So many readers have written to ask what supplements I recommend to Protocol Participants (and where to find them), I’ve decided to add them here in one thread, along with occasional coupons and other useful links that are scattered in several of my posts.
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Not all Participants take or need every supplement here, and individual lists (including the amounts and time of day to be taken) are based on the results of metabolic blood tests, but every item on this list has been extensively tested to make sure it’s actually useful. This is important because I’ve noticed a trend over the last few years of prospective Participants taking a wide range of useless ‘weight loss’ supplements (like Green Tea Extract) that promise to ‘burn fat’ without any scientific rationale at all. Which means they do nothing at all. Or they’re taking a less bio-available form than is optimal, or even taking the right supplement at the wrong time of day. Sometimes that matters. A lot.
With the exception of NOW Foods Thyroid Energy, there are no recommended multivitamins. My research has shown that not only can’t you control the amounts of each particular vitamin or supplement in them, they often use the cheapest, least effective form. Magnesium Oxide instead of Magnesium Citrate, for example, or unbuffered Vitamin C (tough on the tummy), or Vitamin B12 as cheap Cyanocobalamin, instead of the superior, more bio-available Methylcobalamin. And they tend to have added sugars to mask the bitterness of many of the ingredients as well as the cheapest types of fillers.
Links to buy each item are also given, for two reasons: each is the best of its kind for the least cost, and clicking the link provides a few pennies (without costing the buyer a penny more) to help support this blog. 🙂
Every item on this list is designed (in no particular order) to:
1. Bring down blood pressure.
2. Bring down triglycerides and increase HDL.
3. Relieve constipation.
4. Lower inflammation.
5. Reduce blood sugars.
6. Aid thyroid hormones.
7. Help with Vitamin. D absorption.
8. Raise Vitamin. D level.
9. Reduce high insulin levels.
10. Assist adipose fat burning.
11. Relieve Thyroid Hormone Resistance symptoms.
If you have a proven supplement you’d like me to add to the list, please send the name, purpose and link in the comment section below and I will test, then post it.
1. Country Life Vitamin D 1000. Softgel, NOT from fish liver, which means you don’t have to worry about excess vitamin A. Take one four times a week in the evening in winter, fall and spring. Three times a week in summer.
For UK Readers (who get less sunshine): Country Life Vitamin D 2500
2. Life Extension Magnesium Citrate 160 mg. One with a meal, and one every evening. If you are Hypothyroid and/or suffer from constipation, take an extra one in the morning as well. This mineral is crucial to human health and although we used to get sufficient amounts from food, world-wide depleted soil makes that impossible.
For UK Readers: Phi Naturals Magnesium Citrate
3. Solaray Calcium Citrate, 250 mg. One in the evening. This is the best bio-available form, and unlike calcium carbonate (though there is a bit in this), will not cause constipation. The label says 1000 mg per serving, but that’s for four caps and you only need one, so there are 480 servings per bottle.
4. MK-7, 100 mcg. This is a bio-available form of K2, which is crucial for Vitamin D and Calcium absorption. MK-7 directs calcium to your teeth and bones (where it belongs) and away from building up plaque in your arteries (where it most definitely does not belong). To learn more about why K2/MK-7 is so important to your heart health, read the definitive book on the subject: Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life.
For UK Readers: Troo-Care MK-7
One with food and, for those who are insulin resistant or diabetics, one in the evening as well. This is the only K2 I’ve found in softgel form, which is the recommended by the author. Do not take Vitamin D or Calcium without taking K2!
5. Buffered C with Bioflavonoids, 500 mg. Best relief for constipation, for fighting off illnesses, and for general well-being and health. I take 1000 mg per day and (knock on wood) have not had so much as a sniffle for years. Take 1 capsule once per day with food for general health, or two capsules twice a day if hypothyroid and/or insulin resistant.
For UK Readers: Ester-C with Bioflavonoids, 500 mg.
6. Best Naturals R-Lipoic Acid. Lipoic acid (LA) plays an important role in glucose metabolism and energy production. Because it is soluble in both water and fat, LA is known as the “universal antioxidant.” LA occurs in two forms, designated as “R” and “S.” Studies suggest that RLA, the natural form, is more biologically active than the S form. For those suffering from ‘brain fog’ in general, or from Hypothyroidism, the results of taking R-Lipoic Acid are remarkable. Within three weeks of my starting to take this, my ‘senior moments’ and words on the tip of my tongue were gone, and during the four years I’ve taken it, they’ve never returned. Take one every morning.
For UK Readers: Jarrow R-Lipoic Acid
7. Acidophilus Pearls. Probiotics provide relief from constipation and lactose intolerance. Seriously, it works. One every morning.
For UK Readers: Pure Biotic Acidophilus Pearls
8. Ubiquinol. If you are over thirty, or at any age have high blood pressure, heart disease or on any type of statin – and you take nothing else – take this. Ubiquinol is a stabilized form of co-enzyme Q10 (the cheap stuff you buy on the drugstore shelf, which is ubiquinONE, not ubiquinOL). Ubiquinol is a fat-soluble, vitamin-like compound found in every cell of the body, including the brain. We normally synthesize ubiquinol from ubiquinone (found in food), but begin to lose the ability to synthesize steadily after age thirty, so taking Co-Q10 is useless. And statins reduce ubiquinol in the body by 40% – which is why any ethical doctor tells patients to supplement with it when they hand over a statin prescription.
