Dear Readers

From time to time I’ll get an email from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader that just throws me for a loop. It might be esoteric, simply outside of my core knowledge, or just downright strange. Still other questions are best answered by consensus.

When enough of these spill into my inbox I’ll crowdsource the questions, opening them up to the infinite wisdom of the MDA community. This has resulted in some great discussions in the past (Dear Readers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Well, it’s that time again. Help out a fellow MDAer with a response in the comment board. Thanks, everyone!


Question 1

I’ve been reading your blog for some time, but looked at it in a new light after hearing you on The Art of Manliness podcast.

I have to say, the Primal Blueprint is basically a very exact way to spell out how I’ve thought about food for a while – what would a caveman do? I love the anecdotes about Grok, and have been following your eating plan for 2 weeks now.

So, I want to ask you something related to health, but not exactly diet and exercise. I have tried (and failed) to quit smoking too many times to count. Is there any way something like this would fit into the Blueprint? If we assume Grok was addicted to smoking (perhaps he threw tobacco on the fire one night) and knew it was bad, how would he stop doing it?



Question 2

I’ve been following a primal/paleo style of eating for three months now, and have no complaints. I was curious, these days, I notice there’s more and more guys losing their hair at a resonably early age, guys as young as me (I’m 22 btw). Even though I don’t exhibit any signs of hair loss myself, the ideal scenario would be to keep my hair for a very long time. I was wondering maybe if our increasingly poor eating habits may have anything to do with this?  I notice both you and Art DeVany (who’s blog I also follow) both have full heads of hair, and eat similar diets. In your opinion, is there any correlation between diet and hair loss? Thanks in advance.



Question 3

I’m very curious to find out your thoughts on toothpaste. It is obviously made up of many chemicals grok would never have had access to. When I was a child I used to swallow the stuff after brushing much to the horror of my parents. Then I found an article that said that flouride attacks and damages glass and I got to wondering what it was doing to my insides, my toothpaste swallowing days were over. Anyway is toothpaste that great? What did grok use? Is it really that necessary to brush your teeth if you’re consuming a low suger diet? Thanks!



Question 4

A trainer at my gym once told me that when doing pull-ups, one shouldn’t go all the way down because that will put unnecessary stain on your rotator cuffs, which would weaken it over time and create problems later. Is there any truth in that?



Question 5

I did a search around your site and read all the articles concerning barefoot running/living and footwear, however, I found nothing about callus maintenance of the feet. I take care of the calluses on my hands because they tend to tear off during lengthy workouts with deadlifts or pullups, but I seldom read something about maintenance of the feet. Since I have some pain on the outer part of my right foot, which I assumed was callus-related, I began thinking about this. From an evolutionary standpoint, it might be beneficial (extra cushions), but since we aren’t able to wear out the unnecessary parts of cushioning, perhaps we should cut them away?


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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  1. Brandon,

    Don’t you know that loss of hair is a sign of being highly evolved??? 😉

    Pieter D

    ps: you can guess how much hair I have… 🙂 There are some PB fitness vids where you can check it…

  2. #1: Try EFT. I’ve heard the results with smoking are amazing. And why is that a Grok-friendly recommendation? Because the ancients were way more in tune with their bodies than we are, so being aware of acupuncture points and stuff is right up Grok’s alley.

    #2: Baldness is a sure sign that you’re on the right track towards complete wellness. (I’m just kidding; I’m bald, and just trying to feel better about it.)

    #3: Flouride is nasty. Stay away from it. End of story. Stick with the natural stuff. Although, if you want some interesting reads on dental health and nutrition, you should check out the Weston A. Price work. Put simply: teeth are bones, and if you eat what’s good for your bones, your teeth will be in good shape.

    #4: You’ve got to be careful with pull-ups – not because they’re dangerous (puh-lease), but because like any exercise, you should work up to them. Especially the kipping kind (my favorites). Take it slow, stretch, and build up the muscles around your shoulders gently. In time, you’ll have no problems getting full range of motion with no issues. (So, no, there is no truth in that, and that trainer is cracked.)

    #5: Personally, the more I wear my Five Fingers, the better my feet have gotten – less calloused, stronger, etc. If it concerns you, though, use a file. And if you’re having foot pain that’s more “structural”, then I’d recommend doing some deep tissue work in there (Hellerwork is amazing stuff). And/or, get yourself a lacrosse ball and roll your feet around on it to break the restrictions up.

    1. “Because the ancients were way more in tune with their bodies than we are, so being aware of acupuncture points and stuff is right up Grok’s alley.”

      I agree! If people havent heard of Donna Eden and Energy Medicine, I would STRONGLY recommend checking her out. I am convinced this natural healing ability was second nature to our grok ancestors. Check this video with her..

    2. “Because the ancients were way more in tune with their bodies than we are, so being aware of acupuncture points and stuff is right up Grok’s alley.”

