Thursday, 29 October 2009

Guess who didn't look after his brain?

Due to the sudden deterioration in my mum's physical & mental health and also due to struggling to come to terms with her having to spend the rest of her life in a nursing home (not the happiest of places), my diet went completely to pot.

I "went off" salmon, sardines & powdered linseeds and started to eat carbohydrate/fat-based comfort foods. A black cloud slowly descended over me. I lost the motivation to do anything, including updating this blog. I also slept a lot. This continued for several months.

Then, for no apparent reason, a few weeks ago I got an urge to eat smoked salmon. I added 200g of smoked salmon twice a week back into my diet and after a few weeks, the black cloud started to lift.

Before I started supplementing with Vitamin D3, I used to eat lots of oily fish but did not function correctly mentally. This time, my Vitamin D3 status was good (I never stopped taking supplements even when I had the black cloud over me) but my EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) intakes were near zero.

In conclusion, it would appear that my brain needs adequate Vitamin D3 and EPA and DHA (and magnesium) to function correctly.

I won't be blogging as much as I have been previously, as I've now dumped the vast majority of the nutritional knowledge within my brain into this blog. If I come across anything new, I'll post it here.

Finally, I've found the cheapest source yet of 5,000iu Vitamin D3 gelcaps.


Unknown said...

I'm sorry to hear about yout mum. Welcome back to blogging in any case, I'm sure you'll still have plenty of wisdom to share with us... x

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Hi Bridget.

Thank you for that. I'll try to not slip into another vicious circle of crap diet, feeling crap, crapper diet etc etc.

Hope you're well and doing O.K.

Cheers, Nige x

Anonymous said...

Dear Nigel,

Sorry to hear about your mum's situation. I can relate, I lost my birth mum several years ago to dementia which runs in her family (five out of nine siblings in the family diagnosed with dementia). I even have a cousin diagnosed with early onset dementia in his early 50's. You have to take care of yourself, there are so few ways to protect the brain. Better food, more sleep, being the top ones, and of course social support...that is important too, it moderates effects of stress to some degree. I like your blog a lot, hope you are feeling better soon


Nigel Kinbrum said...

Hi Karen.

Thank you. Dementia runs in mum's family as her mum had it and her sister also has it.

If I ever again lose my taste for oily fish, I will have to switch to fish oil caps.

By coincidence, Dr William Davis has just come to the same conclusion.

Cheers, Nige

lightcan said...

Hi Nige,

sorry to hear about your mum.
I wanted to thank you for responding on dr, Briffa's site. Many times when I ask a questions it falls on deaf ears. How can one learn without asking questions?
I live in Dublin, Ireland, so any information closer to home is appreciated. We can't get all those things that the people from US can, including good quality vitamins.


Nigel Kinbrum said...

Hi Simona.

In post 14 on the Metabolic Advantage blog, I requested some input from Dr Briffa regarding your FT3 but he didn't reply.

How far outside the Reference Range for FT3 are you? I only know about thyroid issues as I had primary hyperthyroidism (starting in 1994) and secondary hypothyroidism (starting in 2001).

You can get good quality vitamins by ordering online from companies like You can use discount code WAB666 to get $5 off your first order.

Cheers, Nige.

lightcan said...


I responded to your question but it seems the post didn't go through. I waited for a couple of days in case it appears later. It didn't.
Thank you for commenting on Peter's blog. It's such a difficult situation. Swimming against the tide. (I can't swim, so I don't know, just using a metaphor to say that I have to contradict the doctor, who wants me on high-dose statin for my high LDL) Although all these people's words have calmed me down, there is still a worry that I just worsened things.
With such a high LDL I can't touch sweets, cakes, roasted potatoes, all the Christmas food. Before, I could eat everything I wanted without worrying about it.
dr.B.G. says that my HbA1C is still high, that means I should cut the carbs even lower. Maybe just eat cocoa nibs instead of 85% chocolate and so on. I don't know if it's worth it.
It's ironic that I started taking care of myself, after turning 40, and now things are becoming more complicated instead of easier.