Mitochondria in cells use ubiquinol to produce energy. Co-Q10 is found in highest concentration in cells of organs that require large amounts of energy, such as the heart, and it helps to keep arteries soft and supple. Although it takes a long time – about 6 to 8 weeks – to build up in the bloodstream, the blood-pressure lowering results after that can be dramatic. As if that wasn’t enough of a benefit, it’s also a powerful antioxidant.
If you are under forty, have normal (less than 120/80) unmedicated blood pressure, no heart disease risk (like high triglycerides over 100), or are not on a statin, take 50 mg. in the morning. Otherwise, take 100 mg. in the morning.
For UK Readers: Ubiquinol, 50 mg.
Thyroid Hormone Resistance – Hypothyroidism:
9. NOW Foods Thyroid Energy. Although I’d like to believe that my Protocol can help heal any metabolic problem by itself, severe thyroid hormone resistance sometimes needs extra support. Just as severe insulin resistance needs Metformin. This is one supplement that actually does this, and does it so well it actually raises low body temperatures within a few weeks. My research indicates that thyroid hormone resistance needs extra zinc, selenium and copper, and this supplement provides it all, along with B vitamins (including B-12 in its best bio-available form: Methylcobalamin) and iodine. More about which, below.
Warning on Label: If you are taking any thyroid medications, MAO inhibitors, or any other type of anti-depressant medications, please consult your health care practitioner prior to use.
Although the label recommends 2 capsules per day on an empty stomach, I find this so powerful and effective I take only one capsule four times a week with a meal, and take one 12.5 mg Iodoral the other three days.
For UK Readers: Now Foods Thyroid Energy
10. Iodoral, 12.5 mg from Optimax. We are becoming an iodine-deficient nation in general, but those who eat a non-processed food diet have a likelihood of serious deficiency. Women and those with Hypothyroidism in particular have need of this essential element. Read more here. Warning: There is ongoing controversy about taking iodine supplementation if you have Hashimoto’s Disease, which can only be determined through blood tests. If you do have Hashi’s, consult with a medical practitioner before taking this. Take one daily with meal on a day when you do not take Thyroid Energy.
For UK Readers: Iodoral, 12.5 mg.
Inflammation and Joint Pain:
Adipose fat is not just a benign lump of flesh. Cutting edge research has shown that it almost “has a mind of its own” and does not willingly or even always take orders from our brains. And what that mind likes to do most is send inflammation throughout the body (often indicated by elevated triglycerides), and especially to joints and arteries.
When inflammation attacks joints, it inflicts two types of damage: pain, and destruction of joint cartilage in hips, knees and other places. When cartilage is gone and joints are “bone-on-bone” the pain becomes even more severe. Worse: inflammation is one of the leading causes of heart disease and increased risk for heart disease. It shortens our life-spans, too.
There are three supplements that my research indicates (and for which I can personally vouch) have an astounding ability to reduce the pain of inflammation, though it takes several weeks for them to build up in the blood stream. And after trying it myself on two knees (one bone-on-bone already, and one almost there) for the last three weeks, I can recommend Hyaluronic Acid to mimic the lost cartilage and reduce pain even more. Joints depend on synovial fluid to lubricate joint tissue surfaces, reducing friction. The primary component of this synovial fluid is Hyaluronic Acid, which is the active substance in Synvisc – the injections for knee joints that can alleviate pain for three to six months.
There are claims that it can, taken long-term, actually rebuild cartilage, and I agreed to ‘test’ that theory for my orthopedic surgeon by having new x-rays six months after starting it. We’ll compare earlier x-rays to see if those claims are true. However, I can now say that walking, even up or down stairs is no longer painful or a problem, and the knee that still showed a small amount of remaining cartilage on the last x-ray now feels perfectly normal. No more creaking or crackling noises when I bend it either. That is definitely progress!
When pain hits, we want it to go away. Fast. Taking an Nsaid to relieve an acute problem like the occasional headache or sprained ankle is fine, but handling the chronic pain of the arthritis that inflammation can cause is tricky. Whether prescription (Celebrex, for instance) or over-the-counter medications (like Aleve or Tylenol), long-term use of these pain-killers are not without the danger of kidney and liver damage, and even elevated heart disease risk. Luckily, there are natural pain-relievers that don’t cause these problems, even long-term, don’t have toxic side effects, and are as good as Nsaids at lowering inflammation. Double-blind studies have shown them, in fact, to be better.
11. Boswellia Extract, 307 mcg. I’ve found these to be even more effective than Now Foods double-strength boswellia, and though I now take it twice a day (one in the morning and one before bed) for my knees, I took it four times a day (every six hours) before my recent hip surgery and required no standard pain-killers at all. Give it a few weeks to work.
