Month: December 2009

The Definitive Guide to Fermented Foods

Life in the Paleolithic wasn’t a pristine, sterile existence. There were no fun-sized hand sanitizers or pasteurized eggs. Meat didn’t come shrink-wrapped, and it wasn’t stored in sub-40 degree temperature to prevent spoilage. I’ve never seen evidence of vegetable cleaning liquid containers at prehistoric dig sites, nor have any tiny tubes of antibiotic ointment been discovered among the arrowheads, flint shards, and stone spears. In fact, for the better part of human history, man was entirely ignorant of the existence of microorganisms, let alone the crucial role they played in our everyday lives. The Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro, in his 1st century BC book “On Agriculture,” wrote of “certain creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and there cause serious diseases,” but he was just guessing (the Romans used a pseudo-soap to occasionally remove sweat and visible grime, but not for any supposed anti-microbial effects). It wasn’t until the 17th century that microorganisms were even discovered, and it took another couple hundred years for us to realize that the little guys could cause disease and that boiling or sufficiently heating a substance could kill or mitigate the worst of them.

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Benefits of Benevolence

It’s a message fitting for the season and one that gives a whole new meaning to the adage, to give is to receive. Acts of generosity, research shows, don’t just lead to emotional satisfaction; they actually promote physical health and healing. It’s more than good karma of course.

There’s evolutionary rationale to the warm fuzzies we get when we exercise our altruistic muscle. It behooved our ancestors to get along well and exhibit cooperation within their tribal groups. Even as the scale of social community expanded over time, a confluence of cultural motivation and genetic incentive appear to have still favored “pro-social” behaviors. We’re designed to be socially conscious and collaborative creatures. Not surprisingly, physiological incentives to support this orientation have been selected for over time.

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Cell Phone Health Hazard?

It’s become one of those oft-repeated half-truths floating around that people either assume to be unerringly true or completely false. It draws both sides of the spectrum: those that eschew all traditional medicine, and the folks who take the official governmental recommendations and proclamations as gospel, every single time. Every now and then, you might hear a blurb about the cell phone-cancer connection on Oprah, or on the evening news, or from the neo-hippy mother picking up her child from daycare. You probably can’t really quite place where you first heard about it. It’s just there, lingering in the public mind space. And it never really gets a clear answer. Now, a growing body of research seems to suggest that a link between cell phone usage and brain tumor incidence does exist, but it’s just that: an association, a correlation. Correlations are interesting, but you can’t draw concrete causal conclusions with correlations alone (Ancel Keys’ dietary fat graph, anyone?).

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Dear Mark: Feast or Famine Diet?

Among the questions I get from MDA readers are those that ask about timely diet trends – you know, the latest regimens highlighted in the media or promoted by high profile stars and athletes. Some are bookstore blockbuster plans like The Zone, while others are the latest celebrity diet du jour. As my wife and – well, everyone who knows me – can tell you, I’m always up for talking, debating, deconstructing, and fully dissecting any version or concept of diet under the sun. (Thankfully, my wife at least finds it endearing after all these years.) But it’s a treat when a diet trend comes up I can actually find common ground with. Take this question from reader Jim.

Dear Mark,

I saw something this week about a “feast or famine” diet. From what I get, people alternate eating a small amount and eating as much as they want. I’m still kind of a newbie and wondered what you thought of it. Thanks! Love the PB!

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Announcement: New Recipe Theme for the Cookbook Contest

Enter your best Primal Blueprint recipes for your chance to win prizes and be featured in the Reader-Created Cookbook
The new theme: Primal Soups!

We’ve received some delicious Primal breakfast recipes from readers:

Almond Banana Pancakes

No Oat Oatmeal… It’s Noatmeal!

Omelet Muffins

Frittata Aleta

All of these recipes will be featured in the Reader-Created Primal Blueprint Cookbook and the entrants have a chance to win an über cool Primal prize package.

If you’d like to participate in this contest send in your own favorite Primal recipes that relate to the current theme – Primal Soups. Click here for all the details.

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Announcement: Free Events

This is a last minute reminder for two events I’m speaking at in Northern California. The more the merrier so bring your friends and let’s get Primal!

Here are the details for both events. RSVP now to guarantee your seat!

Sunday, December 6th
Catalyst Athletics
1257 Tasman Dr., Suite A, Sunnyvale, CA, 94089

Please RSVP at [email protected] or 408-400-0067

Monday, December 7th
Diablo CrossFit
2447 Estand Way, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

Please register for the event by clicking here.

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