Mark's Daily Apple https://www.marksdailyapple.com/ Tue, 30 Nov -001 00:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 115533949 New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 207 https://www.marksdailyapple.com/new-and-noteworthy-207/ https://www.marksdailyapple.com/new-and-noteworthy-207/#comments Fri, 03 Feb 2023 19:10:18 +0000 https://www.marksdailyapple.com/?p=132473 Research of the Week
No clear evidence that masks help against or prevent infection from respiratory illnesses.

Archaeologists unearth a giant 7-foot sword along with an enormous burial site fit for a ... giant?

Status has deep roots.

Insulin and peripheral neuropathy.

The influence of kids on their parents.

New Primal Kitchen Podcasts
Primal Health Coach Radio: Jackie Fletcher
Media, Schmedia
Interesting thoughts on diet and the cause of obesity.

Nice talk on sleep, ketosis, and satiety.
Interesting Blog Posts
The canine model of artificial general intelligence.

How Steph Curry practices.
Social Notes
Gifted kids end up with less alcoholism, less divorce, and overall better "outcomes" except for more suicide.

Wagyu and contrast.
Everything Else
Impressive lions who ruled their region with an iron paw.

Young guys think they're smarter than same age women, while older women think they're smarter than same age men.

Everything is circadian.
Things I’m Up to and Interested In
Great thread: Problems with "satiety per calorie."

Awkward: More beef, less depression.

Interesting article: Early Alaskan warfare was brutal.

Important findings: Neanderthals probably ate a LOT of elephant.

Also important: Neanderthals were genetically resistant to pee and sweat odors.
Question I'm Asking
How have your kids influenced or changed you?
Recipe Corner

Soubise sauce.
French onion chicken.

Time Capsule
One year ago (Jan 28 – Feb 3)

What Are the Best Probiotic Strains?—Well, what are they?
Why Am I Waking Up at 3am?—Why?

Comment of the Week
"Eggs are still pretty easy to find here but a curious thing has happened. The price of local, pastured eggs has not gone up much at all – 0-50 cents a dozen. But low quality factory eggs have skyrocketed. Eggs from the local factory farms are pushing 8 bucks a dozen while organic/pastured eggs are the $6 – $6.50 they have been the last several years. Not sure how to explain this. Maybe the more responsible producers are not having the disease issues that factory farms are seeing. Not affecting my near-daily egg consumption at all, especially since a couple of our ducks started laying due to the freakishly warm winter this year."

-Good point, Jerry. You may be right.

The post New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 207 appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

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Research of the Week

No clear evidence that masks help against or prevent infection from respiratory illnesses.

Archaeologists unearth a giant 7-foot sword along with an enormous burial site fit for a … giant?

Status has deep roots.

Insulin and peripheral neuropathy.

The influence of kids on their parents.

New Primal Kitchen Podcasts

Primal Health Coach Radio: Jackie Fletcher

Media, Schmedia

Interesting thoughts on diet and the cause of obesity.

Nice talk on sleep, ketosis, and satiety.

Interesting Blog Posts

The canine model of artificial general intelligence.

How Steph Curry practices.

Social Notes

Gifted kids end up with less alcoholism, less divorce, and overall better “outcomes” except for more suicide.

Wagyu and contrast.

Everything Else

Impressive lions who ruled their region with an iron paw.

Young guys think they’re smarter than same age women, while older women think they’re smarter than same age men.

Everything is circadian.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

Great thread: Problems with “satiety per calorie.”

Awkward: More beef, less depression.

Interesting article: Early Alaskan warfare was brutal.

Important findings: Neanderthals probably ate a LOT of elephant.

Also important: Neanderthals were genetically resistant to pee and sweat odors.

Question I’m Asking

How have your kids influenced or changed you?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Jan 28 – Feb 3)

Comment of the Week

“Eggs are still pretty easy to find here but a curious thing has happened. The price of local, pastured eggs has not gone up much at all – 0-50 cents a dozen. But low quality factory eggs have skyrocketed. Eggs from the local factory farms are pushing 8 bucks a dozen while organic/pastured eggs are the $6 – $6.50 they have been the last several years. Not sure how to explain this. Maybe the more responsible producers are not having the disease issues that factory farms are seeing. Not affecting my near-daily egg consumption at all, especially since a couple of our ducks started laying due to the freakishly warm winter this year.

-Good point, Jerry. You may be right.

The post New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 207 appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

