I’m not big on yoga, as most of you know. Too much idle time for me. I’d rather be playing. But last Sunday (a beautiful, sunny, SUP kinda day), I caved to the pressures of my wife Carrie, who loves yoga, and attended a session. It was to be a multi-hour event (a “workshop”) so we brought pillows and fur blankets to be comfortable. As we’re entering the studio, bedding in tow, I run into Michael Anderson, the owner of CrossFit Malibu sitting in the atrium, sipping on a Starbucks coffee. I must have looked like a deer caught in headlights and he just grinned. Mark Sisson, Mr. Primal, with a furry blanket and just moments from striking a pose and singing some oms. I told him that nothing was going on here, mumbled something about research and that he hadn’t seen anything. We winked and went our separate ways. I kid, of course, but there might be something to this after all.
There are many within the Primal community, I know, who also like to eat local. Some months, of course, allow for the confluence of these priorities more than others. Right now, we’re at the height of harvest season. Farmers’ markets are overflowing, CSA boxes are brimming, and backyard gardens are gratifyingly bountiful. Nonetheless, all good things must come to an end. In a few short months, farms and gardens will be snow-covered in many parts of the country. If you live in balmy Southern California like I do, that’s not much of an issue. If you live in Minnesota or Maine, it is. We Primal types love our produce, and winter complicates that relationship for some of us. Must locavore-minded Northerners relegate themselves to frozen and canned vegetables for several months of the year? Are root vegetable remnants really the only acceptable fresh produce before the spring thaw? Last week I stumbled upon a guest editorial in the New York Times that took on the nagging locavore guilt trip.
Life adapts when necessitated by changing conditions that impact survival. These are evolutionary pressures, with nutrition being probably the strongest. Flora bend toward the sun and plunge rooty tendrils deep into soil in search of moisture and minerals, while mobile organisms walk, run, fly, crawl, scrounge, or swim for food. Herbivores prefer to go where the vegetation is the densest and most nutritious, while predators follow close behind. Life is in constant flux, then, with food availability as the invisible hand directing traffic.
You love the runner’s high, chiseled physique, steady energy, knock-out sleep, and that alluring post-workout glow. And, sure, there’s always the extraordinary cardiovascular benefit, cancer deterrent, anti-inflammatory impact, and age reversal effect. If that isn’t enough congratulations for your fitness endeavors, here’s more. Physical activity helps fortify your brain as well as your muscles. Yes, exercise goes to your head in dramatically healthy ways – throughout the course of a lifetime. Let’s examine.
In my leptin series a few weeks ago, I hashed out how dietary choices direct leptin levels – as well as leptin sensitivity and leptin resistance. But there’s more to leptin processing than just the food we eat (or don’t eat). As it so happens, the environment in which we live – and the good or bad “stress” we experience in it – can have an overriding impact on leptin production. Researchers at Ohio State University injected a group of mice with cancer cells and followed their progress after dividing them into two groups. One lived in a larger and “enriched” community environment with various toys, hiding areas and exercise wheels. The other group lived in groups a quarter of the size in standard lab cages. What the scientists found might leave you scrutinizing your living quarters – or at least your social calendar.
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