Last week’s Dear Mark discussing cold thermogenesis got some of you asking about brown adipose tissue. It’s a topic that deserves a full-fledged Primal Primer, especially since the idea of “good” body fat, a term many use to describe brown adipose tissue (BAT), is a foreign one. I mean, we’re talking about body fat here. Who wants it? Everyone I know is trying to get rid of their adipose tissue, not obtain more. It’s what brings many to this blog and what initiates this grand journey toward health and wellness. Even the people who say they “don’t care” about how they look would rather not have excess body fat, if only because it’s a marker of poor health or hormonal disregulation. We might acknowledge that we technically “need” some body fat to survive, but most of us will pass on any more than is absolutely necessary, thank you very much.
“When a person has nothing to eat, fasting is the smartest thing he could do.” – Herman Hesse, Siddhartha.
I like that quote. It’s making (non-caloric) lemonade out of lemons, and for all the transcendental insights contained in Hesse’s book, this line strikes me as a really cool, no-nonsense way to make the best out of a bad situation. No doubt about that. But how useful is it, really, to today’s readers? Very few of us ever have “nothing to eat.” On the contrary, food is ever at our beck and call, with very little effort required to obtain it. Actually, that’s not completely true. Processed junk and fast food is readily available, while the good stuff – fresh meat and veggies, actual, you know, food - requires prep work, cooking, time, and the doing of dishes. But the main point stands: we rarely go without.
Today’s installment of Dear Mark covers two questions. In the first, a reader wonders whether or not all those mysterious omegas popping up lately are worth taking. Are omega-3s enough, or should we be supplementing with omega-5s, omega-7s, and omega-9s as well? Read on to find out. Then, I take on a question about exercise for a mostly sedentary 40-something whose only source of activity is a weekly jog. I give him a few pointers and direct him to some relevant literature. I expect if he follows my advice he’ll start putting on significant amounts of lean mass.
It feels good to get back to our regularly scheduled Monday morning programming. “Dear Mark” is a way for me to keep my finger on the pulse of the community, to respond quickly and directly to any issues that may arise. I try to keep abreast of all this stuff, but there’s a lot, and some will inevitably slip through the cracks. When that happens, you guys pick up the slack and keep me honest and informed. These Mondays give me a chance to respond to the things I would have otherwise missed or put off until another time. Thanks for that.
This past week, I received a massive influx of emails from readers worried about the results of a new study. I figured it was a good idea to address it. Here are a few of the messages:
Before we get into the big job of interpreting cholesterol numbers, let’s review what cholesterol actually is.
Cholesterol is cholesterol: a waxy steroid of fat that serves as an essential structural component of cellular membranes and in the production of steroid hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids. Contrary to what the terminology indicates, there’s actually only one “type” of cholesterol in the human body, and it’s called, quite simply, cholesterol. What we think of when we use the word “cholesterol” is actually a lipoprotein – a fatty conglomerate of protein and lipids that delivers cholesterol and fat and fat-soluble nutrients to different parts of the body. It’s not just free cholesterol floating around in your blood; it’s cholesterol bound up by lipoproteins.
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