My T3 is 0.8.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Hi Simona,

1) The proof of the pudding is either a CAC Heart Scan or a carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) test as it's the only way to know for certain whether you have clogged/clogging arteries.

2) Carbs raise Triglycerides (TGs) rather than Cholesterol. As your TGs are very low at 0.7mmol/L (RR <1.8), you can eat more carbs and less fats.

3) An HBa1c of 5.2 isn't high, so there's no need to cut carbs.

4) Your FT3 is 0.8? Oh, my! According to PaLMS LabInfo Test Directory, the RR for free T3 is 2.5 - 7.3 pmol/L.

0.8 is extremely hypothyroid (you must feel like absolute crap) which could well explain your sky-high cholesterol. You need to pressure your GP into prescribing you Cytomel (T3) to raise your FT3 without raising your FT4. T3 has a short half-life compared to T4 so you have to take it several times a day. What is your FT4, by the way? Alternatively, change your GP. See Prize for worst misuse of statin.

Cheers, Nige.

lightcan said...

I'm so tired of all this. I only think about this all the time and although I enjoy reading about it it annoys me that I don't have a definitive answer. I have been looking into the apo E 4 as explanation for the rise in LDL as response to high fat diet, trying to find studies. Again, the doctor doesn't want to know. The only thing he says is change your diet.

1. You read what dr. Harris had to say about CAC and CIMT. Not yet.
2. I know carbs raise trigs and not TC. Carbs raise sdLDL as well. What I'm worried about is glycation/oxidation of my numerous LDL particles due to glucose, fructose, postprandial hyperglycemia, see Peter's posts on AGEs or OxLDL
3. According to dr.B.G. 5.2 is still high. I was proud of it. My mother is diabetic and hers is around 7.
4. My free T4 is 16 pmol/L
T3 range is 1.2 to 2.5 nmol/L on my paper. I still feel crap anyway, low mood and tiredness, I don't have the energy to do what I'm supposed to.

Sometimes I feel too full with a high fat meal, stuffed and heavy, maybe it's not for me.


Nigel Kinbrum said...


1) Pass.

2) As long as you don't eat high-GL meals (causing repeated hyperglycaemia), you don't need to worry about glycation end-products. The carbs in veggies are low-GL.

3) Don't worry about your HbA1c. 5.2% is equivalent to an average BG of only 107mg/dL, or 5.94mmol/L in our currency according to Fatally Flawed Health & Risk Paradigms: Part 1

4) Your FT4 is fine, so you don't need levothyroxine.

Until you've corrected your hypothyroidism, you don't know what other problems you may have as low FT3 (even by your Path Lab's RR, it's still very low) is messing up your metabolism.

You have to fix your low FT3 problem before you try to fix any others. If your GP won't fix it, find one who will. I don't know what else to say.

Cheers, Nige.

lightcan said...


thank you for responding. It's difficult, I know. I understand what you're trying to say about free T3. It is frustrating that he didn't even tell me how much free T3 was. What they want and what you ask is always different. I asked, prompted by you, if the result on paper meant free T3 (was written T3) and he said no, I asked did they do a free T3, he said yes that was low too. Why do they play games like this? He thinks that T3 is low because of my hypocaloric diet and it is not hypothyroidism per se. He thinks the only way to lose weight is to reduce calories (calories in vs calories out) although I told him that I ate as much as I wanted, even after feeling full and never was hungry. The bulk of my weight loss happened months ago from August till June. Since then I only lost about 6 kg.
I read a study about CR in Biosphere 2 where people were eating 1750-2200 kcal/day 77% carb and their T3 went down. Interesting. Maybe T3 doesn't bounce back quickly, it's a long term change and that means I have to be careful with introducing carbs and increasing calories because being in a starvation/conservation mode my body is going to store quickly the first chance it gets. It happened before.
I really appreciate your input and the fact that I can talk to somebody about it.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

"He thinks that T3/FT3 is low because of my hypocaloric diet..." So tell him that you're not on a hypocaloric diet (as you haven't lost significant weight).

