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Very low carb diet made my m.e worse, anyone know why?

Discussion in 'Gastrointestinal and Urinary' started by anniekim, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. anniekim

    anniekim Senior Member

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    A few months back I went on a very low carb diet in a bid to lose some of the twenty kilos I've put on in recent years due to being bedridden ad now housebound

    The carb intake was low enough to induce ketosis. I know even a well person will feel a bit rough for a few days when going into ketosis. However, all my symptoms became much worse, especially pain and even though I lost a few kilos and the low carb helped with my sugar cravings I had to stop as my functioning dipped even further

    I remembering reading somewhere that there may be a reason why people with m.e cannot tolerate low carb diets, but I can't remember for the life of me what the reason was. Does anyone have any info/ideas? Many thanks in advance.

    Although I couldn't tolerate a really low carb diet, I do find my appetite is more stable if I do not eat too many carbs, especially refined, but even complex ones. Since having m.e, I find I have a very big appetite and feel hungry constantly. I try manage this by eating small meals throughout the day always with protein, but I hate the need to constantly eat.
  2. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Hi anniekim - sorry you've had trouble with this. I've been on a relatively low-carb, but not low enough for ketosis, for nearly a year and have lost about 12 kilos. I was advised to eat meals with a piece of protein the size of my fist and a piece of carb (fruit, etc.) slightly smaller, to help keep my blood sugar steady. It has worked well for me.

    I have helped manage my appetite also by eating soup with my two main meals and eating apples with two meals (the pectin acts as an appetite suppressant, apparently).
  3. rwac

    rwac Senior Member

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    I have never been able to tolerate a very carb diet either, and a lot of the paleo people are now realizing that you need atleast some carbs. You might want to read http://perfecthealthdiet.com/ for Paul Jaminet's take, he thinks you need atleast 100g a day. Not eating carbs will put a stress on your system as it converts protein to glucose or fat to ketones.

    The way I look at it, is that weight loss is not the biggest problem, and I won't push myself to lose weight at the cost of feeling worse.
  4. xchocoholic

    xchocoholic Senior Member

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    I tried going really low carb for a few weeks too but I finally had to eat some carbs because my blood glucose level stayed too low and I was ready to pass out. That's when I started eating a little fruit throughout the day. My glucose monitor showed that I wasn't getting over 67 even with a meal.

    I stayed on a low / moderate low carb / paleo diet for a few years and was ok as long as I ate the fruit as needed. I "think" limiting carbs helps our liver enzymes but I can't remember why or how .. lol .. it has something to do with how our livers process carbs tho. Maybe fatty liver ?

    tc .. x
  5. richvank

    richvank Senior Member

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    Hi, Anniekim.

    I'll offer my views about this, based on the GD-MCB hypothesis for ME/CFS.

    Most PWMEs/PWCs benefit from a relatively low carb diet, because most have a partial block in the Krebs cycle at aconitase, due to glutathione depletion. This means that they will have difficulty burning both carbs and fats as fuel. However, protein can be broken down into amino acids, which can be converted one to another by transamination reactions, and in this way can be fed into the Krebs cycle beyond this partial block, and thus can be used as fuel to produce ATP.

    Now, what about a very low carb diet? I think there are a couple of problems with that. One is that because most PWMEs/PWCs have low cortisol secretion as well as disregulated cortisol secretion (which I think is due to glutathione depletion in the pituitary, interfering with production and regulated secretion of ACTH), it is difficult to maintain the blood glucose level up in the normal range, and since glucose is normally the main fuel for the brain, this can affect brain function. Hence the dizziness that was reported.

    The other problem with a very low carb diet in ME/CFS is that some carbs are necessary to feed the pentose phosphate shunt on the glycolysis pathway. This shunt produces NADPH, which is needed by the glutathione reductase reaction to recycle glutathione when it becomes oxidized. If the carb intake is very low, this reaction may not be able to keep up with the oxidation of glutathione that occurs because of oxidative stress. This will cause cells to export the oxidized glutathione, lowering the glutathione level in the cells even further, and ultimately also lowering the ratio of reduced to oxidized glutathione in the cells. Because so many of the symptoms in ME/CFS are due to the depletion of glutathione, this will make the person feel much worse.

    So I agree with you and others that it is a good idea to keep some carbs coming in. At the same time, sugars and white starches should be avoided, because they feed yeasts and because they have a high glycemic index, which makes the blood glucose level spike up, and this in turn causes more of the carbs to be converted to stored fat, producing weight gain.

