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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Tag: is it primal?

8 Alternative Therapies Worth Considering

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.

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A Primal Take on Cannabis

Today I’m taking on a mammoth in the living room so to speak. Based on the emails I’ve received and the string of developments around the issue, it’s maybe a long time coming.

As of November 11, marijuana is legal for recreational or medical use in 26 states. Recreational use is even legal in the nation’s capital, Washington DC. Despite the DEA declining to recognize the therapeutic potential of marijuana, formal medical research proceeds in labs and clinics, while millions of consumers in states like California, Oregon, and Colorado are running informal n=1 personal experiments. Usage has doubled in the last ten years. A recent Gallup poll found that 1 in 8 American adults “say they smoke marijuana.” Pretty much anytime legalization is up for a vote, it passes.

It seems there’s more weed out there than ever before and more people willing to consume it. They’re eating it, applying it sublingually, vaporizing it, and smoking it. Meanwhile, “pro” and “con” claims mount on both sides. 

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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: How to Eat Blackstrap Molasses; Healthy Whole Grains Studies

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two reader questions. First, I answer a very specific question about blackstrap molasses, that nutrient-dense sweetener with the distinctive taste. How can a person who hates molasses work it into their diet? Next, I address concerns surrounding a set of healthy whole grain studies that I’m sure you’ve been hearing about. Are whole grains really healthy? Will they make you live long and prosper? Is there something unique to whole grains we’re missing out on?

Let’s go:

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Why Are Some Wines More Primal-Approved Than Others?

Wine is one of humankind’s oldest and most favorite beverages not for the health benefits, or the antioxidants, or the resveratrol, but because it enhances life. Poets, authors, artists, philosophers, and laypeople across the ages will tell you that wine makes food taste better, promotes richer conversation, unfetters creative expression (a single glass can really dissolve writer’s block), relaxes the racing mind and emboldens the spirit.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed wine with dinner and friends. Usually every night. Not only as a gluten-free replacement for the grain-heavy beer I used to drink to wind down at the end of a day, but as a hedge against the various causes of early mortality light-to-moderate wine consumption seems to protect against. Some of the most recent research suggests that moderate wine consumption may even help against the run-of-the-mill cognitive impairments associated with aging. The mechanisms behind the beneficial relationship of wine and health are not fully understood, but most studies attribute it to the high concentrations of polyphenolic compounds, like flavonoids and resveratrol. Even the alcohol itself has benefits in low doses, increasing nitric oxide release and improving endothelial function. The various health benefits associated with moderate wine consumption were just too well known and numerous to ignore.

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Minimalist Living: Is It Primal?

In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip K. Dick imagines a world overflowing with “kipple,” useless objects like junk mail, paperclips, empty matchboxes, old lightbulbs, depleted batteries, and gum wrappers that reproduce when no one’s around. It’s a drab, dreary, depressing vision of the future. It’s not that bad yet, but we definitely have a problem with stuff. Our oceans contain vast swirling vortexes of microplastics. The average American house contains over 300,000 objects, most of them we’ve long since forgotten. “Hoarders” is a popular, horrifying reality TV show. The growing minimalist movement is a response to all this: a concerted effort to declutter, remove non-essentials, and simplify one’s life. Dozens of minimalist blogs, podcastsbooks, and decluttering/organizing businesses have popped up. One of the best-selling books in 2014 was the English translation of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, which asks readers to discard or donate every possession that does not immediately “spark joy.” Her most recent book is already topping charts and spawning a cult of personality. It’s big.

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Nootropics: Brain Enhancers, Smart Drugs, or Empty Hype?

Hang around on nootropic forums where fans and users congregate and you’ll come away with the notion that you’re missing out on a leg up if you’re not taking the latest and greatest nootropic supplement. Nootropics promise vague benefits to “cognition” and “performance,” but what’s really happening? Do nootropics actually work as advertised? Some of them do, absolutely. But others, maybe not so much.

Today’s post will deal solely with compounds, foods, and supplements available over the counter in most countries. Other supplements may have promise, like modafinil and micro-dosed psychedelics, but are unavailable through standard legal means. Plus, their potential benefits may come with some dramatic side effects. So I won’t discuss those. Not today, at least. Instead, I’ll talk about some of the more commonly referred to ways you may (or may not) be able to boost your brain power—some of which are clearly primal approved.

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Dear Mark: Fasting Issues, Pullup Neck Pain, and Red Palm Oil

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions. The first one comes from Neda, who’s experiencing some issues that may be related to her fasting schedule. How should she modify her fasting? Or should she eliminate it altogether? The second question concerns a common issue: neck pain during pullups. Why does it happen and how can we avoid it? And finally, what’s the deal with red palm oil? I give my take on the controversial oil, drawing on randomized controlled trials and personal feelings about orangutans to arrive at my conclusion.

Let’s go:

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Is It Primal? – Nut Milks, Maca Root, Stinky Tofu, and Other Foods Scrutinized

It’s been awhile since we’ve done one of these, hasn’t it? I had thought I’d exhausted the pool of foods and supplements for the “Is It Primal?” series, and that I’d be scraping the bottom of the barrel. Well, I was wrong. The questions about specific items have been pouring in unabated, and today it’s time to cover the next round of questionable foods. First up are nut milks, a perennial favorite of the dairy-free paleo world. Then I cover the widely used root with purported aphrodisiac qualities, maca, followed by stinky, smelly, grimy, pungent fermented tofu. There’s that word – “fermented” – that always makes us stop and reconsider a food. After that, I explore the suitability of azomite, a garden soil amendment and livestock feed supplement that some humans use as a mineral supplement. Last up are glass noodles made from mung bean starch.

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We Don’t Know What Constitutes a True Paleo Diet

Critics often lambast the Primal Blueprint and other ancestral/paleo ways of eating for what they see as fatal flaws:

First, that we don’t know what our ancestors were truly eating.

Second, that there wasn’t just one paleo diet.

Third, that even if we could know exactly what our ancestors were eating, it doesn’t mean those foods were the ideal foods; they were trying to eat whatever was available, not whatever was most nutritious or synergistic with their genome.

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