The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
New Year’s Eve approaches. Parties beckon. Arsenals of alcohol accumulate. Whether you venture out into the wild night or keep it quiet with close friends and loved ones (that’s me), people will probably offer you a glass (or several) of something containing ethanol to mark the occasion. As always, it’s not about a right or wrong choice but about assuming responsibility for your health. I’ve heard a lot of readers over the years say going Primal has made them much more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. If you’ll be partaking, you can gird your system to deal with the incoming toxicity.
For years, wine was my stress reliever at the end of a long day. Having given up grains and grain-based beverages over a decade ago, I swapped beer for wine. It was my frequent dinner companion. Grilled grass-fed ribeye wasn’t grilled grass-fed ribeye without a glass of California Cab. And then I suspected my 1-2 glass a night habit was impairing my gut health and affecting my sleep. I ran a quick experiment, determined that the nightly wine indeed was having bad effects, and stopped drinking altogether.
It worked. My gut health and sleep improved. Yet I still missed wine. I missed pitting the crunch of an aged Gouda’s tyrosine crystals against a big red, lingering over a glass with an old friend, clinking glasses, giving toasts. I missed what Hemingway called “one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things in the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection.” But I didn’t miss the poor sleep and gut disturbances.
Wine is one of humankind’s oldest and most favorite beverages not for the health benefits, or the antioxidants, or the resveratrol, but because it enhances life. Poets, authors, artists, philosophers, and laypeople across the ages will tell you that wine makes food taste better, promotes richer conversation, unfetters creative expression (a single glass can really dissolve writer’s block), relaxes the racing mind and emboldens the spirit.
Over the years, I’ve enjoyed wine with dinner and friends. Usually every night. Not only as a gluten-free replacement for the grain-heavy beer I used to drink to wind down at the end of a day, but as a hedge against the various causes of early mortality light-to-moderate wine consumption seems to protect against. Some of the most recent research suggests that moderate wine consumption may even help against the run-of-the-mill cognitive impairments associated with aging. The mechanisms behind the beneficial relationship of wine and health are not fully understood, but most studies attribute it to the high concentrations of polyphenolic compounds, like flavonoids and resveratrol. Even the alcohol itself has benefits in low doses, increasing nitric oxide release and improving endothelial function. The various health benefits associated with moderate wine consumption were just too well known and numerous to ignore.
Some foods and flavors are just made for one another. Bacon and eggs. Strawberries and cream. Basil and tomato. Oil and vinegar. Sweet and sour. The list goes on and on. But what’s behind these classic and nearly universal combinations? Does taste alone drive the decision to, say, add fresh herbs to a charred piece of meat? And if pairings are driven by taste, which sounds reasonably, could it be possible that healthy pairings naturally taste better because we’ve evolved an innate draw towards these powerful combinations? The jury may still be out on that one. Nevertheless, some foods, when taken together, make surprising nutrition sense.
Let’s take a closer look.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. First up, what’s the deal, exactly, with melatonin supplementation? Is it harmful? Dangerous? Will it impair our body’s own production of melatonin? Second, a reader wonders whether his past poor health decisions are sabotaging his health today. Even if he’s feeling great now, shouldn’t he worry about the permanent effects from all that pizza he ate and sleep he didn’t get back in the day? And finally, some people recommend against sprinting or high intensity interval training for women. Is it true? Should women only go gently into the gym to tread lightly on ellipticals and avoid all that sweaty, icky fast stuff?
Let’s find out:
Today, I’m doing another batch of 21-Day Challenge questions pulled from the ones you asked me two weeks ago. I managed to make it onto the third page of comments. I’d hoped to get through all of them, but with over 200 questions asked, the task proved insurmountable! Since they were by and large really great questions that deserve serious answers, though, I expect I’ll be drawing on them for future editions of Dear Mark. Stay tuned for that in the future.
This week, we’ve got questions about weight machine training, indoor sprinting, eating for drinking “more than moderately,” feeding kids, going Primal with a failing kidney, exercising kids, balancing sleep and exercise, going Primal as a vegetarian, and much more.