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What is Abdominal Bracing and How to Do It? https://www.marksdailyapple.com/abdominal-bracing/ https://www.marksdailyapple.com/abdominal-bracing/#comments Wed, 01 Feb 2023 16:00:46 +0000 https://www.marksdailyapple.com/?p=132392 When most people think about lifting weights, they think about their biceps, triceps, shoulders, and lats. Their legs, quads, hamstrings, glutes. They think about what to do with the body parts that move, that hold the weight, that push against the ground—but neglect to think about the abdominal muscles that brace, resist movement and allow you to even lift the weight in the first place. Abdominal bracing isn’t flashy or sexy, but it’s the most important part of lifting weights and moving your body through time and space. The best way to train your abdominal muscles are not sit ups, crunches, or leg lifts- it’s bracing, intra-abdominal bracing, or abdominal bracing. Whenever you move your body or lift a weight, you practice abdominal bracing. In fact, this bracing, this increase in intra-abdominal pressure, occurs spontaneously whenever you move your limbs. That's how central it is to human movement. If you want to deadlift, squat, or overhead press, you brace. If you want to throw a punch or throw a ball, you brace. If you want to jump over on obstacle or dunk a basketball, you brace. Abdominal bracing allows force to transfer efficiently throughout your body so you can act on the physical world. If you don’t practice abdominal bracing, you lose energy, drop force production, and open yourself up to injury. Another reason to focus on and perfect abdominal bracing is that it’s a great “ab workout.” By fulfilling the primary function of the abdominal muscles—to stabilize the body in order to transmit force—you also give your entire abdominal complex the greatest workout ever. The heavier the weight or the faster the movement, the more bracing you require and the greater the training stimulus you’ve just applied. The better your abdominal bracing, the more force you can generate. The more force you generate, the more force your abs will have to resist. The more force your abs resist, the stronger your abdominal muscles—all of them—grow. Now, the thing about abdominal bracing is that we're always doing it. It's a subconscious autonomic response of your body to movement and lifting. Actually, it's more than a response. It happens before the movement, almost as a forecast or prediction. The contraction of the diaphragm and tensing of the abdominal muscles occur before you actually move. How to Practice Proper Abdominal Bracing Stand up right now and try this out. The only way to understand abdominal bracing is to actually do it in practice. 1. Prepare to take a punch. Imagine you're about to take a punch. What do you do? You tighten your abs, engage your core, engage your erector spinae (back muscles that run down your spine), tighten your butt hole, and gird your loins. Apologies for the language but there's no getting around it. 2. Take a breath into your belly. Keeping your core engaged and tight in preparation for the "punch," take a nasal breath into your belly. A big one. Now, the air won't be going into your belly, … Continue reading "What is Abdominal Bracing and How to Do It?"

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Woman laying on back on pink yoga matWhen most people think about lifting weights, they think about their biceps, triceps, shoulders, and lats. Their legs, quads, hamstrings, glutes. They think about what to do with the body parts that move, that hold the weight, that push against the ground—but neglect to think about the abdominal muscles that brace, resist movement and allow you to even lift the weight in the first place. Abdominal bracing isn’t flashy or sexy, but it’s the most important part of lifting weights and moving your body through time and space. The best way to train your abdominal muscles are not sit ups, crunches, or leg lifts- it’s bracing, intra-abdominal bracing, or abdominal bracing.

Whenever you move your body or lift a weight, you practice abdominal bracing. In fact, this bracing, this increase in intra-abdominal pressure, occurs spontaneously whenever you move your limbs.1 That’s how central it is to human movement.

If you want to deadlift, squat, or overhead press, you brace. If you want to throw a punch or throw a ball, you brace. If you want to jump over on obstacle or dunk a basketball, you brace.

Abdominal bracing allows force to transfer efficiently throughout your body so you can act on the physical world. If you don’t practice abdominal bracing, you lose energy, drop force production, and open yourself up to injury.

Another reason to focus on and perfect abdominal bracing is that it’s a great “ab workout.” By fulfilling the primary function of the abdominal muscles—to stabilize the body in order to transmit force—you also give your entire abdominal complex the greatest workout ever. The heavier the weight or the faster the movement, the more bracing you require and the greater the training stimulus you’ve just applied. The better your abdominal bracing, the more force you can generate. The more force you generate, the more force your abs will have to resist. The more force your abs resist, the stronger your abdominal muscles—all of them—grow.

Now, the thing about abdominal bracing is that we’re always doing it. It’s a subconscious autonomic response of your body to movement and lifting. Actually, it’s more than a response. It happens before the movement, almost as a forecast or prediction. The contraction of the diaphragm and tensing of the abdominal muscles occur before you actually move.

How to Practice Proper Abdominal Bracing

Stand up right now and try this out. The only way to understand abdominal bracing is to actually do it in practice.

1. Prepare to take a punch.

Imagine you’re about to take a punch. What do you do? You tighten your abs, engage your core, engage your erector spinae (back muscles that run down your spine), tighten your butt hole, and gird your loins. Apologies for the language but there’s no getting around it.

2. Take a breath into your belly.

Keeping your core engaged and tight in preparation for the “punch,” take a nasal breath into your belly. A big one. Now, the air won’t be going into your belly, but this is a great cure to really breathe with and engage your diaphragm.

3. Breathe “downwards.”

In case you don’t know, the diaphragm is a large slab of muscle that sits underneath your lungs, attaches to them, and “pulls” on them to expand and allow air in. The diaphragm pulls the lungs downward. In doing so, the diaphragm also helps compress the entire abdominal musculature and creates more intrabdominal pressure.

You should feel everything tighten up even more.

4. Expand your ribcage.

Proper abdominal bracing means expanding your rib cage as the obliques contract and tighten.

5. Push out, not inward.

Imagine your abdominal musculature pressing out on all sides: against your ribs, your belt, your back. Sucking your abdominal muscles inward will compromise your position and make for suboptimal abdominal bracing.

Tips for Abdominal Bracing

Abdominals are not just the six pack

You’ve got the classic abdominals that face forward and show prominently in people with low body fat. You’ve got the obliques, which cover the left and right sides of your torso. You’ve got the erector spinae, those large sheathes of muscle that run down your back on either side of your spine. They all matter when abdominal bracing. They all must be engaged.

Think about a can of soda.

A soda can has structural integrity. It’s a vertical column that can support weight without crumpling, but only if the top is closed and it’s full of liquid. That’s intra-abdominal pressure. That’s abdominal bracing. Once you open the top and pour out the soda, the can crumples and can bear no weight. Lifting or moving without abdominal bracing is like standing on an empty soda can.

