For years now, across multiple posts here on Mark’s Daily Apple, nighttime blue light has gotten a pretty bad rap. Although I’ve mentioned that blue light during the day is important (and natural sunlight is helpful), I haven’t focused on it, mostly homing in on the circadian-disrupting, sleep-inhibiting, melatonin-blunting effects. As a result, many of you may be entirely unaware of the potential positive, beneficial applications of blue light. Recent and not-so-recent research has confirmed that blue light can actually improve our cognitive abilities, including memory, alertness, reaction time, and executive function – at least in the short term. Oh, and it doesn’t always ruin our sleep. It might even improve it if you expose yourself at the right time.
Wait a minute – blue light is good for us? Sisson, you just got done spending the last few years telling me to excise blue light from my vicinity at night if I wanted a good night’s sleep, and now you’re saying we might actually need more blue light. What gives?
To your friends, family, and co-workers, you’re the weird one for that crock of fermenting cabbage on your counter, the packets of kefir grains you’re always giving away as gifts, and the fact that you have a shovel designed specifically for digging kimchi fermentation holes in your backyard. In college, you had pinup posters of Sandor Katz and loved to binge drink not because you liked getting drunk but because you just really loved fermented beverages. You sometimes dash bottles of pickles to the grocery store floor in bitter rage if they were pickled with vinegar rather than lacto-fermented. You spike store bought yogurt with probiotic powder because it’s not tart enough for you. But worry not, my dear fermentation-obsessed reader, for you are in good company.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a question about dietary acid load and type 2 diabetes. A new study’s just come out suggesting that the acid load of the diet does indeed have a significantly negative impact on our health and may actually cause type 2 diabetes. The reader is understandably worried, so I dig into the research and try to see what’s going on. Then, for Dear Carrie, my lovely wife answers a reader’s question about the safety of homemade baby food.
Research of the Week
Lots of chocolate love this week. First, a cacao-extract added to premade meals reduced oxidized LDL levels in middle-aged overweight/obese people. Second, cocoa flavanols have neurocognitive benefits, stimulating blood flow in the brain, promoting neural connectivity and neurogenesis, and improving resistance to neurodegeneration. Translation: eat dark chocolate.
When you lift heavy things, sacrifice weight (and, perhaps, ego) before compromising on range of motion. A new study confirms that performing movements with full range of motion and lower weight builds more size and strength than going heavier with a lower range of motion. Word of caution: one should never compromise safety, form, and technique for the sake of range of motion. Don’t squat ass to grass if you have to displace a vertebrae to do it.
It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!
In December 2009, I was 25 years old and weighed 210 lbs. I was obese for my 5’5″ frame, never felt well, and was popping handfuls of pills every day just to get by. I was taking 2 anti-depressants, anxiolytics, prescription sleeping pills, courses of Prilosec once or twice a month, acid-blocking pills or antacid tablets 1-3 times a day, anti-diarrhea pills several days a week, and I was constantly catching respiratory infections and frequently took courses of antibiotics. In fact, I was put on chronic antibiotics by a dermatologist to treat rosacea, acne, and a truly horrible condition known as hidradenitis suppurativa (acne inversa). I would take them for several weeks at a time until everything calmed down, but inevitably within a few weeks more I would end up with another debilitatingly painful HS boil and would need to start up the antibiotics again. I also got either a yeast infection or a urinary tract infection almost once a month (and sometimes both in the same month). I had dysmenorrhea and would typically miss one day of work per month due to my cycle. In the summer of 2008 I was diagnosed as pre-daibetic with metabolic syndrome and hypertension, so by the end of 2009 I was quite probably a full-fledged type II diabetic, I just never got an official diagnosis. I was falling apart mentally and physically, and scared to death of a miserable future full of multiple chronic illnesses and scary prescription medications, so I decided to make some drastic changes to my lifestyle. I resolved to do my research over the holidays and begin in 2010 with a new way of life.
A conversation the other day got me thinking about personality and weight loss/health transformation. Do certain “types” tend to approach health changes differently? For instance, do intense personalities steer toward a cold turkey approach? Likewise, do milder characters lean toward a slow and steady style? And what does the research say? Everyone is always looking for the path that entails the least amount of pain, toil and struggle. Maybe we’re lead by intuition, or maybe we’ve had our share of personal experimentation – with its collection of successes and frustrations. For example, maybe you tried to go cold turkey once and feel like you fell flat on your face. On the other hand, maybe you tried it and it wasn’t a total disaster but was just too uncomfortable. You wanted a different process. (As long as we accept responsibility, we always get to choose our process.) The same goes for the slow and steady method. Maybe it just elicited impatience over time. Knowing ourselves is key to undertaking any health change, but how does personal idiosyncrasy merge with bigger behavioral and physiological patterns?