Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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Outtakes

Between bird flu, Rhode Island school closures, conjoined children, the new WHO director, an ethical debate about a disabled daughter, and the ruckus over human-animal DNA splicing, it’s been quite a controversial and bizarre week in the world of science and health. Frankly, I’ll leave these stories to Google and all the pundits chomping at the 5 o’clock Friday bit. If you’re looking for a little bit of a breather from all this, the Bees have gone hunting for the latest study findings in the field of health, and here’s the best of the catch: 1 – My favorite kind of study: one that’s randomized, placebo-controlled, and long-term (in this case, nearly 7 years!). The findings reveal that supplementing with zinc helps fight aging and age-related diseases, macular degeneration, and oxidation. It’s one of the better-designed studies I’ve seen on zinc. Although, quick note – long-term supplementation with zinc needs to be kept at a fairly low dosage and quality source such as found here. Here is the American Journal of Ophthalmology Clickativity for those who want the nitty-gritty. 2 – A researcher named Bruce. Now here’s a guy I like. He writes a terrific essay on the need for particular nutrients to mitigate certain effects of aging, cancer risk, and cellular function, and is upfront about his conflict of interest (he’s part of a scientific advisory board involved in the licensing of a supplement that supports mitochondria). Nevertheless, he doesn’t profit, his findings are spot-on, and I appreciate the academic honesty. That’s more than can be said for a lot of conflicts of interest in the medical industry that get hushed. We’ll be getting into ATP, stress, oxidation and mitochondria in the future to help you understand why our bodies age and weaken the way they do, and what can be done about it (first tip: take a potent multivitamin with antioxidants, and lay off the sugar). But Bruce’s summary is worth perusing for a quick minute. The more you can do to stop oxidation at the cellular level, the better your health will be in myriad ways: wrinkling and aging, energy, immunity, cognition, disease prevention, liver function, nervous system function, cardiovascular health, and so on. There is a common component to many diseases, illnesses and dysfunctions of the body – it’s cell damage. 3 – Exercise improves life in your golden years. A study from the Journal of Gerontology highlights the critical need for folks over 60 to continue building their strength through exercise. Aging is essentially a process of tissue wasting away – hair, organs, vital fats, muscle and bone tissue, and even brain tissue. Exercise, particularly strength training, offsets this process to the extent that is possible. Living long is great – but I’m interested in living well, too. I’m sure you are as well. Exercise later in life is also critical for maintaining confidence, emotional happiness, and a sense of security – all important things for everybody but especially seniors. Medline Plus, a public service … Continue reading “Outtakes”

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Carb-Free News

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites

What’s up, Apples? All kinds of great health news for you today. Here’s the latest you’ll want to click:

1) Fine…But It’s Still a Frankenfat

So, we don’t really have a comment on this. What goes on with this line of reasoning? Who thinks this stuff up? “Take bad fake fat. Fake it some more so it has some good in it. But it’s still bad fat. Sort of.” Huh? Here’s an idea: stop playing God with food! Oh yeah. Sorry. We promised no comment. People may never stop eating potato chips; should scientists just try to make them slightly less terrible for you? We just don’t believe this is the best humans are capable of. We’re only bees, of course…

2) Never Too Late to Feel Great with Folate

After it became common knowledge that women needs lots of folate to prevent birth defects, things started to improve. For a while. The government has conducted two back-to-back long-term studies to see if women are getting enough folate.

Surprisingly, levels are way back down again despite all the folic flapping. The researchers think it’s a combination of obesity rates increasing and supplementation rates decreasing. The moral? Stay lean, eat greens, and take a multivitamin, for goodness’ sake. (If for no other reason than to make us quit with the folate rhymes!)

3) We Knew It!

This just in: soap and water are just as good at removing germs as all those fancy-schmancy hand sanitizers. Repeat: soap and water are just as good. Hand sanitizers are the bottled water of the germ-conscious set.

