This was a crazy week, eh? I offered up a brand new book and an accompanying special offer, and you guys responded. Although I’m not sure if we sold enough copies of The Primal Blueprint 21-day Total Body Transformation to make the New York Times best seller list (we’ll see and my fingers are crossed), I know it will changing many, many lives. And regardless of the ultimate outcome, I just wanted to thank you all for your support. I couldn’t – and wouldn’t – do it without you.
Anyway, it’s Monday, and that means it’s time for another round of “Dear Mark” questions-and-answers. We’ve got a good one on fully, as opposed to partially, hydrogenated oils (and the answer may surprise you). I cover homemade egg shell calcium supplements, average hunter-gatherer walking distance, the place of gorging in a Primal eating plan, and whether frozen produce retains sufficient nutrient content when compared to fresh. Let’s go.
Today’s edition of “Dear Mark” covers a variety of topics. We’ve got calcium supplementation – does it make sense and is it safe? Then, I briefly discuss cruciferous vegetables, which are said to have negative effects on thyroid health. Some studies support this, but are they an issue for healthy people? I also look at seed oils high in monounsaturated fats (yes, they exist) and low in the much-maligned polyunsaturated fats, and I discuss their suitability in a Primal eating plan. And finally, a reader asks if jogging is ever okay and, if so, how to do it the right way.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the questions.
Today’s question comes from Ola and regards CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid. What is CLA? CLA is the “good” trans-fat that occurs naturally in meat and dairy, especially from grass-fed animals. In the stomach of ruminants like cows, sheep, or goats, millions upon millions of bacteria help the animal digest its food. They also help convert dietary linoleic fatty acids into saturated fatty acids. Well, that conversion takes several steps, and one of the steps is the creation of CLA, some of which never gets fully saturated and instead shows up in the animal’s body and milk fat. 28 different CLA isomers, or structural arrangements of the molecules, appear in CLA-rich animal fat. It’s very complex and quite different from trans-fat created by partially hydrogenating vegetable oils. Those lab-created trans-fats have definite negative metabolic and health effects, while the panoply of various CLA isomers from grass-fed dairy and meat seem to be beneficial. With that said, let’s get to the question.
Do I need to really even say the holidays are a stressful time of year? Every lifestyle blog, magazine, evening news program, and newspaper will have a stress-related feature right about now. I bet Dr. Oz has a “holiday stress relief” show airing. It’s part of the culture – we expect holiday stress and seem to love wallowing in it. So I’m not going to go on and on about how stress is a problem, or even why it’s a problem (I’ve already done that), because we know it. So, how do we avoid it and, once it’s here, how do we deal with it? That’s the important part. How do we hack it?
Well, we don’t want to hack it all to pieces. We need stress, too – just not too much. It bears mentioning that many things can be considered stressors depending on the context. Lifting heavy things is a stressor, and the right amount causes muscles, connective tissue, and bones to respond by getting stronger, which are desirable; too much, or too little recovery, and muscles, connective tissue, and bones suffer and atrophy, which is undesirable. It’s about context, quantity, and quality. With that in mind, I’m going to break down anti-stress strategies into categories.
Yesterday I mentioned that sea vegetables are a great source of iodine. “But what is iodine?” many emailers asked. Well, dear friends, iodine is elemental. Let’s take a trip through the land of iodine to learn what it is, what it does for the human body and whether you should make an effort to get more iodine in your diet.
Iodine is a highly water-soluble trace element that’s rare in the earth’s crust, but fairly prevalent in its seas. Our bodies require it, for several reasons. Our thyroid glands use it to make thyroid hormones (T3 molecular weight is 59% iodine; T4 molecular weight, 65%), and a severe deficiency can manifest in the development of goiter, which is the thyroid gland swelling up in an attempt to keep up the pace of iodine uptake from the blood and thyroid hormone production. Lovely stuff, eh? Other common symptoms of iodine deficiency include hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. It can also increase the incidence of early mental retardation (iodine deficiency-related retardation is the most preventable kind, in fact), and even stunted infant brain development, provided the kid even makes it out alive: iodine deficient pregnant women are at a higher risk for miscarriages and stillbirths.
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