“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.
The leaders of the dietary establishment either keeled over or started arming themselves with pitchforks as I wrote that title. (It’s a good day to enjoy the subversion, I think.) On a serious note, let me unpack this worthy question – one I tend to get often: how does one incorporate more fat into a day’s eating? This common inquiry usually comes from someone new to the Primal way of eating; someone that has just started ditching grains and sugars and is having a hard time replacing carbs with the fats they’ve always been told to avoid. And replace, at least in part, they must, or experience the inevitable crankiness and hunger (and possible failure) associated with not eating enough food.
Of all the things we do for our health, I think we all find this to be one of the more enjoyable efforts – at least once we get the hang of it. Go as clean as you can of course – pastured and organic or as close to it as you can obtain and afford. (It ensures better nutrition and fewer toxins.) But let’s not get caught up in details today. I’m ready to dig in. Are you?
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