For UK Readers: Swanson Double Strength Boswellia
12. 5-Loxin Boswellia Serrata Extract, 150 mg. For serious chronic pain, this is an extract of the most active ingredient in boswellia: AKBA. “5-Loxin is the only boswellia supplement to deliver 30% AKBA for truly superior, reliable results. Clinically investigated, safety-confirmed 5-Loxin has been shown to produce noticeable results in as little as seven days.” For supplementation amounts, follow directions on the label.
For UK Readers: Life Extension 5-Lox Inhibitor
13. Jarrow 95 Curcumin. The yin to boswellia’s yang, curcumin is one of the most effective anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatories nature has to offer. In fact, in a recent double-blind controlled test, the combo beat Celebrex hands’ down for pain relief and lack of toxicity or other side effects.
The problem is that to get enough of it you’d have to eat a pound of turmeric a day. Luckily, there are several companies now offering extracts, though they’re pricy. I’ve avoided the ones with ‘piperine’ (an extract of black pepper), which is touted to make the curcumin more bio-available, because my research shows that it really doesn’t do that and, there can be digestive problems with taking too much. Life Extension has created a very concentrated form of curcumin without piperine that seems to be more bio-available than anything else I’ve found. The good news is that after it builds up in your blood stream (taking one a day) you can take one every other day to maintain the level. And right now Amazon has it on Subscribe and Save.
For UK Readers: Jarrow 95 Curcumin
To read more about the many benefits of Boswellia and Curcumin, go here.
14. NOW Bromelain, 500 mg.
Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme derived from the stem of the pineapple plant that has protein-digesting properties. When taken with food, Bromelain can help to support healthy digestion; when taken between meals, it may help to support joint comfort and may help to relieve temporary soreness that is associated with muscle overuse. Bromelain is designed by nature to support proper gastrointestinal function and may also help to promote the comfort of muscles and joints. It also helps heal tissue after surgery. Do not take if allergic to pineapple or its derivatives.
Warning for all four: Do not take these if you are on blood thinners without consulting your physician.
15. Jarrow IronSorb, 18mg. Iron supplements and I do not generally get along. I don’t care what they or reviewers say about being “gentle on the stomach.” They aren’t usually gentle on mine. But when I ran into a bout of anemia after surgery a few years back, this particular form of iron – Iron Protein Succinylate (IPS), an iron complex that is specially prepared to reduce irritation of the stomach in comparison to other forms of iron because it dissolves in the intestine – worked as advertised. Jarrow is the only brand that seems to make it.
For UK Readers: Jarrow IronSorb
16. Hyaluronic Acid, 100 mg. Research this stuff – it’s amazing. In its most effective liquid form, it’s also out of the price range for anyone but champion race horse owners. Humans need about an ounce of the stuff a day, about a quart a month. Which sells for over a hundred bucks. A month. Yikes. I did massive research on this (claims are made about whether “low molecular or high molecular” structure is more bio-available, but there are precious few controlled trials on it – and the few out there are on horses) before deciding on Now Foods Double-Strength. It was the only one that met my two criteria: no other pricy but useless junk like MSM, Glucosomine, Chondroitin – not one of which has ever passed a controlled trial, and which can raise blood sugars and blood pressure. And it delivers 100 mg. per capsule, which is the minimum that seems to be required for efficacy. Although it’s on Amazon’s Subscribe and Save for 60 caps, the 120 cap price with free shipping is a slightly better deal at the moment. Take one in the morning and one at night for several weeks or until relief, then try tapering off to one a day and see if that’s enough to maintain relief.
17. Folate Unlike the cheap folic acid in multi-vitamins that must be converted to active folate by your body – and we continue to lose that conversion process as we age – Fully Active Folate provides MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate), the folate form most directly required for DNA regulation and other fundamental metabolic processes. If you have high levels od inflammation or homocystine, you should take folate daily.
18. Lemon Balm (Melissa). Wonderful as a natural relaxant and sleep aid, but also a help for anyone with hyperthyroidism. Should not be used by those with hypothyroidism.
Although the ‘range’ of normal is < 150, true normal triglyceride levels are less than 100, and even lower is better. This is because triglyceride levels are directly tied to blood sugar control – or not. Which makes sense when you think about how insulin resistance works in this regard. Consumed carbohydrates convert to glucose in the bloodstream after a meal. That glucose is toxic, which is why the pancreas raise insulin: to remove the glucose from the bloodstream and deliver it (mostly) to your skeletal muscles, where it is used as energy. But when you are insulin resistant, that is – your muscle cells are now resistant to insulin’s ‘message’ – the glucose is refused. It cannot go back to the bloodstream, so it is sent down to the liver, converted to triglyceride, and stored as adipose fat. The more insulin resistant you are, usually the higher your triglyceride level. And since high triglycerides are an indicator of higher heart disease risk, reducing that level is crucial.
In fact, although almost every lipid test result shows a ratio of Total Cholesterol to HDL as your ‘risk factor’ for heart disease, it’s actually useless. Why? Because unlike triglycerides, total cholesterol has absolutely nothing to do with heart disease. More about that here. A quick search on Google will show that in the last five years (at least), medical research has shown the most reliable and predictable indicator of heart disease risk is the ratio of non-fasting triglycerides divided by HDL. Why non-fasting? Because taken one or two hours after eating a meal shows precisely how tight your blood sugar control really is.
