We all have them – ”comfort” foods that feel like more than just food. Far beyond the random edibles of our day, these are imbued with the likes of positive memories, celebratory identities, nurturing associations. They’re the feel-good recipes or psychological standbys that satiate us on a deeper level. Irrational as it might sound (but isn’t really), food is more than function. It’s more than taste or even nutrition (gasp!). Food, specifically our personal list of comforting favorites (resulting from cultural and emotional experience), has the power to shift our mood as well as our physiology.
When we go Primal, we end up rethinking our relationship with these old standbys. In some cases, we cherish the memory but let them go for the sake of health goals. We might experiment with adapting them, or we might simply reserve the right to enjoy them in their original forms on special occasions. However we re-envision our favorites post-Primal, I’d suggest we don’t need to throw out the concept of comfort food itself. Though the actual preferences are personal, the impact of comfort food as a whole is real – and measurable. Research has shown that eating – or even writing about – comfort food actually blunts negative emotions like loneliness. As with any phenomenon, the more we understand it, the better able we are to use it for good in our lives and health.
I’ve been asked to comment on the latest media deluge to suggest that red meat is again the primary cause of atherosclerosis, heart disease, and your impending doom. At least this time they’re targeting something other than cholesterol: this time it’s carnitine.
Carnitine is found in red meat, mostly, as well as dairy, tempeh, and some other meats, and it performs a number of important roles in the human body, foremost of which is the transportation of fatty acids into the mitochondria for breakdown into useable energy. It’s so important to basic function that we make endogenous carnitine by synthesizing it from the amino acids lysine and methionine. Vegans and vegetarians, who tend to run deficient in carnitine, benefit greatly from supplementation (or a nice steak). It’s even been used to reduce atherosclerosis (albeit in rabbits), improve arterial function, and help heart failure patients recover. Carnitine is not some evil compound.
There’s another “meat is bad” study making the rounds, featuring such stellar prose as:
“Although causality cannot be established…”
“…further research is recommended.”
“…should still strive to reduce intake of red and processed meat, which tend to contain high amounts of saturated fat and sodium.”
And so on.
By now, we see these lines, roll our eyes, and keep on moving down the path that seems to be helping us. But that’s us, people who pay attention to nutrition news and stay abreast of the literature. We may be able to write off these breathless articles without thinking we’re going to die because we ate that bunless burger the other day, but our parents, our friends, our colleagues may not be so well-equipped. They’re worried about our health, and who can blame them? If you take mainstream health articles at face value, articles which confirm what your doctor is probably telling you, you would do the same.
It’s about that time for another round of “Is It Primal?” Today we’re covering smoked salmon, a surprisingly stable source of omega-3s. After that, I finally get to nutritional yeast, a food that many of you have been asking about for many moons. I hope you’re happy with the answer. Next up are 5-Hour Energy Drinks, which aren’t quite as bad as you might think. After that, I cover the edibility of brines – olive, pickle, sauerkraut, cocktail onion, and so on. The final object of scrutiny is Kremelta, a kind of coconut oil shortening.
Let’s take a look:
It’s time for yet another edition of “Is It Primal?” where I determine and decree the worthiness of various foods. First up, I discuss balsamic vinegar – both types – and explain whether or not it belongs in a Primal eating plan. After that, chestnuts get roasted over the open fire of my analysis. Apricot kernels, those weird little almond lookalikes, are next, followed by chitosan. Finally, I cover the safety and healthfulness of Korean nori snacks. Keep in mind, readers: once my edict on a particular food has been handed down, once it has been deemed Primal or not Primal, the word is sacrosanct. It must be hewed to, or else you will suffer the consequences, which can include such horrors as revocation of your Primal Cred card or banishment to Vegan Island.
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