Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Hypothyroid, Hyper-Bloating, and the Cold that Wouldn't Die

Ah, the Fourth of July. The summer weather, the fat, juicy burgers, the fireworks, the last day I didn't have a cold for over a month. I woke up feeling good, got a lot done, but by evening I didn't even feel like standing on the corner to see fireworks. I called in sick the following Monday and Tuesday. On August 4--one month later, I took a turn for the worse and saw a doctor, who wrote a prescription for antibiotics and cough syrup. I called in sick for the next three days. Then I went to work--still coughing, coworkers telling me it would be OK to go home--and picked up my natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). I started taking it that Saturday--and soon my cold started getting better. As the week went on and I needed to up my dose of NDT, the cough started coming back to the point that I thought about going back to the doctor. But I upped the dose--and again, the cough mostly went away. I was thinking I'd need Sheriff Grimes on the case to kill the cold that wouldn't die.

Another thing that mostly disappeared when I started NDT: digestive bloating. Bloating happens when your food doesn't digest. I'm now taking half the digestive enzymes I was before without the bloating. Maybe that's been the reason I've needed so many supplements: poor digestion from hypothyroid. In any case, there are supplements I know I need to take: iodine, iron, magnesium, and vitamin D. It'll be interesting to see if it becomes necessary to back off the doses of any of those supplements. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Thyroid: Hormonal Dunning-Kruger Syndrome

It's been quite an adventure riding this sparking and sputtering thyroid. It started back in the highly stressful year of 2014 when I had mountains of work on my desk, an hour-long commute, and aging parents who themselves were sputtering along and constantly needed me to come over to help them. Then my coworker quit and I had all the work to do. I asked if I could go live with her in Mexico, only half joking.

My father died. My mother nearly died of kidney failure. Then stayed with me for two weeks during and leading up to the estate sale. We surrendered her dog when she couldn't take care of him. In thanks for my hard work, I was accused of elder abuse. (The county found no grounds for the accusations.)

I had a root canal and three courses of antibiotics. Then I moved across the country: I bought one house before selling the other (albeit in Denver's hot real estate market) and had no permanent job lined up in Indiana. Then finding my best friend had changed quite a bit, we went our separate ways. It was near the end of 2015 by this time, and I spent Christmas day in bed when I wasn't throwing up.

Through this time, I had scary heart palpitations, trouble sleeping, and after the antibiotics, cystic acne. I lost weight. My stomach felt off. I looked a little bit like a meth user--not helpful as a Colorado native looking for a job in Indiana. After I got here, I was finally able to rest. It was three months before I felt like going back to work full-time again. I spent most of the day playing video games--it was all I had the energy for.

I knew something was physically wrong with me--like I'd caught a strange virus. I know now that it was probably adrenal and/or thyroid problems, likely brought on by stress.

So my roller coaster ride, physically and situationally, was over once I got to Indiana. Well, not exactly. Indiana is in the goiter belt--there's not much iodine in the soil here. That's not good for your thyroid! Plus, I was eating some bad foods because I was still stressed out, mentally and physically.

Late last year (2018), I decided to have another go at low-carb, clean eating. I was even good on Christmas--no dessert. I started making a low-carb latte for breakfast and started feeling better. I found out that just about everything in it was antimicrobial--and that Dr. Davis was advocating botanical oils--and so I joined his Inner Circle. It sounds like something with funny handshakes and interesting costumes, but it's basically a web site you can join for a fee. I posted that I was tired and keto REALLY wasn't working for me, and someone suggested a thyroid test (along with doing the Undoctored program of diet and supplements). I didn't think it was my thyroid, since I wasn't overweight, wasn't depressed, usually didn't need to run the heater in the car in the winter, and had enough hair for two people. But the test showed hypothyroid. Later I learned that probably did account for my ears itching--I'd been poking and scraping them until they bled since 2014--and the puffy eyes and creeping weight gain and bloating and the feeling that there was no point to my life. I'd been thinking I'd accomplished what I'd set out to do, that the living was easy in Indiana, la la la...I had the hormonal equivalent of Dunning-Kruger Syndrome: I was too sick to realize I was sick.

I started taking kelp pills as an iodine supplement and began to feel better, but a follow-up test still showed free T3 and free T4 (important thyroid hormones) at the low end of normal. Normal doesn't mean optimal. So I started taking natural desiccated thyroid (NDT), which is available over-the-counter. Wow--I felt great...for the better part of a week. By the end of the week, I was back to video games, and looked like I hadn't slept in a week. I upped the dose, and feel back to my old self. I hope it continues.

