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Two Cool Things I Think You Should Do Today

Posted By Mark Sisson On July 31, 2012 @ 8:00 am In Announcements,Health Challenges | 57 Comments

Running a popular blog with a big readership has its downsides – the workload is heavy, the pressure to produce is high, the research is unending – but the advantages absolutely outweigh them. One of the best parts of all this is that I can give relatively massive amounts of exposure to causes/blogs/authors/thinkers/movements that I truly believe in. Selling books and gaining new readers isn’t everything, or even most of it; I got into this Primal health business because I wanted to change the world. We all care about something larger than ourselves, something that we wish others would care and think about, too. Well, I’m fortunate enough to be able to bring that wish to fruition on any given day, and today is one such day.

I have two things I think you should do today:

  1. Join the Ancestral Weight Loss Registry [7]
  2. Subscribe to the Human Food Project [8] newsletter

Consider it a little challenge (albeit without explicit prizes). You’re a skeptical bunch, though, so I’ll tell you why I care about these projects, and why I think participating in/supporting them is a good idea.

The Ancestral Weight Loss Registry (AWLR)

We’ve all read the various lines of evidence – clinical, anthropological – that seem to support our way of eating. We’ve all heard and read the anecdotes on forums and in blog comment sections and from friends who finally took your advice and gave the Primal Blueprint [9] a shot. But while anecdotes can be personally powerful when you see, read [10], or hear them directly, relaying them to others (“My buddy Jim’s cousin’s dog lost thirty pounds going Primal”) just doesn’t have the same effect.

The goal of the Ancestral Weight Loss Registry is to collect those anecdotes, standardize them, and quantify them so that instead of telling your friend or doctor about this one guy that did this caveman thing that helped him lose a bunch of weight, you can point to the AWLR as a collection of thousands of people succeeding (or not; it’ll all be included) with a paleo, Primal, or low-carb diet. In time, with enough registrants, the AWLR hopes to identify trends in health and nutrition. What works, what doesn’t, who succeeded, who didn’t.

I get no kickbacks for this. I’m not an affiliate marketer or anything like that. I just like the idea of amassing piles and piles of hard data from real Primal Blueprint eaters in one, easily-accessible place. If a doctor, a researcher, or even just your parents want something, anything to convince them that you may be on to something, data is how it’s going to happen. Numbers. Facts. Is it controlled food data obtained in a metabolic ward? No, but it’s a darn good start. We’re up against a lot. The other guys can just point to whatever some government institution said about a healthy diet, while our positions require reams of evidence.

People like to call paleo/Primal/ancestral a diet fad. A crazy extremist fringe elitist caveman fairytale. You know, there’s a small possibility they have a point, but if people sign up with the Ancestral Weight Loss Registry, we’ll be one step closer to knowing for sure. If you want to be able to show others – and yourself – that ancestral health is not a fad, you should sign up. It’s that simple.

The AWLR has about 1200 registrants, as of now. That’s not bad for six and a half months, especially considering the National Weight Control Registry’s only done 6000 in 20 years. How about we swell those numbers?

How to do it:

  1. Go to the sign up page [11].
  2. Read the privacy policy [12].
  3. Fill out the questionnaire. Answer with complete honesty (for the most accurate results).
  4. Upload before and after photos if you have them.
  5. Tell others about it, too. (Use the share icons at the bottom of this post.)
  6. That’s it!

Okay, on to the next one:

The Human Food Project

If you’ve been keeping up with this and other ancestral health blogs for the past couple years, you’re at least tangentially aware of the importance of the gut flora in human health [13]. Still, although we know that the composition of our microbiome is important to our health, we’re still trying to figure out the many ways it affects (or, it could be said, creates) our health. We know a few things. In other words, we’re more bacteria than human. We can determine whether someone is lean or obese by looking at their gut flora. We know how the gut microbiome forms the first line of our immune system’s defenses, how it determines our sensitivities to foods, and how it is sensitive to all sorts of stressors. We also know that the microbiome has “something” to do with a range of health issues, like autism, IBS, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune diseases… but it’s still very vague. And with our gut flora actually outnumbering our “native” human cells nine to one, we don’t know nearly enough about a crucial, incredibly vast aspect of ourselves that affects every facet of our health. In other words, we’re more bacteria than human, so we had better figure out what’s going on in there.

Jeff Leach of the Human Food Project thinks the key to health today is figuring out the composition of the ideal microbiome. Right now, there’s no solid, reliable reference point for a “perfect microbiome,” though. It simply doesn’t exist. What does the microbiome of an autistic patient look like? What about someone with irritable bowel syndrome? Colon cancer? How does a hunter-gatherer’s gut flora compare to a SAD dieter’s? What about a Primal Blueprint eater’s gut compared to a vegan’s gut? What we eat and how we live affect the composition of our microbiome, which in turn affects our susceptibility to various diseases, but how? How do you get from a “bad” microbiome to a “good” one? These are essential questions that we cannot answer conclusively. Not yet. But if you sign up for The Human Food Project, the world’s biggest crowdsourcing microbiome project in history, we might just get some answers.

Jeff has already profiled the gut flora makeups of traditionally-living people from several African countries. Now he wants yours. When it’s available (should be around early September), you’ll have the chance to support the Human Food Project Kickstarter campaign and – if you get in on time – learn how the composition of your own microbiome compares to that of others.

I’ll be doing it, so you can compare your microbiome to mine. Fun stuff!

This is important, guys, so sign up. If you need some added incentive, The Project already has over 2,000 newsletter subscribers (with only 10,000 spots available in the end), but most of them are from the vegan/vegetarian community. We need Primal microbiomes in the data set!

How to do it:

  1. Go to American Gut [8].
  2. Subscribe to the Human Food Project newsletter.
  3. Eagerly await further notification in your email. The notification will remind you to grab your spot in the 10,000.
  4. Stay tuned for Jeff’s guest post on MDA in early September for more information on the Kickstarter campaign.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading and be sure to take a few minutes and sign up!


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[13] the importance of the gut flora in human health: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/whats-up-with-your-gut-beneficial-bacteria-and-good-digestive-health/

[14] Primal Blueprint Books: http://www.primalblueprint.com/category/Books_and_Media?utm_source=mda_sidebar&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=sidebar_like_article_books

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