I'm a noob looking for some advice. I'm 35 years old, 295 lbs. I had a mild ischemic stroke about six months ago (completely recovered already from the speech problem and paralyzed arm). They never were able to explain the cause and I'm just on aspirin and a low dose of zocor as treatment.
Up until the stroke I ate the worst possible diet: pizza, burgers, 3-4 beers every friday and saturday evening, chips, junk food, fried breakfast with hash browns and toast, etc. pretty much my entire diet for 20-25 years.
I also led a very stress filled life. 60+ hour work weeks, lots of office politics bullshit keeping me up at night etc. I've toned that down a bit now by backing off on the career.
I've been trying to do the stroke guidlines diet they gave me (low fat, lean meats, lots of "whole grains" etc. and doing light exercise (Walking) but I still feel like shit.
A friend who's into the paleo diet suggested getting some blood tests done for the feel like shit thing (and also turned me onto this site). So I ordered a couple from ZRT labs website (cheaper than paying for an office visit to the doctor). Turns out I have low vitamin D (12ng/ml) and low testosterone (180 ng/dL).
I'm going to schedule a visit to the doc to talk about this next week, but I'm curious for some thoughts from you guys.
I've been reading (here an elsewhere) about low D and Testosterone and supposedly I can fix the D problem by getting outside more and taking some supplements, and the low testosterone seems to be a mixed bag of "just get shots" advice and "you can get it to normal ranges through diet and heavy weightlifting".
I'm curious for your opinions on that. Is 180 so low that I have no hope without some creams or injections, or can I fix myself if I start living right?
Any suggestions for other things I should ask my doc to check out when I go talk to him about this?
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It's common for overweight to obese males to have testosterone levels below the normal range.
As you become leaner, reduce dietary carbohydrate and increase your physical activity (particularly resistance training) your testosterone will rise naturally. No shots required.
Because you mentioned low T and stroke I'd recommend vitamin k2-mk4 along with any vitamin D you decide to take. It's my understanding that T shots can be for life, so while I value the importance of low T, and believe me I think that's a serious issue, Id recommend cutting your BF levels before starting TRT (down to at least 30% BF).
Sounds to me like you desperately need a health care professional you can trust. My criteria would be:
- Will support a diet opposite the one you've been eating (more meat, no grain)
- Will help you get to the root of your low T problems without rushing right into T replacement
If you can find that doctor, you'll save yourself a lot of work. The doctor you're seeing may not fit the bill.
I think you're going to find a lot of opinions on the side of "you can fix yourself" around here - as a good portion of us, myself included, have been seriously misled [to our detriment] by western medicine. Results are largely anecdotal, but are based upon an understanding of the biochemical function of our bodies. Take it for what you will, and remember that the funded studies you may see out there directly contradict some of what you'll read here; nonetheless, here we stand as proof that our methods have worked.
I'd definitely recommend reading some Mark Sisson and Paul Jaminet if you're interested in the subject. Deep Nutrition is another of my favorite nutritional books if you feel like reading further after the aforementioned.
With that preface:
I'd recommend starting a 5k or 10k IU vitamin D3 supplment daily. I like Country Life's gel caps; whomever you choose, try to opt for an oil/gelcap. D being a fat-soluble vitamin, it should never be powdered or pressed. Many fish oils will give you a good dose of DHA/EPA as well as a little bit of D3 (take note of the actual amount if possible, I think the FDA definition of "100% daily value" is something like 400 IU. This is utterly insufficient alone if you are already deficient). Also take note that it is actual D3, Cholecalciferol, not D2 (some reasons provided here).
I've read that the body can generate a sufficient daily value of vit D in 30 minutes in direct sunlight, but it is noteworthy that amount and absorption vary with elevation, latitude, skin type, and the body's ability to generate/convert it. Being as deficient as you are (I would aim for 60 - 70ng/ml), regular supplementation plus some sunlight for the next six months or so is a good idea. You may want to re-test come summer and re-evaluate your supplementation at that point.
As for the T, that is another liver-based function. Repleting the body on fat soluble vitamins (A, D, and K) is going to help the general state of your liver and alleviate some strain on it. Adding some dietary cholesterol may be beneficial as well (which a paleo/primal diet will inherently do), since our steroid horomones are directly derived from cholesterol, which is either generated by the liver or converted from dietary cholesterol. Given the state of your vitamin deficiency, the liver may not have had much time to work on generating hormones. Alleviating the need to create cholesterol is one less of the MANY (34?) functions the liver will need to spend time performing.
The other big thing that plays into testosterone production is thyroid health. You may benefit from including an iodine supplement for a while (I, again, like Country Life - kelp tablets). Exercise a sense of moderation in iodine supplementation - with something like vit D, excess will just be stored, but in the case of iodine: you can get too much. I take a couple of kelp tablets a week with normal levels, you may find value in including one a day (I think one tab is ~150% DV). Including some fish and seaweed in your diet will help with this as well.
And, aside from that, a general paleo/primal/perfect health-ish diet should help improve your state significantly.
You may want to read a bit about goitrogens, given that you likely have thyroid issues considering the state of your hormones - don't overthink the list (brassicas especially; the benefits outweigh the potential negatives), but consider where you may be getting doses of things like soy and peanuts.
I would also offer the caution not to jump fully on the low-carb-bandwagon that exists within the paleosphere; some amount of carbs are (arguably) necessary for thyroid function, and are (less arguably) essential for thyroid repair.
And finally: alcohol will screw with your baseline hormone levels. Lay off for a bit if you can.
Good luck, try not to let it feel too overwhelming/daunting... at the core of things, I'd really just say "eat real food" and try to spend some time reading and educating yourself when you can. A core understanding of how nutrients play into bodily processes has done more than I can ever relate for the general state (and understanding) of my health.
Read Perfect Health Diet (Jaminet) and follow its paleo-like diet and suggested supplementation. It might be tough to adjust in the beginning, especially because you will be consuming a whole lot less carbohydrates. Exercise more frequently and intensely as you lose weight and feel comfortable with it (..and your doctor approves). Don't worry about low T right now. Get tested again in several months after you lose 50+ lbs.
PS - Perfect Health Diet is the sort of book your physician should read. It's extremely well researched, complete with numerous references. Your physician might not agree with all that is suggested but would at least say there is some justification for what is said.