The science of health: Getting genetic up in here

Well, its been about 5 months since I hopped on this carnivore train. It certainly hasn’t been all ribeyes and super saiyan strength. I’ve had ups and downs. There has been fasting, feasting, binging, and intuitive eating. My weight, if anything, has only gone up. My thighs and obliques are large and in charge. This year has been an awesome experiment. I teamed up with a naturopathic doc out of curiosity, and got some bloodwork done. I have data! Here’s a snapshot.

338 cholesterol, I should be on drugs right? Not so fast. Bucking the trend, cholesterol on a low carb diet is very different. The brain is 25% cholesterol, you know. That stuff is important! What matters to me right now is that my measured markers of inflammation are as low as can be. These markers also put me into a special club: lean mass hyper responders. Low triglycerides, high HDL and LDL, they are often athletic, lower in body fat, and run well on fat. But it is dangerous? We don’t know enough yet.

So my blood may or may not be beef. How is my energy? Again, not all sunshine and rainbows. I went through a week of one meal a day, where I did amazing things, culminating in an all-day mobility workshop with no food, just water and salt. My body was incredible and I felt amazing after moving all day, eating some meat, then going back to dance into the night. But I suspect my undereating at mealtimes came up to meet me, for the next week I was sluggish, lethargic, and binged on raw meat and heavy cream in a desperate attempt to keep my energy levels up.

My latest tests showed that my iodine levels were low, at 43 mcg/L, when the range is like 50-110. TSH at 2.8, T4 at 1.1, and free T3 at 2.1. Suggests some thyroid impairment. Any other clues? I get cold as heck more often than not. Usually when going more than 16 hours without food, and often when I eat, it takes forever to get warm! So I began taking my temperature, waking up, after meals, and before bed.

Needless to say, I pretty much never make it over 98, unless I take a bath, or overeat. So, for 4 weeks now, I’ve been taking an iodine supplement, and slowly upping a daily dose of dessicated thyroid. The internet says this can take some time, but at 4 pills in the morning, I think I might finally be getting somewhere.

What else have I tried? Well, I finally got my ancestryDNA test back (after 3 failed extraction attempts), and while the germanic irish roots were no surprise, the raw data yielded some exciting genetic insight. It confirmed a pattern that my first blood and urine test confirmed through amino acids: MTHFR gene c677T mutation.

Behold! The Methylation cycle.

Behold! The Methylation cycle.

Basically, I can’t properly ‘methlyate’ folate, or b vitamins. I’m like 75% impaired. Fortunately, my first round of testing showed these deficiencies, and I’ve been taking a methylated folate and b12 multi. It was really cool to see it confirmed!

I also have a mutation in the MAO genes. The warrior gene. It breaks down dopamine and other substances in the brain. Impaired function leads to aggression, and risk taking behavior. What’s up with mine? Well, both variants of the gene are actually upregulated. I break down dopamine faster. What does mean for me? I have fewer neurotransmitters, and that entails a higher likelihood of depression. A bit fascinating to learn! So I was recommended an herb called mucuna, which contains L-dopa, to slow down these receptors and bring about a balance to my system. Look forward to seeing where this goes.

Trying to optimize my health and get some consistency has been frustrating, exciting, scary, and empowering. I’ve scoured the internet, trying to draw from the experience of others, but have come to realize that I need to begin to trust my OWN experience, and stick to my individual path.