Our understanding of how antioxidant supplementation works has changed in the last decade. Rather than act directly as antioxidants, most of these compounds stimulate the body’s own production of endogenous antioxidants. That’s right—most of the popular and beneficial “antioxidant” supplements work by provoking a mild hormetic stress response that activates our own antioxidant defenses.
But homegrown antioxidants aren’t made out of thin air. They are material substances that require physical building-blocks. Probably the most important antioxidant is glutathione, and its most important building block is NAC.
What is NAC?
N-acetyl-cysteine, or NAC, is the stable, supplement form of the amino acid cysteine. Cysteine provides one of the most crucial backbones undergirding the body’s premier antioxidant: Glutathione.
In the conventional medical world, NAC is mainly used to rescue people from acetaminophen toxicity. If you overdose on Tylenol and get to a doctor within 8 hours, they’ll give you a big dose of NAC to save your liver and your life. But how does it work? How does NAC beat Tylenol toxicity?
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering one question from a reader. It’s all about synthetic peptides, small chains of amino acids with potentially huge effects on your health and physiological function. In most cases, these synthetic peptides are based on naturally-occurring compounds found in the human body. Scientists isolate the “active component” of the compound and whip it up in a lab by stringing together the right amino acids. Many of these peptides are available for purchase online, strictly “for research purposes.” But people are using them.
Are these safe for humans? Are they effective?
No matter how much you wash your hands or clean up your diet and lifestyle, it’s hard to avoid the common cold entirely. Eventually, if you encounter other humans out in the world, you will catch a cold. Those of you with kids in school or daycare might feel like you spend more time sick than you spend healthy, especially in the winter months.
Given the inevitability, we all have a shared interest in learning how to beat a cold as quickly as possible. There’s no shortage of folk remedies out there—everyone’s grandma probably had her own tried and true method of kicking a col. But which natural cold remedies actually work?
Let’s look at some of the most popular recommendations for natural cold remedies, distinguishing between those that could help you get better more quickly, ones that will at least provide some symptom relief, and ones that won’t hurt but might not help.
In response to the recent post on whey vs. collagen, a number of readers wrote in asking about pea protein. Today, I’m going to compare the two.
Before I begin, let’s get this out of the way: I’m biased toward whey protein. I sell the stuff. But the reason I sell whey protein is because I really like it, not the other way around. All my products are things that solved a problem I was having, an itch I needed to scratch. I made Primal Kitchen Mayo with avocado oil because I couldn’t find one without industrial seed oils and I didn’t want to make it fresh every time I wanted tuna salad. I put together Adaptogenic Calm (formerly Primal Calm) to help me and my buddies recover from heavy training. And so on. I made Primal Fuel out of whey protein isolate because it is the best gram-for-gram protein powder around. But pea protein is having its day in the sun now, and readers want the facts.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering another round of questions asked by Twitter followers. First up is a three-parter, including a query about extra virgin olive oil, one about supplements everyone should take, and one about autoimmune arthritis in an athlete. Second, I cover whether sauna is a hormetic stressor or a way to relax (or both). Next, I give my recommendation for staying keto or carnivore while camping (it’s a quick one). And finally, I explore a potential protocol for using exogenous ketones to curb autoimmune inflammation.
For the vast majority of human history (and prehistory), men, women, and children had near-constant contact with the natural world around them. They were walking on the ground. They were playing in the dirt. They were digging for roots and grubs. They were eating with their hands. They were field dressing animals and wiping their hands on the grass. Nothing was sterilized; the tools to sterilize the environment didn’t exist. You could boil water, but that was about it. Bacteria were everywhere, and humans were constantly ingesting it. Even as babies, preindustrial infants nursed for almost four years, so they were getting a steady source of breastmilk-based probiotic bacteria for a good portion of their early lives.