Hello fellow paleohackers.
I am 29, I practice Jiu Jitsu at least 3 times a week, I am in good shape, not overweight and have been paleo since October, LC probably between 50g and 100g of carbs.
Last December I got my blood tested and my TC and LDL were quite high.
TC 6.5 mmol/l = 251 mg/dl Triglycerides 0.7 mmol/l = 62 mg/dl HDL 1.4 mmol/l = 54 mg/dl LDL 4.8 mmol/l = 185 mg/dl
Lately I have also linked something I had been diagnosed for when I was a kid (histamine intolerance (HIT) causing severe urticaria), with some strange symptoms that I had nowadays (constant bloating, occasional diarrhea, sometimes hitching). I then started a low histamine version of my paleo diet which makes things much better (but it's quite annoying).
Now it seems that HIT is caused by low levels of diamine oxidase (DOA), which is a copper regulated enzyme. Jaminet in his book perfect health diet, suggests that the single most common cause of high LDL in low carb eaters is a copper deficiency.
I have now started supplementing copper and I am hoping to solve both issues. Anyone else in a similar boat? What are your thoughs?
It is hard to see if you are copper deficient from labs as far as I know.
Nevertheless if you supplement with a small amount of copper daily you don't even get as much copper as you would if you'd eat liver once a week. My plan is to try to eat more liver and supplement less anyway. Jaminet in fact advises to supplement copper, but not zinc in general.
These are best zinc sources: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=115
These are best copper sources: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=53
It's easy to see how a paleo diet is easily shifted towards having more zinc (i.e. beef) and being deficient in copper if you are not eating liver.
Some interesting studies relating copper deficiency and DOA deficiency: Plasma Diamine Oxidase Activity Is Greater in Copper-Adequate than Copper-Marginal or Copper-Deficient Rats ( http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/1/30.short )
Copper supplementation of adult men: effects on blood copper enzyme activities and indicators of cardiovascular disease risk. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9439530
edit #3: Robb Wolf just answered my question on his latest podcast:
He thinks there could be a causation between high LDL (although he says my values are pretty much OK), and histamine intolerance as this could cause chronic inflammation and hence rise LDL cholesterol.
I'm a histadelic, and a mostly veggie diet keeps it well in check, and veggie diets are notorious for the copper load.
I've always thought that a vegetarian diet is just low in histamine (and histidine) in general, but maybe it does have something to do with copper also?
Btw, I get severely sick from offal like liver, and it's the same for other people I know with histamine problems as well, so I don't know about the connection with liver + copper.
It could also be the amount of folate too in liver, since folate is a big, big problem for histadelics, the mental problems associated with histadelia are sometimes even treated with blocking folate in the body. I am usually pretty stable mentally, but when supplementing with folate, for even a couple of days, I do go a bit "crazy".
The copper in liver does not seem to offset the problems of the histamine itself in liver, and also the folate of course.
And as for zinc; histadelia is treated with zinc, and b6, and it helps, so I don't know about the connection with the copper theory.
I just had blood work done by SpectraCell Laboratories. It analyzes these:
I came back deficient in:
I came back borderline in B12, Pantothenate, Choline, Insulin, Fructose, Spectrox Immunidex.
Though an insanely long elimination diet with repeated food challenges, I've concluded my problem is likely Histamine Intolerance. The 5 minute long sneezing fits when I eat a variety of foods high in histamine seem pretty straight forward. However, I wasn't 100% sure if the severe muscle cramping, tension headache, brain fog and sometimes migraines were related to histamines, or something else. When I googled "histamine intolerance" and Copper, I found your post.
Interestingly, the discussion which came with the lab results mentioned that folates are required for "metabolism of methionine, histidine, tryptophan, glycine, serine and formate." Is histidine metabolized into histamine? If so, I'm a bit concerned about supplementing with folate. However, I'm starting on chromium. copper & b12 today.
It would really be great if the root cause of my apparent histamine problem was really a mineral deficiency.