      I agree! If people havent heard of Donna Eden and Energy Medicine, I would STRONGLY recommend checking her out. I am convinced this natural healing ability was second nature to our grok ancestors. Theres an excellent video interview with her on consciousmedianetwork dot com that is such an informative watch. Just search her name.

  3. Hi Brandon,

    I would say that baldness is sign of poor ‘western’ nutrition. I have had bad acne for many years, and only recently have linked my acne to insulin resistance. Once I went Paleo, within like 3 days my acne was completely gone – and my skin was normal and soft for the first time in a long time. I’ve been Paleo for almost 3 months now, and everyone I know is like what happened to your skin? They all guess Accutane! Anyway, I did a lot of research over the years about why someone would have excess DHT (cause of baldness and acne and a lot of other things) and found that it is due to insulin resistance which the paleo diet pretty much conquers. So I would say you will have hair for a very long time if you eat this way! Many of my friends are balding now (I’m 25) and I am sure it is correlated to their diets. I read an article recently that I can’t find right now saying balding was extremely rare in Japan before WW2, but afterwards when they were exposed to a more western diet baldness became more normal and the prevalence is still increasing there now. Anyways, my two cents! Take care.

      1. %20 is the URL encoding for space and the browser will recognize it as a space. Just thought I’d let ya know.

  4. #2 Baldness

    In many ways, baldness is like other genetic traits like eye color. Your tendency to lose your hair is pre-programmed.

    So you can’t prevent baldness (unless you are willing to undergo a surgery know as an ochiectomy: removal of the testicles. If the testicles are removed they can’t produce testosterone, which is then converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and this hormonal by-product seems to initiate loss of hair) This is why eunuchs, the harem attendants of ancient times, always had full heads of hair.

    In order to totally prevent baldness, you must remove the family jewels before the hair loss starts.

    Otherwise, the baldness process will be halted but the hair already lost won’t come back.

    Now, just because you have inherited a tendency to go bald doesn’t mean you can’t delay the process through healthy living (i.e. Primal).

    Death can’t be avoided, and neither can baldness (except for that minor surgery mentioned above…).

    But just as death can be delayed, I think baldness can too.

    Living primally is the best thing you can do for your hair (and everything else!).

    Grok seems to have plenty of hair!

    Grok on!

    1. This is bullshit. Insulin resistance has to do a lot with mpb. if you have the gene for it, doesn’t mean that significant hair loss is normal in a young age. eating a paleo diet slows it down with a very significant rate.

  5. #1: Maybe allow yourself to smoke, but only tobacco that you’ve processed yourself. Even if you didn’t quit, you’d surely cut back due to the inconvenience of it.

    #2: Male pattern baldness is almost entirely genetic. You, unlike Mark, have androgen-sensitive hair follicles on top of your head, and when those androgen-sensitive follicles are exposed to testosterone metabolites (e.g., DHT), they miniaturize and stop producing hair. To the extent that diet affects mpb, probably a lower-fat, more plant-based diet is a little better, not because it’s necessarily healthier, but because it may lower testosterone levels. However, if you’re balding at 22, your follicles, due to your genes, are probably so sensitive to DHT that nutrition is irrelevant. Only pharmaceuticals could help. Best advice: get over it and shun pop culture’s view that baldness is unattractive or unhealthy. (BTW, I don’t take that advice, myself. I take Propecia, which is probably an anathema around here.)

    1. This is a great answer to the smoking question.

      In my mind, Grok wouldn’t be too concerned with the long-term effects of tobacco use. If we look at the Native American’s attitude toward the stuff, tobacco was considered a good thing: Albeit, for ceremonial use only.

      I could see him using something like tobacco (or any other addictive plant) for ceremonial or medicinal use, but not be able to produce enough for a full-blown addiction.

      I am one of those struggling with my smoking addiction. I know for a fact that I didn’t get addicted with that first cigarette. (or even with the first pack) I smoked intermittently for two years before it became something that I couldn’t life without.

      I don’t think that Grok would have the opportunity to become addicted to many things. In order for an addiction to happen, there must be a continuous supply.

  6. #3 – This is something I’ve been pondering lately, as well. I notice that my mouth never gets that gross, icky feeling when I’m sticking to a Primal diet. But when I’m off the wagon (ex – Thanksgiving), I feel the NEED to clean my mouth frequently, and my breath is just gross. (I still brush twice a day, btw.)
    Ya know how they always used to say “candy will rot your teeth out”? What they didn’t realize is that grains do the same thing since they’re broken down into sugars, which starts as soon as they hit your saliva. These sugars are food for the bad mouth bacteria. Without tons o’ sugar, the bacteria can’t proliferate. Hence, I would guess that Primal eaters have a decreased risk for oral health issues.
    However, my biggest concern is toothpaste: w/ or w/out fluoride/baking soda? And what about the sodium laureth sulfate/fite that’s found even in “all natural” toothpaste?