Maintain proper posture.

Posture comes first. If your spine is not aligned, you’ll be resting on your skeleton rather than using your musculature to brace. Don’t be overly extended with your belly sticking out and your butt sticking out and a big hollow in the small of your back. That’s “tucking” the pelvis, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Aim for a “j-curve” spine: mostly straight back and pelvis with the “curve” coming from your glutes.

Should you always practice abdominal bracing?

If you’re dancing or playing with your kids or jumping or playing tennis, you probably don’t want or need to be consciously bracing the entire time. You also need fluidity and motion, and our bodies are usually very good at modulating the level of abdominal bracing depending on the movement we’re engaging in. Most of us can trust our bodies to handle the bracing we need for basic movements.

However, this kind of conscious bracing becomes particularly important of heavy weight lifting—for movements where you’re “preparing” for a big effort. That could be a heavy set of deadlifts or squats, a max effort lift in competition (or just in the gym), or any situation where you know you’re going to be exerting a huge amount of force. If you’re going for a set of 5-10 heavy squats, you’ll want to consciously and proactively brace before lifting. Many people find that abdominal bracing improves their strength and performance in the gym, giving them a 5-15% boost in strength right away.

Also, if you’ve been out of the game for a long time, or you have a history of tweaking your back or throwing it out during simple everyday activities like picking up a remote control off the ground, you might need to practice conscious abdominal bracing until it becomes second-nature. That would mean following the abdominal bracing steps up above whenever you go to move some furniture, empty the dishwasher, lift your kid up, or do any other activity that requires a stable spine (which is pretty much everything!).

I’d love to hear from you. Do you practice conscious abdominal bracing? How has it helped you in your life—both in the gym and out of it?

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What Is Cryotherapy And Should You Try It? https://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-is-cryotherapy/ https://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-is-cryotherapy/#comments Tue, 31 Jan 2023 16:00:23 +0000 https://www.marksdailyapple.com/?p=132320 Technically, “cryotherapy” refers to any method of using cold therapeutically. Icing a sprained ankle, freezing off a wart, or sitting in an ice bath after a game of Ultimate Frisbee are all forms of cryotherapy. Today, though, I’m using the term cryotherapy to refer specifically to whole-body and partial-body cryotherapy chambers. Cryotherapy chambers use electric cooling or liquid nitrogen to expose users to super-chilled air in order to achieve various (supposed) benefits. The technology dates back to the late 1970s, and it used to be pretty niche, reserved mostly for top-level athletes and people with specialized medical needs. Now, cryo centers have popped up all over the place, and you can easily book yourself an appointment for any old reason.  Even if you’ve never visited one yourself, you can probably picture what I'm talking about here. A cryo chamber usually looks like a person-sized tin can that you stand up or lie down in, sort of reminiscent of polio-era iron lungs. You might go in with your entire body (whole-body cryo), or your head might stick out the top (partial-body cryo). Sometimes, though, a cryotherapy chamber is just a small room. The air inside isn’t just cold. It’s really, really cold, typically between -200 and -300 degrees Fahrenheit, or below -100 degrees Celsius. (You can also do targeted cryotherapy using a wand to blast a small area with cold air. I won’t be talking about that today because most research focuses on chambers.)  I’ve extolled the virtues of cold therapy before. Cold exposure is a simple and, I’d argue, adaptive way to fight inflammation, boost immunity, and build mental and physical fortitude. My modalities of choice are cold plunges and taking advantage of cold weather, but cryotherapy potentially offers many, maybe even all, of the same benefits.  The questions at hand today are whether cryotherapy chambers are worth trying and whether they offer anything special compared to other types of cold therapy. How Does Cryotherapy Work? When you go in for a cryotherapy session, you’ll strip down to only the bare essentials needed to protect your extremities and delicate bits (socks, shoes, or booties, gloves, underwear, and, if your head is in the chamber, ear covering and face mask). After a brief cool-down session, you step into the chamber. Due to the extreme temperature, the session will last only one to three minutes, never more than five minutes. When exposed to very cold stimuli, several important things happen in the body: Vasoconstriction, which pulls blood toward the core and improves blood oxygenation and subsequent delivery of oxygen to muscles. When applied to an injured area, this prevents blood from pooling at the site and helps prevent secondary injury.  Anti-inflammatory response, characterized by lower pro-inflammatory and higher anti-inflammatory markers. Analgesic effects to reduce pain. Lowered oxidative stress. Autonomic nervous system stimulation, or activation of the “rest-digest-repair” nervous system, as evidenced by changes in HRV and catecholamines (stress hormones).  None of these is unique to cryotherapy chambers. Any type of cold exposure … Continue reading "What Is Cryotherapy And Should You Try It?"

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Silver cryotherapy chamber in empty white room.Technically, “cryotherapy” refers to any method of using cold therapeutically. Icing a sprained ankle, freezing off a wart, or sitting in an ice bath after a game of Ultimate Frisbee are all forms of cryotherapy. Today, though, I’m using the term cryotherapy to refer specifically to whole-body and partial-body cryotherapy chambers.

Cryotherapy chambers use electric cooling or liquid nitrogen to expose users to super-chilled air in order to achieve various (supposed) benefits. The technology dates back to the late 1970s, and it used to be pretty niche, reserved mostly for top-level athletes and people with specialized medical needs. Now, cryo centers have popped up all over the place, and you can easily book yourself an appointment for any old reason. 

