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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Weekend Link Love – Edition 429

Research of the Week

Spiritual experiences trigger the reward centers of our brain.

Just a single season of high school football alters the structure of the brain. High school football players really need to watch out for head collisions.

25% calorie restriction improves quality of life, including many measures of sexual function, in otherwise healthy, non-obese adults, with those losing the most weight seeing the most benefit.

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Dear Mark: Hyperthyroidism; Wim Hof and Placebo

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions. The first is a really good one I’m kicking myself for never having considered before: what to do about hyperthyroidism. As the reader notes, everyone’s always talking about hypothyroidism—lack of thyroid function. What about too much thyroid activity? Then, I discuss what Wim Hof means for the placebo effect.

Let’s go:

All the information out there seems to be geared towards hypothyroidism, what about hyperthyroidism? Hard to find anything on treating it with a Primal diet. Lol, maybe I’m just unlucky.

Great question. Hyperthyroidism really does get the short end of the sick, doesn’t it?

What can you do?

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Weekend Link Love – Edition 428

Research of the Week

Compared to Bronze Age Europeans and contemporary Northern Europeans, Southern Europeans tend to be better at converting short chain PUFAs (linoleic acid and ALA) into long chain PUFAs (arachidonic acid, EPA, DHA).

The results of many clinical trials are never published. Why’s that?

Teens are better at math in the mornings (PDF).

Vitamin D protects worms against aging and Alzheimer’s.

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Dear Mark: New Primal Blueprint Edition Comments, and Is Healthy Living a Placebo?

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’ll first be addressing questions from the comment section of the new Primal Blueprint edition announcement, plus one from the placebo post.

The first question comes from barry and concerns the omission of raw food on the new PB food pyramid. Did I make a mistake by not including overt recommendations for eating raw veggies and meat? Are cooked foods responsible for our health problems? After that, I field a brief question about non-running alternatives for the MAF method. And finally, I explore whether healthy living is all just one big placebo.

Let’s go:

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Dear Mark: Transdermal Magnesium and Vitamin D/B12 Products for a Vegetarian

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions. The first one concerns transdermal magnesium. Does it work? Can magnesium actually permeate the skin and enter circulation? Probably. And for the last question, I provide a bunch of examples of natural products—foods and behaviors—that can increase vitamin D and B12 levels for an ailing vegetarian.

Let’s go:

Mark, what’s your two cents on transdermal magnesium? I take between 200-600 mg mag glyconate daily. I then add mag chloride via ‘magnesium oil’ to my shoulders and anywhere my muscles are tighter than usual. Anyone else use the mag oil or gel?

I like it.

If you rely solely on the scientific literature, there isn’t a ton of strong evidence. But there is evidence.

In one study (PDF), subjects took daily 12-minute epsom salt (containing magnesium sulfate) baths for a week straight. After a week, magnesium levels had risen significantly in most subjects. Those who’d already had replete magnesium levels saw their urinary excretion increase, suggesting that excess magnesium does get absorbed but not retained. Epsom salt baths also provide bioavailable sulfate, a hugely important but underappreciated mineral in our physiology.

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Dear Mark: Meditation for Neuroplasticity, Astragalus, and Red Light Therapy

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. First, did I mess up by not mentioning meditation in the neuroplasticity post? Yes, and you’ll find out more below. Next, what are my thoughts on taking astragalus for fighting off colds and flus? Does it work? And finally, does red light therapy have the potential to reduce chronic pain? Does it do anything else?

Let’s go:

I’m sorry that meditation is not mentioned, but magic mushrooms are. Meditation increases white matter in the brain (which influences efficiency of electrical signals in brain), and lessens shrinkage due to age. Meditation also has a positive influence on the preservation of telomere length and telomerase activity (when these shorten, we experience adverse aging effects). I would much rather do it the natural way (via meditation) than taking a chance with hallucinogens.

Susan Grace

Thanks for your comment, Susan. This is why I love my readers. They call me out.

Everything you say is true. Meditation is a powerful trigger for neuroplasticity.

Mindfulness meditation can undo stress-induced changes to connectivity in the amygdala (the “fear” center).

Experienced meditators show enhanced neural plasticity and even structural changes to the brain (both gray and white matter).

Like seemingly everything else out there, the relationship between meditation history and neuroplasticity follows a U-shaped curve. Beginners show less neuroplasticity activation than more experienced meditators, who show more activation than advanced meditators. How can this be?

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Dear Mark: Social Contact and Neuroplasticity; Extra Protein and Muscle Gain

As you all know, one of my favorite parts of doing this blog is the constant, unyielding, uncompromising feedback I get from readers. When I make a mistake, or overlook a crucial piece of a puzzle, someone tells me where I went wrong or provides that missing piece. For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’ll be addressing two emails from readers who took me to task for things I missed on this week’s posts.

The first comes from Simon, who had a great suggestion for increasing neuroplasticity. The second comes from Jen, who highlighted a new study shedding light on the effect of extra protein on muscle gains.

Let’s go:

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Dear Mark: How Often Should I Supplement with Turmeric?

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m talking about turmeric. Last week, I made an off-handed recommendation that people not eat high doses of turmeric, prompting a great question in the comments. Are there actual dangers to turmeric consumption? Is there something you folks should know? Does something perilous lurk within that yellow powder in your cupboard?

Not exactly, but I did make that recommendation for a reason. Let’s find out why:

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Dear Mark: Is a High-Carb, Low-Protein Diet Best for Longevity?

For today’s Dear Mark, I’m answering a question about the optimal diet for longevity. An article sent in by a reader claims that a recent mouse study has identified the perfect diet for everyone, but especially for older people: a high-carb, low-protein one. They even manage to throw in some stuff maligning the paleo diet (they just can’t resist).

Find out below if the claim holds water. Let’s go:

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Dear Mark: Did Three New Studies Debunk the Primal Blueprint?

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions that at first glance appear to cast doubt on some of the founding tenets of the Primal Blueprint. First, did a recent study show that low-carb dieting is no better—and perhaps worse—than low-fat dieting at helping you lose body fat? The second is a two-parter: are we hypocrites for “ignoring” the insulinogenic effects of protein, and does a paleo diet actually abolish the beneficial effects of CrossFit?  And third, a new study found evidence of cereal grain consumption in a group of European hunter-gatherers. What gives?

Let’s go:

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