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
Before we get into the big job of interpreting cholesterol numbers, let’s review what cholesterol actually is.
Cholesterol is cholesterol: a waxy steroid of fat that serves as an essential structural component of cellular membranes and in the production of steroid hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids. Contrary to what the terminology indicates, there’s actually only one “type” of cholesterol in the human body, and it’s called, quite simply, cholesterol. What we think of when we use the word “cholesterol” is actually a lipoprotein – a fatty conglomerate of protein and lipids that delivers cholesterol and fat and fat-soluble nutrients to different parts of the body. It’s not just free cholesterol floating around in your blood; it’s cholesterol bound up by lipoproteins.
This is a special guest post from Denise Minger (thank you, Denise!). When fear-inducing news headlines hit the papers (and airwaves and iPads…) – High-Fat Diet Linked to Breast Cancer, Eating Whole Grains Will Help You Live Longer, Fish Oil Linked to Prostate Cancer – she’s the person to go to for an honest and entertaining critique of the research. In the last week I’ve received an untold number of emails from inquiring Mark’s Daily Apple readers about this latest health news “bombshell”. So, naturally, Denise…
It’s that time again. Your inbox is filling up with emails from your low-fat friends. Your mom left four voicemails ordering you to throw away your bacon now (and clean your room while you’re at it). Your diet-savvy coworker left a Yahoo! News article on your desk, weighted in place with a muffin. This just in: High-fat diets cause diabetes—and researchers have proof, doggonit!
If you already eat Primal, your email inboxes are most likely filling up with links to the story. Concerned mothers clutching the local paper’s “Health” section are calling (or, if they’re hip, texting). Smug vegetarian Facebook friends are posting the story on your wall, sans commentary. Yes, it’s about that time again. It’s another week, it’s another observational study by data-mining researchers hoping to establish a solid link between red meat and some chronic, horrific illness. So, what’s killing us this time? Well, considering that they’ve already done studies linking red meat to colorectal cancer, heart disease, and outright death, type 2 diabetes is next.
How was the weekend for you? Mine was kinda tough. Great weather beckoned all weekend, and my paddleboard and I shared mournful glances full of longing, but I was stuck inside working on my talk for the upcoming Ancestral Health Symposium at UCLA. I think it’s going to be a good one, though, so hopefully the work pays off. Okay, enough complaining. It’s Monday, which means another round of questions and answers. This week, we’ve got a pair of scary studies that seem to condemn fat and red meat as the nutritional factors ultimately responsible for all that ails us as a society (what else is new?). I also field a question on teff, a grain used in traditional Ethiopian cooking, from a reader who plans on moving there.
A series of recent studies have implicated sedentary lifestyle in the obesity epidemic. The idea is, even if you hit the gym a few times a week, parking it in front of the T.V. at night dwindles away any benefits gained. Every hour on the couch costs us dearly. But what about the office chair? Dare we take this one on? A recent study does exactly that in targeting the specific role of sedentary work in our nation’s obesity crisis. Our desk jobs, the study’s authors suggest, represent a key culprit behind our society’s expanding waistlines.
Dr. Timothy Church, Dr. John McIlhenny and their associates examined trends related to occupational activity and the corresponding increase in American obesity rates since the 1960s. Fifty years ago, over fifty percent of occupations included moderate physical exertion. Today that number has dropped to less than twenty percent. In keeping with this pattern, Drs. Church and McIlhenny suggest we use, on average, a hundred calories less during a workday than we did fifty years ago. The impact of this change adds up over time – one belt notch at a time.
Ideally, the introduction of a novel stimulus to our environment would be preceded by rigorous safety studies conducted by independent researchers. Applied to industrial seed oils, wheat, running shoes, and office chairs, this protocol could have saved us a lot of pain and suffering. If you wait until way after the fact to wonder whether they might be bad for us – as we tend to do – these admittedly inexpensive/addictive/profit-reaping stimuli become entrenched. They become part of the culture. Wheat and soybeans? Much of the world depends on both or either, for food, livestock feed, and cooking oil. Most runners, walkers, and orthopedists think barefooting is suicidal, and you’ll pull something trying to pry chairs away from our tight, stiff hips.
Height has historically been regarded as a marker of health and robustness. We seem to implicitly accept that bigger is indeed better, even if we don’t want to admit it. On average, tall people attain more professional success and make more money, the taller presidential candidate almost always wins, and women are more attracted to tall men. On a very visceral level, the taller person is more physically imposing. After all, who would you rather fight – the dude with a long reach raining punches from up high or the shorter guy with stubby arms who has to work his way inside your guard (although Mike Tyson did pretty well for himself with such “limitations”)? And on that note, who would you prefer as a mate – the physically imposing specimen or the shorter, presumably weaker male?
We in the Primal health community are quick to point out that agriculture reduced physical stature. Generally speaking, bone records indicate that Paleolithic (and, to a lesser extent, Mesolithic) humans were taller than humans living immediately after the advent of agriculture. Multiple sources exist, so let’s take a look at a couple of them before moving on:
If you’re a fitness and nutrition nerd, you’re long past the grade school days of willingly eating glue, paste, and other pseudo-edible adhesives, but there’s a decent chance you’re still eating an entirely different kind of glue unknowingly. Maybe even on a regular basis. I’m talking about meat glue, also known as transglutaminase, which restaurants and food producers use to create “steaks” out of “glued-together” stew meat, add body to dairy products, make imitation crab, improve processed meat mouth feel, to name a few. A video exposing the “secret” of meat glue has been making the rounds of the various health circles, and more than a few readers have asked me about it. Here’s the video in question, taken from a recent Australian expose:
Today’s question addresses a contentious topic in the health arena: fluoride. It’s in (most of) the tap water we use, (most of) the toothpastes with which we brush, and even (all of) the teas we drink. It represents a bloody stage upon which skeptics and the natural health folks battle it out. Many in the Primal community would like to avoid it (as they would any government-endorsed hydroadditive) if possible; if it’s not possible, they at least want to know just how bad the stuff really is and whether its intake can be mitigated. Should we use fluoride-free toothpaste? Should we install household filters? Argh. So many questions and so few definitive answers… and here’s yet another. Ah, life!
What’s your take on fluoride? To drink fluoridated water, or to filter it? To use fluoride-free, natural toothpaste, or is it one of the benefits of living in a modern world?
I can’t seem to find any conclusive evidence on the web as to whether it is good or bad, and while I asked my dentist, I would love a second opinion. (his waiting room was full of posters advocating a “low meat, low fat diet”…)
Things got a little heated regarding the milligrams of evil soy lecithin used as in emulsifier in most dark chocolates in last week’s Dear Mark post, so before launching into today’s questions and answers, let’s go over that. Soy lecithin is simply the byproduct of soy oil extraction. It’s not hydrogenated soybean oil, folks allergic to soy can eat it without ill effect, and lecithin actually contains choline and phospholipids that can be quite beneficial. Don’t go out of your way to eat soy lecithin for any health benefits (egg yolks and liver are far better sources of choline), but don’t pass on some excellent dark chocolate simply because “soy” appears on the package.
Okay, onto the questions. We’re covering healthy fat alternatives, whether walking constitutes a wasted workout, and the magic of grapefruit.
I recently found out that I’m pregnant with my second child. I just started eating Primally about a month and a half ago, and my main sources of good fats are–outside of meat–avocados, raw macadamia nuts, and coconut oil. I’m dairy intolerant but I’m growing weary of the aformentioned fats. Do you have any suggestions for the good fat craving mama?