Even if you’ve never visited one yourself, you can probably picture what I’m talking about here. A cryo chamber usually looks like a person-sized tin can that you stand up or lie down in, sort of reminiscent of polio-era iron lungs. You might go in with your entire body (whole-body cryo), or your head might stick out the top (partial-body cryo). Sometimes, though, a cryotherapy chamber is just a small room. The air inside isn’t just cold. It’s really, really cold, typically between -200 and -300 degrees Fahrenheit, or below -100 degrees Celsius. (You can also do targeted cryotherapy using a wand to blast a small area with cold air. I won’t be talking about that today because most research focuses on chambers.) 

I’ve extolled the virtues of cold therapy before. Cold exposure is a simple and, I’d argue, adaptive way to fight inflammation, boost immunity, and build mental and physical fortitude. My modalities of choice are cold plunges and taking advantage of cold weather, but cryotherapy potentially offers many, maybe even all, of the same benefits. 

The questions at hand today are whether cryotherapy chambers are worth trying and whether they offer anything special compared to other types of cold therapy.

How Does Cryotherapy Work?

When you go in for a cryotherapy session, you’ll strip down to only the bare essentials needed to protect your extremities and delicate bits (socks, shoes, or booties, gloves, underwear, and, if your head is in the chamber, ear covering and face mask). After a brief cool-down session, you step into the chamber. Due to the extreme temperature, the session will last only one to three minutes, never more than five minutes.

When exposed to very cold stimuli, several important things happen in the body:

  • Vasoconstriction, which pulls blood toward the core and improves blood oxygenation and subsequent delivery of oxygen to muscles.2 When applied to an injured area, this prevents blood from pooling at the site and helps prevent secondary injury. 
  • Anti-inflammatory response, characterized by lower pro-inflammatory and higher anti-inflammatory markers.3 4
  • Analgesic effects to reduce pain.
  • Lowered oxidative stress.5
  • Autonomic nervous system stimulation, or activation of the “rest-digest-repair” nervous system, as evidenced by changes in HRV and catecholamines (stress hormones).6 

None of these is unique to cryotherapy chambers. Any type of cold exposure elicits these effects. In fact, there’s some evidence that icing and cold water immersion do it better.7 8 Cold air simply isn’t as good at thermal conduction as ice or cold water. 

It’s also worth noting that it’s not clear how long these effects last. Inflammation may go down acutely, for example, but we don’t have long-term studies to show that cryotherapy reduces chronic inflammation (the kind that causes more widespread, long-term health damage). In a study in which ten women did cryotherapy three times per week for three months, researchers observed immediate reductions in HRV right after the cold exposure. However, the women’s baseline HRV did not change from the beginning to the end of the study, meaning that the autonomic response was acute but not long-lasting.9 

Potential Cryotherapy Benefits

As with all forms of cold therapy, proponents make big promises about all the things cryotherapy can do. Here are three benefits for which there is enough evidence worth mentioning. 

Recovery and injury prevention

The biggest reasons people seek out cryotherapy are for post-exercise recovery and treating sports-related injuries. 

Overall, the studies in this area are mostly small and not always consistent, but most studies find that cryotherapy reduces pain and subjective fatigue following exercise.10 However, it doesn’t seem to attenuate muscle damage as measured by creatine kinase levels.11 Nor does it consistently improve performance.12

Altogether, the evidence points to cryotherapy as being better for subjective recovery (how athletes feel) than objective markers of recovery. 

Chronic pain reduction

A 2020 review found that =whole-body cryotherapy is effective at reducing pain in patients with osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, rheumatic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis disease, and other types of chronic pain.13 The protocols in these studies varied but generally entailed one or two sessions per day several times per week for a number of weeks. 

Improved sleep

A handful of studies have found that cryotherapy improves sleep in athletes:

  • 7 professional male soccer players did cryotherapy or no cryotherapy (control) after a 90-minute training session. The men moved significantly less during sleep, a measure of sleep quality, following three minutes of cryotherapy. However, these same sleep improvements were not evident when they did only 90 seconds or two 90-second bouts with five minutes of rest in between.14
  • 22 young, fit men did a 55-minute run at 7 p.m., followed by three minutes of cryotherapy (at only -40 degrees) or three minutes of sitting quietly. Cryotherapy improved both subjective and objective sleep quality.15 Similar findings were reported with elite male and female basketball players.16
  • 10 female synchronized swimmers who were preparing for the Olympic trials did either three minutes of cryotherapy or no recovery (control) every day during two-week high-intensity training blocksy. Not only did the athletes sleep better following cryotherapy, but they also seemed to recover better from their workouts.17 

Obviously these findings are limited to highly fit individuals, but it’s possible that cryotherapy might work the same way for the average person. 

Cryotherapy Risks

Given the extreme temperatures, it’s important that you follow basic safety protocols. Go to a reputable place, never go more than a few minutes, and follow all the instructions to a tee. Don’t do cryotherapy without talking to your doctor if you have a heart condition, circulatory issue, or are pregnant.

The FDA put out a statement in 2016 letting everyone know that cryo is not FDA approved, for what it’s worth.18 

Pros and Cons of Cryotherapy

Given all this, here’s what I see as cryotherapy’s pros and cons.

PROS:

  • It’s quick. You only need to withstand a few minutes of extreme cold to reap the benefits.
  • Although all cold therapy can be intimidating, I imagine that some folks will find the idea of a cryotherapy chamber easier than jumping into cold water. 
  • Cryotherapy seems pretty safe. (Hyperthermia and frostbite are possible, though.)
  • It looks cool. Let’s be honest, standing in a cryo chamber with the liquid nitrogen gas swirling around you feels futuristic and kinda badass. 