    Does anyone here make their own toothpaste, or recommend a primal brand to try?

    1. Baking Soda and Peroxide… that’s what my Grandad has used his whole life. He’s 87, and still has all his own teeth.

      1. Exactly. I’ve started using just those two ingredients in the past month or so, & my teeth have never been whiter; my breath never so fresh. 🙂

        1. What’s the ratio on that mix? Can you do it in advance so it’s easier, or do you need to mix each time? I would love to try this!

    2. I don’t know about your toothpaste question, but I did find an article a while back that seems to support your suspicion about the Primal lifestyle being good for your teeth. The researcher was a dentist who was trying to reconcile the fact that supposedly healthy diets are so bad for teeth, and found that there no such conflict after all.

      Diets Bad For The Teeth Are Also Bad For The Body —

    3. I make my own toothpaste. Or toothgel would be more accurate.

      I mix baking soda, seasalt, kaolin clay, sage, peppermint, myrrh, prickly ash bark and a little stevia with some coconut oil. Rub that on my teeth and then brush.

      I’ve seen commercial toothpowders at my Co-op that are pretty much the same thing. My own mixture is gritty and takes getting used to, but I wouldn’t go back.

  7. My father had a friend who was a barber and every morning when he woke up he would rub his scalp releasing the oils in the skin. This he said is why he has a full head of white, thick hair…maybe it’s BS, maybe not?

    If your going bald then just shave your head, it looks WAY better than the horseshoe! Remember…it’s just hair!

  8. re: #1

    I’m not a smoker, but I’ve seen the topic of smoking and disease brushed over by Dr. Harris at It appears that the diseases associated with tobacco use could be a result of a highly synergistic reaction with the SAD. Remove the wheat, excess fructose & O6’s and smoking may be far less damaging to your body. Not an endorsement for tobacco use, but interesting nonetheless.

  9. #3 – Steve. Instead of using a toothbrush with toothpaste, make your own herbal toothbrush. You need marshmallow root (what marshmallows used to be made from) cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and brandy.

    Step 1: Choose a straight marshmallow root and cut it into 5 inch pieces.

    Step 2: Peel the ends and boil in water with the cinnamon sticks and cloves.

    Step 3: Put the pieces carefully – as they break easily – into brandy and let them soak for a day,

    Step 4: Take the roots out and let them dry.

    Step 5: Soak the ends in hot water before you use them.

    Adam Kayce is right. Flouride is bad. It is considered a poison – more poisonous than lead.

    There’s more info at that website.

    The herbal toothbrush is something from “Holistic Herbal” by David Hoffman. Unfortunately the book doesn’t go into the specifics of how it works, but I imagine that the root helps with any inflammation of the gums. Cloves help with toothaches because they are an antiseptic so they probably also help in the prevention of the germs, along with the brandy, that cause cavities.

  10. Aaron,

    There is a reason you (and a great many others) have failed to quit smoking. And the reason is the way you look at it. You see smoking is never about the physical act of smoking. Within about 3-5 days after your last cigarette (or whatever you smoke) nicotine (the addictive stuff) is gone from your system, so therefore it would simply be a case of not smoking for 3-5 days and that’s you good for life. But it doesn’t work like that.

    What smoking really is about is what it allows you to emotionally feel. Perhaps smoking for you is about relieving stress or boredom, perhaps it’s about relaxing for 5 minutes out of your day that you wouldn’t otherwise get to do, perhaps it’s about focusing to get through something emotionally difficult. Either way smoking is created by an emotional imbalance in the brain, this is why very often ex-smokers will take up eating badly, or some kind of adrenaline sport, they never dealt with the emotional imbalance and therefore their brain will simply give you a different symptom to the same emotional problem.

    Now as to how to stop. Well you need to find a technique that allows you to work on the underlying emotions where the problem is. I would suggest you take a look at the 3D Mind available on the essential skills website ( I have known a number of people to quit via this method, it’s very simple and doesn’t require you to believe that you have an unconcious mind, and it doesn’t require repetition throughout your life, once you get the change (which is pretty simple tbh), you’ve got it.
    I used the 3D Mind to permanently remove years and years worth of extreme social anxiety so I know it works.

    Hope this helps

    1. I’d say that smoking is a way to get love into your body. My thought may be unclear, but when one thinks about it, it starts to make sense. When somebody don’t smoke for a long time, bad thoughts come from inside. By smoking we dig them inside again. Eating is just the same. That’s why many people who stop smoking start overeating. Personally, when I felt loved for a week, it was my most clean eating week of a lifetime. No junk, no recreative drugs, no strange cravings for other things in life

      1. I really like your comment. Most everything destructive we do to ourselves is done in order to feel different. Since we are the only ones in control of how we feel and act… it seems like the long way around the fence to go looking for something outside ourselves to fix it. The times I have just accepted how I was feeling and made a conscious effort to change it myself , within myself, I hate healthier, moved more freely and had the best ays of my life.