The lowest risk of that ratio is expressed by < .9 – with every tenth of a point indicating higher risk. My non-fasting triglyceride level is 77 (fasting: 42). My HDL is 100. 77/100 = .77, even lower than the lowest risk. But if you have a non-fasting triglyceride level of 125, and your HDL is 25, your number is a whopping 4.0 — and you are in trouble. You almost certainly have Pattern B LDL, and not the heart-protective Patten A, as well.
Reducing insulin resistance and increasing insulin sensitivity will help, as will taking anti-inflammatories, but that takes time. During the process, taking fish oil can also help lower triglyceride levels as well, and that means high levels of DHA as opposed to lots of EPA. The best and most cost-effective capsules I’ve found are these: Mega-DHA 1000 mg.
BLOOD SUGAR TESTING KIT:
Bayer Contour Next Complete Diabetes Testing Kit contains everything you need to test your blood glucose levels: 100 Test Strips, 100 Lancets, Lancing Device, Control Solution, Owners Logbook, Reference Guide and Manual
THREE GREAT BOOKS:
My readers know they should eat lots of fat, and Participants on the Maintenance phase of Protocol know they must eat lots of fat – but not everyone knows how to cook with a lot of fat. 🙂 This wonderful book: Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient (with recipes) by Chef Jennifer McLagan shows you how to buy it, render it, and cook with it. The recipe for Roasted Marrow Bones is worth the price alone. I cook from it all the time.
Of course, if you have been living on fast or ‘convenience’ food and don’t know how to cook, this #1 bestseller in Food Science book covers all the basics – and in nearly 1000 pages, a lot more. The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. Sounds like a plan to me. 🙂
Finally, to understand why you should be eating fat – and lots of it – my favorite book to date is The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz. An award-winning journalist, Teicholz has written a book that you will love, learn from – and probably throw across the room after reading all the lies you’ve been… fed. A New York Times bestseller and one of The Economist’s Books of the Year 2014.
METABOLIC SYNDROME XX
CONTRIBUTOR TO INSULIN RESISTANCE and DIABETES, TYPE 2:
Starting Protocol may be a good way to begin to reverse insulin resistance and regain muscle cell insulin sensitivity, but in the most stubborn cases, especially with the insulin resistant variant of PCOS I call Metabolic Syndrome XX (because men can get it too, besides being the genetic carriers) sometimes that’s not enough. As someone with Metabolic Syndrome XX, I had good reason to do exhaustive research and testing on how to ameliorate it. Unlike regular Metabolic Syndrome X, which is characterized by low HDL, high Triglycerides, high fasting insulin and blood pressure readings and obesity, MSXX sufferers have excellent HDL and Triglycerides, and perfectly normal fasting insulin and blood pressure. About the only thing they have in common with Metabolic Syndrome is excess belly fat, which is why it is almost never diagnosed by regular doctors. They’re looking in all the wrong places. As you will also see, following either Paleo and Atkins diets can sometimes be a disaster for folks with MSXX.
People with MSXX have great insulin levels, but that insulin is bone lazy and insufficiently active to handle normal glucose consumption. A dead giveaway to this condition is having 2-hr PP’s consistently higher than 1-hr PP’s – when it should be in reverse. That’s because insulin activity fails after an initial leap. The second condition of MSXX is generally high Cortisol and runaway Gluconeogenesis. Gluco = glucose. Neo = new. Genesis = birth.
Gluconeogenesis is an evolutionary species survival adaptation and usually benign. It allows our bodies to create glucose from the protein we eat, when we have consumed insufficient carbohydrates for our brain’s needs. This was great for our hunter/gatherer forebears, and works today for Peoples who still eat their traditional very low carb diets, like the Inuit. Since humans are not nocturnal animals, it allows our brains to get the glucose it needs at night, when we do not normally consume food.
In folks with MSXX however, gluconeogenesis often takes place without need, and continues long past fulfilling our brain’s requirements. This is often accompanied by persistently high cortisol at night, which keeps you up or wakes you in the middle of the night, and then suppresses insulin, which raises blood sugars. Think of that as MSXX’s Triple Whammy. You don’t eat sugar but make it anyway from your protein, your cortisol lowers your already lazy insulin, and your lazy insulin, unable to handle even normal glucose intake efficiently – now has even more glucose to handle!
You can see how this is a recipe for getting fat and staying there, despite changes in diet. And why any diet that emphasizes lots of protein and very little or no carbohydrate will not work for these people, or at least not for long. Which tends be (but is not always) women, who often write on Paleo or Atkins blogs that although the diet/s worked for them for a brief while, progress has stalled. Occasionally for years. Replies sometimes cruelly insist the OP must be “doing it wrong” but that is not the case. The problem is MSXX.
Wait, it gets worse. Because gluconeogenesis involves the liver, which needs ample supplies of ferritin (storage, as opposed to serum iron), runaway gluconeogenesis plays a role in Thyroid Hormone Resistance – a particular form of Hypothyroidism. Folks with MSXX tend to have extremely low ferritin levels, and they are the very ones who have trouble taking Cytomel, an excellent hormone treatment for THR, without raising their blood sugars sky-high. Every medical study on this issue concludes that ingested thyroid hormones raise blood sugars, and that diabetics should consult doctors before taking any, but none of them investigated why this should be so.
