Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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Month: December 2007

10 Smart Meals with a “New” Taste

Are you doing Umame? No, it’s not the latest dance craze (thank God the Macarena has passed us by) and it’s not a jukebox. Umame is the fifth taste sensation, and until recently we Americans didn’t even know we had it. Never fear: Michelin-rated chefs are falling all over themselves to create the ultimate “umame bomb” (expect truffles, pancetta, blue cheese, bacon, garlic and the last living crustacean of whichever sea bug is most endangered at precisely this point in time).

We all grew up with the four basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty. But there is a fifth taste, umame, that translates as “savory” or “flavorful”. It’s that rich, deeply satisfying, sensual taste. Think gravy, steak, brie cheese, proscuitto, truffles, parmesan – that’s umame. Humans instinctively seek it out, which is why those low-fat chocolate cookies of the 90s failed to satisfy. We want umame. I think there’s a bit of a Primal aspect here – our tongues know how to identify what is rich and satisfying, even if we Westerners lacked the word until recently. For any doubting Thomases, Japanese researchers identified umame a century ago, and thank goodness we’re finally catching up. In the spirit of the fifth taste, here are 10 healthy Primal-minded meals that are sure to satisfy that spot:

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Chemicals That Harm Baby Boys

I’ve long been suspicious of the side effects of certain chemicals present in plastics that are billed as safe. Even mainstream sources have been questioning the safety of particular toxic chemicals found in petroleum-based products, namely phthalates.

Experts initially dismissed the phthalate debate as nothing more than needless, unsubstantiated worry. Subsequent studies gave the concerns some validity and recommendations to conduct further investigations were deemed worthy. Still, until recently, the evidence was not persuasive enough for the authorities. Now the lid on the Tupperware, as it were, has sealed.

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News Note: WIC Gets an Overhaul (It’s a Mixed Bag)

The government has finally gotten around to giving a damn for disadvantaged women and children. It only took Uncle Sam 30 years. WIC is getting a long-overdue overhaul. The good news: fruits and vegetables are on the menu. It stuns me that produce wasn’t a priority before; in the world’s richest country, things like developmental defects, rickets, bad teeth and poor brain development ought to strike shame in all of us. But then again, seeing as how Uncle Sam considers produce to be a “specialty” crop and direct subsidy funds to corn, chemicals, soybean oil, milk and factory meat instead, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. I’m glad WIC is getting the overhaul; the dairy and meat crowd, understandably, is not pleased. (I’d be displeased by this as well, except for the fact that the sort of animal protein tossed WIC’s way is hardly desirable.) My issue with WIC is the misguided emphasis on whole grains. That’s right: the overhaul is introducing more grains into the program. Hey, guys, didn’t you get the memo? We did grains in the 80s, back when we believed your diatribes against fat.

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Healthy Tastes Great!

3 Great Ways to Satisfy Those Tarragon Cravings

Halibut Steaks in Parchment with Mushrooms and Tarragon

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Smart Fuel: Tarragon

Tarragon is for more than fish. This overlooked but deliciously sweet, rich herb offers major flavor and health benefits. Tarragon has a strong fragrance and a slight licorice taste, but it also has subtle earthy notes – it’s a bit fuller in flavor than basil, and not quite as sharp, either. You can interchange tarragon for basil in recipes for a slightly mellower, sweeter taste and a softer, more velvety texture. Is your mouth watering yet? Tarragon, a perennial, is easy to grow, too. It’s really only good fresh.

Tarragon is very low in calories, like most greens and herbs, and like purslane, contains some Omega-3’s. It has natural antimicrobial properties and contains generous amounts of many nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium and trace minerals. The primary benefit of tarragon is the fiber, but we think the aromatherapeutic benefit is a close second!

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Best Winter Skin Tips

I don’t know about you, but I think that tight, itchy winter skin is the absolute worst. It gets brutally dry this time of year in Southern California (and the fires have certainly been too close for comfort). But even in cooler climates where there’s rain and snow, indoor heat will really dry your skin out – even triggering rashes and acne for some folks. Here are some quick tips to keep your skin healthy, supple, and comfortable during the winter:

1. Exfoliate. The first time my wife mentioned that I try this, I raised a skeptical eyebrow. But a good salt scrub with almond oil feels great (I’d recommend avoiding the fragrance- and chemical-loaded store scrubs). The salt sloughs off all that old, scaly stuff, and the oil locks in moisture. I like unscented, of course.

2. Moisturize. Okay, I’m not one to slather on lotion after a shower. Please! That’s why I like using oils instead. In winter, even oily skin can handle walnut, almond, or fruit oils. Plus it’s efficient since you dunk yourself while in the shower. Avoid those mineral oils – they’re petroleum based. Look for vegetable-based oils instead.

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