  11. #4

    Hi Jibby,

    It’s true, any exercise performed incorrectly will lead to injury. Even correct exercise technique, performed excessively or without specific compensation will lead to injury eventually. So, the trainer was wise to warn you of long-term problems when doing pullups, but he was definitely wrong about proper pullup technique.

    You’ll want to do pullups with a full range of motion, even to full elbow extension in the bottom, hanging position.

    Just like Adam said above, you should work progressively with any strength training skill.

    In the beginning, avoid “falling down” until your elbows lock, which will put some unnecessary strain on the joints. Control the entire motion, from top to bottom. If you don’t build strength through the full range of motion, you’ll develop muscular imbalances among other things that WILL lead to injury.

    1. (In response to Jibby Q#4/Pull-ups)
      John makes some good points. As a Certified PT, I focus on form first. Understanding and ‘feeling’the movement is essential. By imagining pulling your hips to your elbows, you will engage the lats more effectively.
      Also of interest to anyone looking to increase their max reps of pull-ups, google the Armstrong Method…simple AND effective.
      Be Well,

      1. Thanks Max for the pullup advice. Sometimes the right mental cues is what it takes to get it right!

  12. I was a smoker for 10 years until I read Alan Carr’s “The Easyway to Quit Smoking”. If you want to quit effortlessly and painlessly, I can’t recommend this book any higher! Check it out from the library for free like I did and give yourself the wodnerful gift of better health.

    1. This was also how I quit. I had tried countless times before hand on will power but failed. I also know many people who have quit successfully on willpower, but who after 10+ years without smoking, still crave the odd cig. Using Alan Carr’s book I can honestly say I havent craved a cig since the day I quit, which was 4 years ago last september. Its the only way to go if you want to be done with them for good.

      1. Great Book, my wife and I both read it and quit 4 1/2 years ago when nothing else worked…and we tried it all.

        1. My husband and my both quite after reading Allan Carr’s book! My mother had smoked for 40 years and my husband for 20!

      2. Woo hoo! I’m so excited to see that others have quit using Alan Carr’s book. I had smoked for over 10 years and quit before I turned the last page of this book. I haven’t smoked since and that was oh… about 12 years ago now (dear God, I’m getting old).

        I have recommended this book to my friend’s father who smoked for 56 years. He quit and never looked back. It’s been 7 years living sans ciggies now. My neighbour, a lifelong smoker also read the book and quit after a multitude of attempts. He hasn’t smoked in 4 years.

        I could go on and on – I should get royalties!

        One thing I will mention is that, if you’re anything like me, you will read the book and try to ‘outsmart’ it. I was always thinking that I was one step ahead of Mr. Carr and I knew what tactics he’s up to. He’s very repetitive, but it has a purpose. Just give yourself over to the book and read without judgement.

        You will stop smoking and you will wonder if you ever really did or if it was all just a nasty abberation.

        1. The only thing turning me off of this book is that it comes off like an infomercial and you can’t get any quick summary of what it actually is.

          All I see is “I tried it and it was great! You can do it too for the low low cost of $x.95!”.

          Mind giving me a summary as to what it’s actually about so I don’t feel like I’m buying land in Florida?

    2. I also used the Alan Carr book – but it only worked the second time, after I’d already decided to quit and just needed reinforcement. It is a great book, though. The single most useful thing I got from it was to take the view that I wasn’t ‘giving up’ smoking, I was just stopping: that is, I wasn’t trying to give up a value, I was just not bothering to do something unnecessary.

  13. For barefoot running, I recently converted over to using Vibram Five Fingers shoes. They are perfect for a freer way of running, a more natural way and the shoes keep the rough stuff from puncturing your feet (at least so far). I did a review of them on my site and I have seen many YouTube videos doing the same thing. Check them out!

  14. Aaron–

    I quit smoking ten years ago (about the only bad thing I’ve been able to give up completely, LOL). What helped me tremendously was cutting straws down to cigarette size and sucking on them like I was smoking a cigarette whenever I got the craving. A lot of smoking is the behavior associated with it–that’s why so many people have trouble with the patches and gums because they miss the physical act of lighting up, flicking ash, etc.. The straws handled that behavior very well. I got teased a little when I started doing it, but it was worth it to me. Good luck!

    1. Lol, it is funny you get teased for sucking on straws but not for sucking on cigarettes. Man, society can be weird.

      1. Considering I did this in Kentucky (where tobacco is BIG and smoking is very commonplace) I expected it. It wasn’t anything major. 😀

  15. Question 3: In the 1930’s Dentist Weston Price visited several cultures still on their native diets. He found almost no tooth decay despite the fact they did not have tooth brushes (they did have tarter though). He also found almost no crooked teeth, childbearing or fertility problems, malignancies, tuberculosis, bad behavior or depression, etc. He took tons of pictures and his classic book is called “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” for those of you not yet familiar with it. It is MIND BLOWING. He also found native diets had far more fat in them than modern diets.

