Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
29 Sep

Weekend Link Love – 21-Day Challenge Edition

This year’s 21-Day Challenge contests are winding down, but there are still numerous opportunities to participate and win. Check them all out here and get your entries in before the deadlines!

Relevant Research

Some of you have undertaken a pledge to get less (or none at all) light at night. That’s a worthy goal, but I’d argue that even those of you doing something different for the Challenge – trying to lose weight, reduce stress, improve blood lipids, or anything, really –  may want to pay attention to your nocturnal light consumption. A sampling of recent research suggests too much artificial light at night can impact many avenues of health relevant to the Challenge:

Among elderly, those who keep a light on at night have higher triglycerides, higher LDL, more abdominal obesity, and more overall obesity. Trying to improve blood work? Try limiting light at night.

Even dim light at night exaggerates the normal inflammatory response to a stressor, injury, or pathogen. Trying to mitigate the effect of stress on your life? Limit light at night.

Blue light at night triggers the retinal cells that communicate with the limbic system of our brain that controls cognition and mood. Trying to get out of a funk? Limit light at night.

Helpful Blog Posts

Fitness gadgets can be helpful in your Challenge, but using an excessive number of them didn’t really help this woman.

Fuel For the Fire

Need a reason to stick with your “fewer carbs” goal? If you’ve got the right gut flora, eating too many just might cause your blood alcohol level to reach physiologically-relevant heights due to excessive fermentation. On second thought, that might be a reason to eat more carbs for some people.

Just because nature ain’t quite the same as it was (even just from fifty years ago) and even though human attempts to engineer it fail miserably doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be immersing yourself in it.

Avoiding soda for the Challenge? Good idea, because it’s rotting the collective teeth of the Appalachian mountain communities. Better than meth, at least.

Contest Sponsor Discounts

Use the code EPICHEARTSMARK at and get free shipping on your order. Good through tomorrow.

Use coupon code MDA10 at PaleoTreats to get 10% off your order through the end of the month.

Use discount code COCONUTGHEE to get $6.50 off any purchase over $15 at Pure Indian Foods, as long as your order includes at least one jar (any size) of PRIMALFAT™ Coconut Ghee.

Use ALASKA when ordering from to receive a $10 discount on an order of 10 lbs or more.

Want inexpensive (but not cheap) grass-fed meat? Tendergrass Farms has kindly provided a discount coupon for all Mark’s Daily Apple readers. During checkout, use NICE2MEATU to receive 15% off your entire order. This offer is good until 10/17/13.

Ever worked out with a dedicated training sandbag? Now’s your chance: at Ultimate Sandbag use promo code primalusb to receive 15% off any purchase through 10/31/13.

Tight muscles? Knotted-up gristly fascia that’s inhibiting your movement and sucking your will to live? Try a Radroller, and be sure to use the code MDAROLLER for 20% off your order. This one lasts for the duration of the challenge.

The Sling Trainer from Aerobis is one of the best, most versatile training tools available that you can take with you anywhere – and until 10/15/13, MDA2013 will get you 15% off your whole order.

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Sept 29 – Oct 5)

Comment of the Week

The biggest advice that someone gave me about going primal is don’t be an A** hole. If you go out to a party, event, or friends house and they have non primal food, just eat small portions. Don’t be one of those guys that say “I cant eat that” or “I don’t eat that”. I have a couple vegan friends and it is very difficult to cook for them. One meal is not going to kill you or set you back that much.

– Great tips, not just for the Primal Blueprint Challenge but for life itself, from Josh

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I constantly stress the correlation of light and sleep quality to patients of mine. Great articles about modifications that most people don’t make when adopting a “primal” lifestyle! Time to put away the TV, computer, phone and blackout the room for proper sleep.

