Every week I attempt to field at least one reader question in my Dear Mark series of blog posts. Some of the inquiries that are submitted are outside my scope of knowledge or experience, or are questions that are addressed to my wife, Carrie, specifically. While I could (and have been known to) dig into the research on such topics as cellulite, menopause, nursing, giving birth and the like, I think it’s valuable to offer a woman’s perspective on these and related topics of interest. And so, enter Carrie…
Hi, everyone! It’s good to be back on MDA. I so appreciate the emails I regularly get from everyone. Thanks for all your questions and kind messages. I love this community and always enjoy contributing. I get a lot of questions about family and the female perspective in living Primal. One common topic is menopause. I know how intricate a life transition menopause can be, being I’m navigating it myself now. There are a million questions I think women have about menopause, and I know they’ll be more relevant posts coming up. For today, I thought I’d take up one reader’s forum post about hot flashes and sleep. (Do I already see some heads nodding out there?)
First on the docket for this round of Monday Musings: steak. Steak is an objectively good thing. It can heal wounds and improve your squat. There’s really no conceivable reason not to eat steak, and plenty of reasons to cram it down one’s gullet on a regular basis. O sacred slab, thou finest fuel for metabolic processes. Gift of cud and hoof… Okay, let me get to the point, before I get off track and turn this post into a terrible 2,000 word ode to steak.
Steak is a rich source of B-vitamins, especially B-12 (fish and dairy are also good for it), which is crucial for infant neurological development. A new study suggests prenatal B-12 levels might even influence a baby’s propensity to cry. Researchers tested the B-12 levels of 3,000 pregnant women three months into their pregnancy; after their children were born, they measured the infants’ crying patterns. Kids born to mothers with the lowest B-12 levels were more likely to cry louder and longer – up to eight times more likely than kids born to mothers with the highest levels. I don’t blame the kids. I become a weepy mess if, say, my ribeye isn’t thawed in time for dinner. Hmm, so what’s the solution? Eat some steak… right?
Ah, sleep. Nothing like a good dose of the stuff, right? Losing even a single wink of your usual forty (or an hour, as the case may be) is enough to throw off an entire day.
But do you know who might love sleep more than anyone or anything? Our livers.
Yes, livers. Those fleshy multivitamins with an apparent propensity for fat accumulation function best on a good night’s sleep. New research is revealing exactly why shift workers and other chronically sleep deprived members of mankind tend to have problems with obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, and all the other popular features of metabolic syndrome: their livers aren’t processing fat efficiently, instead allowing fat to accumulate.
The human endocrine system exists in a state of delicate balance. None of its constituents function in a vacuum, and trying to explain every hormonal interrelationship would take volumes, but one statement is fairly safe to make: one hormone affects another. Secreting one often inhibits the next, which in turn sets off an entirely different chain reaction of hormonal secretions, inhibitions, and syntheses. I almost feel like trying to micromanage your entire endocrine system is tedious and counterproductive (and probably impossible to do effectively). I much prefer to simply eat right, exercise smart, get good sleep, normalize stress, and take advantage of simple lifestyle hacks. Still, it doesn’t hurt to understand some of the major hormonal players, especially one as widely maligned by the strength and fitness community as estrogen.
I’ve received the question numerous times, and last month several readers raised the issue in my “Ask Me Anything” post. For all the innumerable benefits of the Primal Blueprint diet, there are a handful of situations that oblige a few modest accommodations. In the past I’ve suggested Primally-minded adaptations for endurance athletes. Today I’ll take up the question of nursing. Do the long-term, intensive demands of breastfeeding require modification of the typical Primal diet? What special considerations are there for nursing mothers? And what about specific scenarios readers have mentioned: ketones, reflux, ammonia-scented urine? There’s a lot of Primal ground to cover today, so let’s jump right in. But first a reminder that I’m not a doctor and that everything on this site should be viewed as my opinion and not medical advice.
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