In any event, these lab results give me a bit of optimism, and some some objective measurements which I hope can help me dial in my diet. Through my diet eliminations, I have a much better understanding of food and its effect on me. I now know that eating cheddar cheese 3 meals in a row will provoke a blinding migraine. BTW, 3 years ago, I was getting about 24 migraines per year. In the last year, I had only 3 (all were after cheese and/or yogurt).
BTW, How do you do eating liver?
As to your concern about cholesterol:
I just had my first cholesterol test after going Paleo. I'll be reviewing the VAP scores with my Paleo Doctor (I found him on the Paleo Physicians Network). Here are the common #'s:
Total Cholesterol: from 196 -> 260
HDL: from 36 ->52
LDL from 144 to 192
Tri 82 to 121
Tot Chol / HDL from 5.44 to 5.17
Tri / HDL from 2.28 to 2.33
LDL / HDL from 4 to 3.69
Here's the VAP Stuff:
Thanks for your post, and your well formed question to Robb Wolf,
Copper is present in about 21 different enzymes, and its importance has been known since 1928.
For example, one important enzyme is histaminase, which breaks down histamine. So all allergic people, who overproduce histamine, certainly need to ensure that they have normal copper levels.
I'm just going to add that I've got HIGH copper, LOW zinc tested via urinalysis and also Spectracell intracellular blood test; and I have histamine intolerance. I just did a Nutra-eval via Genova labs and look forward to results in a couple of weeks. I'll keep you posted if you want.
I also have high LDL but I'm wondering if it's because of a cytochrome P450 detox problem (Phase 1)? I've had Cyrex Array 5 which showed equivocal antibodies (to cytochrome P450, and also according to my genetic results I'm a "slow" caffeine metabolizer. http://1.usa.gov/15EkSN9 I have a polymorphism in my CYP1A2 gene. (Re: slow caffeine metabolism and heart attack risk: I've also had a heart attack even a month after having given up caffeine/coffee. I think because of my histamine load; this was because I didn't understand histamine yet!) Just My Experience.
Edit to add: I don't have the MTHFR gene defect, but I do have other methylation cycle polymorphisms according to 23andme genetic results. From this I have learned that I should defer from sulphur foods, avoid B6 and more. I was doing opposite, so I'm doing another about-face with the diet.
There is actually some discrepancy about the copper/zinc and histamine question, and it may be different for different people, especially between men and women. Women need more copper and men need more zinc (though both are essential). They usually see-saw, so if you're high in one you'll usually be low in the other.
I have read, though that zinc (esp liquid forms) reduce copper more efficiently than the other way around. The Weston Price Foundation has a lot of information on mineral balance and traditional diets, and indicates that high histamine also indicates low copper, but copper in particular can be difficult to test for.
dotslady, did you ever have a hair analysis? Blood tests and urinalyses aren't the best way to test minerals, especially the trace minerals (and yes, I'm familiar with both Spectracell and Nutra-eval). Sometimes it's a question of bioavailability rather than a total amount of a mineral.
A lot of people DO have a copper toxicity/zinc deficiency problem; that tends to be more common. I had that at one time. In my case, though, liquid zinc caused a copper deficiency and I supplemented for a while. Years after changing my diet and after my 2nd baby in 2 years (I also have 6 older children), I apparently gradually and unintentionally knocked my copper levels too low.
I'd never had most of the classic histamine-related symptoms, unless it was temporary, mild, and corrected itself. But I haven't been healthy since having my last child. EVERY symptom I've had, including the histamine problem, has also been copper related (according to many many published studies.
I was nervous about supplementing, and still don't know if I'm taking enough (I'm sure I'm not taking too much). Copper is involved in blood sugar regulation, blood pressure regulation, collagen and elastin (including in your gut), vein/artery integrity, cholesterol metabolism, mast cell population/degranulation, etc, the synthesis and breakdown of neurotransmitters, adrenal hormone production, thyroid regulation, and even nerve function/myelination (I was having peripheral neuropathies as well, mimicking B-12 deficiency, which I had tested and was higher than normal)... There are enzymes (DAO is one of them) that are copper dependent. So you can have a low amount of DAO OR you can have a sufficient amount of DAO that's not as active as it should be because of a copper deficiency (which can explain why some people can have a histamine intolerance but not low copper).
