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
For all the focus on hearts and arteries, brain tissue and muscle mass, we tend to neglect one critical part of the body with dramatic influence over how we fare in later decades. It’s little surprise really. Feet don’t exactly garner much attention, let alone media time. Yet, the stakes are big.
For example, research shows that foot conditions like hallux vagus (HV, a common forefoot deformity in older people commonly referred to as “bunions”) was directly associated with marked decreases in quality of life. Foot pain, reduced foot function, lowered social capacity, and even degraded general health. That sort of thing.
But that’s just one foot condition, right? Yes…and no. The picture of averages looks rather bleak.
Autoimmune diseases really throw the body for a loop. You’re attacking your own tissues. Your inflammation is sky high. What’s usually good for you—like boosting the immune system—can make it worse. You’ll often restrict eating certain foods that, on paper, appear healthy and nutrient-dense. You take nothing for granted, measure and consider everything before eating or doing it. Sometimes it feels like almost everything has the potential to be a trigger.
Is it true for exercise, too? Must people with autoimmune diseases also change how they train?
As a Primal lifer, I recognize that purity has a certain allure, just as I know it has its decided limitations. I frequently find myself wondering, “Would my paleolithic forebears have done/said/eaten that?” and choosing my course of action based on this line of educated assumption. It’s the WWGD lens on modern living. In a Primal-perfect world, that would be sufficient to ensure continued health and happiness. But things don’t always work out as planned…
Let’s say you hurt your back in an unfortunate turn of events. Primal dictates can certainly help with healing you over the long term, but if you want to get out of bed in the morning you’re likely stuck with the doc’s prescriptions. Similar situation if you’ve suffered physical damage to your eyesight, hearing, brain, or any number of your less robust anatomical sectors. Sometimes to get life done, you’ve just got to suck it up and take your meds.
It’s possible, however, that this may soon change. In my recent post on the vagus nerve, I touched upon an emerging curiosity in the medical world: electroceuticals. While still in comparative infancy, electroceuticals may end up revolutionizing a health care model currently dominated by the drug industry.
There’s a saying that people who snore always fall asleep first. My days of overnight sports chaperoning and group camping trips have frequently confirmed that notion. Most people would say that snoring is less a problem for the snorer than anyone lying awake in the vicinity, and on those specific nights in memory I probably thought as much. But the health researcher in me knows there’s more to the story.
We know sleep apnea is a big deal. No one wants that. But regular, run-of-the-mill snoring? Is it really an issue? Everyone has someone in their family who does it. It’s often a running joke, in fact. Some estimates suggest more than half of us snore (although that might be an exaggeration, given that the estimated range is so extensive). How concerned should we really be? And what is there to do about it anyway?
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.
In recent years, I’ve regularly vouched for the gut as our long-abused secondary brain. Given what most of us grew up learning in school, it can feel like a mammoth shift. Science and philosophy have long revered the brain as seat of consciousness, even the seat of humanity itself. But when it comes down to it, everything is interconnected. Our consciousness extends well beyond the brain. How we feel and who we are encompasses a much more expansive and intricate system than any of us learned in high school biology. At the center of this paradigm revision is something called the vagus nerve.
Vagus…as a word it sounds a little off-putting. If someone called me a vagus, I’d probably be mildly offended. But the literary origins of this word are actually kind of mystical: “vagus” in Latin translates to “wandering.” And I’d struggle to find a more apt definition.
Here at Mark’s Daily Apple, I avoid writing off anything without first investigating it. I keep one foot in the “alternative” health world and one in the “conventional” realm, making sure to maintain a skeptical—but openminded—stance on everything. There’s no other way to do it, if you’re honest. At least as far as I can tell.
No, not every alternative therapy works. A lot of it is pure hogwash. But whether we’re talking about off-label uses of conventional drugs and illegal drugs, natural pharmacological agents, or downright outlandish-sounding interventions, some therapies are worth considering. Not trying, necessarily. Considering.
Every pregnant woman I’ve ever known has hated the oral glucose tolerance test. Yet, they still do it. Drinking a tall glass of sickly sweet orange-flavored glucose water on an empty stomach is thoroughly disgusting, but it, apparently, offers a rare and valuable glimpse into the state of a woman’s perinatal health.
What they’re testing for is gestational diabetes mellitus—a variant of diabetes characterized by pancreatic insufficiency during pregnancy.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two questions. First up, do the nutrient contents of hydroponic produce differ from soil-grown produce? If so, in what way? Then I give a few (somehwat unprompted) tips for lowering blood pressure without meds. While meds can and do help people overcome or mitigate hypertension, we should apply other options. What are these possibilities?
Some people don’t need any help finding physical challenges. They naturally and intuitively figure out ways to engage physically with the world and test their prowess. But that’s not everyone, or else we’d see people sprinting down the street, hurdling park benches, climbing flagpoles, and swinging from tree branch to tree branch. It’d be a cool world, to be sure. It’s just not the one we live in.
In this world, where physical challenges are usually optional, we have to go looking for them.
What are some fitness challenges to try? I’ve got 11.