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

Dear Mark: WiFi Effects on Health, Creatine and AGEs, and Introducing Solids

3597145 LoResFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a two-parter followed by a question for Carrie. First, I discuss the effects of WiFi on health. Or, rather, I explore whether the potential effects of WiFi on health are worth fretting over or whether we should focus on more actionable factors that affect health. Second, I answer a three-part question about creatine and advanced glycation end products. Is there an interaction between supplementary creatine and AGE formation? Are the two contraindicated? Finally, my dear wife Carrie answers a question about introducing solids to a breastfed infant.

Let’s go:

Dear Mark,

I read an unsettling article explaining how our WiFi routers emit harmful radiation throughout the whole house. Is this a cause of concern do you think? Is it significant enough damage to affect my and my family members’ health?

Thanks.

Joe

You know, this is a tough one. I think there is evidence that WiFi signals have physiological effects. Epidemiology suggests a link between proximity to mobile phone base stations and increases in cancer and adverse neurobehavioral effects, even when exposure dosages were under the generally-recognized-as-safe limit. I’ve discussed the potential effect of laptops and cell phones on sperm health and motility before. There might be something there.

There’s also evidence that WiFi can improve health, though. A mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease experienced improved memory when exposed to 2.4 GHz WiFi. And there’s also lots of evidence that it has no effect, particularly on prenatal health and development.

My advice? Don’t worry too much. Worrying about the health effects of WiFi signals can actually increase the health effects of WiFi signals, even if it’s a sham signal!

WiFi is here to stay. Even now, you’re probably bathed in the stuff. If anything, its reach will only grow. You’ll be able to get full coverage while backpacking through the remotest jungles where you’ll stumble upon some untouched Amazonian tribe and upload your photos to Facebook. Heck, they might even already have Facebook accounts. “Remote” will probably cease being a useful descriptor altogether. Short of encasing your body in aluminum foil or moving to the wilderness, it will be impossible to escape WiFi entirely. The best thing we can do is optimize the aspects of life over which we do have control, like our exercise, our eating, our social relationships, our love life, our work life, and our sleep.

That said, getting away from it all (while you still can!) is definitely a good move from time to time, and for other reasons. Disconnect. Go out into nature where the signals are muted, if not absent altogether. These occasional (or more frequent) sojourns into natural solitude can be rejuvenating for the mind and body. Is it because you’re avoiding WiFi signals? Maybe, but I doubt it. Doesn’t really matter either way, though, if it works.

I did some research on creatine after reading your link love yesterday, and have some questions I hope you (as an athlete) can answer.

1. I’ve been giving us both L-carnosine because it breaks the bonds of AGEing. In wanting to prevent sugar from bonding to protein (muscle), thereby aging us, have I made a mistake?

2. Should I be using creatine instead, and not worry about AGE bonds?

3. How do I strike a balance between controlling AGE bonds and using muscles as a sugar-sink, or do I need to?

W.

First, readers, recall that AGEs are advanced glycation end products. AGEs have been associated with inflammation, oxidative stress and aging.

1. Carnosine is a fairly effective inhibitor of AGE (advanced glycation endproducts) formation, especially those mediated by methylglyoxal. Although methylglyoxal’s wholly negative reputation might be unfounded (it does more than just glycate, actually plays an important physiological role, and may have chemotherapeutic effects), excessive AGE formation has been implicated in the negative effects of aging and many degenerative diseases. Luckily, simply by eating ample amounts of animal flesh – the only real dietary source of carnosine – you will obtain carnosine. In fact, vegetarians tend to have lower levels of carnosine (aging also lowers carnosine levels, which could be why many studies show that seniors benefit from significantly increasing protein intake over recommended levels). That’s not to say supplementation won’t help, just that you probably needn’t fret too much since you’re getting more from your diet than most and there’s still a lot about AGEs that we don’t quite know.

2. Creatine is fine. If anything, it will help against AGE formation! An in vitro study found that creatine actually inhibits glycation (PDF). That’s in addition to the beneficial effects on glucose control you already know about. Another study even found that creatine monohydrate (the most basic supplemental form) can improve recovery from nerve damage to muscles. Don’t expect a miracle cure, though.

3. I don’t think increased muscle glycogen levels and lower AGE formation are mutually exclusive. In a recent study of diabetic rats, using a cumin seed extract to improve blood glucose control also increased muscle and liver glycogen content while lowering AGE levels. Besides, stronger people (with bigger muscles and more glycogen) tend to live longer, and exercise (which necessitates glycogen repletion and increases glycogen storage capacity) is positively associated with longevity. There’s also an inverse relationship between muscle strength and AGE levels in the skin of adult men – the stronger you are, the fewer AGEs your skin has. All the evidence points toward muscle glycogen repletion being a good thing.