I have. Just as Cortisol suppresses insulin, thus raising blood sugars, so too do thyroid hormones suppress insulin. When I tried to take Cytomel to raise my T3 and lower my high Reverse T3, my fasting blood sugar, normally 89-93, rose to 105 within five days. I stopped taking the hormone, but increased my research. A blood test showed my ferritin level to be 11 – the sub-basement. Thyroid blogs indicated that ferritin levels needed to be between 70-90 in order to take thyroid hormones effectively, but none of them said why. It took me a while, but I finally figured it out. Just as improperly folded leptin pools in the bloodstream and never reaches the brain with its ‘fat messages’ — so too ingested thyroid hormones must pool in the bloodstream (where it suppress insulin, thus raising blood sugars) because there isn’t enough ferritin to let it reach the liver.
What I know about medical research is that researchers don’t generally look at the big picture of anything, but tend to think in silos. Straight up and down one narrow area. My hypothesis was that whenever they tested thyroid hormones on women and came up with increased blood sugars, they never bothered to test ferritin levels first. What if I could raise my ferritin level — thereby providing my liver what needs to create T3 despite MSXX and lazy insulin — and then take Cytomel? Would that allow my liver to finally utilize it, so that it wouldn’t pool in my blood and lower insulin/raise blood sugars?
In order to test this hypothesis I first needed to find something that would specifically raise ferritin levels (as opposed to regular iron supplements, that tend to raise iron serum). I already ate liver on a regular basis, and my low ferritin levels said that wasn’t enough. What I needed was some kind of super food. It took a while, eventually I found one. Molasses. As you can read by clicking the link, this food has everything a metabolically challenged person would need to help with insulin and thyroid hormone resistance. On paper, anyway.
To put it to the test, I first needed to find a concentrated form that wouldn’t require downing tablespoons of black strap syrup a day. Luckily, some excellent Molasses powders are now available. You can get already made capsules (with regular iron that often causes constipation), or as I prefer, the pure NGO powder itself (without fillers) that with the use of a capsule machine let you make a thousand capsules for a fraction of the price.
1. Molasses Powder, Organic/Non-GMO.
2. Capsule Machine. I use only vegetarian capsules because they never ‘melt’ or get bent out of shape in summer’s high humidity. I can make two dozen 00 size caps in about five minutes with this.
3. Capsule Refills. Since the machine lets me buy all sorts of supplements in bulk and make my own caps for a far lower cost, I use it for a lot of things. I even buy fermented cod liver oil in the bottle (cheaper than the caps) and fill my caps with that, too. They never leak. *** Make sure to buy vegetarian capsules, and not gelatin, which soften in the summer and become hard to fit together!
DID IT WORK?
Long story short – it did! I took two molasses caps daily with water first thing every morning for three months, and then had my ferritin tested. It was 75. So yes, molasses powder did raise my ferritin. But . . . would increased ferritin prove my original hypothesis, that my liver would now be able to absorb Cytomel, instead of having it pool in my bloodstream where it suppressed insulin and raised blood sugars?
I took the Cytomel, using the regime I’ve created to raise body temps to normal, increase T3 and lower reverse T3. After a week, my fasting glucose remained steady. After two weeks my body temps began to rise, but I noticed something strange. My fasting glucose had dipped a bit. After two months I had ‘captured’ a normal average temperature of 98.6 – but – my average daily fasting glucose had lowered to 79-83, a full ten points lower than I’d ever managed, even with Protocol. I discontinued the Cytomel, no longer needing it, but have continued to take the Molasses powder daily. And my fasting glucose has remained rock solid. So my initial hypothesis – that raising ferritin would allow absorption of T3 without raising blood sugars, thus disproving every medical study on this issue – was correct. And my hypothesis that molasses would raise ferritin levels was also correct.
But it led to a greater mystery. Why did molasses lower my fasting glucose by a statistically significant amount? I’ve been taking molasses for well over a year, and during that time I tried to disprove this by stopping the powder for a few weeks, during which my fasting glucose slowly rose to its previous levels. When I took it again, my FBG dropped again. I did this several times just to make sure. The results were always the same. Clearly, there was cause and effect
Then I wondered – was molasses actually doing a bad thing by raising insulin levels, which would lower my fasting sugars, but not in a good way? For the last several years my fasting insulin level had been 4, which is true normal (though not as excellent as < 2). I went for an insulin test and the results stunned me: < 2. Which means that the molasses powder had actually made my insulin more, not less, efficient. Which is what lowered my FBG!
I immediately recruited a few Protocol Participants to try this. They had the same results: higher ferritin, increased insulin efficiency, and lowered fasting blood sugars. What great news for them, and for everyone with MSXX.
The problem was, and this is why I have not written about this here until now – I didn’t know WHY molasses was doing this. What property did it possess, aside from the ability to raise ferritin, that would increase insulin efficiency? It took my discovering some older research (now gaining new medical and research prominence) on another substance altogether to let me put in the final piece of the puzzle.