What else can you do to get him to prescribe Cytomel?

"He thinks the only way to lose weight is to reduce calories..." He wants you to go on a hypocaloric diet when you already have low T3/FT3 on a higher caloric intake? Unbelievable!

Are there no other GPs you can see? This one is really not helping you at all.

lightcan said...


He's not a GP, he's the consultant pathologist, the head of the biochemistry department in a major hospital here and the consultant endocrinologist was there and concurred (long term weight loss because of low calories causes low serum T3). I was sent to him by my GP. Unfortunately for me my LDL has gone up even higher to 12.7 from 10.9 in a month. I know there is still a case to be made for Cytomel, seeing that although I'm not losing much weight anymore my T3 still hasn't improved. They're more worried about the cholesterol than about the hormones that's why they brush it under the carpet.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Oh, dear! I think that you're going to have to spell it out for them step by step.

1) You're no longer on a hypocaloric diet and yet your T3/FT3 is not increasing.

2) As long as your T3/FT3 remain low, your cholesterol will continue to rise.

3) Fix the low T3/FT3 problem with Cytomel FIRST.

4) IF fixing the low T3/FT3 problem doesn't fix the high cholesterol problem, THEN you will accept statin therapy to lower your cholesterol.

If you show the pathologist & endocrinologist that you are well-informed and you discuss the matter calmly & reasonably (print stuff off, to support your case), you should be able to persuade them to start you on Cytomel therapy. You need to tell them that you are willing to do things their way if doing things your way doesn't work.

I'm not a gambling man, but I bet that fixing your low T3/FT3 problem will fix your high cholesterol problem.

Have we discussed cortisol? Have you had any AM & PM serum cortisol tests? Cortisol is supposed to be high in the AM (to give you get-up-and-go) and fall during the day. Chronic hypercortisolaemia causes water retention and low T4 to T3 conversion as well as the production of reverse T3. Chronic stress can cause chronic hypercortisolaemia and what you've been going through seems very stressful.

lightcan said...

That's like the chicken and the egg question. Is the cortisol high because of previous chronic stress or I'm stressed out/neurotic because I have the cortisol termostat set at high since childhood?
I have been trying to work on a Ph.D. since 2003 and that coincided with the arrival of my two children and serious ongoing marital problems, combined with useless counselling (he wouldn't attend). Not all Ph.D. students suffer from stress, but I'm definitely not coping well with any of it and as a result I have a very low self-esteem.
In the last year I wasted enough time doing research for my health instead of writing my thesis. Just another avoidance behaviour.

What about the adrenals? I was reading on Emma's blog (plant poisons...) yesterday. The stress was there before the low carb diet. Can something underlying before low carb be exacerbated by me going higher fat, causing high LDL which means LDL R downregulation and I think not more LDL production.

lightcan said...

Although cortisol makes HMGCoA go up.
Chris Masterjohn says Rho is the problem as it goes up too and inhibits nitric oxide production. Bad. Plus, thyroid hormone protects LDL from oxidation. No TH bad.

So, I just do some meditation and take some T3.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Don't worry about previous stresses. I would say that it's your current stresses (you've got a lot on your plate) that are raising your serum cortisol now. When I had right renal colic in the early hours of the morning in November 2002, the stress of the severe pain sent my BG up to 9mmol/L. That's the power of cortisol!

I would advise you to concentrate all your energy into getting your Endo' to prescribe you an effective dose of Cytomel (they usually start you on a low dose and titrate your dose up, based on blood test results).

Until you've got your FT3 in the middle of the RR, you're wasting your time & energy worrying about anything else.

Cheers, Nige.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

lightcan said...
"So, I just do some meditation and take some T3."

If meditation helps you to relax, do it.
Get your Endo to prescribe you T3 a.s.a.p.

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