Monday, August 7, 2017

My Wacky Hormones Story

Hi, guys!

I wanted to go into more detail about my “wacky hormones” since I received a few questions recently. I apologize for not giving more detail. Thursday’s post started as a “What I’m Loving Lately,” but then I just sort of rambled about the hormone stuff, leaving you guys in the dark about a lot of stuff. Sorry about that! Ok, so let’s rewind and give you a little background.

At 19 years old, I started to take oral contraceptives. I had always struggled with acne, and I had heard that the pill might help to regulate my hormones and clear it up. Plus, I had a long-term boyfriend, so… you know. I could get free oral contraceptives from my college’s health services department, so I figured why not? I was put on Ortho Tri-Cyclen and my skin cleared up within a few months. I don’t remember any major side effects, so I took that same pill for years.

When I moved to Boston after college, I didn’t have an OB/GYN, so I did some Googling and found my current doctor. When I was about 22/23 years old, she switched me to Alesse/Aviane. I don’t remember why she switched me to a new pill, but it worked just fine, so I stayed with it for, oh, a good 10 years.

In my early 30s, I got a little freaked out that I had been on the pill for so long. A friend of mine raved about her IUD, so I ended up stopping the pill and trying out the Mirena. I liked it just fine (I don’t remember any negative side effects) and used it until we decided to try to get pregnant.

After giving birth to Qman, I started a progestin-only oral contraceptive (recommended by my OB/GYN) because I was breastfeeding. I’m not sure if I had some postpartum depression going on, but taking that pill made me nuts. Holy mood swings! I joke that Mal kept me alive during those first few postpartum months (I was also bleeding and going to the bathroom 20 times a day), but he absolutely did. I was truly falling apart, both physically and mentally, so the progestin pill had to go. (I also started Remicade around this same time.) I knew the hormones were effecting me, so, this time, I went with the Paragard (non-hormonal/copper) IUD. (I also didn’t want to get surprise-pregnant on the Mirena – I know two people in real life who this happened to!) The Paragard was awful. For three months, I had bloating and swelling in my abdomen. My doctor said it should go away in a few weeks, but my abdomen was literally sore to the touch. I felt terrible, so I had it taken out.

After that, I decided to give my body a break and see if my hormones would balance themselves. Around this same time, Nicole contacted me about working together. I had just started Entyvio, but it was only kind of working. (It can take up to 6 months to work.) Our main goal was to address my GI issues, but it seemed liked a lot of them were tied to hormonal stuff. We tried natural progesterone and diet changes, but my hormones were still out of control. I had night sweats 2 weeks out of every month, heavy periods, and terrible cystic acne on my face and neck. I just couldn’t take it anymore, so I decided to go back to oral contraceptives.

That was a year ago, and, up until 10 days ago, I played the pill game, trying to find the right one. I started with a super low-dose pill (Lo Loestrin Fe), but I had breakthrough bleeding every month. After that, I tried Alesse/Aviane because it had worked for me in the past, but, again, I had breakthrough bleeding. Most recently, I tried Altavera, which was much higher in hormones (both estrogen and progestin), and I pretty much hated the whole experience. The side effects (hair loss, weight gain, dry skin, bloating, moodiness, fatigue) were just not fun, so I knew I needed to get off the pill.

So, that’s my story in a nutshell. I just stopped taking the pill a little over a week ago, so not much has happened with regard to my hormones, but I know I’m in for an adventure. I’ll be sure to keep you guys in the loop with how things go!

Question of the Day

How are your hormones? Any words of wisdom for making this transition easier? 

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Dear Mark: Collagen Peptides, Fasting vs Sleeping, Dog Bone Broth, and Pork Broth

Inline_Dear_Mark_Collagen_PowderFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering four question. First, are collagen peptides just as effective as bone broth or other collagen sources? Second, how should I choose between IFing or sleeping like a baby using pre-bedtime nutrients that may impede autophagy? Next, I explore whether you should be making dog bone broth (it’s not what you think, so don’t worry about that). And finally, what are some of my favorite pork bone broth recipes?

Let’s go:

Nicole asks:

Hello – I am wondering if anybody has any opinions on the Pacific Organic Bone Broth one can get at Costco. I’m skeptical it is the “good stuff.” Also, do collagen peptide powders offer the same benefits?

I haven’t tried the Pacific broth, but a good rule of thumb is to look at the protein content on the label. If it’s high, you can assume it’s high in collagen.

Collagen peptides appear to have many of the same effects as broth or straight collagen or gelatin powder. They should. They’re made of the same stuff, only more digestible.

Collagen peptides improved body composition, increased fat free mass, and boosted strength in sarcopenic (muscle-wasting) older men. No, collagen amino acids don’t directly contribute to muscle protein synthesis, but they are protein-sparing—when you eat collagen/gelatin/collagen peptides, you need fewer amino acids from more androgenic sources to get the same effect.

Collagen peptides derived from beef bone and pork skin improved quality of life and subjective pain levels compared to placebo in osteoarthritis patients. Just like gelatin/collagen does.

Drinking fermented milk with added collagen peptides increased collagenous amino acid levels in plasma.

Peptides certainly work. But so does straight-up collagen or gelatin (or bone broth, for that matter).

Stefan M. wonders:

Hello, Mark! I have a question. I’m a fan of the IF protocol, but I like to eat a tablespoon of honey, of coconut oil, and drink a big mug of bone broth 30 m – 1 hr before sleep.

