Introducing a New Column: Primal Health

WHY OUR MODERN WAY OF LIFE DOES NOT SUPPORT HUMAN HEALTH What is Primal Health? In brief, “primal health” is my pet name for my point of view regarding all aspects of health, fitness, nutrition, and aging. Primal health describes my personal scientific bent and informs my diet and fitness regimens – indeed, my whole lifestyle – and has for over two decades. I believe it is clear that every aspect of human health must, of necessity, examine first how our lifestyle impacts (and interacts with) our “primal” DNA blueprints that reached final draft some 10,000 years ago. If you’ve heard of the Paleo Diet or the celebrity Caveman Diet, you’re in good company. Of course, we now know that “Caveman” is a scientific misnomer, but it’s a memorable and handy term, if slightly inaccurate. My friend, scientist and respected blogger, Art DeVany, refers to this health lifestyle as “evolutionary fitness”. My unique spin is more…primal. As many of you know, I was a top marathoner and triathlete for many years, making a name for myself in the early 1980s at Ironman and the U.S. National Marathon Championships, among other events. As an elite athlete in the prime of his youth, I was anything but healthy, however. The intense level of peak output required of a “top” athlete is enormously destructive to the body. (As an aside, it’s my personal – admittedly untested – theory that the incredible amount of oxidative damage, hormone depletion and repetitive strain male athletes endure has at least something to do with the inordinately commonplace receding hairlines among these otherwise “healthy” men.) The infections, illnesses and injuries I faced only grew more frequent and aggressive as time wore on and my list of accomplishments grew. Though I was in better racing shape than 99.9% of humans on the planet, my body was telling me something: this extreme level of fitness was not a part of nature’s design. I had graduated from Williams College with a degree in biology. Science has always been a passion of mine and something of a career as well (though I have always published for lay press rather than journals). I retired from sport convinced that the athlete’s way of life, which includes stressful and even reckless consumption of insane amounts of calories – largely refined carbs and even pure glucose – is no more sane or healthy than the diet of your average Westerner. In particular, Americans are living a lifestyle that is in direct opposition to the beautiful and brilliant system evolution yielded. I believe that, but you don’t have to take my word for it. A basic understanding of human development and even the most cursory review of historically healthy cultures and current scientific studies lends credence to my increasingly passionate perspective, Primal Health. The impetus for this column comes from my personal experience, my accumulated knowledge, and simply, passion. When I started this blog I had a few goals in mind: I definitely wanted this to be … Continue reading “Introducing a New Column: Primal Health”

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Tea Time

SMART FUEL Reader Donna suggested that we share information on the benefits of tea. Good idea, Donna! Tea is incredibly healthy and is an easy way to get a daily dose of beneficial antioxidants. While we’re at it, let’s discuss the types of tea, too. Tea Types There is only one tea species. White tea, black tea, green tea, oolong – they all come from a single plant (camellia sinensis for you Latin nerds). The basic difference boils down (get it?) to how processed the leaves are and the level of fermenting involved. White tea is the least processed and the “freshest”, so it is highest in antioxidants. Yes, there is something better than green tea! Antioxidant Potency The differences are really not as extreme as is believed. All tea is healthy for you. However, the more processed teas are lower in antioxidants and much higher in caffeine. A hierarchy: 1. White 2. Green 3. Oolong (Really difficult to make – not for you, for the artisans. You boil it like any other tea leaf.) 4. Black Pictures: Top: white tea Lower: jasmine pearls green tea – yum! Top: green tea Lower: oolong tea Top: black Lower: the ultra-rare (and uber-snobby) pureh Pureh is pretty special stuff. Though popular in China, it’s rare here – we haven’t tried it yet. Have you? Prep Of course, boiled water poured immediately over the leaves, and 3 to 5 minutes of steeping time, will yield the best-tasting and most nutritious pot. Microwave is sacrilege and will invoke the wrath of the tea gods, so don’t even think about it! Shopping Time We had a lot of fun trying out many different types of tea from a local purveyor of some pretty fancy drinkable foliage. If you’re looking for flavor and health, white tea is even more delightful than green, but it’s very grassy and greeny, and definitely leaves a pucker. Black is nice in that “I grew up on it” way, but since coffee offers more caffeine for you addicts and other teas offer more antioxidants, black seems like sort of a sad little compromise. Still, many people prefer it, and there’s arguably nothing tastier than black tea with a little cream and honey. Green teas are more varied than you might think. Our favorite was a special hand-rolled blend of green tea and lavender and jasmine similar to jasmine pearls. It was soothing, herbaceous, floral, and tasted like drinkable perfume. That is, if you could drink perfume (please don’t do this). This was a handcrafted tea, so it isn’t available everywhere, but jasmine pearls are a popular and high-quality offering available in many stores. We also had a blast (and bounced off the walls) with a chocolate and mint infused black and green tea mix. It tasted like a peppermint patty! This was pretty strongly caffeinated and very flavorful. It would make a great after-dinner tea if you are entertaining and you and your guests plan to stay up late talking or … Continue reading “Tea Time”

