Friday, 19 December 2008

It's all about ME, baby! (1997 - present)

If you're wondering "Who is this Nige geezer and why is he wittering on about Cholesterol, Diabetes & Vitamin D?", read on...

This story starts in 1997. I'd just come through an acrimonious divorce and I was tired, bloated, 17st 7lb and depressed. Then a pamphlet dropped through my letterbox. It was from Agora Lifestyles, promoting a book by a Dr. Robert C. Atkins (never heard of him!). I didn't buy his book, but I read the pamphlet from cover to cover, and it described postprandial sleepiness followed by ravenous hunger after eating meals high in carbohydrate. Since childhood, I used to feel very sleepy after eating starchy meals but I never knew why. So, despite my disbelief that Atkins' diet could work, I cut out bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, cereals etc - all of the things that we are constantly told are good for us because they are "low-fat".

Within days, I felt like a new man (oo-er, missus!) The postprandial sleepiness & ravenous hunger were gone, my weight slowly decreased and the heartburn I used to get was also gone. I was a total convert. By nature I'm very curious (which is why I became an Engineer), so I wondered how Atkins' diet worked. In 1999, I got Internet access at work and was delighted to see that there were people out there (some of them doctors) other than Atkins who were saying much the same thing.

In 2001, I got a shock when the company for which I'd worked for 24 years lost a "must win" contract and I was put on the redundancy list. My health began to deteriorate and I was referred to an endocrinologist. It turned out that my pituitary gland was failing and it was no longer secreting enough TSH to stimulate my thyroid gland to secrete thyroxine. I was therefore prescribed levothyroxine. The upside to all this is that I am now exempt from all prescription charges. I also get regular blood tests, so that I can see the results of any diet/supplement/exercise change on my blood-work.

As well as having a dysfunctional pituitary, I also had "Metabolic Syndrome" (a.k.a. "Syndrome-X" in the US). This is a fancy name for pre-type 2 diabetes and it's caused by Insulin Resistance (IR). This meant that my fasting serum glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL & uric acid were higher than they should have been and my HDL was lower than it should have been. It just so happens that a diet low in sugary & starchy carbohydrates suits people with this condition.

I still didn't understand how Atkins' diet worked, so I studied some biochemistry web-sites to get a better understanding of human metabolism. In November 2002, I joined the Muscletalk forum after e-mailing James Collier B.Sc. (Hons) - Moderator and Contributor to Muscletalk as an Expert in Nutrition, criticising his negative article on ketogenic diets. Username "Nigeepoo" was born. Why Nigeepoo? I have a rather odd sense of humour and think that putting "poo" on the end of a word is hilarious. It also suits my warm & fluffy nature!

This was the beginning of a new phase in my learning. From there, I found a US & then a Canadian (now closed) body-building forum which allowed me to learn even more about nutrition. In January 2003, the BBC series "Diet Trials" studied the Atkins diet amongst others. At the end of the series, viewers were referred to a BBC Nutrition & Fitness board (now closed) and a Healthy eating board (now a Food Q&A board) where I posted. As a result of various recommendations, I bought some books on running, diet & nutrition, metabolism and biochemistry. I also surfed PubMed and various journals, looking for studies on ketogenic diets and the effects of different proteins, fats and carbohydrates on subjects. See How stuff works.

In 2004, my pituitary stopped secreting sufficient LH & FSH and in 2005 it stopped secreting sufficient GH, so I decided to take early retirement and take things a bit easier as I was having trouble with my memory & concentration. I decided to dump my nutritional knowledge to hard-copy before I forgot it, so I wrote an e-book, "Nigee's Guide to Losing Body-fat Healthily". That's not the only reason why I wrote'll have to read it to find out the other one. Was that hint subtle enough? Please note that the information in the e-book is frozen and is now completely out-of-date. The information in this blog is kept up-to-date.

Discovering Vitamin D3 at the beginning of 2007 was a major breakthrough, in terms of memory, concentration, mood and the Metabolic Syndrome. My endocrinologist was so pleased with my last set of blood and urine tests (all normal except for slightly raised cholesterol) that I don't need to see him any more. I still have annual blood tests, to monitor my condition.

Discovering the bad effects of a sedentary lifestyle at the end of 2010 was another major breakthrough in terms of tackling IR. See Insulin Resistance: Solutions to problems.

Right, that's enough about me, baby! Tomorrow, it's back to boring old nutritional stuff again.

Cheers, Nige.


Rosso said...

Hey Nige,

Thanks for sharing that with us. I do think blogging coupled with your myspace page would be a great resource to store all your golden nuggets of information in a concise way. And then it would serve as a place to reflect on, and drown in your memories in the years to come.

Its a shame doctors would rather just prescribe drugs to prolong a condition when simple lifestyle and dietary education could do away with it altogether.

Best of health mate,

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