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    summergirl's Avatar
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    Low carb and poor stress response?

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    I went low carb/primalish at the beginning of the year to try to fix some health problems I have (probably about 100-120 g per day, no starches or sugar, only a tiny bit of fruit). I have always been slim (so I was not looking to lose weight), but I am prone to low blood sugar, intestinal issues, and acne. All of my problems improved after going low carb. After a couple of weeks, my digestive system was the best it had been in years and my skin was not only clear, but softer, smoother, and less sensitive. I was transitioning from vegetarian, so I was still eating some gluten and soy occasionally, but my problems cleared up despite this. I have since been diagnosed with celiac and stopped eating any gluten.

    After a couple of months, I started feeling like I didnít respond to stress very well. The sort of minor stressor like needing to finish a project by the end of the day, which would normally just make me focused, instead left me feeling like I could barely concentrate because I was so tense and hypervigilant. But it was not a useful kind of hypervigilance. I couldnít even concentrate on a conversation because if my attention wandered from the person for a moment, I wouldnít even hear what they were saying. I could only focus on one thing, and it was whatever was central to my attention at the moment. It felt like Iíd overdosed on adrenaline. It also took a long time to fade after the stressor was gone, sometimes hours. I didnít feel hungry, and I didnít feel like I had low blood sugar. It was completely reversed over a day or two by eating more carbs.

    Since then, Iíve mostly been trying to eat a little starch every day, mostly in the form of sweet potatoes and rice. I donít eat very much, maybe a tablespoon or two per meal, but it completely makes this problem go away. The problem is that my constipation and acne have returned, despite having almost completely removed any non-primal foods from my diet. Iím not sure what to do. Now if I try going low carb, I start seeing that same ďadrenaline overdoseĒ problem after about a day. What could be causing it? What am I doing wrong?

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    Knifegill's Avatar
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    I don't know. I experience this sometimes, too. I just thought I was more sensitive to caffeine now, but maybe there's more to it. Actually, I remember one day - a few weeks after really committing to this way of eating - a moment in the parking garage. I heard a noise, like a chirp, and my whole body froze, I got hot all over and felt huge energy, like I was ready to sprint if needed, and I could instantly hear every minute bit of sound in the whole area. So something has changed in regards to my attention span, but I think it's how it's meant to be. If we were too engaged in conversation to notice a twig snap in the woods behind us, we'd be extinct. Just a guess, I'm no expert. Hypervigilance is the norm for me now. I can only do one thing at a time, but I do it well. Great for phlebotomy!
    Last edited by Knifegill; 07-19-2012 at 05:49 PM.


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    It sounds like you're talking about a sort of broad vigilance and awareness for danger, which is different from what I mean. When I'm in that state, I think I would actually be completely useless if there was real danger. It's kind of hard to explain, but it's completely overwhelming.

    Have you seen Batman Begins? It kind of reminds me of how Rachel looks like she feels after she gets hit with Scarecrow's fear drug, where she's just kind of useless. I don't actually feel afraid exactly, but I am useless.

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    Never heard of that sort of reaction, but hey whatever you feel fixes it within the confines of a healthy lifestyle go for it! Do you have a history of anxiety or panic attacks? Dunno your psychological disposition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by summergirl View Post
    It sounds like you're talking about a sort of broad vigilance and awareness for danger, which is different from what I mean. When I'm in that state, I think I would actually be completely useless if there was real danger. It's kind of hard to explain, but it's completely overwhelming.

    Have you seen Batman Begins? It kind of reminds me of how Rachel looks like she feels after she gets hit with Scarecrow's fear drug, where she's just kind of useless. I don't actually feel afraid exactly, but I am useless.
    I have similar issues, feel hot in my face and feel like i just got injected w adrenaline.. For me i think i may have developed a severe intolerance to caffeine but idk still testing that out. I would describe my episodes as a bodily panic attack without the mental anxiety..i feel clear headed but my body is freaking out.

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    Have you tried magnesium supplements, provide a nice calming effect and take the edge off

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    summergirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neckhammer View Post
    Never heard of that sort of reaction, but hey whatever you feel fixes it within the confines of a healthy lifestyle go for it! Do you have a history of anxiety or panic attacks? Dunno your psychological disposition.
    No history of panic attacks or anxiety. Iím a pretty calm person generally. The problem is that eating more carbs fixes this specific problem, but then my other problems (acne and constipation) come back. I canít figure out how to balance the two!

    Quote Originally Posted by codered5 View Post
    I have similar issues, feel hot in my face and feel like i just got injected w adrenaline.. For me i think i may have developed a severe intolerance to caffeine but idk still testing that out. I would describe my episodes as a bodily panic attack without the mental anxiety..i feel clear headed but my body is freaking out.
    That does sound like what my experience, except I donít get hot in the face. I completely know what you mean about your body freaking out while your mind is clear. The only real anxiety I normally experience while this is going is wondering why itís happening.

    I am pretty intolerant to caffeine, but I never have it except a little bit in chocolate. I donít think thatís my problem because itís completely uncorrelated with the adrenaline overload feeling. But if I do have it, I think it can kick start it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiji Chris View Post
    Have you tried magnesium supplements, provide a nice calming effect and take the edge off
    I have some topical magnesium that I tried for a little while. It didnít make a noticeable difference and wasnít worth the trouble. Maybe something to reconsider, though. Thanks!

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    Turquoisepassion:
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    notontherug:
    the buttstuff...never interested.
    Tremendous worms of a swarthy nature pursue me across the sandy blank sky. I stop to think. What the devil AM I up to?!

    My pony picture thread http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread82786.html

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    I develop similar problems if I eat less than 100 g carbs per day for too long, and I think it is a result of the effect of food on brain chemistry. To oversimplify, proteins and fats stimulate the production of norepinepherine and dopamine, while carbs make serotonin.

    More dopamine and norepi in your brain results in greater focus and attention span. Those of us with ADHD can take meds to increase these two neurotransmitters and decrease our symptoms, but a lower carb and higher fat/protein diet will do this to some extent also.

    The low carb diet can, however, tip you over into hypervigilance and anxiety of you are not getting enough serotonin in your brain. This is the neurotransmitter that SSRI meds like Prozac work on, and not enough of it can make you feel anxious, hypervigilant, and/or depressed.

    I found out the hard way that I cannot do low carb AND take my ADHD meds at the same time without boosting serotonin. Hypervigilance is not good if it makes work performance plummet and you can't turn it off. I chose to take 5-htp supplements. This chemical crosses the blood-brain barrier (unlike ingested serotonin), and transforms into serotonin in the brain.

    You might also try eating some starchy carb every time you eat protein. Here you are trying to encourage more of the amino acid tryptophan to get into your brain. Tryptophan is a precursor to 5-htp and serotonin, the least common in foods, and the most difficult for the brain to absorb. The goal is to create an insulin spike when you eat protein, so that the other proteins get shuttled into the muscles and tryptophan is left behind to get into the brain where you need it.

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    going low carb ruined my stress response, horribly. since adding fruits and sugar back into my life it is slowly getting better.
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