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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Category: Grains

Dear Mark: Japan and Meat, Circadian-Friendly Nightlights, Barefoot Hiking Tips

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. First up, what was my main takeaway from the “Japan and meat” video posted last week? Second, are there any circadian-friendly nightlights—ones that don’t negatively affect our natural secretion of melatonin or disrupt our circadian rhythm? And finally, what are my tips for barefoot hiking? How can someone get their feet acquainted with the natural ground, deal with sharp rocks and gravel, and learn to enjoy their barefoot experience in nature?

Let’s go:

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Paleo Food List (with Printable PDF)

Because humans were hunter-gatherers for hundreds of thousands of years, we evolved to use and favor the diverse plant and rich meat intake of our hunting and foraging history. Farming and its core crops (e.g. grains), by contrast, only came on the scene approximately 10,000 years ago and took at least 8000 of those years to spread across the world. Our evolutionary roots—and residual genetic expectations—favor the nutritional practices of our hunter-gatherer legacy. (For more on the history of the paleo diet, click here.)

The “paleo diet” today looks to the dietary model of our hunter-gatherer ancestors and translates those eating practices to the modern age for the purpose of optimum health.

The paleo diet favors nutrient-dense whole foods and eschews processed food products. Let’s look at the wide variety of flavorful (and healthy) choices within a paleo protocol as well as some basic principles for what to eat and what to avoid. For a PDF print-out of this list, click here.

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8 Misconceptions About Fiber

The tricky thing about fiber is that it’s not a monolith. There are dozens of varieties. Some of them perform similar functions in the body, but others have extremely unique effects. Some rend your colonic lining to stimulate lubrication. Some turn into gelatinous slurries. But we can’t talk about fiber without understanding that the word describes a variety of compounds. As such, anyone making declarative statements about “fiber” without differentiating between the different types and their effects isn’t being accurate (except for me in that exact sentence).

This leads to a lot of confusion. People make blanket statements that might be true for some types of fibers and incorrect for others. 

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Coconut Flour: Benefits and Uses

While I’d give most pre-packaged gluten-free flour mixes a firm shake of the head for their empty carb content and (at times) filler ingredients, there’s one I’d recommend as a paleo/Primal and low-carb staple: coconut flour. The obvious benefit is that it’s gluten-free, but it also has a respectable dose of fat, protein and fiber as well as a pleasantly sweet taste. In this post, I’ll explore some of the nutritional benefits of coconut flour along with the many ways in which it can be used. Coconut Flour Benefits As far as flours go, coconut flour is relatively high in nutrients—a fact that sets it a cut above the rest.  High Fiber Lab analyses show that coconut flour is 60% fiber; 56% insoluble and 4% soluble. That’s considerably more fiber than almost every other flour on the market, including the other major paleo contender, almond flour.  Low Glycemic Value Unlike most of the grain-based flours on the market, all the indigestible fiber in coconut flour makes for a surprisingly low glycemic product. In fact, multiple studies show that adding coconut flour into traditionally high-glycemic products like macaroons, carrot cake, granola bars and multigrain loaf helped to significantly lower blood sugar spikes after eating. And whether you have diabetic tendencies or not, using a flour that doesn’t send your blood sugar levels through the roof is definitely a good thing. Cholesterol Friendly Effects Research shows that coconut flakes (made as part of coconut flour production) can significantly reduce LDL cholesterol and serum triglycerides in those with moderately high cholesterol levels.  Low Phytic Acid While the research is a little thin regarding the phytic potential of coconut flour (and coconuts in general), preliminary trials indicate that it’s nothing to be concerned about—certainly not when compared to nut and grain flours. As a case in point, this study showed that coconut flour additions to baked goods didn’t impact mineral availability, which is the key concern when it comes to phytates. Lauric Acid Coconut flour contains a decent dose of lauric acid, a fatty acid often present in high saturated fat content foods. As a precursor to monolaurin, lauric acid can aid in the inhibition of pathogenic species in the body, ward off certain forms of acne, and support a healthy cardiovascular system. Healthy Fats While almond flour, the main contender for paleo flour dominion, has a lot more fat, most of it is pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Cooking With Coconut Flour When it comes to baking or culinary creations in general, no one flour is the same. Most of us have spent most of our lives eating and working with wheat flour, which has drastically different qualities to, say, almond flour, which again is completely different to coconut flour. It’s best to adapt your expectations and approach when dealing with coconut flour for the first time. Know that the flour has its own unique features that require certain recipe adaptations. Coconut flour is more sponge-like than most other flours. Due to its high fiber content, … Continue reading “Coconut Flour: Benefits and Uses”

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8 Primal-Friendly Flours

While I don’t recommend making Primalized versions of grain-based foods a staple, the fact remains that people love them. They’re going to want them. There’s not much you can do about that. And if we want to incorporate pancakes, muffins, cookies, and other flour-based items into our diets without ruining everything we’ve worked toward, we need the healthiest, most Primal flours.

The alternative flour market has exploded in recent years. A decade ago, you had gritty almond flour and fibrous coconut flour, and that was about it. Today, there are many more flours to sift through. But what are the best ones? Which ones fit best into a Primal way of eating, and why?

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7 Reasons to Love Wheat

Wheat gets a bad rap in the alternative health sphere, receiving blame from all sides. Today, I’m here to provide the other side. Today, I’m going to give you seven solid reasons to love wheat, ranging from its effects on the environment, its role in the foundation of the American republic, its effect on gut bacteria and your health, its ability to stamp out hatred, its protective role in the lives of Bronze Age Chinese women, and its status as an enduring symbol of human rights and prosperity.

Let’s get right to it.

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