5 Şubat 2013 Salı

Menopause and Man-o-Pause Musings

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Yep, Wenchypoo the Old Bat has hit the Big "M", hot flashes and all.  The current advice and wisdom that's available on the web, in books, and from friends/family doesn't even BEGIN to help--none of it takes into account the Paleo or Primal way of eating, any food allergies, or the evils of soy!

I was fixated on the illustration in Gary Taubes' book Why We Get Fat--page 91 and the LPL activity. What happens when the estrogen is suddenly taken out of the equation?  Do I become a human Zucker rat?

I scoured the web looking for information for ME--something I could use that told me whether or not to continue eating this way, go even LOWER carb, or succumb to the Pyramid, some other way to cool the flashes besides the usual standby remedies of black cohosh or soy, and exactly what a hot flash is, but got a lot of CW crap and not much else.  Had I stumbled into an area that LC doctors, LC authors, LC websites...NOBODY ELSE traversed before?  Apparently I had, and loudly put the word out at Jimmy Moore's place and The Daily Apple to end the silence.  The Paleo, Primal, Atkins, and even Keto books don't cover menopause or afterward--they seemed to stop right before menopause.

I'm starting with myself:  my hot flashes only lasted about 3 weeks, and the cure was a complete surprise--no soy, no cohosh (I'm allergic), no lignan-laden flax, no bioHRT, no joke.  It was fish oil, vitamin E, and a hard-boiled egg every time I flashed.  The flashes themselves got blunted, then became fewer, and eventually went away with the twice-daily addition of these 3 things to my daily routine.  I feel great!

I wanted to know more...like why did this work?  What was happening inside me?  Well, there was no readily-available answer, so I had to go in search of one.

It wasn't easy--it all begins in the head.  Yes, menopause is all in your head (in a manner of speaking)--the hypothalamus.  The story begins with our old enemy sugar...

When our hormones (this also applies to the guys) drop to a certain level, ingested sugar that's been turned into blood glucose now no longer gets ushered to our brains, and our brains cry out for fuel by sending signals to blood vessels to dilate--dilate so more blood can go through them, and (hopefully) send some glucose up north.  The blood-brain barrier says NOTHING DOING, and won't let it pass, because it's no longer accompanied by a hormone transporter (either estrogen or testosterone).  Yes, some men can get hot flashes too.

So how does the brain get its fuel NOW, you ask?  What happens to the glucose still trapped in the body, you ask?

The brain gets its fuel from ketones now--ketones that can easily pass through the blood-brain barrier unescorted.  For some of us (and apparently me), this means dropping down to a zero carb diet.  The glucose trapped inside the body now has lost its biggest consumer, the brain, and needs another way to leave the body.  This is where exercise comes in, and this is why I'm signing off in a little more than a week--my own glucose levels are pushing me into diabetic territory (in spite of zero carb), and I don't even have a family history of diabetes!  Like so many others, my own pancreas has betrayed me by slowing down.  This is why protein moderation is so important--too much protein, and you get the same problems as too many carbs and too little protein.  Go berserk on the fat if you have to, because the pancreas won't be there to help you now.

So why the fish oil?  Our bodies can no longer convert ALA from vegetation into EPA the way it used to, and we now need to get EPA from direct sources--sea vegetables and sea creatures.  Also, our need for EPA jumps during this time, and remains high for the rest of our lives.  Because we women lose this conversion ability, our HDL goes down, and that ushers in all kinds of cardiac risks.  Men never had the ability.

So why the vitamin E?  Oxidation has increased with age, and the need for ANTIoxidants increased right along with it--antioxidants without the sugar, fructose, or sugar alcohol content that you would get from eating fruits and vegetables.  Grass-fed pastured organ meats, spices, and/or vitamins are now going to be your antioxidant sources for the rest of your life.

So why the eggs?  As we all know, eggs are nature's most perfect food--containing almost all the amino acids, and loads of protein in one little place.  More eggs = more protein, and with it, more glucagon and ketone generation, and less insulin activity.

So now what?  Now I eat a hard-boiled egg (I keep a bowl of them in the fridge for snacking) with breakfast, and with dinner.  The supplements have been incorporated into my twice-daily regimen.  All is well.  I've gone to a zero-carb diet, and am trying to find a gym that'll get me into strong enough shape to be able to join Crossfit activities some day (doctor permitting).  I pretty much sat on the sidelines playing kid, then student, then housewife and Cat Mommy, for 50 years, and now I need to get back in the game...or die trying.  It's the only way left for lowering this blood glucose--fiber can only get you so far (like to the bathroom).

Now you know why old people eat so many prunes!  Trouble is, prunes may contain more sugar than they remove from the system.

Whether you call it menopause or man-o-pause, we all go through it right around 50, and now we know a little more about what "it" is.  You also see the implications for things such as CVD, Alzheimer's, late-onset diabetes, and all those chronic illnesses we've been eating to avoid.  You may spend your entire life eating like a saint, and then one day, your body decides to betray you.  Some fight back by getting a midlife crisis object (a shiny new sports car, a trophy wife, etc.)--my body and my life are my midlife crisis, and saving both is going to be my crisis object, because I didn't do enough when I had the chance...when the hormones were working in my favor.  Now the clock has run out, and I'm still overweight with a failing thyroid.

Whether or not you copy this and choose to keep it as future advice for yourself, fear not--Mark Sisson's wife Carrie is writing a book about this very thing, and it will be available next year.  Next year wasn't fast enough for me, and it may not be for some of you, either.  As it is, I had to glean bits of information from many books, many more podcasts than I care to remember, many semi-credible research documents, and many out-there websites and discussion forums, but glean I did, and was able to piece together a very plausible scenario.  I'm sure Carrie will add stuff I never came across, and I intend to buy three copies of her book--1 for me, and 1 for each of my S-I-Ls, as they aren't far behind me age-wise.  This is the wisdom I intend to hand down to family.

I worked up a life-diet timetable that may or may not be accurate--it's what I would've followed if I had the knowledge and information I do now:

Birth to puberty--Paleo or Primal diet
Puberty to menopause--Atkins Induction
Menopause to death--ketogenic

If you're couch-potatoing right now, I urge you to follow my lead:  turn off the electronic push-button lifestyle as much as you can, and get out there and do something about retaining your ability to stay upright--lift weights, ride bikes, do Zumba...ANYTHING that helps you control your blood sugar levels before it's too late, and you no longer have the bone density to support yourself standing upright.  I really want to make my little crisis about avoiding a wheelchair for as long as I can, right after my physical exam on the 13th to clear me for gym exercise.

The second half of my life will be better than the first half...unless I drop a heavy weight on my foot!  :)

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