    1. Mind blowing is exactly how I would describe it. The one book every person needs to read.

  16. Re #1 (Smoking)

    I’m a former smoker. I smoked 1.5 packs per day for 12 years. I have been tobacco-free for almost 13 years now.

    I quit cold-turkey. It worked for me.

    Grok, if he did ever smoke plants, probably did so in moderation and not by using something as magnificently efficient and convenient as the modern cigarette. The way cigarettes are mass produced, distributed, marketed, and functionally designed make moderate use the exception and not the rule.

    My only advice: Quit. Find a way that works for you. Commit to quitting and achieve the goal. Snuff out that last cigarette and a moment later you are an official ‘former smoker’.

    I wish you the best of luck in quitting.

    1. Already well on my way. About a month in and using the patch. The best I’ve ever done in the past was 11 months before I caved again.

      1. Way to go Aaron! I smoked for 31 years and for most of that time had to light one if I even thought about quitting. One day I realized this had to change. I became a nonsmoker within hours – have never wanted one again. I don’t mark time, but it was 7 or 8 years ago. Quit as many times as you need to!

  17. #3–I second reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price. Excellent book! 🙂
    Also, I have heard that besides flouride being bad for you and unnecesarry for tooth health, the gylcerine in tooth paste coats your teeth and makes it difficult for your saliva to re-mineralize your tooth enamal like it should. I use either a mix of green clay and baking soda with a couple drops of peppermint EO, or Eco-Dent, which is an already made up tooth-powder. The Eco-dent is more of a traditional toothpaste texture once you start brushing–it kind of foams up, where the clay/baking soda might feel a little wierd at first, but you get used to it.
    I brush my teeth once a day, and feel like that is enough (I eat about a 90% primal diet now).

    1. Baking soda can scratch the enamel off your teeth. Does the clay help that from happening?

  18. Question#1: smoking
    I am a phone coach for our state’s tobacoo quitline. The participant’s receive 8 weeks of nicotine replacement at no cost and must participate in the coaching to be a part of the program. What I’ve discovered through the hundreds of people I have talked with is that it doesn’t matter what method you are using. What matters is the mindset and finding out the real reasons why you smoke. Once you know the reason and then formulate a complete plan you are more likely to be successful. Unfortunately a lot of smokers finally quit because of a health episode that scares them.
    Your state probably has a quitline. You can find out by calling 1-800 QUITNOW and it will connect you to your state’s program. Like I tell all my participants: You only fail if you quit trying! Good luck!

  19. #3 There’s tooth soap! But I prefer tooth powder. You can purchase it or prepare your own. I prepare enough every morning in a tiny cup that I keep in my medicine cabinet for (2) daily teeth cleaning sessions. The mix is composed of sea salt, baking soda, (1) to (2) drops of tea tree oil, and hydrogen peroxide (or colloidal silver if you have amalgams). Sometimes, I even do w/o the silver. Purchasing a small bottle of tooth powder is handy to carry around in the backpack if you should find yourself crashing about at a friend’s house or just traveling. My mouth never feels clean with the green/ blue paste/gel goop.

  20. #3 – About the toothpaste, I don’t think that ANY fluoride is a good idea and it is really difficult to get away from it and/or sodium laurel sulfate/ite. I’ve tried the straight up baking soda approach but found it too abrasive on my mouth’s soft tissues. There are recipes for natural toothpastes out there, you could also try pascalite from for tooth remineralization.

    1. I’m convinced it’s impossible to find a “natural” toothpaste in teh stores that doesn’t contain both flouride and SLS. If you find one that’s “flouride free!” it has SLS. If you find one without SLS, it’s got flouride and something else nasty in it like titanium dioxide. Even in so called “natural” products!

  21. Jibby,

    The key to safe “dead hang” pull ups is to keep the lats engaged. If you lose that, not only will you prove the trainer right but you will end up not being able to complete the next rep. Imagine keeping your shoulders “sucked” into their socket. If you find your shoulders up by your ears you are doomed. Hope this helps.

  22. Re: Smoking (or rather NOT smoking) I have finally ditched the last horribly unhealthful addiction in my life. Just decided it was time. I am exploring a career change into holistic nutrition..and I could NOT be that kind of
    I promised my daughter I would quit in Sept..and when I was paying bills the first week of Oct…I realized it wasn’t Sept anymore! I quit that day cold turkey and havent looked back. Check out, teaches you to treat smoking like the ADDICTION it IS.

    And I guess because I am brutal and PRIMAL, I let my(nosy) 7 yr old check out the pics of “Brian” on his deathbed..from lung his 30’s, within 2 months he went from healthy (relatively speaking) to dead. 2 yr old son. My beautiful baby girl looked, and I told her “that’s what happens when you smoke” and the “MOMMY I DONT WANT THAT TO EVER HAPPEN TO YOU!” is enough motivation for me, as you can imagine.

