Last week’s primer on testosterone garnered a ton of responses, mostly positive, but there appeared to be a bit of confusion regarding testosterone’s role in the female body. Namely, folks seemed to think I was suggesting it played almost no role at all! I tried to be as clear as possible – testosterone is an absolutely vital hormone for women – but I’ll try to be clearer. There’s just that niggling, pervasive stigma of testosterone as the sole hormonal realm of big burly men with bulging muscles, and I guess it’s hard to shake, even for my enlightened readership. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been subject to years of simplistic, substandard health and nutrition advice, black-and-white proclamations that attempt to describe the complex inner workings of the human body with a few sentences.
Ideally, The Primal Blueprint is a living, breathing document. Whether it’s emails from insightful readers or random articles from my RSS feed casting a subject in a completely different light, or even personal N=1 revelations spurring a meticulous re-examination of previously-held stances, I’ll often find myself rethinking certain aspects of the PB. They usually hold up pretty well, mind you, but it’s always good to take stock of the evidence. It keeps us in the Primal community on our toes. Take yesterday’s post, for example. The discovery of grain residue from a 100,000 year old dig site was undoubtedly intriguing, because it suggested that a major tenet of the Primal lifestyle – that grains have no place in the human diet – might need some refining. In the end, our position remained the same (the intense labor inherent in the sourcing, gathering, hulling, processing, and cooking of grass seeds would have been too great for Grok to make it a staple food – especially when nutritionally-superior and far more nutrient-dense alternatives existed in abundance), but it was tested and therefore strengthened.
Sometimes, though, new evidence forces me to completely rethink things. Even something so seemingly innocuous as a random comment from a reader can set me off on a researching bender. Last week, someone mentioned the Bisphenol A (BPA) leaching tendencies of canned tomatoes. That was all it took to send me on a tear.
I knew they were coming, as soon as I hit “Publish.” I knew I’d get at least one or two comments from our female readers asking if last week’s muscle building post applied to them, too. You see, Conventional Wisdom has somehow drilled into our heads the silly notion that men and women are completely different species, especially when it comes to working out. There are definite differences – anyone who’s been married will be able to tell you that! – but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we’re all homo sapiens with the same basic physiological makeup. And so an outfit like Weight Watchers will push the chronic cardio, the ankle weights, and the step classes because of some underlying, self-defeating assumption that women aren’t “meant” to lift heavy weights. It’s insane, it’s preposterous, and it’s downright insulting. Men and women have different work capacities and different natural inclinations, but their bodies still work the same way.
I have been following the PB way of life quite closely now for about five months, and I haven’t felt or looked better! Well, following it closely except for the dairy part. My question here is “How do I get all my calcium following the PB?” Also, as a female do I need more calcium than a male as we are lead to believe this by normal mainstream information? I guess my problem is I really don’t know how much calcium I should be having as the information ‘out there’ can be misleading and conflicting too. I am worried that I may be doing myself some harm later in life if osteoporosis could stem from not having much dairy.
I’ve been known to critique various elements of the medical establishment now and then, it’s true. (Anyone for a good Big Pharma rout?) But I’ll admit I’m venturing into new and weighty territory today. (My Y chromosome and I will tread lightly and respectfully, I promise.) It’s been a while since my own (indirect) experience in the obstetrics arena, but a new report came across my radar last week that led my mind back to the maternity ward.
It’s the Evidence-Based Maternity Care report (PDF), a collaborative effort of the Childbirth Connection non-profit organization, the Reforming States Group, and the Milbank Memorial Fund. The report was picked up by a modest number of news organizations, but it was reviewed by dozens of top physicians and policy makers across the U.S.
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