Right now I am supplementing with a small amount of copper gluconate (chelated) - 2.5 mg/day; upper tolerable limit from what I've found is 10 mg. I've read that you shouldn't supplement more than 5 mg/day without a doctor's supervision (yes, it's possible to get too much). The problem is I haven't had a very good test for it yet, and I haven't found a doctor who knows enough about it to guide me. I've had some improvement with some symptoms (especially the peripheral neuropathy; at one point I was twitching and so weak on my left side I couldn't stand), others seem to go in cycles, and then sometimes other symptoms get worse or appear. So the copper may not be the only issue, but I'm fairly certain it's a significant part of the picture.
Oh, and the other thing I should mention is that a lot of the foods that are highest in copper are also high histamine, which kinda complicates the whole increasing your levels through diet alone if you are having a histamine problem.,
The issue with serum copper and ceruloplasmin is still a bit debated, at least in regards to "sub-clinical" deficiency, and there is still the issue with reference ranges not being specific to gender. That would make more sense considering the fact that women need more copper than men do. If you read published studies on copper deficiency, most of the time it isn't discovered until after CBC's show anemia and/or neutropenia (if then). At that point, supplementation usually quickly corrects the blood profile, but by then there is often irreversible neurological problems. What I can tell you from my experience is this: my blood levels are all "in range" (though some, including serum copper, are "low normal"), but my neuro symptoms got so bad at one point that I went to the ER with facial twitching and left-sided numbness/weakness that was so bad I couldn't stand. I have had trouble maintaining a normal electrolyte balance, but supplementing with potassium didn't consistently help. I tried B-12, but that didn't do it either. Finally, when my acupuncturist clued me in that DAO, one of the enzymes that breaks down histamine, is copper dependent (along with B6 and vitamin c), I considered my history, including diet and supplementation, and decided (skeptically) to try supplementing with copper. Cautiously. My neuro symptoms have improved for the most part. I'm still having some digestive issues and difficulty eating without some kind of reaction, but it's better than it was. My blood pressure and blood sugar have also improved.
Additionally, there is a very good way to check zinc status and you can do it yourself. I was actually extremely zinc deficient at one point, and had this verified with two other lab tests. Get a liquid zinc supplement/tally (amazon has a few different ones) and put a tablespoon in your mouth and hold it there. Count to 10. The longer it takes you to taste it, the lower your zinc levels. The first time I did that, I thought the dr. had given me water. Both spectracell and hair analysis showed low levels as well. I supplemented until I could taste it. Now, though, I taste it immediately and it's so strongly metalic I can't stand it. You have to be careful, though; liquid zinc is so effective at reducing copper levels that it is used to treat Wilson's Disease, which is a genetic problem in which the body retains too much copper. The two minerals do tend to see-saw, and in my experience, hair analysis, which gives a picture over about a 3 month period and is gender and age specific, is the better way to go on that. The last time I did it, which was a follow up after supplementation, they actually told me to supplement a little bit of copper for a month because it was getting low, and I didn't have any symptoms at that point, but did fine with it. I want to do it again asap, because I feel like I'm flying a bit blind at this point but don't have the money right now. It doesn't seem to be as easy to tip the balance back by using copper to lower zinc for some reason. Probably because you do need more of the latter, and food sources that are higher in copper are also usually higher in zinc.
I've done quite a bit of nutritional research on nutritiondata.self.com and put together a soup that I seem to tolerate pretty well and I usually feel the best on the days I eat it: homemade duck soup (with the whole duck boiled first, broth, meat, and liver used in the soup) with onions, garlic, carrots, turnips, celery, green beans, and asparagus. Duck is higher in copper, lower in zinc, and is one of the few meats that is mildly - moderately anti-inflammatory. And everything else seems to be ok with the histamine thing and it doesn't raise my blood sugar too much.