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Body Battles: Insulin Resistance, Anemia, and The Paleo Diet

Posted Oct 11 2012 12:21pm

This is my medicine:

paleo_tacos_3_oct9

Tastiest medicine ever!

I’m fighting quite a few battles in my body right now, and they are all interrelated, so they’re all equally important to win, but according to my Healing Doctor, my sugar-burning metabolism should be priority as it interferes with proper absorption and processing of everything the mind and body needs.

My most recent blood test results (the abnormalities):

Potassium = 3.3                          (low; 3.5-5.3 normal range)
Uric acid = 8.7                           (high; 2.5-7.0 normal range)
Triglycerides = 169                   (high; <150 normal range)
Iron, total = 16                           (low; 40-175 normal range)
TIBC = 477                                 (high; 250-450 normal range)
Transferrin saturation = 3         (low; 15-50% normal range)
Ferritin = 2                                 (low; 10-154 normal range)
Hemoglobin = 8.6                       (low; 11.7-15.5 normal range)
Hematocrit = 27.6                      (low; 35.0-45.0 normal range)
MCV = 72.3                                 (low; 80.0-100.0 normal range)
MCH = 22.4                                 (low; 27.0-33.0 normal range)
MCHC = 31.0                               (low; 32.0-36.0 normal range)
RDW = 18.2                                (high; 11.0-15.0 normal range)
Vitamin D 25-OH, total = 11      (low; 30-100 normal range)

So this is why she prescribed a low-carb (70-100g/day) Paleo-type diet for 30 days to begin fixing my sugar-burning metabolism. While my fasting blood glucose is in the normal range (86), my trigs are high, so lowering carbs should lower trigs. Conventional wisdom correlates a high fat diet to high trigs, but it’s actually carbs/sugars and insulin resistance that can often cause it.

Insulin resistance (IR) is a physiological condition where cells are no longer able to respond to the normal actions of the hormone insulin . Cells are not able to take in glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. Thus, glucose, fatty acids and amino acids ‘leak’ out of the cells. A decrease in insulin/glucagon ratio inhibits glycolysis which in turn decreases energy production. The resulting increase in blood glucose may raise levels outside the normal range and cause adverse health effects, depending on dietary conditions. [1] Certain cell types such as fat and muscle cells require insulin to absorb glucose. When these cells fail to respond adequately to circulating insulin, blood glucose levels rise. The liver helps regulate glucose levels by reducing its secretion of glucose in the presence of insulin. This normal reduction in the liver’s glucose production may not occur in people with insulin resistance. [2]

Insulin resistance in muscle and fat cells reduces glucose uptake (and also local storage of glucose as glycogen and triglycerides , respectively), whereas insulin resistance in liver cells results in reduced glycogen synthesis and storage and a failure to suppress glucose production and release into the blood. Insulin resistance normally refers to reduced glucose-lowering effects of insulin. However, other functions of insulin can also be affected. For example, insulin resistance in fat cells reduces the normal effects of insulin on lipids and results in reduced uptake of circulating lipids and increased hydrolysis of stored triglycerides . Increased mobilization of stored lipids in these cells elevates free fatty acids in the blood plasma . Elevated blood fatty-acid concentrations (associated with insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus Type 2), reduced muscle glucose uptake, and increased liver glucose production all contribute to elevated blood glucose levels. High plasma levels of insulin and glucose due to insulin resistance are a major component of the metabolic syndrome . If insulin resistance exists, more insulin needs to be secreted by the pancreas. If this compensatory increase does not occur, blood glucose concentrations increase and type 2 diabetes occurs. [3]

“Elevated levels of free fatty acids and triglycerides in the blood stream and tissues have been found in many studies to contribute to diminished insulin sensitivity. [9] [19] [20] [21] Triglyceride levels are driven by a variety of dietary factors. They are correlated with excess body weight. [22] They tend to rise due to overeating and fall during fat loss. [23] At constant energy intake, triglyceride levels are positively correlated with trans fat intake and strongly inversely correlated with omega-3 intake. High-carbohydrate, low-fat diets were found by many studies to result in elevated triglycerides, [24] in part due to higher production of VLDL from fructose and sucrose, and in part because increased carbohydrate intake tends to displace some omega-3 from the diet.”

