For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a three-parter that’s really closer to a five-parter. First are a couple of questions from Joe, who first wonders about the hormetic benefits of acute sleep deprivation (are there any?) and then asks how he can beat a sweet tooth he suspects is brought on by lack of exercise. The second pair of questions concern CrossFit (is it an example of Chronic Cardio and should I be recommending it?) and breadfruit (does it have a place on the Primal eating plan?). And finally, Andy asks for the origin of the popular “gut is 80% of our immune system” statement.
Head on over to Paleo Magazine Online and lend your voice to their annual “Best of” poll. This year, we’re up for several categories. You know who to vote for, right?
Research of the Week
You often hear that “fire made us human” by introducing a broader range of (cooked) foods to our diets, increasing our calorie intake, making those calories easier to digest, and paving the way for larger brains, but fire also changed how our brains work. By sitting around a campfire at night – every night – we became master storytellers and consumers of those stories.
This vibrant green sauce is such a simple way to add a powerhouse green – watercress – to your diet. Make the sauce in your blender in a just few minutes by combining coconut milk with watercress, cilantro, green onion, garlic and ginger. Similar in flavor to a mild green curry, the sauce pairs especially well with fish but can also be served over chicken or red meat.
Watercress, with its fairly mild but peppery flavor, is an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamins A, B1 and B6, C, E and K, iodine, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It also contains a flavonoid called quercetin that might reduce inflammation.
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!
My food consumption was pretty typical for an American of my generation (I was born in 1951). I ate what I thought was a reasonably good diet according to conventional wisdom, however my weight gradually increased over the years after age 30. As I got older, I developed high blood pressure (BP) and my blood biochemistry became problematic. I worked a high stress job for many years as a Navy lawyer and, after I retired from the Navy, as a corporate regulatory lawyer.
I had a real health scare early in 2005 brought on by work-related stress and an underlying condition in my brain. I spent five miserable days in the ICU. Statistically, I could have died but I had no lasting impacts other than a lifetime prescription to take BP medicines. When my internal medicine specialist told me to find a general practitioner to take over my care in 2006, he said I needed to “eat better and get more exercise.” Needless to say, that didn’t help much.
Last month, linguist Dan Jurafsky came out with a book called The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu. In it, he explores everything from language choices that distinguish cheap restaurant menus from more expensive ones to the kinds of vowels marketers use in naming food products (e.g. short vowels for crispy Ritz or Cheez-Its, or longer vowels for rich Jamoca or Almond Fudge). In another linguistically focused mindbender (published last year), David Chen, a behavioral economist, found that people who spoke a language like English that was “futured” (a language that includes a distinct future tense through the use of helping verbs, for example, such as “I will —”) as a whole saved less money and practiced fewer lifestyle behaviors that supported future health than societies whose languages don’t have a future tense (generally collapsing it with the present tense as German does). (PDF) It’s the kind of seemingly irrelevant detail that ultimately stuns in its demonstration of how subtle cultural and linguistic patterns really do pervade our collective thinking and communication in ways we’re wholly unaware of. As Chen himself was quoted, “Why is it that we allow subtle nudges of our language to affect our decision making?”
As humans living in the Information age, we’re winning. We’ve got nature on the ropes. We haven’t quite extricated ourselves from our disgusting physical forms, but that’s only a matter of time. And I think if you take a look around at the splendidly sterile environment we’ve constructed with its flat surfaces, moving staircases, and automobile-friendly streets, you’ll realize that we’re close to never having to lift a physical finger again. But until the robot butlers, maids, and personal assistants have arrived, the threat of physical activity looms and we have the responsibility and duty to outsource it as much as possible.