CONS:

  • It’s expensive compared to cold-water immersion, and there’s not good evidence that it’s any more effective. 
  • Cryotherapy studies are mostly small, and the results aren’t always consistent, possibly because different researchers use different protocols. Although I highlighted some of the probable benefits above, some studies also find no effects. 
  • Like any form of cold therapy, it’s not safe for everyone. 

I wouldn’t discourage anyone from trying cryotherapy if they thought it might help them, but for now I’ll be sticking to my cold plunges

I’m interested to hear about your experience with cryotherapy. Tell me in the comments if you used it and whether it helped. I’m especially interested to hear direct experiences comparing cold-water immersion to cryo chambers.

Take care, everyone. 

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New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 206 https://www.marksdailyapple.com/new-and-noteworthy-206/ https://www.marksdailyapple.com/new-and-noteworthy-206/#comments Fri, 27 Jan 2023 20:33:42 +0000 https://www.marksdailyapple.com/?p=132299 Research of the Week

Boron helps against COVID.

Your fat cells know when you haven't gotten sunlight. Don't let them down.

The gut biome regulates motivation for exercise.

Worse indoor air quality, lower test scores.

Mediterranean diets would work great for IBD if it weren't for all those darn grains!

New Primal Kitchen Podcasts
Primal Kitchen Podcast: The Link Between Dairy Intolerance and Dairy Genes with Alexandre Family Farm Founders Blake and Stephanie

Primal Health Coach Radio: Danika Brysha
Media, Schmedia
Contraband eggs.

Not a great idea.
Interesting Blog Posts
Great piece on Chinese ancestry. Worth subscribing if you aren't.

Is long COVID caused by micro clots?
Social Notes
Pretty much.

Why is East Asia less happy than you'd expect given their GDP?
Everything Else
Scientists figured out what made Roman concrete so strong.

You can talk to the Bible now.
Things I’m Up to and Interested In
Great find: A boy and his wolf.

A huge missing piece to the environmental debate: People are underestimating how many herbivores this world once hosted.

Interesting article: The longevity secrets of ant queens.

Important findings: Top discoveries about ancient people from 2022.

Interesting story: When pastoral agriculturalists met Baltic hunter-gatherers.
Question I'm Asking
Are you still able to find eggs? How has it affected your diet?
Recipe Corner

Italian sausage breakfast casserole: Genius.
Stir fried eggplant. Make sure to swap out the "vegetable oil" for something better like avocado oil, and increase the pork.

Time Capsule
One year ago (Jan 21 – Jan 27)

All About the Liver, and How to Support Your Favorite Detoxification Organ—How to keep it going.
How to Stop Drinking Coffee, and Why You Should Consider It—Maybe.

Comment of the Week
"Mark, the government websites state Linoleic acid, LA, is highly oxidative to our LDL portion of cholesterol.
Do you have data to the contrary?

Seed oils have been the scourge of our creation. Atherosclerosis skyrocketed after the creation of Crisco.

Do you have a contrary position?"

-No, I do not.

The post New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 206 appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

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Research of the Week

Boron helps against COVID.

Your fat cells know when you haven’t gotten sunlight. Don’t let them down.

The gut biome regulates motivation for exercise.

Worse indoor air quality, lower test scores.

Mediterranean diets would work great for IBD if it weren’t for all those darn grains!

New Primal Kitchen Podcasts

Primal Kitchen Podcast: The Link Between Dairy Intolerance and Dairy Genes with Alexandre Family Farm Founders Blake and Stephanie

Primal Health Coach Radio: Danika Brysha

Media, Schmedia

Contraband eggs.

Not a great idea.

Interesting Blog Posts

Great piece on Chinese ancestry. Worth subscribing if you aren’t.

Is long COVID caused by micro clots?

Social Notes

Pretty much.

Why is East Asia less happy than you’d expect given their GDP?

Everything Else

Scientists figured out what made Roman concrete so strong.

You can talk to the Bible now.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

Great find: A boy and his wolf.

A huge missing piece to the environmental debate: People are underestimating how many herbivores this world once hosted.

Interesting article: The longevity secrets of ant queens.

Important findings: Top discoveries about ancient people from 2022.

Interesting story: When pastoral agriculturalists met Baltic hunter-gatherers.

Question I’m Asking

Are you still able to find eggs? How has it affected your diet?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Jan 21 – Jan 27)

Comment of the Week

“Mark, the government websites state Linoleic acid, LA, is highly oxidative to our LDL portion of cholesterol.
Do you have data to the contrary?

Seed oils have been the scourge of our creation. Atherosclerosis skyrocketed after the creation of Crisco.

Do you have a contrary position?”

-No, I do not.