A member of the Vitamin B family, inositol is a key intracellular signaling molecule responsible for, among other things, optimal cellular glucose regulation by modulating insulin sensitivity. And a deficiency of which is related to the pathology of both insulin resistance and hyperlipidemia and PCOS, to name a few. Just those three items alone should set off light bulbs in the heads of anyone reading this. It certainly did in mine.
The research above was fascinating, a sort of reverse of the serum leptin craze that Big Pharma went through when leptin was first discovered in 1994, and found to be missing in enormously obese people. But as Big Pharma found out, what those folks (often upwards of 400 pounds) were actually missing was the enzyme that allowed fat cells to make leptin. Which is why, only after they spent millions of dollars on trials to inject leptin into merely fat people, they discovered that the injections were useless. Fat people have more leptin in their bloodstreams than slim people, not less. Any reader of my blog knows why: insulin resistance interferes with the ability of the ‘chaperone’ protein, the endoplasmic reticulum, to help leptin fold into the correct three-dimensional shape to cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the hypothalamus. The leptin pools in the blood instead, thus making the brain believe its body is skinny and starving.
But with inositol, it’s the opposite. Slim people with healthy metabolisms (fat burning, not fat storage machines) retain their inositol, which helps fat burn. People with excess adipose fat eliminate inositol via their urine, losing a vital piece of the fat burning machinery. This was shown by the research, which administered glucose load tests to normal weight and obese people. But instead of using the test in the regular way – checking on rising blood sugar levels – they checked inositol levels in the urine of the test subjects. And sure enough, normal weight people retained their inositol; overweight people eliminated almost all of it. Not a good thing.
Although a long analysis of inositol’s molecular structure and cellular makeup and interaction within the body is beyond the scope of this thread, there’s a lot more information here. What interested me was – could oral supplementation of inositol override the biological loss, just as oral T3 supplementation bypasses the T4 to T3 or Reverse T3 conversion? And if so, what form of inositol would work? There are several forms of inositol, but aside from plain inositol, the main three are: d-pintol, myo-inositol and DCI (d-chiro inositol). Some are more readily converted and utilized in the body. DCI is the most expensive (by far!) and ostensibly used for fat loss, myo-inositol is touted as best for fertility problems caused by PCOS.
Which brings us back to molasses. Because – surprise – molasses is loaded with inositol! Could this be the reason molasses not only raised my ferritin level but made my insulin more efficient while lowering my blood sugars? If so, would consuming straight inositol in addition to molasses help to burn additional adipose fat? I’ve been on Lifetime Maintenance for a long time, but although my weight and clothing size has been very stable, my waist was still a few inches larger than I would like. Since there’s nothing special about the stuff in molasses, I decided to do a trial with plain, inexpensive Inositol.
When it came I put half a teaspoon in water and stirred. It totally dissolved and was tasteless. There was a very slightly sweet taste in the back of my mouth when done (it, like many forms of Vitamin B is essentially a sugar, though a very helpful kind), but even that disappeared if I used a bit more water. Would it spike my blood sugars? I took it either an hour before eating or at least two hours after eating, because it must be converted to be used by the body, and it competes with glucose for the same conversion enzymes. The problem is, glucose is fast, and inositol is slow. It is my (unproven) contention that this is why insulin resistant, overly fat people pee it out: if it goes unconverted because glucose (of which there is normally a lot in insulin resistant folks) got to the conversion enzyme first, the body probably has no further use for it and simply eliminates it. Upcoming inositol research may well show this to the be the case.
Two weeks after I began taking a single double-dose (half a teaspoon vs. one-quarter teaspoon on the label, though that says “two to three times a day) before bed, I made the following observations: my blood sugars remained stable, I lost another four pounds that has remained off, and a full two inches off my waist, which has also remained off. I continue to take a single dose of inositol every other night or so. I confess, I don’t always remember. 🙂 Though I do remember to take my molasses caps every morning.
But n=1 isn’t enough to recommend it to you. I turned to my son, who at six-foot tall and weighing 148, should have been seen as skinny, but was not. He had a belly, and it was fat, though every other part of him was thin. VERY thin. He was a TOFI – a new medical classification: Thin Outside, Fat Inside. Given his height, weight and waist size: 36 inches, his body fat percent classified him as overweight/obese. He had PCOS. That’s right, PCOS, right down to his 2-hr PP being higher than his 1-hr PP. It was that realization that sent me back to research, where I learned that the insulin resistant variant (which I’m sure you can understand my renaming to Metabolic Syndrome XX) has a genetic component, that men are the primary carriers, that they pass it down primarily to women — but that they can get it themselves. And my Protocol had not been sufficient to fix his, even though he’s lived sugar-free and high fat for years. In fact, nothing worked, not even weight training, though of course I knew that for folks with MSXX, exercise only leads to high cortisol, runaway gluconeogenesis and high blood sugars.
I put him on the same dose of inositol, for one month. At the end of that month, the following was true: he weighed 142 pounds (where he has stayed for several months now, despite continuing the inositol, which confirms my theory that fixing a problem stabilizes you at healthy levels) — and his waist was now 31 inches. He went down two pant sizes, and could actually pull his old pants over his new ones; there was plenty of room. He had to buy new belts, too, since he went past the last hole.