    Ultimately I think the answer is to lift the partial methylation cycle block by use of a methylation treatment, which will restore glutathione and get the Krebs cycle back into normal operation. In the meantime, a diet relatively high in protein, but containing some carbohydrates from above-ground vegetables is probably about the best diet for most PWMEs/PWCs.

    Best regards,

    Rich
  6. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

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    Apologies anniekim but delighted to see Rich's take on this - I've had an unusual craving for proteins in all meals over the last year or so and can now see the reasoning.
  7. Sasha

    Sasha Fine, thank you

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    Hi Rich - I'm wondering why above-ground vegetables rather than below-ground ones or fruit - is it because of lower glycaemic index?
  8. Sing

    Sing Senior Member

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    Hi Everyone!

    1. I think that carbs help the brain get serotonin (tryptophan and serotonin) which helps with pain relief and well being.

    2. Here is a question for you, Rich: Why do a lot of us test out as having "low protein" in the blood? I test this way when I am
    sure I am getting enough protein for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    3. Another thought about the high protein and fat diet with very low carbs--Wouldn't this be hard on the kidneys? The high protein part
    anyway.

    Sing
  9. u&iraok

    u&iraok Senior Member

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    You might try a high quality whey protein. It's easy to digest and very bioavailable.
  10. richvank

    richvank Senior Member

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    Hi, Sasha.

    Yes. The roots are used to store starch, as in potatoes. Some of the fruits have high glycemic indexes, and some are not too high. Fruit juices generally have high indexes, because the fiber in the fruit has been removed.

    Rich
  11. richvank

    richvank Senior Member

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    Hi, Sing.

    That's right. The increased tryptophan absorption by the brain is another beneficial effect of carbs.

    Low protein in the blood in ME/CFS can have two possible causes, and sometimes both are present: The first is that many PWMEs/PWCs have problems in their digestive system that cause poor digestion of protein and/or poor absorption of the resulting peptides and amino acids. The second is that because of the partial block of aconitase, the cells are using amino acids for fuel more than normal, and this can lower blood protein levels.

    I haven't heard of kidney problems very often in ME/CFS. It's true that a high protein diet will result in more urea production by the liver, which must be disposed of into the urine by the kidneys. It's also true that a high protein diet tends to make the urine more acid, and that can increase the reabsorption by the kidneys of toxins that are in the form of weak acids. But I haven't heard of a lot of kidney problems. One more thing I should mention is that if there is a leaky gut condition, there can be more passage of oxalate into the blood, and this can cause various problems (which Susan Owens has pointed out), including encouraging the formation of oxalate kidney stones.

    If I'm wrong about this, I hope people will let me know.

    Best regards,

    Rich
  12. mellster

    mellster Marco

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    What about digestability of proteins? While they might be healthy per se, I have noticed that carbs are often much easier to digest (esp. fruits on empty stomach), this is esp. important for people with IBS so that they don't cramp from excessive protein intake. Thx & cheers
  13. Mya Symons

    Mya Symons Mya Symons

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    I also have problems with low carb diets to the point that I almost black out. I become dizzy, nauseous, and my vision becomes dark when I stand up. I do get this at times anyway, especially when it is hot out, but it is much worse on a low carb diet. I read an article a while ago in which the author claimed that women should not go on low carb diets and they can actually end up with brain damage. It had something to do with evolution and us being the gatherers; thus, we are more predisposed to get energy from carbs, not protein. I don't know how much of this is true, however.
  14. heapsreal

    heapsreal iherb 10% discount code OPA989,

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    i posted this in the other diet thread, but initial weightloss is a large water weight loss and a loss of alot of electrolytes etc mainly potassium, this is what can make alot of people feel sick or yuk on low carb diet and can lower blood pressure etc this normally only occurrs during the first week or 2. Green veges can help with potassium as well as supps and also they make a diet salt that has higher level of potassium then salt which can help when u use it to salt your food.

    As for tryptophan, if u supplement with trypto use it a couple of hours after food as it wont be competing with other amino's to get through the brain to make serotonin and melatonin.