The post New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 206 appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

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How do Potatoes Fit in a Primal Diet? https://www.marksdailyapple.com/potatoes-primal-diet/ https://www.marksdailyapple.com/potatoes-primal-diet/#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2023 16:00:44 +0000 https://www.marksdailyapple.com/?p=132134 Potatoes get a bad rap in many different health and diet communities. The keto and low-carb crowd says they're too high in carbohydrates and will spike your blood sugar. The paleo guys are against them because they are neolithic foods from the New World that our Paleolithic ancestors had no access to. The autoimmune diet communities eschew them because they have various plant toxins that can cause inflammation and trigger sensitive and vulnerable individuals, and the conventional "healthy diet" people recommend against potatoes because they're "empty white carbs." Is this criticism warranted? Is it true that potatoes have no place in a healthy diet, or are potatoes actually healthy? How do potatoes fit into a Primal diet? Let's dig into the actual evidence. Potatoes are healthier than you think Potatoes are actually healthier than you've been led to believe. Think about what a potato is: it's a repository of nutrients for growing many new potatoes. It's an egg. And just like eggs are among the most nutrient dense animal foods on earth, the basic potato is one of the most nutrient dense vegetable foods on earth. In a single large baked potato weighing about 10 ounces, plain, you get a broad assortment of vitamins, minerals, protein, and prebiotic fiber. Potatoes are high in vitamins and minerals Here's the breakdown. Percentages refer to the proportion of the daily recommended intake for each nutrient. 16% of B1 (thiamine) 11% of B2 (riboflavin) 26% of B3 (niacin) 22% of B5 (pantothenic acid) 55% of B6 (pyridoxine) 21% of folate 32% of vitamin C 39% of copper 40% of iron 20% of magnesium 28% of manganese 34% of potassium 10% of zinc 6.6 grams of prebiotic fiber 7.5 grams of protein All that for 278 calories and 56 grams of "net" carbs. Potatoes are rich in potassium Dietary potassium/sodium ratio is a crucial determinant of endothelial function and blood pressure regulation, most likely more important than sodium alone, and there's decent evidence that potatoes are a great way to improve potassium status. Potassium from potatoes is as bioavailable as potassium from supplements. In fact, adding potatoes to the diet can be more effective at lowering blood pressure than adding an equivalent amount of straight potassium. Potatoes are higher in fiber and lower in carbs than you realize Potatoes have the reputation for being a "refined carbohydrate" that "spikes" your blood sugar. They're supposed to be very high in carbs. That's true—potatoes are a rich source of starch. But the starch in potatoes is a little different than other starch sources. Going back to that figure up above, of the 56 grams of carbs in a large baked potato, 11 grams will be resistant starch—a prebiotic substrate that feeds your gut biome, produces butyric acid, and is not digested by your body into glucose. That resistant starch content goes even higher if you refrigerate your cooked potatoes. In addition to resistant starch (which acts like prebiotic fiber), potatoes have a significant amount of fiber. A recent … Continue reading "How do Potatoes Fit in a Primal Diet?"

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close up of hands holding potatoes which have been just dug out from the groundPotatoes get a bad rap in many different health and diet communities. The keto and low-carb crowd says they’re too high in carbohydrates and will spike your blood sugar. The paleo guys are against them because they are neolithic foods from the New World that our Paleolithic ancestors had no access to. The autoimmune diet communities eschew them because they have various plant toxins that can cause inflammation and trigger sensitive and vulnerable individuals, and the conventional “healthy diet” people recommend against potatoes because they’re “empty white carbs.”

Is this criticism warranted? Is it true that potatoes have no place in a healthy diet, or are potatoes actually healthy? How do potatoes fit into a Primal diet?

Let’s dig into the actual evidence.

Potatoes are healthier than you think

Potatoes are actually healthier than you’ve been led to believe. Think about what a potato is: it’s a repository of nutrients for growing many new potatoes. It’s an egg. And just like eggs are among the most nutrient dense animal foods on earth, the basic potato is one of the most nutrient dense vegetable foods on earth. In a single large baked potato weighing about 10 ounces, plain, you get a broad assortment of vitamins, minerals, protein, and prebiotic fiber.

Potatoes are high in vitamins and minerals

Here’s the breakdown. Percentages refer to the proportion of the daily recommended intake for each nutrient.

  • 16% of B1 (thiamine)
  • 11% of B2 (riboflavin)
  • 26% of B3 (niacin)
  • 22% of B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • 55% of B6 (pyridoxine)
  • 21% of folate
  • 32% of vitamin C
  • 39% of copper
  • 40% of iron
  • 20% of magnesium
  • 28% of manganese
  • 34% of potassium
  • 10% of zinc
  • 6.6 grams of prebiotic fiber
  • 7.5 grams of protein

All that for 278 calories and 56 grams of “net” carbs.

Potatoes are rich in potassium

Dietary potassium/sodium ratio is a crucial determinant of endothelial function and blood pressure regulation, most likely more important than sodium alone, and there’s decent evidence that potatoes are a great way to improve potassium status. Potassium from potatoes is as bioavailable as potassium from supplements.19 In fact, adding potatoes to the diet can be more effective at lowering blood pressure than adding an equivalent amount of straight potassium.20

Potatoes are higher in fiber and lower in carbs than you realize

Potatoes have the reputation for being a “refined carbohydrate” that “spikes” your blood sugar. They’re supposed to be very high in carbs. That’s true—potatoes are a rich source of starch. But the starch in potatoes is a little different than other starch sources. Going back to that figure up above, of the 56 grams of carbs in a large baked potato, 11 grams will be resistant starch—a prebiotic substrate that feeds your gut biome, produces butyric acid, and is not digested by your body into glucose.21 That resistant starch content goes even higher if you refrigerate your cooked potatoes.

In addition to resistant starch (which acts like prebiotic fiber), potatoes have a significant amount of fiber.

