It’s about the most primal, albeit not necessarily attractive, image you can conjure: dirty, disheveled, muscular cavepeople in rough animal skins and furs partaking of the uncooked prize from the latest hunting endeavor (or perhaps another predator’s leftovers). Fast forward to today. Our more “civilized,” better dressed, contemporary selves follow the maître d’ and sit down to intricately painted dinnerware and linen napkins to partake of, you guessed it, raw meat. And then pay big bucks for it, to boot. Sushi, steak tartare, carpaccio: they’re considered delicacies of sorts. And while sushi has caught on in the last twenty years or so, Saveur still calls steak tartare a “forbidden pleasure.”
A week or so ago, someone noticed my jar of palm oil in the pantry and made a comment about how palm oil is supposed to be bad for you. Next to that was my jar of coconut oil, which is also supposed to be bad for you. So I thought I’d touch on the many health benefits of consuming palm and coconut oils and show why they are not detrimental to health, and are in fact, good for your health.
First, how did palm and coconut oils come to be “unhealthy”? That one is simple: they are both saturated oils. And as we all “know”, saturated fat is the unhealthy fat that will cause you to gain weight, have high cholesterol, and lead to a heart attack. That all of that is bunk is irrelevant (Lenin stated “A lie told often enough becomes the truth” – seems to hold in this case).
We just can’t help it. This epigenetics stuff really floats our boat. The last few weeks we’ve brought you a Dear Mark primer on gene expression as well as news on recent studies examining the role of lifestyle/environment on genetic expression. Diabetes, heart disease, even lung function are impacted by external factors like nutrition, exercise, and pollution exposure. But mental health is part of the epigenetic picture as well: chronic stress and even early emotional experiences, it turns out, may be significant enough to alter our genes’ expression.
Back in the day, Grok stayed in shape by sprinting away from prey, pouncing and jumping across and over varied terrain, rapidly climbing trees and performing other feats intended to ensure survival. Today, however, most of us stay fit by logging a few miles on the treadmill, meandering away the minutes on an elliptical while we flip through a back issue of People, or taking an aerobics class where….oh, we give up. The reality is, modern day workouts really aren’t all that primal.
Have you noticed a decline in mental energy or focus since not doing “cardio”? I have read several reports that indicate that aerobic exercise is best for mental performance. Any thoughts?
Thanks to reader Phillip for his question on the comment boards. I’ve talked a lot over the course of the last few months about chronic cardio and the very real disadvantages of this type of training (higher cortisol levels, oxidative damage, systemic inflammation, depressed immune system and decreased fat metabolism, etc.). However, just because I don’t do chronic cardio anymore doesn’t mean I don’t get huge cardio benefits from the high intensity sprints and other interval exercises I do. This high intensity part of my workout is short compared with the hours I used to used to spend training. I choose to consider efficiency as a factor in my training program, and (as I’ve said on a number of occasions) I’ve never felt better than I do now.
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