And now, let’s hear from Carrie on the topic of introducing solids:

Dear Mark (and Carrie),

I have a three-month-old, and since he’s starting to teeth and becoming a little bit interested in food (though he’s still far from trying to grab it from my fork or plate), I have been trying to find out what the best foods to start him with might be. All of my online research came back with “iron-fortified rice cereal”, or other similar results, and when I searched for an answer on your site, I came across an article that discusses feeding babies. However, mostly it talks about the benefits of breastfeeding, and what not to feed baby (with a brief “try more healthy brands, or make your own”), with only a very short few lines talking about what *to* start feeding baby. And so my question is: what would you suggest for good first foods, and what, if anything, should be avoided during those first couple of months of solid foods?

Respectfully yours,

Erin

First, I’ll speak from experience. I exclusively breastfed my kids until they were six months old. After that, I introduced solids while maintaining the breastfeeding, starting with cooked peas, carrots, and sweet potatoes. I wasn’t into processed foods, neither for myself nor our kids, so I made all their food instead of buying it. But I was still in the low-fat paradigm (lots of whole grains, fruits, veggies and low-fat dairy). It never crossed my mind to offer things like egg yolks or liver! They did great and have grown up to be healthy, happy (young) adults, but if I knew then what I knew now I probably would have introduced a few other foods as well.

Egg yolks are great. They’ve been shown to be a great way to increase iron stores in babies (PDF), who after the six month mark really start dipping into the iron reserves and require an outside source of it. Bonus points if you use DHA-enriched or pastured eggs, which are higher in nutrients and can increase the serum DHA levels of babies. Soft boil the eggs and either spoon the yolk direct into mouth, or mash with something like banana or sweet potato.

Liver’s another food I would have liked to have given my kids very early. It’s super high in folate, iron, and vitamin A, which are nutrients they need. Some people recommend giving it raw after being frozen for 14 days to eliminate pathogens, but I don’t know about that to be quite honest. I think lightly pan cooking it in some butter, coconut oil, or olive oil is just fine.

But mostly just let him decide based on what he’s drawn to on your plate. I think babies’ instincts should be respected. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably eating a generally healthy diet, so I wouldn’t worry about just letting him eat what you’re eating. There aren’t too many restrictions. It’s generally accepted that you can feed babies food. Stay away from overly spicy stuff, but they don’t necessarily need bland, flavorless, boring food. Just start with little bites, little dabs of whatever food you’re offering, and see how they react. Babies tend to be super expressive with their faces. They’ll let you know when they don’t like something!

When you do offer starchy foods or fruits like sweet potatoes and bananas, consider pre-chewing them. Babies don’t make a ton of pancreatic amylase right off the bat, nor are they big chewers. Your saliva however does contain salivary amylase that can start the digestive process, survive passage into their guts, and make starch digestion easier for your baby. If you don’t want to chew the foods, be sure they are thoroughly cooked. Babies do make significant amounts of salivary amylase before pancreatic, too, so they’re not totally helpless as long as they gum the food (which they do!).

Regarding grains, there is some evidence that introducing too early (before 3 months) or “too late” (after around 7-8 months) can increase the risk of allergies or celiac in genetically susceptible kids. So if either of the baby’s parents have a history of celiac, gluten sensitivity, or other food intolerances, some people are recommending that he be introduced to cereal grains at around the six month mark. Other evidence suggests that waiting until 12 months is better. Could be that waiting even longer works even better. There’s not much evidence to say definitively either way. What’s my take on it? I’m not sure. The evidence is pretty interesting, if conflicting and unclear, despite our general anti-grain stance. I can conceivably see some benefit to giving a tiny bit of grain to an infant to prime them for later exposure. After all, it probably isn’t realistic to keep all grains and gluten from a kid for the rest of their lives. What happens when they go to a birthday party? A pizza joint with friends? Their lives are theirs, and they may choose to eat grains. If you do decide to introduce grains, make sure you’re still breastfeeding, which keeps the gut healthy and stocked full of beneficial, protective Bifidobacteria. A healthy gut appears to be key in preventing food intolerances from arising and promoting a healthy immune response to any food you may eat, and I think this is the most important factor (more so than when you introduce foods).

Well, that’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading!

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. My guess (only slightly educated) is that the single greatest health risk posed by WiFi is how much easier it makes it to never leave the couch.