    I have been on low carb diet for a few years eating high protein and also because of antivirals i get regular liver and kidney function tests that have always been good. But i always supplement with NAC which i feel has helped protect my liver.

    cheers!!!
  15. Sing

    Sing Senior Member

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    I started a thread on March 12, 2011 http://forums.phoenixrising.me/showthread.php?10555-Chronic-Kidney-Disease-and-ME-CFS&referrerid=0

    which suggests that CKD or chronic kidney disease may be more common that we realized in ME/CFS. It may occur more often in older patients or those who have been using NSAIDs or other medications which are hard on the kidneys such as anti-fungals like Ketoconazole and Diflucan, I believe. I've been on all those things in the past, am now in my 60s and have a GFR in the 50s. I haven't been to a kidney specialist but have read that avoiding too much protein is important. I bet, as Rich suggests, however, we may have more of a need for protein than do people who metabolize normally. I don't know the answers. Sometimes I feel as if I am being herded into a box canyon!

    Sing
  16. heapsreal

    heapsreal iherb 10% discount code OPA989,

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    From what i have read, high protein intake is only a problem if you have a prexisting kidney dysfunction. Many cfsers are on a few different meds , so it would be wise for us to take things to improve or liver and kidney function. Alot of diabetics end up with renal failure problems but i think this is related to constant high blood sugar levels, so if this is the case then avoiding carbs and stabilizing blood sugar levels could also help maintain kidney function. Its all a balance and i suppose theres no one size fits all either.

    cheers!!!
  17. madietodd

    madietodd Senior Member

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    One problem in discussing this is that "low carb" means many things to many people. My Adkins sister defined it in terms of ketosis, and I use it much more loosely to indicate a diet where carbohydrate comes mainly from non-starchy vegetables.

    That said, and using my definition, what are people's opinions about a healthy low-carb diet? I apparently have some kind of pre-insulin-resistance thing going on** and I should eat low carb. But what does that really mean? Fruit sometimes, or pretty much never? Carrots OK in soups, or not a great idea? Is a hunk of chocolate after a full meal OK once in a while, or a really really bad idea?

    I don't understand exactly what the problem is, and so can't figure out how severely to restrict myself. I have noticed a huge improvement in brain function - no fuzzy brain at all - since almost stopping eating grains, and completely stopping legumes.

    I hope I'm not hijacking the thread, or that you'll forgive me if I'm moving it sideways for a minute.

    Madie


    **On the Diagnos-Techs saliva test, my fasting insulin is 11, high normal, and non-fasting (after a 50mg carb load) is <3, depressed. My doctor seemed much more concerned about the former number than the latter.
  18. kurt

    kurt Senior Member

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    Regarding carbs in our diet, I became carb intolerant a few years into my ME/CFS. But I lost too much weight on a low-carb diet. So tried all kinds and discovered 'The Body Ecology Diet' which includes ancient grains. For some reason those non-gluten grains are far better tolerated by myself and other ME/CFS patients I know. So if anyone here needs more carbs but is stuck being intolerant of them, that is something to try. The Body Ecology diet also uses quinoa, which has high amino acids and protein, and also is alkalinizing (the only grain that is not acidifying).
  19. anniekim

    anniekim Senior Member

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    Thank you for the helpful replies and thanks rich for your theory, very interesting

    Kurt, may I ask what do you mean exactly by being carb intolerant? What are the symptoms? Thank you
  20. heapsreal

    heapsreal iherb 10% discount code OPA989,

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    i think carb intolerence and insulin resistance are basically the same thing, sort of, insulin resistance means your body has to produce alot more insulin to move carbs into the cells for energy then a normal insulin sensitive person. Now insulin is called the fat hormones as it shuttles all our excess carbs we eat into fat storage and high insulin levels also make it hard to lose weigh. Low carbs and high protein dont stimulate insulin as much so it then becomes easier to lose weight plus we allso burn off all our stored carbs within 3 days on average and then tap into fat storage, this is when ketosis starts to kick in. So the secret of low carb diets is keep insulin secretion low. Dr atkins had a way to find your upper carb by reducing carbs to basically zero for 2 weeks and this would get u into ketosis. He then mentions buying urine keto testing sticks for measure ketones in urine. Now he would have someone increase their carb intake by 10grams a day of health carbs, mainly fibrous veges and if still in ketosis, add another 10 and so on. He had some that could tolerate 100grams of carbs but many were probably around the 50grams of carbs a day and a few hard losers need minimal carbs all the time. This is basically a do it yourself way of finding out how much is too much carbs for you and helps keep insulin low, which is the secret.

    There are many diets which are basicall low carb and maybe better suited to others like the caveman diet where more fruit and veg is eaten etc. its trial and error to find the best approach.
    Out of interest if you gogle metformin which is a diabetis drug it works by improving insulin resistance and is used off label for a few conditions like weight loss an antiaging etc and seems to work well with low carb diets for losing weight.

    cheers!!!

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