    I am no longer addicted to nicotine..I do occasionally have a passing moment of that old lover who was SOOO bad for you…but damn, it was good while it lasted!

    Do it, but my advice would be to avoid nicotine replacement products. You DO need to be ready to part ways with cigaretts and when you are, it will be much easier than you thought..kind of like childbirth!!..:) Best of Luck!

  23. oh, and be prepared for the “re-regulation” of your blood sugar. Receptors and such are *all jacked up* when you use takes a little while to regulate. (thats why people who quit crave sweets) Part of our original problem? Who knows, but be prepared. I did not restrict myself that week, but during the detox phase (2 days for me)I mostly fasted with herbal tea and honey. Swift and brutal. Ate like a PIG for the next 10 days, gained 5 pounds, bloated mess. Got back on track and weight came off, not just water. After 2 weeks in, smooth sailing!NO CHEATING!! it only takes ONE DAMN PUFF!!

  24. Topic: toothpaste.
    My mother used to make a homemade powder that worked well with dried sage, baking soda and salt. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the amounts of each, but 1:1:1 might be a good starting point with just a teaspoon of each. You could fine tune it from there. I really liked it when I tried it, but it is very salty.

    I googled “sage toothpaste recipe” and found a few recipes that are similar but include other ingredients (essential oils, etc.). These could be interesting and may be less salty.

    Remember, although fluoride may be bad for glass, your insides aren’t made of glass. I’m only saying that kind of logic is faulty, but I admit I don’t know wether fluoride is beneficial or not.

    1. Glass is etched with hydrofluoric acid, which is chemically different from the fluoride salts that are used in toothpaste and water fluoridation, just as table salt is different (pH, toxicity, etc.) than the hydrochloric acid in your stomach. The benefits of flouride to teeth are mainly topical, not systemic, while the potential toxic effects of fluoride are due to ingesting too much of it (systemic). So if you use flouride toothpaste or rinses, you should spit them out without swallowing. There are some interesting posts and links regarding vitamins D3 and K2 supplementation on Richard Nikoley’s “Free the Animal” site. Vitamins D3 and K2 can halt and even reverse tooth decay. Finally, I would be skeptical about claims regarding fluoride toxicity coming from someone who’s trying to sell you a water purification system. (disclaimer–I’m a pediatrician. I don’t sell vitamins or toothpaste.)

    1. But it has the sodium laureth sulfate in it!!! Incredible, I know.

      1. Tom’s of Maine makes a toothpaste without sodium laureth sulfate.

        First–I am a dentist and a big proponent of prevention. Paleo/primal lifestyle is an excellent way to ensure good dental health. However, I do not recommend going completely without fluoride toothpaste unless you are at a low cavity risk (less than 3 cavities in the last three years.) Also keep in mind that the huge ribbon of toothpaste on advertisements are not necessary–only a pea sized amount will do. In my household, we have the fluoride filtered out of our water–but do continue to use a small amout of regular fluoride toothpaste (Tom’s of Maine–no SLS) I do think the fluoride is benefitial, but it must be limited in quantity.

        1. I agree with the above and the Weston Price people (read his book!) I don’t think anyone here has recommended a tongue scraper, which is essential to good oral health. You can get a dencent stainless steel one online (I got mine from my dentist) As for fluoride, I avoid it as I have hypothryoidism.
          And please, brush & floss your teeth, not doing so is just plain gross.

  25. Try using coconut oil as toothpaste, I have been for a while now. Check out Stephan Guyenet’s ‘Whole Health Source’ blog, click on the ‘dental health’ link, there are some interesting posts there. The post from 1st April 2009 is fascinating regarding the reversal of tooth decay…and no, it wasn’t an April Fool’s Day prank!

    As for smoking, will power is always the best weapon in your arsenal. If you go somewhere selling cigarettes, look at the prices! I gave up years ago, but kept one cigarette back, eight weeks later I smoked it just to see how bad it really was, it really was revolting. Good luck!

  26. Steve @ Question 3:
    As others have mentioned, Weston A. Price’s book, Nutrition and Physical Degradation, is an eye-opening book about dental health. Another great book is Cure Tooth Decay, by Ramiel Nagel. Based on these books, I don’t think brushing your teeth is necessary for dental care. However, even Price recommended brushing for general cleanliness. You may also want to consider brushing and flossing, because unlike Grok (who had a wide jaw with plenty of room for all his teeth), modern diets produce modern jaws with teeth crammed together. If you have crooked teeth or had braces, you may want to brush and floss because of the food that gets stuck in the tight spaces between teeth.