I chose NDT supplements because it was just easier than trying to find an endocrinologist who was hip to proper thyroid treatment. Everything I've read says that the standard of care is terrible--that they generally only test TSH (free T3, free T4, reverse T3 and the antibodies are important, too) and that they tend to put people on insufficient doses of synthetic T4. Why go through the hassle when you can order some natural, old-school hormones online?

Recommended reading:
Stop the Thyroid Madness (book and website)
Wheat Belly Total Health chapter on Thyroid
Undoctored by William Davis (book and website)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Yogurt Maker for L. Reuteri

Move over, Instant Pot--you're overly hot! My Suteck yogurt maker makes special yogurt for L. reuteri bacteria that need a long, warm fermentation. And it was only $32.99. Here's my Amazon review, with a few tips:

I bought this product to make L. reuteri yogurt, which requires special preparation. I didn't have any trouble--the yogurt maker was easy to program, and both batches I've made so far turned out well. I did have to shake the final product in the jars because it separated, but the yogurt stayed homogenized after refrigeration. If you wish to add water in the yogurt maker, you don't need to keep adding it during the processing.
A tip: use a canning funnel if you have one to fill the jars.
Another tip: don't snap on the lids before processing--they pop off during fermentation. Just place the lids on the jars.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Sleep Paralysis and L. Reuteri Yogurt

A few months ago, I joined Dr. Davis's Inner Circle to resolve some health problems. He recommends making "yogurt" with L. reuteri bacteria for its unique health benefits. Users reported vivid dreams after eating the yogurt.

Having suffered from sleep paralysis long ago, I worried that it would return if I ate this yogurt. Sleep paralysis feels like a weight on you while you're somewhere between being asleep and being awake. You're paralyzed while it happens, and since humans tend to assume that things have agency when in doubt, it seems like it's a creature that's sitting on top of you. It's terrifying. It happened to me during the Satanic Panic, which added to my own panic. Decades later, I slept like the dead on a low-carb diet. No dreams, no sleep paralysis, just a very deep, black sleep. Wonderful.

I took L. reuteri tablets as supplements for a few months. I dreamed, but nothing remarkable happened. I whipped up a batch of yogurt and ate some. The first few nights--nothing. But last night, I had extremely detailed dreams. I was making school art projects. Most involved colored drawings. One involved a dead owl that turned out to be alive. In another, my small dog made the house absolutely filthy and then he refused to chase a squirrel out of the house. I wondered how one little dog could make such a big mess. But there was no sleep paralysis or nightmares. Nor did I feel disoriented when I woke up, wondering where I was and how got there--there being home.

Did the yogurt prevent me from having sleep paralysis? No, I haven't had it in long time. I just know it didn't cause me to have a relapse. I don't know what effect it would have on someone regularly suffering from sleep paralysis.

Back when I suffered from it myself, I enjoyed this song.

Monday, July 1, 2019

They've Lost the Plot

The other night, the Democratic presidential candidates all said they'd provide free health care to illegal immigrants. Not free emergency services, but free health care. Free in this case means paid for by the taxpayers.  I don't get free health care and I'm a veteran who works for a living. I pay both health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses because 1) I have a high deductible and 2) I order my own tests because most endocrinologists and gastroenterologists have no idea what they're doing.

When these socialists are not pandering to illegal immigrants, the same people also say

  • We have food deserts where poor people have a hard time getting groceries
  • Some people struggle to afford health insurance
  • Some people struggle to afford health care and medications
  • Migrants in detention centers aren't being taken care of
  • We have homeless people not being taken care of
  • Health care costs for Americans are steeply rising (which we can all agree on)

In other words, we're not even taking care of the people who are already here. Yet somehow, we'll take care of all of the people we're currently not taking care of, plus the millions who'll pour in over the border for free shit. The moderators should have asked the candidates how much they've paid out of their own pockets for other people's health care. In reality, it's going to come out of the pockets of the taxpayers. The cost is already so great that Warren Buffett called it "a hungry tapeworm on the American economy" as he teamed up with Jamie Dimon and Jeff Bezos to bring health care costs under control. I don't know what they're cooking up, but it probably doesn't involve adding a lot more non-paying users to the system.

I don't know the answer to health care costs for people already here, but it doesn't involve uncoupling goods and services from prices. Elective surgery like Lasik has gone down in price over the years. Food and shelter are just as important, if not more so, than health care for most people, and yet prices for those generally aren't regulated. Probably, solutions involve getting rid of middlemen, directing current cynicism in the direction of much of the useless health care available (e.g., expensive tests for healthy people with no risk factors), and finally officially ditching the myths about healthy whole grains and artery clogging saturated fat. It's probably no coincidence that after low-carb diets became popular, the rate of new cases of diabetes fell. That would be no thanks to help from our government.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

This Just In: Poor Don't Eat Like Middle Class

This is why I don't take the newspaper anymore: I'm tired of the sob stories.