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Los Linky Links

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites

The best clicks from the world of health, Apples:

Mirkin Is Back with More Health Myths

You loyal readers know Mark (and your Bees) don’t buy into that whole “drink 8 glasses of water a day or else!” rule. While we’re big fans of drinking water, you don’t have to stress out about it. Drink when you’re thirsty. It’s a myth that by the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. If that were true, think about it: dogs and cats would sure be hurting. Thirst is the body’s completely proper and natural indicator that it’s time to replenish liquids, but it doesn’t mean you’re about to keel over from dehydration.

How about water intake and dehydration issues when you’re working out? Dr. Mirkin sets us straight. By the way: eating salty foods and processed foods will interfere with your sense of thirst, so the “myth” isn’t completely off-base.

This is Greg Cullen’s Photo on Flickr

Baby Boomers Have Baby Brains

And that’s a really good thing. You can teach an old dog new tricks – and when it comes to neural pathways, you can fire new ones no matter what your age. Anti-aging and brain-building are set to become mammoth trends as the Boomers hit retirement. Fortunately, there’s scientific merit to a lot of these techniques and products. Not all, mind you. We’ll keep you posted. Speaking of aging, want to know one of the best ways to halt it? Even reverse it? Click here to find out.

Web it out:

Vioxx, Avandia, what next? Exactly!

[tags] water, dehydration, Dr. Gabe Mirkin, Greg Cullen, brain health, aging, Avandia, Vioxx, baby boomers [/tags]

Top Posts at Mark’s Daily Apple

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3 More Fast Foods That Are (Sorta) Healthy

Because nobody’s perfect!

1. McDonald’s chef salad

Only 150 calories (choose the vinegar dressing). Some franchises refer to it as the garden salad.

2. Wendy’s small chili

Only 200 calories of protein, fiber and very little fat.

3. Taco Bell’s chicken soft taco

Just 190 calories – leave out the sour cream for an even lighter meal!

These foods aren’t ideal by any stretch. The meat is not organic, and there are some carbs to be found. No “fast food” is going to be earning high marks for nutrition. So when we look for reasonably healthy fast food options to bring you, we aim for those that are lowest in calories and offer some vegetables and a small portion of lean protein. Those are reasonable parameters for food establishments that are typically anything but reasonable in the nutrition department! When you’re on the road and in need of a small meal to stave off a blood sugar crash, you could do much worse than these light choices. Just make sure to skip the fries, chips and soda.

We recently brought you some other sensible fast food choices for those road trips and hectic days. Better choices, better body!

Notes: All photos are from company websites. Source for this edition of Sorta Healthy: StopGettingSick.com!

[tags] healthy fast foods, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, chili, taco, chicken, salad [/tags]

Best of MDA 

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True Confessions of a Cardiac Nurse (Guess Who’s Getting in the Way of Health?)