    Bob Geary wrote on December 30th, 2013
    • You couldn’t be more right! At least I hope ha

      John B wrote on December 30th, 2013
    • If you use a cell phone, you are intentionally exposing yourself the much, much larger levels of radio energy than any WiFi router puts out, both because the phone needs to communicate with a tower a few miles away (not just in the next room), and because you’re holding the phone right next to your head.

      Like all health issues, it makes sense to deal with the big culprits first. If you are unwilling to get rid of your cell phone, don’t worry about your WiFi.

      Personally, I’ll keep my cell phone, but I carry a corded headset to use when talking on it. At least then the phone is a couple feet from my head. (That bluetooth headset you might use? It is is similar in radiation to your WiFi router.)

      John wrote on December 30th, 2013
      • I dont know if it is dangerous, but I would be more concerned using induction heating for cooking. The power output is ~ 2000 W… And the frequency a few kHZ, thus if you know your physics, skineffect and nearfield.
        Induction heating has 10 000 times higher power than the WIFI and the low frequency penetrates deep (not only skindeep), and sadly my private parts are very close to the powersource when cooking :-(
        assuming bipolar near magnetic field, thus power decaying prop to 1/ x^3

        Andreas kämpe wrote on December 30th, 2013
        • I don’t know if induction heating is dangerous either, but I know the higher frequencies excite individual molecules like H2O, which is why microwaves heat. I would suspect that energy at a few kHz is too long a wavelength to excite molecules in the same manner.

          John wrote on December 31st, 2013
    • But it means we can leave our computers, go to use the toilet, make a cup of tea, even leave the house, without risking being away from Facebook and Twitter for those crucial seconds!

      Definite health benefit, I’d say!

      Jack Y wrote on December 30th, 2013
  2. Thank you, Mark!

    Wenchypoo wrote on December 30th, 2013
  3. Interesting hearing Carrie’s perspective on introducing solids :)
    Also, love your point about not worrying too much about wifi signals. I don’t think there’s any point in stressing about it when it’s here to stay. We should do what we can to disconnect – not really to get away from the wifis, but to enjoy a better quality of life.

    Paige wrote on December 30th, 2013
  4. As for the WIFI, we can only control so much. At some point the stress of worring about things you can’t control becomes the bigger issue.

    As for breastfeeding, I breastfed exclusively until six months but wasn’t primal yet. If I could go back and get a redo with those next years, I would. I did the best I could with what I knew but things would be different!

    Tamara (New Orleans) wrote on December 30th, 2013
  5. I would say the biggest negative effect of WiFi would be the NSA van parked outside your house but I guess they don’t need to do that anymore.

    Groktimus Primal wrote on December 30th, 2013
    • Yeah, they can get everything off our facebook and twitter. Far more efficient.

      Aria Dreamcatcher wrote on December 30th, 2013
  6. “Babies tend to be super expressive with their faces.”

    I’ve done a fair amount of baby feeding over the last four years, and this is true. Babies make very entertaining facial expressions when they are eating. However, especially with my second, they can be totally misleading. He would cram something into his mouth, twist his face into a mask of shock, disgust and horror, cram more of it into his mouth, and do the same thing. I had to assume he would stop eating it if he didn’t like it, but the expressions themselves were funnier than they were informative.

    Ion Freeman wrote on December 30th, 2013
  7. The NSA has tiny cameras that look like a mosquito and run by remote control/WiFi.

    Nocona wrote on December 30th, 2013
  8. One recommendation I have for baby feeding is not to spoon feed at all. Just put forked mashed portions of your own food on the high chair tray, and let them play with it. Things like drumsticks with most of the meat gone work great too. Don’t worry too much about the perfect food or what they do or don’t seem to like. Solid food (while still breastfeeding) can be more about fun and exploration than nutrition, especially if they wear more food than they eat :)

    Liz Chalmers wrote on December 30th, 2013
    • +1 on the baby led weaning. Wouldn’t have done it any other way and have NEVER had issues with them eating primal with us :)

      Elizabeth wrote on December 30th, 2013
      • I came to make this exact comment! Our daughter is nine months old and eats pieces of chicken, eggs, vegetables, fruit… she hates being spoonfed so I just said fine, have real food! She still nurses a ton, too.

        I’d recommend “Baby Led Weaning” by Tracey Murkett if you are new to the concept. It has a lot of helpful pointers and also reassurance if you are worried about choking.

