving, I’m off all of my prescription medications, I have energy to play with my daughter now, and I feel optimistic about my health and future in a way I didn’t back in January.  Even if this all ends up poorly, I feel grateful to have found Dr. K. and I’ll continue to follow his dietary and health recommendations.

Through the Hormonal Lens

I think maybe I’ve got a toxin dump in progress…because it’s not even 7 AM, I haven’t talked to anyone yet today, and I’m already feeling grumbly and cross.

Woke up feeling hot and dry.  Is it possible there was a heatwave overnight?  Why the hell isn’t the A/C on?  Came downstairs to check the thermostat and it says it’s 68 in here.  Huh.  Sure feels like 86.  Opened a couple windows and it’s a nice cool morning.  I just feel hot.

Got on the scale…a daily ritual which I dearly wish I didn’t need…and it said I’m up 1-2 pounds.  Hovering right around the same place I’ve been for the last 2 months.

Started making my BAB, and even though I didn’t feel like eating half an animal carcass and some eggs, I was prepared to do so, as I have every morning since February 7th.  Took one bite of Nutiva Coconut Manna…mmm…kinda good…and then I remembered I hadn’t tested my fasting blood glucose.  Food can’t affect my blood sugar that quickly, right?  So I dropped the fork and took a measurement.  168!  uh…huh?  Ok, that’s so off the charts for me that food must have played a role…even within 1 minute.  There’s no way that was an accurate measurement. And then my stuck finger wouldn’t stop bleeding on it’s own and I had to wrap it up.

Ate my extremely large breakfast, and now am full.  Want coffee but don’t want to wake up the family grinding beans.

So now I’m just sitting here feeling crabby.  Fat, hyperglycemic, and crabby.

I don’t know if there’s any point to doing these cold baths.  It was so unpleasant yesterday, that it really trumped all of the pleasant ones I’ve had up to that point and makes me not want to do it anymore.  Why am I putting my faith into some dude on the internets who says he has discovered the fountain of youth?

I think I need a reality check.  If anyone can comment on benefits they’ve had from CT, I’d love to hear it.

To bad only 3 people come to this blog.  (Thanks for reading, you 3.)