The latest is an article in The New York Times about how people in flophouses can't afford unprocessed food. They use the term "working class" to describe people living with no reliable stove or refrigerator or pots, pans and other basic utensils, which annoys me as someone living in a working-class neighborhood. We have our problems, but a lack of a working appliances and cooking utensils is pretty unusual. Some of the people interviewed in a book the article referred to said they were evicted from their last place, but there's no reason given (there never is in the news).

First, I have to wonder whether people without cooking utensils care about cooking. It's just as well if they don't--moving to a place with working appliances really should be more important than figuring out how to sit down to poached salmon and asparagus in a lemon-butter sauce at home. And I doubt that people in such circumstances really would use extra grocery money to buy their children fresh fruit. Kids threw away fresh fruit by the ton when school lunches were "upgraded" in 2012.

Second, does eating unprocessed foods fix obesity? Not necessarily. Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes has photos of overweight people who living on home cooking; the Pima Indians are among them. And readers of a certain age may remember pictures of overweight sunbathers in the Soviet Union, where, so I'm told by internet friends who grew up there, they likewise ate home cooking.

So what can people of limited means do? Some people living in "food deserts" can buy real food in their area. I know this because I live near a "food desert," and there are literally 30 places to buy food within a four-mile radius of it. In fact, there used to be a small grocery co-op in the middle of the food desert. That's right--you can have a grocery store in the middle of a food desert. The co-op folded last year due to financial difficulties. Not enough low-income people were interested in buying local, organic, pasture-raised (read: expensive) groceries. In any case, yes, it's possible to buy real food on $29 per week (as of 2015). In less time than it takes to get coffee and an egg and sausage biscuit at the McDonald's a few blocks away, I can make the same thing (sans biscuit) at home.

Fast food isn't such a bad option. Just get a burger and salad and throw away the bun. Hey, it worked for Tom Naughton--and he even ate the bun! 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

First, They Came for Sugary Sodas

...and I said nothing because I wasn't a drinker of sugary sodas.

Now, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York is coming for cauliflower, calling it "colonialist" in community gardens. Fox News' guest liberal, Cathy Arue, defended Cortez's statement, saying that cauliflower is a monocrop and the soil needs different plants to avoid becoming depleted, since the same old colonialist crops have been grown for generations.

From what I understand, people rent plots in community gardens and grow whatever they like. If committees are dictating what crops are to be grown in community gardens in New York City, where Ocasio Cortez is from, maybe the committees, not the cauliflower, are the problem.

In any case, is monocropping in community gardens a serious environmental problem? Looking at a few of New York City's 550 community gardens on Google Street View, I didn't see anything that looked remotely like this:

Photo by Gary Rogers. Wikimedia Commons. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en
Arue also mentioned corn as a colonial monocrop, presumably forgetting it's the main ingredient in corn tortillas and that it's native to North America. 

The answer to this is simple, and it doesn't involve any conversations on colonialism. Divide the community gardens into plots, and let each person grow what they want to on their plot. Want to try to grow yucca in New York City? Want to grow a cauliflower monocrop? Go for it. Whether you want to grow beets and potatoes, collards and beans, tomatoes and peppers, or asparagus and arugula, that's your own business. This cauliflower kerfuffle isn't about colonialism--which ended more than 200 years ago in America--or monocropping--which doesn't exist in New York City--it's about telling other people what to do.

This goes for sugary sodas, too. If people want to drink them, that's their own business. Ah, but sugary sodas really are bad for you! They are, but salt, butter, eggs and red meat were thought to be bad, too. Public advice to shun those foods has led to a public health nightmare. Taxing sugary sodas, or otherwise making them hard to get, probably wouldn't harm public health, but it's a step in the wrong direction. Government involvement in diet was best when it helped ensure that people got adequate nutrients: iodine in salt, B vitamins in bread (when nutrients started being stripped from wheat), and a campaign promoting a diet of a variety of nutritious foods. As far as I know, they weren't trying to limit eating any kind of food--in fact, World War II posters discouraged food waste. When government started trying to limit intake of fat, salt and cholesterol, carbohydrate (and calorie) intake went up, as did obesity and diabetes. If there's a limit, tax or ban on sugary sodas, who's to say something worse wouldn't take their place? 

Maybe people wouldn't drink so much sugar if they didn't have blood sugar swings from the low-fat, high-carb diet that became mainstream advice for decades. Cauliflower has nutrients, and cauliflower gardeners probably aren't part of the country's diabesity epidemic. Ocasio-Cortez should stop complaining about people who grow cauliflower, or any other vegetable.