    Dr. Anthony Gustin wrote on September 29th, 2013
  2. Thank you for posting my recipe on the site Mark! – Kumu

    Kumu wrote on September 29th, 2013
  3. I’ve had seasonal affective disorder (i.e. Difficulty adapting to long nights in the winter and tendency towards depression if I don’t get enough daylight) since I was a teenager, and I’m now 49, so I’m fascinated by Primal-inspired ideas about there being too much blue light coming at us from screens in the evening. I’m experimenting on cutting down on light exposure in the evenings as part of the 21-day challenge and looking forward to seeing if it helps me cope better as the nights draw in here in the UK.

    I also recently came across this article which talks about two periods of sleep at night being the norm for many people a couple of hundred years ago, although I don’t know how relevant it is to primal theories. I’ve always thought of waking up in the night as a symptom of depression, but maybe I should be embracing it!

    Louise wrote on September 29th, 2013
    • Well, Louise, it does help cut down on the stress factor if you just embrace the wakeful period. I found a great little local store in Portland OR that sells full spectrum lights so I have one that I turn on in the AM to get my brain up and don’t use it at night, use a yellow light, still looking for an orange one that I can read with for some gentle light to coax my brain into the night. May have to go back to that little store on Mississippi Ave to find one?
      Now that I’m over 50 I don’t really sweat the small stuff, which means I don’t really worry about staying awake all night here and there. We had a trip recently that worked out nicely with my occasional awake all night episodes. Drove 27 hours from Oregon to Arizona, the night driving was all on me, thought I’d pull over when I got tired, didn’t so viola we are there! I don’t want to do that often because I don’t want to ruin the immune system nor build that belly fat but when it happens I embrace it and move on.

      2Rae wrote on September 29th, 2013
  4. I’m confused by the sweet potato gnocchi recipe–it calls for flour? But no flour is mentioned in the ingredients…

    drjoyous wrote on September 29th, 2013
    • When it says to add the “flour” I believe the recipe is referring to the Arrowroot powder. The “Notes” at the bottom of the page say you can sub Tapioca flour for the Arrowroot.

      Sounds like a good recipe — I think I’ll try this soon. I already have some very yummy home made tomato sauce in my freezer that I made using my garden tomatoes.

      PrimalGrandma wrote on September 29th, 2013
    • It’s paleo gnocchi, so there’s no grain flour in the recipe. Not sure where you got the impression that there would be flour in it, but it’s very unlikely that this website would knowingly share a recipe that included wheat flour.

      Mantonat wrote on September 30th, 2013
      • Mantonat wrote: “Not sure where you got the impression that there would be flour in it”

        From the recipe:

        “5) Slowly add the flour and mix them until the dough is manageable*”

        Thanks to PrimalGrandma for clarifying.

        Michael wrote on September 30th, 2013
  5. Is sleeping with an eyeshade adequate? I’ve never been sure if the problem is light in your eyes or also light on your skin. Our big windows would be hard to cover so I sleep with a blindfold. I’ve never known if that’s good enough.

    Kathy wrote on September 29th, 2013
    • Skin as well. It’s worth getting some blackout materials. In the summer (in the north!) I ended up using cardboard boxes flattened out and propped in the window frames this year!

      fifer wrote on September 29th, 2013
      • Wow, I think you’d have to be sleeping out in the open during the day for light on your skin to affect your sleep or your health. Are we talking about a little street light filtering through the blinds at night, light from a digital clock, or trying to get some shut-eye on the beach at noon before pulling an all-night shift?

        Mantonat wrote on September 30th, 2013
  6. Love the info about sleep and light–and wow, those are shocking stats about the elderly! And thanks so much for mentioning my Easy, Smoky BBQ Kale Chips today as well–a reminder that I need to make some more! 😀

    Ricki wrote on September 29th, 2013
  7. Attended a birthday party for a good friend on Saturday. The cake was so sugary that it tasted un-natural. I found that I wasn’t wanting a second slice at all.

    On the sleep issue, maybe the old four-poster bed with heavy drapes should make a comeback.

    Don’t think I’ll be doing a “workout” today. Wrestling – often literally – with sheep all morning is hard work for both body and temper. Thank God, I’m a country boy!