A recent study in type 2 diabetics compared the metabolic effects of an evening meal containing potatoes to an evening meal containing rice. Whether the potatoes were boiled, roasted, or boiled and then refrigerated before consumption, the potato meals elicited a more favorable effect on blood glucose than the rice meal in type 2 diabetes. Same number of calories, same macros (50 carb/30 fat/20 protein), the only difference was potato versus rice. Potatoes won handily, and in type 2 diabetics—the very population that isn’t supposed to be able to handle potatoes.22

However, potatoes only won compared to rice. Potatoes are still high in carbohydrates, and type 2 diabetics, people with insulin resistance, and anyone who has trouble handling carbs should exercise caution with potatoes.

Potatoes are very filling

A 1995 study testing the “satiety index”—a measurement of how filling a particular food is—found that boiled potatoes induced the most satiety of all the foods tested.23 Even if potatoes have too many carbs for your liking, they’re less likely than other foods to promote overeating—probably due to the water content, fiber content, and micronutrient density.

Note: plain potatoes are filling. If you throw a half stick of butter into your baked potato or sit down in front of a plate of French fries, they’re not so filling. You can eat far more carbs and calories from French fries that you can from boiled potatoes.

Potatoes have complete protein

While the absolute amount of protein in a potato isn’t very high compared to animal products, what protein it does contain is “complete protein.” That means it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs and cannot produce on its own. In fact, potato protein is probably the most complete plant form of protein.

Potatoes are low in plant toxins

Potatoes, being the reproductive organs of potato plants, have “passive” defenses against predators. They are stem tubers. They can’t run or bare teeth, so they chill underground to stay safe and employ toxic chemical defenders known as glycoalkaloids.

The glycoalkaloids most prevalent in potatoes are alpha-solanine and alpha-chocanine, which the plants use to repel pests. Most of the glycoalkaloids are luckily concentrated in the skin of the potato, forcing less refined pests to eat through the toxic stuff to get to the good stuff. This is probably why traditional potato-eating cultures peel the potatoes they eat. These days, the most common potatoes, like Russets, also tend to have the lowest amount of glycoalkaloids. This is no accident, instead being the product of generations of careful agricultural selection by farmers. Throughout history, then, humans have tended to avoid the bulk of potato glycoalkaloids, either unwittingly, by peeling potato skins, or by selecting the low-glycoalkaloid varieties that didn’t provoke stomachaches, digestive issues, or inflammation and sold well at the market.

But some glycoalkaloids remain. Are they harmful? High dose glycoalkaloids are clearly harmful, but most peeled normal potatoes do not contain high doses of glycoalkaloids. Most studies showing harm used supra-physiological doses of pure glycoalkaloids; one of the only studies to show harm using physiological doses that you’d normally get from eating potatoes used intestinally permeable rats with a genetic proclivity toward inflammatory bowel disease.24 This is a useful study, though, because it tells us that potatoes might be a danger for humans with leaky guts or existing inflammatory bowel disease.

To ensure you’re avoiding glycoalkaloids, always throw out or discard (or plant) potatoes that have begun to turn green or sprout. That signals an increase in glycoalkaloid content.

There are a couple older studies showing increased inflammation markers upon potato feeding, but one included wheat and other high-glycemic foods in the “potato group” (not just potatoes) and the other used potato chips.2526 Was it the rancid seed oil the chips were fried in, or the potatoes? Was it the wheat bread or the potatoes? These tell us very little about the effects of whole, untarnished potatoes on inflammation.

But if you’re healthy with good gut health and function, I don’t think baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes will have a negative impact on your gut. In fact, the prebiotic effects of potato resistant starch and fiber may even have a beneficial effect on gut health.

Can you eat potatoes on keto?

Classic medical ketogenic diets force you to eliminate potatoes. They simply represent too large a bolus of carbs when your mental and physical health depends on you remaining in ketosis. If you’re more of a casual keto or low-carb dieter, there are instances where a potato can work.

Training: If you incur a “glycogen debt” through intense exercise, you can fill that debt using potatoes without inhibiting ketosis. Exercise up regulates insulin-independent glycogen repletion, so you don’t even need insulin to deposit the glucose into your muscles. High end athletes will often be in ketosis on a regular basis despite eating high carb diets, simply because they train so hard and so often.

Carb refeed: A carb refeed describes the use of intermittent high-carb, low-fat meals to “carb up” against a backdrop of low-carb dieting in order to boost leptin and increase energy expenditure. in many instances, this will kickstart weight loss and make your otherwise low-carb diet easier to stick to and more effective in the long run. If you’re going to do a carb refeed, potatoes are an excellent, nutrient-dense food to use.

Potatoes can be an effective short term weight loss “hack”

Way back in the day, people in the MDA forums and comment sections were doing “potato hacks” to lose weight. I’m no fan of hacks, but I have to admit that this one really does work for some people. How does it work?

For a period of 4-7 days, you eat nothing but potatoes.

  • Eat potatoes. Nothing else. White potatoes, not sweet potatoes.
  • Use vinegar, hot sauce, mustard, and other low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb sauces and condiments. Mayo and EVOO are off limits. Primal Kitchen ketchup and mustard are perfect.
  • Use minimal fat to heat or cook your potatoes. No more than a teaspoon of fat at each meal.
  • Salt liberally.
  • Eat until full.
  • Eat frequently. Whenever you’re hungry, eat potatoes until you’re not.
  • Keep exercising. This will minimize muscle loss.