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Kendra James and I have been a cardiac critical care nurse for many years. I also write Diabetes Notes and A Hearty Life for b5media. I have so much to say about health care, nutrition and being heart-healthy. Mark asked me to share some of the thoughts that I ponder frequently and that quite frankly, just get under my skin. Buckle up, ‘cause here we go! Do you want to know what gets me all fired up? Repeat offenders. No, I don’t mean the kind that are convicted and thrown in jail (I have a pretty strong dislike for them also though). I am referring to the patients that frequent the hospital so much, I know their likes, dislikes and family members by first names. I am not speaking of the very sick, terminally ill, or justifiably admitted patients, but rather, my cardiac patients that just don’t get it. Well, to be totally honest, they choose not to get it! Ugh… How many times in one month can you do dietary teaching for the same person? You go through the whole spiel. Print it out on paper, review it with their family members, address any questions they might have and do this all with a smile on your face just to repeat the whole process 12 days later. Does anyone else out there feel my pain? Low fat, low cholesterol, restricted salt diet equals success for the cardiac patient. Fast food 5 times a week followed by 14 cups of coffee a day, and no-holds-barred on the salt shaker equals a visit with this very irritated nurse yet once again. I care about my patients, I mean truly care about their health and well being. I want to know I provided a service to them and gave them the tools they need to maintain their health outside the hospital. When I have a MI, myocardial infarction, or CHF, congestive heart failure, patient that is signing himself or herself out 6 times a day to go and smoke, I just don’t get that warm ‘n fuzzy. Would you? I know that the majority of health care professionals, including doctors, feel the same way. Believe me, it is a common topic among the staff at any hospital. What could I do to get my point across in a more effective way for these “repeat offenders”? I guess I could adapt the attitude that some of my fellow nurses and physicians have, and just not give a hoot. I could say, “I’m getting paid one way or another,” but that just isn’t me. I am one of the nurses with empathy and compassion who wants to make a difference. You thought there were none of us left, huh? So, to answer my own question, I guess that is why I got into health care blogging. I want to provide education and resources to people who actually want it; people who are listening to what I … Continue reading “True Confessions of a Cardiac Nurse (Guess Who’s Getting in the Way of Health?)”

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For the Love of Links

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites

What do you get when you mix the daily heads-up on the best health news, a funny picture, and a bonus fitness post from Mark? Oh yeah, this post.

Rejoice!

For fried dough is near.

Fabulosity

We promise never to use that word again. But you’ll see why we did when you click this informative little health snippet. There’s food involved. Possibly a fruit. Possibly an apple. Scoot!

Sisson: “No More Excuses!”

Mark posted some helpful, practical fitness tips for frazzled folks over at the delightful Kendra’s A Hearty Life heart-healthy blog. Think you’re too busy to work out? Are you drowning in your kids’ play dates and orthodontist appointments? Working long hours during the day and spending romantic nights with…bills and the laundry? Mark tells you how to exercise no matter what the obstacle.

This is Fadedmilkyway’s Flickr Photo

Women, Speak Up! (Guys, Too)

Have you heard about the “No Period Pill”? Doctors are debating the merits of a recently approved birth-control pill which will banish periods completely. The FDA approved it; what do you think?

A couple of things to consider when you comment in ye ole Forum:

– Side effects of hormone therapy (which is really what birth control is)

– The biological need for menses (do women need this monthly visitor for optimal health?)

– The consumer need for another drug (any birth control, if taken every day, will have this effect – is this a great new drug, or just a new marketing scheme from Big Pharma?)

– Potential benefits (for women suffering from various health complications)

Best of MDA

[tags] no period pill, apples, cancer, exercise excuses, Mark Sisson [/tags]

Note: to comment, click “Comments” below, or click on the “Forum” tab up yonder. You’ll be taken to our Vbulletin forum. No need to sign in to Wordpress; but you will have to sign in to the forum to leave a comment on this or any post. It’s painless, we promise!

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