Posts Tagged ‘amenorrhea’

On Supplements and Brian Peskin

January 31, 2010 18 comments

I’m sort of coasting on the high of not being an evolutionary dead-end as a member of the species. I’ll be even happier if I can repeat such stellar performance next month. And there’s been such interesting, heartening stuff on the web these days.

But I should really keep thinking…

If going “paleo” triggered such dismal results of hypothyroid and amenorrhea, I wonder:

What is lacking in the paleo diet that causes this?

Well, the #1 suspect so far seems to be iodine, or possibly minerals in general, depleted from the soil by industrial agriculture that leaves farmland where “The cycles-the hydrological cycle, the mineral cycle with its nesting nitrogen, carbon, and calcium cycles-have been disrupted by the human activity of agriculture, an activity more like war than anything else” (The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith, p. 104).

Traditional fertility foods include seafood, dairy, and organ meats (Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck, p. 51). These foods supply a good amount of fat (generally present – in some fashion – in paleo diets), and minerals (which, due to soil depletion, might not be).

Hence the “conventional wisdom” of the Paleo eating philosophy: Eat clean, whole, real food. Preferably organic. Preferably grass-fed. And even though, ideally, you should be able to get more than adequate nutrition this way, maybe you should take supplements, because food raised on depleted soil isn’t what it used to be, and our toxic and stress loads are chronic in ways we were never meant to deal with.

So, supplements.

Read more…


Just one link, so I don’t forget

January 16, 2010 Leave a comment

An interesting post at Entropy Production on leptin and anorexia, possible neural learning and set points.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: ,

An interlude: My story, a new chapter

January 16, 2010 6 comments

January 15, 2010

I’m having a conversation via Twitter direct messaging with a woman whose symptoms and supplement regimen closely mirror mine. She is now having success.

I am happy for her.

I am painfully jealous.

Later that day, perhaps in sympathy, perhaps in envy, perhaps simply coincidentally as the iodine and vitamin D reach some sort of loading threshold in my veins, my body responds.

Warning: Possible TMI re: “Female Things” Read more…

An interlude: My story con’t

January 9, 2010 6 comments

And then there’s me.

In August of 2008, I had been on a low carb diet about a year and a half and on a Paleo-type diet for a little over 6 months. I was recovering from a year of Weight Watchers and chronic cardio which left my body an inflamed mess with high blood pressure and elevated triglycerides.

On Paleo, everything was going swimmingly: I was losing weight, improving my blood pressure and lipid profiles, and had bloodwork results that a lab tech called “textbook.”

Then I discovered intermittent fasting. I started with alternate day fasting, cut down to one or two 24-hour fasts a week, and leveled out at a daily eating window of 8-10 hours. That’s when I really started to lose body fat. But the vanished weight was quickly followed by my ability to menstruate, regulate my body temperature, and generally deal with life.

I tried to fix myself by interpreting the tea leaves of the internet. This led me to stop the intermittent fasting and increase my caloric intake. The result: I gained fat weight but failed to lose my symptoms. I began to think things like “If I have to spend the rest of my life feeling like this, then it isn’t worth it.” I started looking forward to the death of my parents, because then I would be free to end it all for myself without ruining anyone else’s life.

I ate handfuls of supplements. I read all the books you’re supposed to. I stopped exercising altogether. I ate grass fed meat, coconut oil, butter from grassfed cows, salads, berries, and free range eggs. I obsessed. Finally, I paid an out of state naturopath to advise me. He advised iodine supplementation (50 mg daily) and vitamin D (5000 IU daily) for three months. So far, I have completed one month.

In which I am melodramatic, but truthful

January 2, 2010 4 comments

It’s negative 6 degrees Celsius out there. I verified this by the thermometer on the Sopher Real Estate billboard outside. It’s negative 6 degrees Celsius, but I couldn’t have guessed this just by standing outside. My innards felt warm

And I wanted to weep, because I knew then that I would be all right, that 2009 – the lost year – was over.

Understand that the past 12 months have been spent in a haze of cold, infertility, cognitive dissonance, and increasing despair. And this all started out as  – well, we don’t say diet anymore, do we? A healthy lifestyle choice. A   “Paleo”“Evolutionary”“Primal” lifestyle choice, which included a dash of intermittent fasting. I still believe, with a caveat, that these are the evolutionarily correct pathways to health and fitness.

The caveat is this: my daily experience on the regime, the incessant cold and intolerance to cold, the amenorrhea, the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior, the bingeing, the purging, the depression. These are all classic and recognizable symptoms of starvation. What got to me most was the cold. In Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, Marya Hornbacher writes, “I wish I could find words to explain what this kind of cold is like-the cold that has somehow gotten in underneath your skin and is getting colder and colder inside you. It isn’t an outside sort of cold; it’s a cold that gets into your bones and into your blood and it feels like your heart itself is beating out the cold in hard little bursts through your entire body.” And it is, it is. It’s the feeling that your internal organs have turned into ice. People tell you to put on a sweater, but how can that help the cold lives in the very core of your belly?