    If you had a poor diet or poor dental health in the past, you may also want to consider taking cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil (look up Dr. Ron’s to buy online) to supplement your primal diet. Dr. Price found that these two oils, combined with homemade stew once a day, stopped cavities in children within three months. My teeth are much less sensitive to cold and pressure since I started taking the cod liver and butter oils a year ago.

    Also, I have been using Herbal Choice Natural Tooth Gel Clove with Baking Soda (fluoride free!), sold by Naturally Direct online, for four months now. I just had my annual dental exam and tooth cleaning. They said I had some of the best teeth they’ve seen, and no new cavities. Good luck!

  27. Neem (Azadirachta indica) is probably the most primal way of keeping oral health in check. Lots of people still in India chew a slender branch from the neem tree. Neem is found in almost every street in India.
    I tried it but it is seriously bitter and its an art to chew.
    its got great anti-bacterial properties.
    Surprisingly no one mentioned it.

  28. Hi Guys,

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned this; but how about just NO toothpaste? I remember a few years ago I was at the Vet and the man was brushing my dogs teeth (dont ask me why, I dont remember!) when he made a comment that toothpaste just foams up so you ‘feel’ like its doing something…

    I’ve certainly noticed that ‘furry’ feeling on my teeth has completely disappeared since I began eating primaly,

    1. ^ Oops pressed submit accidentaly!

      But yes, now I eat primal that furry feeling is gone, and I have noticed my breath has definitely improved. I think with this in mind, perhaps it would suffice to just brush your teeth as per normal but with water instead of toothpaste?

      If you think about the basic action brushing your teeth provides, essentially breaking up & removing bacterial colonies around and on your teeth and gums, I see no reason why sans toothpaste shouldn’t still accomplish this.

      1. I brush my teeth in the shower using just water. I used to have HEINOUS dental problems making it necessary for me to have cleanings four times a year instead of the regular two, but since I’ve gone over to a mostly meat diet the scraping’s gone way down. My dentist, however, insists on the 4x a year, guess he doesn’t want to lose his cash cow …

      2. I agree: what’s with all the fuss about toothpaste? Just brush with water, and make sure to floss. Works fine for me.

        Given our millions of years of evolution sans toothpaste, I think it’s safe to go water-only.

  29. Re Question 4 pullups: I watched a TV show a few years ago where some celebrity learned how to perform on the flying trapeze. The instructor (a longtime trapeze performer) said that when you are hanging, never to “relax” so that only your “grip” muscles are holding you on the trapeze. If you do, your rotator cuffs are supporting your weight and that is not good. He said to keep tension in your upper body so that the bigger muscles are supporting your weight.

    So the issue is protecting the rotator cuffs, not the range of motion per se. You should be able to go through a full range of motion if you keep tension in your upper body.

  30. Smoking…read the website
    Read it for two to three days, especially the 8-page pdf and the 149-page pdf. The addiction to nictotine is explained in detail along with all the details to help you overcome with a cold turkey quit. Do NOT do nicotimne replacement techinques as it only feeds your nicotine addition. You can do it. I did. two & a half packs per day, quit after reading that website for three days. That was almost 3 years ago and just two weeks ago, ran my first 13.1, with a full marathon scheduled for 02-21-09. best wishes! and NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!

  31. #3
    i am a dental assistant, and have been working in restorative dentistry for 10 years. it is necessary to brush your teeth, and floss them. it is not necessary, however, to use fluoride. a recent study shows that it can actually leech calcium from your bones, and even be linked directly with bone cancer. the ‘ol baking soda and water works wonders. from my studies in dental histomorphology, our grandad grok used to chew sticks and fibrous materials which kept his teeth pretty clean. with so many advancements now, we can effectively replicate this (or do even better) with floss and toothbrush. chemicals are totally unnecessary for this. -by the way, bone loss is what you are preventing when you floss, so it’s not just as simple as sugar habits and cavities!

  32. Regarding Question 5. Callouses and barefeet. I am a long time barefoot/minimalist shoe guy which happened as a lifestyle mostly because I am a martial artist and one thing led to another.

    In the olde days, I think that people paid a lot of attention to the state of their feet. The whole “anointing your feet with oil” and the practice of washing someone’s feet who have come in from a long journey (awesome by the way) speak to that.

    Here are some things that I have discovered from being barefoot a lot over the past 35 years:

    1. Getting fissures in your feet from thick callouses splitting should NOT be ignored. You can get a nasty case of cellulitis from foot infections. If your feet have painful fissures in the heel callouses get it attended to. I had cellulitis from this once that worked its way up to midthigh in about 8 hours. IT took a month of IV antibiotics to get rid of it. In grok’s time that would have killed me. (I do not think going paleo obviates using antibiotics when you really need them. That would be stupid :).

    I noticed that hanging out on the beach naturally abraids callouses. Salt water, sand, lots of activity in and out of the water…you can simulate that with a foot file and salt water soaks if you aren’t near a beach.

