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
Every former competitive athlete’s worst nightmare is that moment when you lose to a younger person doing the sport you love. When the cocoon of invincibility and superiority you’ve erected around yourself comes crashing down and a piece of your self-identity shatters. It can truly feel like the end.
I know the feeling. Several years ago on a family ski trip, my son challenged me to a downhill snowboard race. We’d been doing these races—and I’d been winning them—ever since he was old enough to board. It was tradition that we race, and that I win. It’s just how it played out.
This time was different. I was a newly minted member of the 6-decades club. He was a young man, fully grown, years of sports under his belt. He smoked me. It wasn’t even close. And suddenly I realized that despite being in the best shape of my life relative to my age, that upper limit was trending down.
Humans are competitive animals. We like a challenge because it compels us to rise to the occasion, prove ourselves, get better at something, or become a bigger version of ourselves. For people, challenges are like hormetic stressors—they often cause suffering and require hard, unpleasant work but provoke a beneficial response that makes us stronger than we were before the challenge.
How does that apply to the challenges I’ve laid out in today’s post, which are all about food, diets, and cooking? Each one unlocks a tangible benefit (eating more vegetables helps you obtain more nutrients, stopping the meal before you’re too full lowers energy intake), but there are also less obvious benefits to meeting a challenge.
Let’s get right to it:
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering questions from the comment section of last week’s fasting post. You guys brought up some great points, and I’ll be addressing some of them. First up, do you need to follow a vegan diet to maintain the health benefits of long fasts? Second, I give a tip or two for appetite suppression during the fast. Then I discuss my definition of a long fast, the potential effect of fasting on gut bacteria (and whether we should consume prebiotics and probiotics while fasting), the reason why fasting makes some people have short fuses, and whether green tea k0mbucha breaks the fast.
Sometimes it seems like this world is built for extroverts. The most successful politicians, entertainers, and public figures are (or at least come off as) extroverts. One of the “Big 5” personality traits we use to judge and praise people is extraversion (Introversion, falsely assumed as simply the lack of extraversion, doesn’t merit mention.) Certain studies suggest that extroverts make more money than introverts, on average. Extroverts tend to be happier than introverts, regardless of the cultural context. Introverts are more likely to suffer from depression and asthma.
On paper, it seems like extroversion is the clear evolutionary winner. It makes you happier, wealthier, and even healthier (maybe). It’s selected for in many of the most public spheres, like entertainment and politics. So why has introversion been so well preserved? Why do introverts, by most accounts, still comprise at least 25% of the population?
Intermittent fasting, schmittermittent schmasting. The hot new trend is the extended fast—eating nothing and drinking only non-caloric beverages for no less than three days and often as many as 30-40 days. A mere compressed eating window this isn’t.
If fasting for more than three days sounds riskier than just skipping breakfast, you’re right. Long fasts can get you into trouble. They’re a big commitment. You shouldn’t just stumble into one because it sounds interesting or some guy on your Twitter feed wrote about it.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering four questions from last week’s “Alternative Therapies” comment board. I asked you for questions and comments about other potential therapies, and you all put in good work. First, I address that oldest of home remedies: chicken soup. Does it actually cure? Next, I discuss supplementing with humic and fulvic acid. Can the byproducts of rotting plants and mud improve your health? After that, I quickly address a question about the psychiatric merits of psychedelic therapy. I end with a discussion of the merits (or lack thereof) of pet-assisted therapy.