        Rebekah wrote on December 31st, 2013
  9. My son’s favorite first foods were avocado and mashed potato. (Of course, I would switch to sweet potato nowadays.)

    dragonmamma wrote on December 30th, 2013
  10. Instead of just having one base station in your house, that needs to transmit on full effect, have multiple so that they can stay on low effect

    Örjan wrote on December 30th, 2013
  11. My husband and I aren’t quite ready to have kids, but it’s funny that my parent’s and I were just talking about how I planned to approach food with our future children. I cook based on my needs as a celiac, but my husband still eats gluten grains (mostly outside the house) so I have been wondering how I would approach this when the time came. I appreciate the suggestion to introduce gluten and other grains early in life so the body can prepare itself for a future diet that may include these foods. I can feed them a healthy diet and provide advice and resources, but ultimately it will be up to them how to choose how they live. With any luck, more information on the timing of introduction will be available when we take the big step into parenthood.

    Elysia wrote on December 30th, 2013
  12. Rubies & Radishes (a paleo blog) has a great article on first foods for babies (she includes egg yolks & liver too).

    Sara wrote on December 30th, 2013
  13. Hmm my wifi is buried under my bed, 8 to 10 hours blasting me each night! Soon il be able to send my dreams straight to Facebook!

    Enjoyed the info on creatine mark, thanks. I get a lot of questions on that.

    Luke wrote on December 30th, 2013
    • I misread ‘wi-fi’ as ‘wife’ for a second…

      Jack Y wrote on December 30th, 2013
  14. We have our 6 month old baby led weening, and it is perfectly aligned with our paleo diet. Things she can’t chew (like steak and prawns) she sucks all the goodness out of, and things she can, she swallows. She knows when she’s had enough. Just seems to make more sense than pureeing loads of calories and shovelling them down her throat

    Ben wrote on December 30th, 2013
  15. Don’t introduce gluten too early.
    That’s what happened to me. On the pediatrician’s suggestions, I was served wheat flour (while still breastfed) aged 3 months.
    All my health problems started at that point. Colic began, eczema, skin rashes, digestion problems, you name it. When I was a toddler, for a certain time I could only eat white rice and a couple of vegetables. Later on, persistent sinus infections, skin rashes, dermatitis, hormonal issues and so on.
    While none of this is a life threatening condition, it has had a negative impact on my life.
    As a result of the untimely gluten introduction, I have a strong gluten intolerance and I don’t function well with dairy (I haven’t tried raw, though).
    Despite following a gluten free diet, and since a while dairy free Paleo (no cheats for me), I have not yet completely recovered and I probably never will.
    I have to thank my pediatrician for this advice, which is not backed by any science, only by the greedy manufacturers of formula, so they could reach those few mothers who still dared to breastfeed.

    Mrs G wrote on December 30th, 2013
  16. My wife became concerned about the WiFi router, so I moved it to one side of the house, away from her areas, and I configured it to put out only 25% power. I ran Cat 5 cable to areas cut off from the now much smaller WiFi footprint. She’s happy. I’m happy.

    Alex wrote on December 30th, 2013
  17. Erin,

    You should read the book “Baby Led Weaning”. Works great with Primal eating son. Our son is now 2 and we started when he was about 4 months. You basically just set food in front of them and let them discover. Besides breast feeding one of the best decesions we made. I could on but it is all in the book. I think it also helps them establish a good relationship with food because they decide what and how much.

    Evan Lynam wrote on December 30th, 2013
    • It’s also fantasic for their motor skills, sensory skills and hand-eye co-ordination

      Elizabeth wrote on December 30th, 2013
      • And as Ion said above, it can be very entertaining to the rest of the family.

        2Rae wrote on December 30th, 2013
        • Agreed on that– the best was when our daughter spotted some food on her tray but couldn’t figure out how to pick it up, so simply face-planted onto the tray in order to get it into her mouth :)

          Rebekah wrote on December 31st, 2013
  18. Did anyone else think about the Dr. Who episode where the WiFi started downloading souls? Maybe we should worry…hmmmmmmm. ;)

    Stace wrote on December 30th, 2013
  19. Very nice post. Interesting article and I enjoyed the read very much.

    Stuart Jones wrote on December 30th, 2013
  20. I think if I had a baby I’d introduce all the “gross” healthy foods early so the baby acquires a taste.

    Animanarchy wrote on December 30th, 2013
    • I think baby-led weaning helps a lot with that. Our daughter has turned up her nose at almost everything we tried to give her on a spoon, but once we put it on her tray, she gobbled it down. She is not picky in the least– spicy chicken, oranges, tomato sauce, smoked salmon– bring it on!

      Rebekah wrote on December 31st, 2013
  21. The comment about wifi was funny to me as my July vacation was in the Amazon rain forest. It was a rustic lodge with limited solar power available at certain hours, no hot water (river water pumped in for washing) but there was internet available of course!

