Dear Mark: Kosher, Weak Nails, Tea Seed Oil, and Greasing the Groove

Another Monday means another set of questions from my dear readers. I covered Ramadan already, so this week, I’m covering whether eating kosher makes eating Primal harder or easier, including what to watch out for and what to replace it with. I give my thoughts on nail-strengthening dietary strategies (and give bone broth a much-deserved plug) and explore whether tea seed oil is actually worth using (hint: it’s not exactly like those industrially-processed seed oils we hate around here). Finally, a reader unwittingly stumbles upon an extremely effective workout strategy, simply by trying to be more “Grok-like.”

Let’s go.

Dear Mark,

Now that you have addressed how to handle Ramadan, I was hoping you would give the limitations of keeping kosher a stab! My dietary restrictions influence my food choices (ie, no shellfish, no butter/dairy when eating meat/chicken, and obviously no pork/bacon), and I am wondering how to still meet the Primal [Blueprint] diet targets. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


You’re in luck. The only tenets that would impact the Primal nutritional “targets” might be the shellfish restriction and the no-meat-with-dairy law. As I mentioned in the post on shellfish, oysters are the richest sources of dietary zinc, an important mineral lacking in many modern diets. Getting zinc elsewhere is easily accomplished – just eat lean beef shoulder (100 grams gets you 10 mg), lamb, or bison. And since dairy technically resides in a Primal gray area (despite the community’s general acceptance and adulation of grass-fed butter), you’re not missing much. Olive oil, coconut oil, beef tallow (as long as you avoid tallow rendered from the fat that lines the cow’s organs; that’s called chelev and it’s definitely not kosher), and palm oil are all fine cooking fats that don’t upset the kosher dietary laws.

Hi, I’m enjoying the Primal [Blueprint] diet, but I have gotten weaker nails. I eat lots of eggs, meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. What should I then eat more of?

Thank you,


Eating lots of meat should take care of your B-vitamins, a lack of which could cause brittle nails, so I don’t think it’s that. You say you eat a lot of nuts. Are you also eating fatty fish or taking fish oil? I’d be wary of your omega-6:omega-3 ratio, which, if weighted too heavily toward omega-6, will be inflammatory.

After researching for the “Cooking with Bones” post a couple years ago I got serious about bone broth. Whereas before I would only make broth whenever I had leftover bones, after writing the post, I started buying bones specifically for making broth. I made sure to always have some sort of stock – chicken, beef, lamb – on hand in the freezer or fridge and ready to go. I might toss a cube of frozen broth into sauteed veggies, when braising meat, or even just by itself in a cup. I never set a schedule or kept track or anything, but I estimate that I had some form of broth three to four days a week. What does this have to do with nails, you might be wondering? All that broth had a definite effect on my nails: they got stronger, thicker, and harder. Now, this is just an anecdote and I don’t have any data to back me up, but the broth could have been partly responsible. I’ve heard similar testimonials from others around the web.

Real bone broth, as you probably know, contains gelatin and an as-yet-unconfirmed mix of bioavailable nutrients (calcium, magnesium, and who knows what else). Gelatin is the protein that makes your broth turn to jello in the fridge. In fact, the sign of a good broth is the jello-like consistency when cold. It should really wobble. Minerals are used by the body to manufacture bone and other structures (including fingernails), neurotransmitters, and various hormones. If your diet is lacking in minerals, broth is a good addition. Try to always have bone broth on hand (freeze in ice cube trays for easy storage and access) and try to eat some every single day. Barring that, just use powdered unflavored gelatin.

I would also make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin D and vitamin K2, both of which are involved with calcium deposition. Get some sun (or take a supplement) and eat some liver and grass-fed butter (or, again, take a K2 supplement). Vitamin C is also important for nail health, so add some bell peppers, broccoli or strawberries to your diet if you haven’t already.

Hi Mark – Wondering your thoughts on camellia or tea seed oil. Is it Paleo, how does it compare to the other oils you talk about on MDA?



Tea seed oil looks like a solid cooking oil. It’s high in vitamin E (increases resistance to oxidation and heat damage), extremely high in monounsaturated fat (80%), and it has roughly equal amounts of saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat (10% and 10%). There’s not a ton of literature on it – mostly articles written by companies selling the stuff – but I did find an interesting abstract of a study in which tea seed oil offered hepatoprotection to rats with toxin-induced liver damage. Most seed oils are high in omega-6 fats and actually increase the liver’s susceptibility to damage, so if tea seed oil pans out, it’d be a nice change of pace. Hunan, a province in southern China, apparently uses tea seed oil as its primary cooking oil.

I’d be really interested to see how disease rates in Hunan compare to disease rates in other provinces that use soybean or some other high-PUFA oil for cooking.

Dear Mark,

I’ve been doing the progressive LHT workouts twice a week for around two months and have made some progress. Recently I’ve been thinking: would it be more accurate (at least Grok-like) to do bursts of the essential movements throughout the day on most days of the week (assuming allowance for a rest day)?

Example: I just read the WOW about going for the hour walk and fitting in the essential movements during that walk – it resonated with me more than working out for 30 minutes twice a week.

Bottom Line: Would incorporating the essential movements into everyday life on most days of the week (in bursts intense enough to FEEL the movements being done) be a feasible replacement for the regimented 2X/ week LHT workouts?

BTW – LOVE sprinting! SO much!!! I do need to play more though 🙂

May Grok be with you ;),

Emily Mekeel
-Future Dietitian and PB Warrior!

Your intuitive exercise idea isn’t just more Grok-like, it’s also (and more importantly) a legitimate way to strength train. Have you heard of Pavel Tsatsouline? He has a workout methodology called “Greasing the Groove” that’s extremely similar to what you describe. When you grease the groove, you hit a movement multiple times per day, as often as you can without getting fatigued. Pretty much whenever you get a chance to do the movement, you do it. So if you’re trying to grease the pullup, you might do five or six pullups every time you see the pull up bar, ten times a day perhaps (or more!). So by the end of the day you’ve done fifty to sixty pullups without having to grind any of the reps out. Each rep is crisp and clean, and you never go to failure. You never really struggle but you’re getting a lot of volume in each day. Each rep feels easy, you feel fresh, and yet you’re constantly getting stronger.

I think it sounds like a great idea, especially since it’s resonating with you more than the traditional setups. I always say that the most important aspect of any workout regimen is that you enjoy doing it, and it sounds like you’re really digging this. I say go for it (and don’t forget to play)!

Well, that’s it for this week. I have some questions in the queue, but I’m always taking more. Send them along and thanks for reading.

TAGS:  dear mark

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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