Symmetry is a beautiful thing. It seems to be nature’s preferred state, at least in the structure of organisms: two eyes for stereoscopic vision (the better to hunt you with), two legs of equal length for injury-free traversal of the environment, two hands, two arms. For all intents and purposes, the two sides of the body are approximate mirror images of each other, with corresponding muscles and ligaments and tendons. Our anatomical symmetry is obviously a product of evolution, because a balanced body simply works better. Kids born with right legs an inch or two shorter than the left are more prone to injury, just as cars with bigger wheels on the left will be more prone to disrepair. Objective human beauty is determined by symmetry of the facial structure, as if we’re innately drawn to balance. A balanced body structure, too, is objectively attractive, because it connotes strength and competence in matters of survival (war, hunting, protection). It becomes clear that if symmetry weren’t important for survival in this environment, it wouldn’t have been selected for, we wouldn’t be drawn to it, and plants and animals would have assumed entirely different forms. Maybe we’d be amorphous blobs just kind of oozing around (as opposed to the amorphous blobs with legs and arms that presently populate our planet).
“Losing weight” is insufficient terminology. It’s too vague, too unspecific. When a person sets out to lose weight, just what are they trying to lose? Bone density? Muscle mass? Organ weight? Of course not – they’re generally looking to lose adipose tissue. People want to burn body fat, and they want to do it without negatively impacting the more beneficial sources of (corporeal) gravitas. Simply put, you want to lose fat, not muscle. The only problem is that the popular methods for shedding weight often result in excessive (but really, any amount is excessive) muscle loss, too. I’m talking, of course, about precisely the practices I rail against in the Primal Blueprint – Chronic Cardio, ultra low-cal/low-fat ascetic dieting, and other trappings of Conventional Fitness Wisdom. Granted, adhering to any, individually or in concert, will probably help you lose weight, but a ton of it will come from your lean mass (not to mention bones and organs). That said, if you’re going for skinny-fat chic or the waiflike, undernourished look, feel free to run fifteen miles a day and live off canned tuna and rice cakes. The scale will drop, and you won’t be weighed down by that pesky musculature any longer.
I occasionally get emails from readers who are interested in lifestyle changes that can either complement or replace their conventional treatments for depression. Since our post a few weeks ago on antidepressants, I’ve gotten a slew of emails asking me about the role of nutrition in mental health. In response I thought I’d devote a Dear Mark to the general question of diet and depression. Thanks to all who wrote in or commented on the boards or forum!
It comes as no surprise that nutrition directly impacts brain performance just as it does the functioning of every other organ. Although the roots of clinical depression involve a complex (and theoretically contentious) mix of physiological, genetic and socio-emotional factors, the physical picture hones in on neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that travel between nerves in the brain. Of all the neurotransmitters, the key players in mood disorders are dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. When we talk about a diet that supports mental health, we’re essentially looking at nutrition that sustains both optimal neurological functioning and hormone balance.
“Manthropology.” That’s the title of a new book, and it claims modern humans are wimps. Sound familiar? The Independent has the scoop on the man who says Grok was better.
Canadians take a step in the right direction with oolichan grease and a big, fat diet.
Grok had to flee from lions, tigers, and paleolithic attack bears. Modern man has to flee from… himself? Olivia Judson at The New York Times comments about despair, a predator that only targets one species.
If you can’t get enough of me here at the Apple, check out my interview on Sterling Advice. I discuss pet peeves, fitness gurus, and the infamous beach sprints.
Shepherd’s Pie is comfort food at it’s best. Flavorful ground meat is mixed with a simple blend of peas, carrots and green beans, and in the recipe Cherie Randall submitted for the Primal Blueprint Cookbook Contest, topped with a creamy layer of buttery cauliflower puree. Once you’ve tasted the smooth texture and rich flavor of cauliflower whipped with butter you’ll want to start eating it straight out of bowl with a spoon. But for this recipe in particular it’s worth waiting to experience the whole dish together. Alone, ground meat and frozen vegetables may not seem like anything special. But when combined with the cauliflower puree into Shepherd’s Pie, the result is the type of home cooked meal all of us wish was waiting for us at the end of a long day.
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