    Peter W. wrote on September 29th, 2013
  8. Not sure if this was mentioned but a good way to avoid the particular frequency of blue light that disrupts one’s sleep cycle is to use a program called f.lux on your computer which filters out the relevant frequency of light from your monitor depending on the time of day. I have noticed much improved sleep since using it. Go here for a free download and a good technical explanation of why it works.

    Frank O wrote on September 29th, 2013
  9. forgot to put the link for f.lux

    Frank O wrote on September 29th, 2013
    • I have this on my PC, works well to keep me in the nighttime mode when the body/brain seems to think that the middle of the night is a good time to wake and worry. Playing solitaire is boring but enough of a distraction to put me right back to sleep. I wear blue blockers as well, it’s not fire light but more like ember light.

      2Rae wrote on September 29th, 2013
    • Installed this many months ago and just realized it wasn’t on anymore for some reason. Went to the link and reinstalled it in about 15 seconds. Glad to have it back!

      Allison wrote on September 29th, 2013
  10. There is a lot of wild nature in my So Cal urban yard. More scary wild animals than I have ever experienced in the thousands of miles of backpacking I have done. Just the other night I had to listen to what sounded like a bird being strangled to death, its poor pitiful screams slowly tapering to silence. I hear this now and then. I see all kinds of footprints on my deck. Greasy footprints from the various mammals feasting on our avocado trees. Skunks sometimes just wander into the house. What do you do when you see a skunk in your living room! Truly more terrifying wildlife coexists here than anywhere else I’ve been.

    As for darkness, I’m a little skeptical of its importance. About half the month the moon is bright enough to disturb sleep and part of that time it is so bright you can see color. We ought to have evolved to withstand regular disturbed sleep.

    Diane wrote on September 29th, 2013
    • You may need to install some doors to keep the skunks out! :)

      Mantonat wrote on September 30th, 2013
  11. There’s an ad campaign for soda: Rots your teeth, but it’s better than meth!
    About the night-time light . . . I have a newborn and we cosleep. We still have a bit of trouble coordinating the latch on while lying down at night and so I keep a nightlight on to help. I could keep it dimmer, but my eyesight is poor and if I have to fumble for glasses before latching him on, he gets fussy and frantic (he goes from 0 to frantic faster than some babies). Any advice from other mothers (or fathers or others) out there?

    Beccolina wrote on September 29th, 2013
    • Had the same problem with my firstborn. You can get an inexpensive touch switch at the hardware store to attach to your bedside lamp. You just plug the lamp into it and plug it in, and then place the little round touchpad right next to the lamp. It has two benefits. The first is that it turns your lamp into a three-way bulb, not matter what the wattage. On a 60 watt bulb the first touch gives you something like 15 watts of light – enough to figure out a latch without getting really woken up and waking up anyone else in the room. A forty-watt bulb would be even dimmer. The second benefit is that it’s silent (unlike many lamp switches.) I’d forgotten about this, but used them for several years next to my bedside and in the kids’ rooms.

      Allison wrote on September 29th, 2013
  12. Would love any suggestions for someone who copes with insomnia by reading (and thus getting exposed to light in the middle of the night). Not reading is not probably going to be an acceptable suggestion. Anyone think blue-blocker glasses would help? I do make sure the light is incandescent and have red shades on the lamp.

    Tina wrote on September 30th, 2013
    • A kindle paperwhite might work. I have a very old kindle and the light is nothing like a laptop or tablet, it’s a duller light and way better than turning on a light.

      Liv wrote on September 30th, 2013
  13. “One meal won’t set you back”…

    Going from past experience, depending on your usual primal strictness and particular intolerances, it may well make you:
    Nauseous, bloated, lethargic, break out in pimples, have runny stools, be grumpy, be depressed, and so on. Yes I mean one meal, yes I’m talking first hand experience, and yes the effects are even notable by others.

    I’ll just be an *asshole* thanks.

    Ben Fumi wrote on October 10th, 2014

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