I asked a few former (now healthy) Protocol Participants to try it. The result was the same: a last few stubborn pounds and waist inches disappeared.
And I figured it was time to tell you all about it. 🙂
A woman cannot live by supplements alone. Coffee – great coffee – is a necessity! I roast my own green beans, and then let my super-automatic espresso machine do the rest. No question these machines are expensive, but if you buy one that’s well-built (more metal than plastic, for one) and take care of it, it should last years. I researched every machine available (for under $2000), and dismissed all Capresso machines. It was only after I had one that I realized the brew head (which you want to keep scrupulously clean) could not be removed. It had to be done by a service company. And Capresso only allows one – that’s one, singular – in the entire country. You have to ship it back to them and only them. Same for any repairs. That’s crazy.
That left me with a list of features that make a super-automatic worth having. Ability to program auto on and off times. The Accademia has three on and six off. A Burr Grinder for the beans. The Accademia is the only model under $4000 that has a flat burr grinder, rather than a conical burr grinder. Conical grinders bring out the bright acid tones of the beans. Flat grinders (often used by Baristas in good coffee shops) bring out the deep, low acid chocolate tones – my favorite. Great crema. Duh. Buttons for instant Cappuccino, Latte and Macchiatto. Check. Easy removable brew group and cleaning ability. Yep. Ability to customize everything: amount and temperature of water and foam, type of grind and amount of beans ground. Yes, Yes, and Yes. Great coffee. Oh, yes. 🙂 By the way, although it’s commonly misunderstood, espresso has the least amount of caffeine per cup, drip coffee the most. That’s because the faster you push the water through the grounds, the less caffeine goes with it. The slower the water goes through – drip, drip, drip – the more caffeine in your cup.
A word of caution. The Gaggia Accademia is mostly stainless steel and weighs over forty pounds, though it has a small counter footprint. And though it comes with a one year parts and labor warranty, you’re responsible for shipping costs, though during that year it’s subsidized and only $39. After that year though, you’ll pay both ways. Amazon offers a 3-year (or 4-year) warranty that will cover shipping both ways. Just one use will have paid for the cost. I normally don’t buy extended warranties, but think it’s worth it in this case.
Kitchen Tools, Food Processors and Oven Thermometer:
Mason Jar Sealer Kit: Includes Wide Mouth and Regular size BPA-free jar sealers plus hose to work with just about any food sealer. Sadly, they no longer make the electric free-standing handheld model I’ve been using for years. But the jar sealers are amazing. Open crackers, take what you want, vacuum seal the rest in a mason jar, and they will stay fresh and crisp till you open it again. Can be resealed over and over – and works great on perishables like berries, too.
Digital Instant Read Food Thermometer with Calibration and Backlight Functions, Digital Cooking Thermometer $15.97
I have the original version, without the back light. Works great for any kitchen use – but I wish I had the back light.
At only $12, I have two of these. One in the house that I use for planks, push-ups and counting up when roasting my coffee beans – and one in the car to use in the gym for my Body By Science workouts, where only a count-up will do. The large magnetic back sticks beautifully to the equipment.
Stainless Steel Fine Mesh Splatter Screen with Folding Handle and Resting Feet $7.96
If you cook with fat, you need a spatter screen! Even on your Instant Pot when brownibg food. This one will fit any size pan large or small, and cleans easily by hand or in the dishwasher.
Digital Food & Medical Scale with LCD Display, Stainless Steel — 100% 5-star reviews!
- Stainless Steel platform; Non-slip mat; violet back-light LCD display with negative white digital, even can be used in the dark; Light weight, easy to store; easy to clean.
- High-precision sensor for accurate results: 4 high precision sensors (Unit-conversion switch (g/kg/1b/oz/ml/milk ml) to accurately weigh solids and liquids; Memory function for last unit setting; Volume Measurement supported.
- Automatic zero point tracking: Tare function can reset the current weight on the scales to zero, quick unit conversion.
- Automatic switch off after 70 seconds of inactivity. Low batteries indicator.
All three of these food processors do really different (amazing) things. The Hamilton Beach even dices, and I’ve never heard of food processor able to do that.
Braun FP3020 12 Cups — $160
Cuisinart Elite FP-12DCN 12-Cup Stainless — $202 (white or black are cheaper)
Hamilton Beach Professional Dicing Food Processor 14-Cup — $200
So you never have to open your oven door to see the temperature inside:
Maverick OT-3BBQ Kitchen Thermometer
BLOOD SUGAR TESTING KIT:
Lots of folks have asked me how to get started testing their fasting and Postprandial blood sugars. This kit has everything you need, including the Control Solution (which lets you know the meter is working within correct parameters, and which is usually sold separately).