– Source: Wikipedia

I love carbs, but I’m not processing them properly and it’s having a domino-effect on many other metabolic and bodily functions. To remedy this, we must focus on my suboptimal metabolic function and then begin work on my hormonal imbalances because it’s all related. My fat and cholesterol absorption is impaired; This, too, contributes to everything that is malfunctioning. Basically, I have many dysfunctional things happening at the cellular level. This we know before we even know the specifics of my digestive issues, my pituitary gland, adrenals, etc.

So for the next month I’m doing a low-carb Paleo-ish protocol. I say Paleo-ish because, true to my nature, of course I made some slight modifications that the doc is ok with. For now:

  • 70-100g carb daily (there’s some wiggle room in the 30-60 minute window of carb opportunity after I workout)
  • Mostly Paleo diet guidelines: No grains, no dairy, no legumes
  • Modifications I’m including: Zico dark chocolate coconut water , Erythritol Zsweet zero calorie sweetener, nutritional yeast , dark chocolate, honey , white potatoes, bacon, and grain-free low-carb baked goods are ok as long as I’m meeting my other nutrient goals and staying in my carb range
  • Counting NET carbs only – Dietary (insoluble) fiber isn’t digested, pointless to count towards whole carb total when ineffective
  • High fat: She wants me to take in as much coconut oil as I can every day; ideally, 8-12 Tablespoons
  • Supplements: VSL3 , NOW Super Enzymes , Vitamin D 3, DHEA , RX potassium, and RX iron

I started tracking using Livestrong.com ’s MyPlate until Dustin has time to code a customized script for me, sometime between now and never. I’m behind on posts, so this is my menu from October 9th:

menu_oct9

Note: The generic carbs/calories and foods were for items not in LS’s database. If a food shows only calories but no other data across the row, the carb counts are likely accounted for separately. e.g., the carbs in the cupcake, the turkey snack stick, etc., but the fats + proteins are included in the calorie count because the exact amount isn’t as important as tracking carbs at this time.

I had no trouble at all staying under my 100g carb goal. Healthy fats, like coconut oil and organic palm shortening , are key to low-carb success. Lowering carbs and increasing protein is not enough. You must increase your good fats to bridge the gap.

Breakfast: 3 eggs over-easy cooked in coconut oil with 3 oz baby spinach + 1 minced garlic clove cooked in Spectrum organic palm shortening  

eggs_spinach_1_oct9

Runny egg yolks are the BEST! The eggs on a white plate look like ghosts, ha.

eggs_spinach_2_oct9

I grazed on things in the menu above throughout the day before we went to Hannaford to pick up some essentials ( Green & Blacks 85% organic dark chocolate). When we returned home, I made tacos for dinner. Dustin had tortilla shells and I had romaine lettuce leaves:

paleo_tacos_1_oct9

85% lean ground beef cooked in spectrum organic palm shortening with a bit of white onion, cumin, paprika, garlic powder , pink Himalayan salt , and black pepper. I topped my tacos with freshly made guacamole (just mashed avocado + a squeeze of lime juice), diced plum tomato, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. Delish! I would eat these just like this even if I wasn’t doing a specific diet protocol at the moment.

paleo_tacos_2_oct9

paleo_tacos_3_oct9

I have a low-carb, grain-free, sugar-free, nut-free, dairy-free chocolate cupcake recipe to share but I’m going to do a separate post for it because it totally deserves it. Open-mouthed smile 

Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’m feeling any better right now. Aunt Flo rolled into town just as I started all of this, and she always makes things worse regardless. My stomach also isn’t loving all of the fats. Apparently my gallbladder isn’t working properly, either. But my doctor believes that is correctable, too, but there’s a hierarchy to adhere to, so first things first.

I have two three yummy low-carb recipes on deck, starting with the chocolate cupcakes. Sound good? I’ll have that up by the end of the day.

Which recipes would you like to see made low-carb and grain-free (and dairy-free)? I’m open to suggestions! My creative juices are flowing. I’m having tons of fun hacking low-carb, grain-free eats. Tell me what you’d like and maybe I’ll come up with a recipe !

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