The thing is that I knew all of this. But I was getting, according to and its ilk, plenty of calories and nutrition for my height and weight. My bloodwork was stellar and even called “textbook” by a lab tech. Even still, it seems to me that you can be getting plenty of almost everything, but if you fail to obtain enough of any one essential nutrient, you can in fact be malnourished enough to have a starvation response.

It took a year of trying everything and jumping through bureaucratic hoops. (Did you know that insurance companies can take months to recognize that they cover you if you have a hyphenated name? Did you know that naturopaths can’t order bloodwork for NY state residents? Now you do.) But I think I’ve finally identified the nutrients that I, personally, was deficient in. And I’m finally getting better. I finally have hope. 

Quasi-rhetorical questions re: carbs, leptin, and other

January 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Or: I’m in ur experimunts, cnfoundin ur vriables

Weirdly, I’ve been amenorrheic since August, not long after I took up intermittent fasting. TMI, no doubt, but it’s my blog, and I’ll whine if I want to.

What is weird about this is that my body fat percentage is still pretty normal, even high (somewhere between 17-20%), and these days I spend only about 2-3 hours of the week resistance and interval training (just in case overexercising caused the problem).

My latest hypothesis about the cause (a fasting-precipitated drop in leptin, followed by continuing insufficient leptin) prompted what was probably an ill-advised (although at least premeditated) binge on simple carbs (honey, cereal, bread) about two weeks ago.

It hurt. It hurt with pain, a racing heartbeat, rapid weight gain (mostly fat, some inflammation), and reactive skin. It has taken the past two weeks of careful eating and exercise to feel, physically, more like myself. Yikes.

However, I’m still amenorrheic. Either the hypothesis is a bust or the sugar didn’t boost leptin high enough or long enough. I don’t think I can bear going through that again (heart palpitations? scary, you guys), so I decided to just add more fruit to my meals (mid-day probably best). I’ve also started eating breakfast more often, moving from a 15 hour fast 5x a week to a once weekly 20 hour fast, if that.

Quasi-rhetorical questions include:

Is glycogen actually beneficial for muscle cells? Harmful? Neither? Both in different situations?

Chronically elevated insulin would appear to be harmful. Therefore, insulin resistance would appear to be harmful. But are (very) occasional insulin surges in the absence of fat harmful in the long term (as is marathon running, with all that oxidation and stress)?

It seems like Gary Taubes thinks leptin resistance is a marker of metabolic syndrome, but not a cause. In contrast, there is an actual, physical mechanism by which insulin locks fat into cells. Fair enough. But also: Lyle McDonald seems to indicate that leptin does play a role (hence my admittedly fail-tastic self experimentation) in that it sends a signal to the brain as to the body’s state of energy availability. According to McDonald, Leptin scales with 1. body fat percentage, and 2. carbohydrate metabolism within fat cells. Falling or low leptin or leptin resistance registers as starvation and prompts hormonal adaptations that allow the body to conserve energy. In my understanding (or lack thereof), when there is excess energy (sugar) insulin traps the fat inside fat cells, causing fat gain. When there is an energy deficit, declining levels of leptin prompt hormonal changes that protect against fat loss. Leptin resistance causes (mal)adaptations as well.

If, as McDonald says, “Leptin and insulin also both change with changing food intake; leptin levels can drop significantly within a few days of dieting even with no change in body fat levels. Insulin changes meal to meal,” this might have implications for both carb ingestion and intermittent fasting, and the trick would be to find the optimal time tables for each. So, insulin may be the primary mechanism for obesity, and lepin may be a secondary cause (in that it stops the overweight from losing the fat they’ve gained).

No doubt the real story is infinitely more complex, but it’s intriguing so far.

Where would that leave the oft-referenced Paleo people? A moot issue, possibly, as for them energy supply was what it was – either high or low – and if it was intermittently low enough to cause starvation-level drops in leptin, it was never chronically crazy high enough to induce leptin resistance, at least long-term. And if it was generally high (as hunter gatherers tended to be a well nourished lot), well, even the most indolent of hunter gatherers…er…hunted (intermittently?) and gathered (steadily?), and shared their meals with their tribe (probably damn near always). Pure conjecture, of course…

Another question: When does the taste of sweet (fructose containing sugars) track, in nature, with dietary fat? Never? Rarely? Seasonally? My wish list includes a time machine and a microscope powerful enough to show atoms and molecules in action in a human being. Dream big, I say.