It knocks me out good. I’m following your suggestions for sleep!!

The problem is that my schedule is most compatible with a eating window from 8 AM to 12 PM, so say I drink the bone broth at 9 PM; I fear it could affect the autophagy effects of fasting.

Are the quantities mentioned going to break fasting-induced autophagy? If so, how could I make it up, if I still drink before bed because it’s so helpful?

Should I try to make a compromise or, say, add 2 daily-long fasts a week; or one 5 day-long fast a month, or whatever, for enhanced autophagy? What would be most effective?

If I cyclically switch between a carb-loaded crossfit training period (high stress and high energy requirements) and a more relaxed ketogenic weightlifting training period (maintenance rather than constant pushing), what’s the best course of action for each scenario?

On the hierarchy of health decisions, sleep trumps almost everything else. If a spoonful of honey, a mouthful of coconut oil, and a big mug of bone broth are the key to getting you 8 hours of solid sleep a night, it’s worth giving up a compressed eating window. And besides, bad sleep kills autophagy.

You could try introducing one intervention at a time. Try the broth alone at night for a week. Try the honey alone at night for a week. Try the coconut oil alone at night for a week. You may not need all three to get the desired effect. Broth alone could do it.

As to the last question:

I find keto-based strength training works very well with both a compressed eating window of 6-8 hours or occasional 24-hour fasts.

For CrossFit, don’t fast every day, but make sure your fasts fall on days you don’t train. A fast could be a full 24-hour one or a compressed eating window.

I don’t think 5-day fasts are necessary. It sounds like you’ve got your ducks in a row. You’re sleeping well, training regularly, dipping into keto—you’re promoting plenty of autophagy. Just not convinced a 5-dayer offers anything special to someone like you, except maybe as a feat of endurance and courage and fortitude.

Which is important, too.

Pippa asks:

I have a question- my butcher sells bag of bones for $2. They would be perfect for broth making, however they are labeled “dog bones” and are not stored cold (they just sit in a trolley in the middle of the shop). Would they be safe to use for broth making?

I wouldn’t risk it.

Bobby Walker asks:

Any pork bone broth recipes out there? I have about 12lbs of pork bones but haven’t had a clue on what to do with them.

Thanks in advance.

I like a simple Asian pork broth.

Put bones in pot, fill with water, bring to boil.

Dump out the water, save the bones. Clean them under running water, making sure to remove as much blood as possible (use a butter knife or chopstick).

Add them back to pot with fresh water, a big wedge of smashed ginger, some green onions, and that’s about it. Maybe a few cloves of garlic.

Simmer or pressure cook until the resultant liquid gels. Season with salt and/or tamari sauce.

Another pork broth I’ve enjoyed is a rich brown one.

Roast the bones plus some onions, carrots, garlic, and tomato paste at 400 for 40 minutes, or until dark and golden brown.

Add contents of roasting pan to pot, cover with water.

Deglaze roasting pan with big red wine, about a half bottle to a bottle’s worth. Keep the heat on so help break down the alcohol.

Add deglazed scrapings and a bay leaf to the pot.

Simmer or pressure cook until gel occurs.

Vastly different from the more delicate Asian-style pork broth, though. Keep both around for different purposes.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

Be sure to help out down below with any answers you can expand on.

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Stream Fishin’

Good morning, friends! It’s been a little lonely around here without Mr. Mazen. He’s in Cali visiting KK for the week. Whenever Mazen is out of town I try to do things I might not normally be able to do, so Thomas and I went to a Friday night yoga class at Elements.

The class was packed, and we did an hour vinyasa flow in dim lights. The best! It was Thomas’s first hot yoga class, and he really liked it. That had me thinking that I’ve been doing hot yoga for 8 years or so now. Love it, and wish I went even more!

Afterwards, we had a little Friday night yoga social.

For dinner, we ate leftover chicken and bean bake and capresé salad and sipped rosé.

 

Saturday morning breakfast sammie: bacon, egg, and cheese on Cville Crunch.

I went to the gym and had a wonderful facial from Alyssa! She is the BEST. The ACAC Spa uses Eminence products aka the best smelling facial products ever. They are all botanically based, and it’s an aromatherapy experience like no other facial I’ve had.

After my facial, I did a quick stairmaster workout and came home to tidy up the house before going to lunch and the pool.

T and I went to Bodos, and I had plans to get a salad until he ordered the lox bagel and I knew I would be jealous so I had to get one too! So delicious.

We spent a few hours relaxing at the pool, which was all I wanted to do on a Saturday afternoon! It was quite cool out, and I was almost cold in the shade!

Saturday evening we drove out to a friend’s house for some Phishing.

Thomas told me his friend was going to “stream fish” after dinner, and at first, I thought he said “extreme fish” and imagined an after-dark fly fishing experience. When he corrected me that we would be “streaming fish” I pictured big nets in a stream near his house. After all, we did go fishing last weekend.

I burst out laughing when I realized he meant live stream the PHISH concert!!

The guys set up a big canvas (while I happily sipped some wine)

The projector worked perfectly it felt like we were at the concert! I am not a Phish fan in particular, but they do make good music.

Well after dark we had brats from JM Stock, capresé salad from our garden, and cauliflower rice with broccoli. And chips!!

I can’t wait to tell you more about my Sunday!!

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