Here are the facts for all you beloved germophobes:

– Alcohol-based sanitizers do a good job of killing bacteria IF you use a lot of the goop. Most people only use a little squirt and that’s not really enough. Also, these hand sanitizers kill good bacteria along with the bad. We would die without good bacteria, so it’s something to think about. Besides, remember that most of the really nasty stuff is viral, not bacterial (flu, colds, HIV, meningitis, tuberculosis, etc.).

– Which brings us to the next fact: while sanitizers will not always kill viruses, hand-washing will. That’s because soap isn’t a killer – soap is just a slimeball (literally). Soap helps bacteria and viruses slide right off your hands, which is why you need to “soap up” for at least 10 rigorous seconds before rinsing. Soap doesn’t kill, it just gives germs the slip.

More clickativity from around the web:

Crazy But True

Bad Days Continue for Big Pharma: 8,000 people aren’t wrong.

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Parkinson’s Politics = Pressure Cooker

Here is a razor-sharp example of excellent, detailed, honest medical research reporting. Unfortunately, with words like ergot and agonist, it’s also as relentlessly boring as a Del Monte fruit cup without the little pink “cherries”. No wonder people are confused about the latest medical findings! Where are the resources to interpret this jargon?

Oh yeah, here, that’s where! Whew.

And here. (An anonymous MD’s personal take on medical practice. Often quite interesting.)

And here. (Ok, so this one’s a little dry, but you can scope where we review studies.)

Anyway, this example in particular found that certain types of Parkinson’s drugs may cause major heart problems in certain types of patients. The good news is that a more effective Parkinson’s drug appears to be near completion thanks to the KDI breakthrough from last year (KDI is a protein that appears to play a role in preventing certain neurological problems). KDI treatment may even help prevent ALS and strokes.

There’s another huge issue surrounding Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases that I want to draw particular attention to, because it’s infuriating. According to this article, scientists are having a hard time effectively researching potential causes and cures because industry lawsuits – from chemical companies to welding groups – jump all over medical studies that link environmental causes to these diseases. This is something you can personally help to change with this clickativity. It will take about 45 seconds. I think it’s more than worth it.

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[tags]Parkinson’s, KDI, Alzheimer’s, politics[/tags]

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Wednesday Wrap

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites

1) Wash Those Hands, Honey!

Bird flu and mad cow may be glamorously scary, but what should be making more headlines is the newest, ugliest superbug crawling around gyms, daycares and door handles. Fortunately, it’s easy to stop if you wash your hands after hanging around public places. Clickativity.

2) What’s that? You Frolicked in Acid?

Speak up, would ya! Folic acid is good for your ears. We’re impressed with this nice little study, which was long-term, placebo-controlled, and looked at both men and women. Very well done, Annals, very well done. And well done is actually quite…rare. (Come on, you know you’re smiling.)

Check out a great way to get folic acid here.

3) Harvard Doesn’t Like Uncle Sam’s Food Pyramid, Either

Harvard has released an alternative food pyramid and nutrition guide. It’s a really great way to spend 16 bucks because, although the US pyramid is both free and pretty, the Harvard version flat-out rocks. Harvard oh-so-politely counters the so-called “balanced diet” approach as being totally meaningless (which it is). Seriously, are things like “try to eat more whole grains” and “avoid fat” the best recommendations our government can come up with? Evidently so. (Although the FDA does have that nifty new Labelman tutorial online to help you understand nutrition labels and feel like a five-year-old simultaneously.)

Instead, with the Harvard guide, specific foods are recommended. How cool is that? Things like good fats (because they lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol), veggies rich in antioxidants (because they may prevent cancer and they fight inflammation and stress), and lots of lean protein. Yum!

In fact, Harvard makes a very convincing case that a high-protein diet is not only safe for the cardiovascular-concerned crowd, but that sensible high-protein diets (no baconfests, people) are actually better for the heart than bran muffins and bread machines. Which is what Mark has been espousing all along – pretty interesting stuff!

