Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.

Mark's Daily Apple

10 Oct

Not Too Shabby for a Person Who Qualifies for Social Security

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

real life stories stories 1 22My food consumption was pretty typical for an American of my generation (I was born in 1951). I ate what I thought was a reasonably good diet according to conventional wisdom, however my weight gradually increased over the years after age 30. As I got older, I developed high blood pressure (BP) and my blood biochemistry became problematic. I worked a high stress job for many years as a Navy lawyer and, after I retired from the Navy, as a corporate regulatory lawyer.

I had a real health scare early in 2005 brought on by work-related stress and an underlying condition in my brain. I spent five miserable days in the ICU. Statistically, I could have died but I had no lasting impacts other than a lifetime prescription to take BP medicines. When my internal medicine specialist told me to find a general practitioner to take over my care in 2006, he said I needed to “eat better and get more exercise.” Needless to say, that didn’t help much.

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9 Oct

The Power of Words: How We Talk about Food

nutritionfactsLast month, linguist Dan Jurafsky came out with a book called The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu. In it, he explores everything from language choices that distinguish cheap restaurant menus from more expensive ones to the kinds of vowels marketers use in naming food products (e.g. short vowels for crispy Ritz or Cheez-Its, or longer vowels for rich Jamoca or Almond Fudge). In another linguistically focused mindbender (published last year), David Chen, a behavioral economist, found that people who spoke a language like English that was “futured” (a language that includes a distinct future tense through the use of helping verbs, for example, such as “I will —”) as a whole saved less money and practiced fewer lifestyle behaviors that supported future health than societies whose languages don’t have a future tense (generally collapsing it with the present tense as German does). (PDF) It’s the kind of seemingly irrelevant detail that ultimately stuns in its demonstration of how subtle cultural and linguistic patterns really do pervade our collective thinking and communication in ways we’re wholly unaware of. As Chen himself was quoted, “Why is it that we allow subtle nudges of our language to affect our decision making?”

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8 Oct

How to Outsource Your Physical Activity

outsourceAs humans living in the Information age, we’re winning. We’ve got nature on the ropes. We haven’t quite extricated ourselves from our disgusting physical forms, but that’s only a matter of time. And I think if you take a look around at the splendidly sterile environment we’ve constructed with its flat surfaces, moving staircases, and automobile-friendly streets, you’ll realize that we’re close to never having to lift a physical finger again. But until the robot butlers, maids, and personal assistants have arrived, the threat of physical activity looms and we have the responsibility and duty to outsource it as much as possible.

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7 Oct

Have You Checked Your Heart Rate Variability Lately?

heartratePeople are always looking for that one biomarker to rule them all, the number on a paper that absolutely determines your health, longevity, fitness level, sex appeal, happiness, and productivity. Throughout the years, it’s bounced around as researchers think they’ve found “IT” – from cholesterol to LDL to BMI to small dense LDL to CRP to blood pressure to pulse rate and back again – but we always come up wanting. The “one biomarker” never pans out because biology is complex and irreducible to a single number.

However, there is one biomarker showing promise as a broad indicator of overall health and fitness: heart rate variability (HRV), or the variation in the intervals between heart beats. If your heart beats like a metronome, with intervals of identical length between each pulse, you have low heart rate variability; this is “bad.” If your heart beats follow a more fractal pattern, with beat intervals of varying length, you have high heart rate variability; this is “good.”

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6 Oct

Dear Mark: CrossFit and Carbs; How to Lose Weight as a Teen

crossfitfemaleFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got two questions. First, I handle one from Heidi, a full-time CrossFitter with low body fat, a love for carbs, and a desire to burn more fat than sugar. Find out whether her love of CrossFit is compatible with her desire to stick to a low carb Primal way of eating. Next, I cover a question from Sam, a 14-year old teen who wants to drop about 15 to 20 pounds. He’s currently eating Primally and following the P90x routine, but is there another, perhaps better way?

Let’s find out:

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