    2. I think that foot coverings (not modern shoes that overly bind and weaken our feet but moccasin-like things) were used pretty early. The Iceman…the paleolithic fellow that they found in the Italian Alps had moccassins on. He was pretty well outfitted for a 5300 year old fellow actually. His moccassins were winter versions…fur, calf high and stuffed with moss…

    So some foot covering seems decently grok like to me and appropriate to wear to avoid getting infected. So I wear VivoBarefoots and Five Fingers when I do wear shoes. This actually helps with preventing callouses from turning into wounds and my feet are decently calloused but I still regularly take care of my feet as well.

    3. I once saw a picture of a sherpas foot. The Sherpas would often prefer to go barefoot, according to some of the things I have read about them, even if the climbers they were helping bought the sneakers. The fellows foot looked like the bottom of a dogs foot. It was interesting. Not the kind of thing you’d see on a supermodel for sure. It still seemed supple but who could tell from a photo. At any rate, I suspect that being chronically barefoot from birth allows a natural development of protection in your feet that we all have to play catch up on. So I think that feet that are continually bare do become calloused and that callous does help with protecting the paleo foot.

    What I think is the most problematic in terms of fissure development is when you spend a lot of time barefoot on surfaces that are hard but not so abrasive. Like a floor of a dojo. In that situation your body gets the incentive to grow callous but the floor is not abrasive enough to wear it down. Plus after stimulating your feet to callous up people often turn around and put shoes on, incubating the growing callous and allowing it to get nice and thick. Then you go barefoot and it dries out in that thick state and cracks. So its that combination of stimulation but then protection from abrasion that actually causes the serious problems. So yeah. To counter that you have to grind your callouses down I think.

    I have a nice balance between my minimalist shoes and going barefoot these days that feels natural and good.


  33. #2: I had to chime in with male pattern baldness being absolutely impacted by diet.

    I want to do a real write up some day but I’ll be brief… I started going bald rapidly from the temples. I researched… Propecia, and its possibility of permanent sexual dysfunction and that was not acceptable. Rogaine doesn’t work on frontal balding… What to do, accept my fate without fight? Never.

    I kept researching and found a sage called Immortal Hair (google it, there’s a great community). He developed a regimen of supplementation and promoted a primal diet to help. Main ones being, CLO, VitD, alpha lipoic acid and many others. It’s an incredibly frantic search for most, and far from a scientific environment -so there is much variability.

    For brevity, going bald was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I no longer subsist on cheap carbs, I am thriving and am constantly improving my diet and life.

    Almost all of the lost hair grew back (I attacked early) I still have hair, and if I am still losing it it’s at a vastly, vastly slower rate.

    Once I made the decision to give it a shot (so glad I did) I was militant… I could count the candy bars and sodas I’ve had since then on my hands. And that was over 2.5 years ago.

    If you are balding, check out ImmortalHair’s site… As always it’s a mix of genes and environment, in differing ratios for different people… If you’re are bald, and I’m sure women will back me up here, physical fitness, confidence and compassion are all more important than hair.

    1. Hair doesn’t mean shit to women. If you are alone, it’s not because you are bald. But is that all that matters? You don’t necessarily have to be lean, or strong, or even healthy to be attractive to the opposite sex. But we all want to be our best, don’t we?

      I hate when people just dismiss balding by making some comment about how it’s not what matters to women, or how you should just shave and bulk up or whatever. I started losing hair (or rather, realising I was losing hair) at about 20. I like hair, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Doesn’t have to be long hair, but hair is awesome. Baldness looks unhealthy. Probably because it -is- unhealthy. I’m not sure I buy the idea that it’s natural. As one of the elements of decay as we age, sure, but not as something that “just happens”, certainly not at what we today consider the peak of youth. It obviously happens, and there is obviously a genetic component, but is it meant to happen? The argument is that baldness is a sign of age, so commands respect and status or whatever, but… when you start to think about that, it’s a very strange AND circular argument.

      Your recommendation (ImmortalHair) seems interesting. I have been thinking about how hairloss ties into general health ever since I started taking my health seriously and not dismissing all problems as isolated things. My childhood/teen diet essentially consisted of bread, cold cuts, whatever could be fried in old, used (30 or more times before it got replaced) soy/sunflower oil, and coke. So, okay, I don’t have scientific evidence (with so many variables, is there really such a thing in this field?), but it seems to me like baldness is just another symptom of a general lack of health.

      Let’s face it… those who say “it’s genetic, there’s nothing you can do about it” don’t really understand baldness. They are just stating “we don’t know much, but we do know this little bit”. Considering human beings cannot be treated like lab rats in carefully controlled long term studies, we have to take everything that is stated by medicine about general long term health issues (which includes male pattern baldness) with a grain of salt.

  34. Question #1 Try switching to snus, the swedish low TSNA version of dipping tobacco/ snuff. The health risks are miniscule compared to smoking.