Category: Gut Health
You could be having a fairly routine conversation about health and nutrition where everything discussed is familiar. You hear things like “carbs” and “medium chain triglycerides” and “fructose” and “macros” and “gluten” and “PUFAs,” thinking nothing of it. Like I said, routine. Then someone mentions FODMAPs. Huh? What the heck is that? Quite possibly one of the strangest, seemingly contrived acronyms in existence, FODMAPs represents a collection of foods to which a surprisingly large number of people are highly sensitive. To them, paying attention to the FODMAPs in their diets is very real and very serious if they hope to avoid debilitating, embarrassing, and painful digestive issues.
What is a FODMAP?
FODMAPs are carbohydrates and fibers that gut bacteria can ferment in the gut and cause excessive gas, intestinal discomfort, diarrhea, and/or constipation. In other words, FODMAPs are a potential source of digestive distress in susceptible people.
Just how important is the gut microbiome — you know, the “critters” who live in your gut? Well, it plays a key role in digestion, metabolism, the immune and endocrine systems, and neurological functioning. Gut microbiota synthesize key nutrients like B vitamins and vitamin K, and neurochemicals like GABA and serotonin. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) produced by gut microbes promote glucose regulation and insulin sensitivity. The microbiome “talks” to the brain via the gut-microbiome-brain axis, and the actions of gut microbes affect things the permeability of the blood-brain barrier and development of glial cells in the brain. The integrity of the gut lining also depends on a healthy microbiome. When that integrity is compromised and the gut becomes “leaky,” systemic inflammation, autoimmune illnesses, and central nervous system disorders ensue.
If you’ve been a part of the Primal, keto, or clean-eating community for a while, you’re likely well aware of all the various reasons to add collagen into your daily routine. It contains glycine, it may improve your sleep and skin elasticity, and it might even been beneficial to healing joints and injuries.
Whether you take collagen to support your hair, skin, and nails or to aid in your post-workout recovery, supplementing your diet with collagen peptides is easy and effective.
We tend to associate supplement powders with adding a scoop or two into your blender to make a midday shake or early AM smoothie, but collagen peptides can mix into virtually anything. Taking collagen can become a culinary pursuit: this versatile supplement sneaks into coffee, baked goods, savory dishes, and so much more.
Here are 12 ways to use collagen that you may not have thought of yet.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a reader question about beans. But it’s not just about beans. It’s about something called the Bean Protocol, a rather new dietary approach that many of my readers have expressed interest in. The Bean Protocol is supposed to improve the liver’s ability to clear out toxins, thereby preventing them from recirculating throughout the body in perpetuity. Today, I’m going to discuss where it fits in a Primal eating plan. Let’s go: Hi Mark, Have you heard about this “Bean Protocol”? From what I can tell people are eating tons of beans and getting great results. It’s supposed to remove toxins from the liver or something else that only beans can do. What do you think? Thanks, Matt I did some digging around. I read the Bean Protocol coverage over at PaleOMG, where Juli has been following the bean protocol for several months now and seeing great results. There’s a Bean Protocol E-course that I did not sign up for, but I think I have a decent handle on the topic. How to Do the Bean Protocol Here’s the gist: No caffeine No sugar No dairy No gluten No processed food No factory-farmed meats; no fatty meats Eat 3 half-cup servings of beans or lentils a day (varies by person) Fill the rest of the food with lean meat, leafy green vegetables, alliums (onion, garlic, leek, etc), and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower). What’s Supposed to Happen on the Bean Protocol The soluble and insoluble fiber in the beans binds to toxins which the body can then flush out more easily. Without the fiber from the beans, your body can’t process and excrete the toxins, so they simply recirculate, stay in the body, and sometimes express themselves in the form of acne and other diseases. Adherents credit the bean protocol for fixing longstanding issues like acne, Crohn’s, and many other conditions. Bored with beans? We have 41 ways to make them more fun. Is this true? Is there any evidence of this in the scientific literature? Well, there isn’t much direct evidence for beans improving liver clearance of toxins, but there is circumstantial evidence. For one, prebiotic fiber is good for liver health. There are plenty of studies to support this. Synbiotics (a combination of probiotics and prebiotics) and BCAAs taken together improve hepatic encephalopathy, a feature of liver failure where the liver fails to detoxify excess ammonia. However, it does not do so directly. The fiber isn’t necessarily “binding” to the lead and excreting it. Instead, it does so by increasing levels of lead-binding gut bacteria which in turn bind and excrete it, shoring up the gut lining so that lead can’t make it into circulation, increasing bile acid flow, and increasing the utilization of healthy essential metals (like zinc and iron). The bacteria are essential for the effect; pre-treatment with antibiotics abolishes the benefits. So we can’t say for sure that the fiber itself is “binding” to the toxins. Allium, Inulin … Continue reading “Dear Mark: What’s With The Bean Protocol?”
After cutting back on sugar and carbs for a while, you understandably start to miss sweets. A common misconception is that you have to skip sweets to meet your goals, which isn’t the case at all. There are plenty of sugar alternatives that fit within the Primal and keto lifestyles, and stevia is one of them.
Stevia is widely used in the low carb community to satisfy sugar cravings or simply add a touch of sweetness to a hot beverage or dessert, but should it be? What is stevia? Is it safe? What is its effect on insulin, if any, and does it have a place in a Primal Blueprint eating strategy? Let’s investigate.
What Is Stevia?
A lot of people categorize stevia as an artificial sweetener, but it’s important to note that stevia is not an artificial sweetener at all – it’s a plant-derived natural alternative to sugar.
Stevia is an herbaceous family of plants, 240 species strong, that grows in sub-tropical and tropical America (mostly South and Central, but some North). Stevia the sweetener refers to stevia rebaudiana, the plant and its leaves, which you can grow and use as or with tea (it was traditionally paired with yerba mate in South America) or, dried and powdered, as a sugar substitute that you sprinkle on. It’s apparently quite easy to grow, according to the stevia seller who tries to get me to buy a plant or two whenever I’m at the Santa Monica farmers’ market, and the raw leaf is very sweet.
For decades, the health community had written off collagen as a “useless” protein. It wasn’t essential, in that it contained no amino acids you couldn’t make yourself. It didn’t contribute directly to muscle protein synthesis, so the bodybuilders weren’t interested. In all my years running marathons and then competing in triathlon at an elite level, no one talked about collagen. It was completely ignored, especially after the rash of collagen-based “liquid diets” ended up with a lot of people dead or in the hospital.
But you know my bias is to look at things from the perspective of human evolution and ancestral environments. And there is a ton of collagen on your average land animal. Close to half the weight of a cow is “other stuff”—bones, skin, tendons, cartilage, and other collagenous material. Most meat eaters these days might be throwing that stuff away, if they even encounter it, but humans for hundreds of thousands of years ate every last bit of that animal. Even as recent as your grandmother’s generation, utilizing every last collagenous bit of an animal to make soups, stocks, and stews was standard practice. This was the evolutionary environment of the ancient meat-eating human: rich in collagen.