We really recommend purchasing the guide if you can. Kudos to Harvard for having the gumption to address real nutrition with real science and real recommendations. Although, colorful stripes are fun. We’re very impressed with the FDA for staying inside the lines so well.

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Tuesday’s Thought Fuss

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites

1) Calm Cows

It’s all over the news: Scientists have invented a cow that may be immune to mad cow disease. Yes, that’s right – a whole cow. Not a drug, or a food, or a shot, but an actual breed of cow that is immune to getting a disease caused by…oh yeah: irresponsible, filthy factory food production. Of course, since our government still insists there is absolutely no cause to worry about killer burgers, we suppose this techie fix is just for kicks – you know, just in case. Hey, it’s always good to have an extra species of bovine on the shelf for those rainy day public health disasters. Why mop the slimy slaughterhouse floor when you can just make a new cow that won’t be affected by said slime? Hooray, technology!

If you’re interested in the dark underbelly of the mad cow conspiracy (we’re staying neutral for now…but boy, are they persuasive), visit our favorite little conspiracy site maintained by a gaggle of rogue journalists who probably eat tofu and have really messy hair. If you’re interested in the government’s take, visit the FDA. If you haven’t seen the news piece, here’s the clickativity. And we promise, no more cow pictures for a while.

Beneath the calm exterior…

2) Yeah, yeah, have a drink…

Yet another study reveals that one or two drinks a day may not be so bad for the heart – and now, it appears, for the old blood pressure. This is a debate that will probably never go away, and the fact that this large-scale (11,000: pretty good) survey (kind of lame by scientific standards) found a glass or two of Grandpa’s cough syrup is good for middle-aged men isn’t the worst news on earth, now is it? Of course, women should stick to one drink (in general).

However, keep in mind that:

a) A little sip is good, a little more is bad. Anything more than one or two drinks and you’re in the boiling-point blood pressure range, and,

b) while beer may – may – help raise good cholesterol a bump or two, so will a good multivitamin, a few weekly servings of lean fish, and daily use of olive oil or Smart Butter. We’re just sayin’.

Although, this does look good…

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Make a Better Choice

As mentioned yesterday, the national health report card has just been released by the NIH. My fellow Americans, we did not make the honor roll. We are not number one. (Though there’s a roll, all right.)

Here’s how America scored in some major subjects:

Heart disease: 685,000 deaths (down about 10% from 1980)
Cancer/tumors: 556,000 deaths (up about 35% from 1980)
Diabetes: 74,000 deaths (triple the 1980 rate)

Things that killed people in 1980 – like cirrhosis, accidents and the flu, are way down. But preventable diseases like diabetes, some types of cancer, heart disease and cardiovascular conditions are way up.

– Obesity is up – a lot. In the 1960s, that rate was about 44%; it’s now over 66%. Click here for the kid stats.
– You might be surprised: heart disease killed more women last year than men. Take care of those arteries, ladies!
– Also worth considering: the millions of deaths, bad reactions and side effects of drugs used to treat all these conditions. Can’t we do better?

What all this means:

It’s tempting to feel a little pessimistic, but a lot of this news is actually good. That’s right, good!

We don’t have to worry too much about clean water or adequate food or – even with the big mess health care is in right now – access to a doctor. There’s a lot to fix in this country, but the good news is that we’re blessed with a lot of options and advantages.

Most of the diseases and health issues facing Americans are things that are preventable with a few basic lifestyle changes: things like eating less, cutting out sugar, eating more vegetables every day, quitting smoking, getting exercise, taking supplements that limit free radical damage, and avoiding stress.

While these things are challenges and there are a lot of choices to weigh, the important thing is that we have choice. That, in itself, is a blessing.

So, choose to be healthy! Health, to the extent you can control it, is nothing more than good choices (because you can’t help genetics or luck). So always be making a better one.

[tags] American health statistics, national health, country comparisons, National Institutes of Health, NIH, major causes of death, most common health problems [/tags]

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