Meet Mark

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...

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Category: Gut Health

Where Do Legumes Belong in the Primal Eating Plan?

I never cared much for legumes growing up. Growing up, beans were the “magical (or musical) fruit that made you toot.” They existed in a quantum state: beans were your ally in schoolyard rear-facing attacks and your downfall during encounters with that pretty girl from history class. But the issues I had were mostly superficial. I’ve never come out strongly against legumes. My focus has always been on grain avoidance.

Way back, I placed beans and lentils and other legumes in the “Okay” category. If you wanted to eat them, and you had carb calories to spare, they were a decent choice. Flatulence aside, they are relatively nutritious and come with a big dose of prebiotic fiber for your gut flora (hence the gas).

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Dear Mark: When Walking Is No Longer Enough; Fermented Foods and Depression

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions. First up, what happens when a brisk walk isn’t enough to attain the optimal fat-burning heart rate zone? It’s a good problem to have—better fitness—but it still needs a response. What activities can a person do to slightly increase the intensity without going over the target heart rate? And second, are fermented foods a potential cause of depression? If they have any effect on serotonin, could this cause problems rather than improvements?

Let’s go:

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Is Gluten Sensitivity All in Your Head?

First, non-celiac wheat/gluten sensitivity was a sham and everyone claimed its participants were in a collective mass delusion. Then some actual studies came out, and it appeared to be a real condition. Soon after, researchers offered different theories. Maybe it was FODMAP intolerance. Maybe it was all that wheat fiber messing up the gut. Maybe it was too little fiber and other fermentable substrate, and we were actually starving our gut bugs and compromising our intestinal health. Maybe it wasn’t even the gluten. And maybe it was actually some kind of a placebo. One of the most recent findings was that gluten sensitivity might not even exist. What’s the truth?

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12 Common Causes of Bloating (and How to Eliminate Them)

We’ve all been through it. You come home after a big day at the dog park, your owner pours a few cups of meaty kibble, and in your zest you can’t help but inhale the food. You chase it with a bowl-full of ice water. Sated, you try to lie down under the dining room table, but you can’t get comfortable. No position feels right. There’s something pressing on your insides. You feel like vomiting, but nothing comes out. Several dry retches later and the reality of the situation hits you: bloat. On goes the leash and you’re off to the emergency vet for a quick intervention.

Oh, wait. That’s not right. Sorry, I warged into my goldendoodle for a second. Bloat kills dogs. In humans, bloating isn’t fatal. But it is unpleasant, unattractive, and uncomfortable. It’s also difficult to pin down because it’s so nebulous. Let’s try anyway.

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Dear Mark: Are Probiotics Useless, Gluten-Free Diets Dangerous, and GMOs Completely and Utterly Safe?

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from a single reader who just read an article from Vice. The article makes pretty bold assertions about topics that have already received a good deal of attention here on the blog. First, are probiotics actually useless? A new study cited in the article seems to suggest so. Next, is your gluten-free diet killing you? That’s what the author of the Vice article says. And finally, have GMO foods been conclusively proven to be safe and indistinguishable from non-GMO foods? Is the debate, more or less, conclusively over?

Let’s discuss:

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Did Grok Suffer from Seasonal Allergies?

Spring has sprung across most of the country. Awesome, right? Not if you’ve got seasonal allergies. Anyone with a severe case of hay fever knows how horrible it is being outside on a windy otherwise beautiful spring day with pollen blowing and rapacious bees buzzing around. Your eyes water and swell up. Your nose congests, you go into mouth breather mode. Pressure headaches start. You can’t taste your food. You can’t really see through the tears and redness. Everything above the neck itches. Sneeze attacks seize you. You’re supposed to be in heaven. It’s all so lovely. Yet all that beauty, greenery, and life are lost on you. Spring is your enemy when you have hay fever.

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Dear Mark: Just Outside of Goal Weight, Skipping Breakfast and Coffee, and Quark

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering four questions. First up, I discuss what to do—and really, what not to do—as you approach your goal weight but keep coming up short. Second, why do breakfast skippers also tend to be the biggest coffee drinkers around? Is it just correlation or is there a causative explanation lurking within? And finally, what’s the deal with the cultured dairy product known as quark? Is it a worthwhile addition? Is it safe, given its decidedly neolithic origins?

Let’s go:

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Can Exposure to Non-Primal Foods Actually Help?

Are we shortchanging ourselves by complete elimination of potentially allergenic or sensitizing foods like wheat, peanuts, or dairy? Do we become even more sensitive to “bad” foods by avoiding them entirely? This question stems from two things I recently encountered. The first was a recent rewatcing of The Princess Bride. The second was the recent peanut allergy study.

If you haven’t watched The Princess Bride yet, go do it (the book is also good) because a small spoiler is coming. The hero Wesley spikes the wine he and the villain Vizzini are sharing with iocane powder, a fictitious ultra-lethal poison that kills instantly. But because Wesley has spent the last several years ingesting incrementally-larger doses of the poison, he has complete resistance to its effects. Both men drink. Only Vizzini dies. What else can this apply to? I wondered.

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This Is Your Brain on Bugs: How Gut Bacteria Affect Mental Health

As many of you adopt new behaviors and habits during this year’s 21-Day Challenge, there’s a fascinating unseen story going on between your brains and bellies I thought it’d be worth talking about. New behaviors and habits create new neural pathways, which are essentially new road maps for how you’ll think, feel, and act in the future. Now the integrity of those neural pathways—whether they’re firing at full force and with the right materials to do their job—is intimately connected to something I’ve talked about on the blog before in different ways: our gut microbiome. But as you’ll see, this microscopic landscape is worth talking about again—specifically because it influences your brain (that grand master of all organs) and how well you’re likely to stick to all those newly adopted changes in the future.

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Dear Mark: Easy Prebiotic Foods, NSAIDs and the Gut Bacteria, Plus Some Hydration Questions

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a bunch of questions from readers drawn from the comment sections. First, is there a better, whole foods-based alternative to prebiotic powders, meals, and flours? Turns out there are many, and I give a few of my favorites. Next, what’s the deal with NSAIDs and the gut? Everyone knows they increase leaky gut, but can they also affect the gut biome directly? I finish up by answering several readers questions regarding hydration. Can stevia replace syrup in the hydration solution I posted? Does anything change for post-menopausal women? Does milk work?

Let’s go:

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