Contains: Next Meter, 100 Test Strips, 100 Slight Touch Lancets, 1 Lancing Device, Control Solution, and 100 Alcohol Prep Pads
I’ve had and loved the original model for ten years. It’s a large counter top convection oven and a full-size, full-featured microwave – and it does both functions at the same time if desired, as well as slow cooks. And with a stainless steel interior, I can use metal in it, and clean it easily with Barkeepers Friend. I chose this model because it’s the only one that allows you to do microwave/convection at whatever temperature you choose, not a preset. And I can do 10% microwave, 90% convection (for baking), or 30% microwave 70% convection (for roasting). A baked potato is done to perfection in 30 minutes. An entire roast chicken, ditto, and juicier than just roasting it, with crispy skin. If an appliance is going to take up that much real estate in my kitchen, it had better perform many, many functions!
It’s finally giving up the ghost (works fine but the dang carousel keeps turning while the door is open), so I started researching what was out there. Surely in ten years new tech would have come out with one that also does laundry or the dishes. 🙂 But after reading all the manuals of the other few micro/convection ovens out there, Sharp still offered more features, more options and gave me more control over cooking. Problem is, I didn’t want to buy a model that old, even if recently manufactured. Then a few months ago – and about time – they came out with a brand new model. It has all the great features from the model I have, and a few more bells and whistles. Hella expensive – though you save a bit if you get the white model – but when I bought my original it was $399 – ten years ago! – when you could buy a microwave at a box store for $29.99. On the other hand, it basically gives me a second oven in my kitchen (one I use all summer, so I don’t heat up the room), a full microwave, and a combo that cuts cooking time almost in half. That’s worth something.
Don’t know why Amazon doesn’t have the specs yet on new model, but you can read them all, and download the user guide plus a cookbook on Sharp’s site here. And since there are so few reviews for the new model, you can read all 425 reviews and the 87 answered questions for the original model (mine) here.
Kitchen Tools, Food & Books for UK Readers
Dualeco Silicone Kitchen Gloves – because safety matters. These are Waterproof, Heat Resistant (up to 500 C), Oven, Grill and BBQ Gloves with Non-Slip Fingers. Great for pulling a sourdough loaf from a blazing oven, or lifting the (hot and steaming!) inner liner from your Instant Pot.
Maverick OT-3BBQ Kitchen Thermometer (for serious cooks; this is what I use)
Polder Kitchen Timer with magnetic back and neck cord – perfect for Body By Science workouts
French Organic Polenta – Coarse (perfect for Grits!)
And of course – Instant Pot Duo-60
Made from high carbon high grade German Martensitic steel – gets sharper, stays sharper for longer
Full Tang three rivet construction (with brass rivets)
Dishwasher safe – But for optimum lifespan hand wash.
Comes with Acacia Block
Contains 8″ Chefs, Bread and Carving knives, Large Santoku Knife, 5″ Utility and 3.5″ parer knives, plus Ktchen Scissors and a Sharpening Steel
5 year manufacturers warranty
Three-stage for both Asian and European edges. Helps Repair, Restore and Polish Blades. Non-Slip, Ergonomic Design.
Set of 3, large, medium and small. BPA Free. Dishwasher Safe, Reversible, with Non-Slip Feet and a Deep Drip Juice Groove on one side, smooth on the other.
Emile Henry Oval Ceramic Casserole/Stewpot, Burgundy – 4.7 litres
If you could only own one pot, this is the one to have. It’s oval, so perfect for roasting chickens and other meats, stews and braises, and perfect for sourdough bread proofing and baking whether you prefer boules, batards or ovals. You can sear in it on the hob, then finish in a microwave or oven. Even cast iron can’t do that.
Material does not contain lead or cadmium, nickel.
Can use DIRECTLY on gas, glass, ceramic/halogen/ceramic, and electric hobs and also with a metal disc for induction. Oven, microwave and dishwasher safe.
Retains all the benefits of cooking in ceramic or clay with gentle, even cooking. The lid inner ridges creates steam that self-bastes the food. Easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
Made in France and guaranteed for 10 years.
I love Circulon. I’ve used mine for the last three years for everything: high heat nonstick, oven up to 180C, washed by hand or tossed in the dishwasher. It still looks like new, and the thick bottom cladding means it’s induction safe with no hot spots. Great reviews and reasonably priced. This is a starter set, but larger sets in this line are available.
Locking, 12″ heavy duty stainless steel. Mesh head design allows oil and juices to remain in the pan.
Lemcase Fruit and Vegetable Peelers – 3 Piece Peeler Set [Serrated, Straight, Julienne Blades] with Blue Silicone Grips
KitchenCraft Glass Pinch Bowls / Sauce Pots for mis en place. 55 ml /2 fl oz (Set of 4) – currently an Add-On product. Dishwasher and microwave safe. At this price, buy 2 sets.
Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food – a cookbook that teaches techniques, not just recipes.
Body By Science by John Little and Dr. Doug McGuff
In Body By Science, bodybuilding powerhouse John Little teams up with fitness medicine expert Doug McGuff to present a scientific formula that maximizes muscle development in just 12 minutes a week. Backed by rigorous research, the authors take you step-by-step through a high-intensity training (HIT) body-building program that will increase strength, build muscle and rev up your metabolism.
Best Naturals Ashwagandha is GMO and solvent free, in vegetarian capsules. Great for lowering stress and cortisol, as well as helping you achieve better workouts.