    Colleen wrote on December 30th, 2013
  22. I never thought to consider how WiFi might be affecting my health. Good to know that there’s nothing to worry about.

    Steve Obermeier wrote on December 31st, 2013
  23. Dear Mark,

    With respect, I am afraid to say that promoting the idea that artificial, information-carrying microwaves from WiFi might be able to “improve” ones’ health is extremely concerning and arguably borders on recklessness – particularly given the profound lack of awareness in the general public about the dangers of man-made wireless signals.

    There are in excess of 6,000 studies now showing harm from non-ionising radiation to people, plants and animals (including but not limited to WiFi) and it’s arguably a key factor in bee colony collapse disorder given the role EMFs play in helping (and, where man-made, hindering) bee navigation.

    To pull you up on some specifics, firstly you link to an article at the start of your post which shows harm from wireless signals measured up to 16V/m – and then you go on to say that we are “bathed” in these frequencies. Without any debate required, we are NOT – generally speaking – bathed in signals as strong as that unless we are actively using a wireless device on our lap or near our head.

    So a great piece of advice for your readers on this issue would be to avoid using wireless devices unless absolutely necessary, remove WiFi routers from the home and, if possible, from the work place. By all means do the other things you suggest – definitely stay healthy and mindful – but we can all limit our exposure by electing to go “wired”. This will make a huge difference as anyone with an understanding of the inverse-square law will tell you – the further you are from the source of a signal of this kind, the more dramatically the signal falls away.

    You say that there is lots of evidence that it has no effect “particularly on prenatal health and development”. Please take a moment to watch this interview which brings to light some extremely concerning trends associated with the rise of EMFs and the rise of autism. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_wxM6IAF1I&feature=player_embedded. There has also been studies showing harm to babies from ultrasound and brain protein development – google it. These frequencies are even lower power than WiFi. Google the work of retired military microwave weapons expert Barrie Trower for his discourse on how wireless radiation harms female ovum in utero and his logical analysis of where it leads. Prof Olle Johansson of Sweden’s renowned Karolinska Institute (Noble Prize for Medicine) predicts irreversible sterility within “five generations” due to wireless radiation.

    Your link to the “sham signal” test also appears to be broken, but if it is one of the many studies funded by Big Telecom trying to pour cold water on the subject of EHS and claiming it is “psychosomatic”, then the following story is worth a read for a provable counter-argument – http://www.emfacts.com/2012/01/electromagnetic-intolerance-elucidated/

    Very best wishes,

    Marco
    PS – excellent docu also available here on a related subject http://www.takebackyourpower.net

    Marco wrote on January 1st, 2014
  24. Remember when tobacco was healthy? At least don`t draw your conclusion that there`s nothing to worry about, based on this one article. It takes more than five minutes to make an informed decision regarding exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

    There`s something called scientific theory. It doesn`t matter how many studies show no danger. It`s the studies that show danger that count.

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/19/cell-phone-use.aspx

    Stein Galen wrote on January 1st, 2014
  25. Yea my mom always says my phone is gonna kill me one day. I’m starting to believe her….

    Heyo Paleo wrote on January 1st, 2014
  26. I personally try to avoid as much “electro-smog” as possible. No wifi in the house, the cell phone stays at least 2 feet away from me whenever I’m not using it, salt lamps on to try and reduce some of the negative ionization around me. Sounds a little goofy and “new-agey” but I figure the more we do to avoid the better – same way we approach food consumption. With that said, a much bigger concern to me is the dangers of wireless electric smart meters.

    WreckshopRob wrote on January 3rd, 2014
  27. Need – TINFOIL – HAT – NOW!

    Ulfric Douglas wrote on January 3rd, 2014
  28. Need – EMPATHY – LEARNING – NOW!

    Mordi Eman wrote on January 4th, 2014
  29. There are no side effects with proper creatine supplementation, as creatine is a natural source your muscles need on a daily basis from your diet. Creatine monohydrate absorbs water from your blood stream into your muscle cells. For those who do not drink enough water dehydration can be a negative side effect. This is not a concern for those drinking proper amounts of water on a daily basis.

    Taking more creatine is not going to help. I use the Dr Max Powers Creatine 3X Elite because it gives you the most creatine, wit htheleast effect on your kidneys. Kidneys are the #1 organ effected by dehydration for too much creatine. i have been used the Dr Max Powers Creatine Elite for 3 years without no side effects.

    nyc967 wrote on February 13th, 2014

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