Most people find they get tired of potatoes very quickly and end up losing 5-10 pounds over the course of the week. It becomes an exercise in trying to force oneself to eat as much as you can because the potato is so filling and you need to keep up your energy intake and nutrient status. 4-6 pounds of potatoes a day is pretty typical and provides ample levels of most nutrients (and even a decent amount of protein), but that’s hard to keep up. And therein lies the power of the potato hack: you simply can’t eat very many plain potatoes.

Even though I’m generally biased toward lower carb intakes—especially in overweight people with poor insulin sensitivity—I have to admit that if people ate potatoes instead of refined grains and other nutrient-deficient starchy carbohydrates, health would improve across the board. Potatoes are simply one of the safest, most nutrient-dense, and least toxic sources of carbohydrates available.

I hope this article helped you make sense of where potatoes belong in a healthy Primal diet. Take care, and let me know whether you like to eat potatoes or not!

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What Does Fiber Do, And Do You Need More? https://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-does-fiber-do/ https://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-does-fiber-do/#comments Tue, 24 Jan 2023 16:00:45 +0000 https://www.marksdailyapple.com/?p=132122 The health world is fixated on fiber, constantly telling us how important fiber is and how we should all be eating more of it. Back in the day, our cultural obsession with fiber was all about being “regular.” You had to load up on fiber to keep things moving, so to speak. Nothing was more important. So we started our days with bland, tooth-cracking breakfast cereal that tasted like tree bark and sparked no joy. But hey, it was loaded with fiber and therefore good for us, right?  I’ve long been skeptical of that particular story, mostly because every major health agency that recommends higher fiber intake also says that we should get much of that fiber from whole grains. And you know how I feel about that. If whole grains aren’t essential (or even healthy, if you ask me), then how could the fiber they provide be essential? It doesn’t add up.  Now, though, as we learn ever more about the emerging science of the microbiome, the fiber story is starting to shift. It’s become less about pushing “roughage” through our colons to create bulkier, more impressive bowel movements (although some people still promote this supposed benefit). Certain types of fiber, it turns out, are essentially food for the microbes living in our guts.  The health (and composition) of the gut flora helps determine the health of the human host (that’s you). It’s not clear what exactly constitutes “healthy gut flora,” and we’re still teasing out exactly how it affects the various physiological functions, but we know we need them and we know they need to eat something to even have a chance at helping us. Not all fiber is created equal in this respect.  Thus, when it comes to fiber, it’s important to understand what it does, what you want it to do, and what types are likely to be helpful or harmful.  Understanding the Types of Dietary Fiber The tricky thing about fiber is 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. We can’t talk about fiber without understanding that the word describes a variety of compounds, and this leads to a lot of confusion. People make blanket statements that might be true for some types of fibers and incorrect for others.  Broadly speaking, fiber is any plant component that we eat but do not metabolize directly. Since we can’t digest these materials, they pass through our small intestine without being broken down and absorbed—which means they make it to the lower reaches of the GI tract more or less intact. And this is important for reasons we’ll discuss shortly.  There are various ways of classifying the different types of fiber, the most common one being insoluble versus soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is a bulking agent, increasing the mass of the stool, which actually moves the stool more quickly through the intestines. Except for perhaps relieving constipation (“perhaps” because it doesn’t … Continue reading "What Does Fiber Do, And Do You Need More?"

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Girl looking sadly at bowl of cereal, with plate of fruit and pitcher of milk on the table.The health world is fixated on fiber, constantly telling us how important fiber is and how we should all be eating more of it. Back in the day, our cultural obsession with fiber was all about being “regular.” You had to load up on fiber to keep things moving, so to speak. Nothing was more important. So we started our days with bland, tooth-cracking breakfast cereal that tasted like tree bark and sparked no joy. But hey, it was loaded with fiber and therefore good for us, right? 

I’ve long been skeptical of that particular story, mostly because every major health agency that recommends higher fiber intake also says that we should get much of that fiber from whole grains. And you know how I feel about that. If whole grains aren’t essential (or even healthy, if you ask me), then how could the fiber they provide be essential? It doesn’t add up. 

Now, though, as we learn ever more about the emerging science of the microbiome, the fiber story is starting to shift. It’s become less about pushing “roughage” through our colons to create bulkier, more impressive bowel movements (although some people still promote this supposed benefit). Certain types of fiber, it turns out, are essentially food for the microbes living in our guts. 

The health (and composition) of the gut flora helps determine the health of the human host (that’s you). It’s not clear what exactly constitutes “healthy gut flora,” and we’re still teasing out exactly how it affects the various physiological functions, but we know we need them and we know they need to eat something to even have a chance at helping us. Not all fiber is created equal in this respect. 

Thus, when it comes to fiber, it’s important to understand what it does, what you want it to do, and what types are likely to be helpful or harmful. 

Understanding the Types of Dietary Fiber

The tricky thing about fiber is 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. We can’t talk about fiber without understanding that the word describes a variety of compounds, and this leads to a lot of confusion. People make blanket statements that might be true for some types of fibers and incorrect for others. 

Broadly speaking, fiber is any plant component that we eat but do not metabolize directly. Since we can’t digest these materials, they pass through our small intestine without being broken down and absorbed—which means they make it to the lower reaches of the GI tract more or less intact. And this is important for reasons we’ll discuss shortly. 

There are various ways of classifying the different types of fiber, the most common one being insoluble versus soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is a bulking agent, increasing the mass of the stool, which actually moves the stool more quickly through the intestines. Except for perhaps relieving constipation (“perhaps” because it doesn’t work for everyone and may even have the opposite effect), I’m unconvinced that insoluble fiber has much to offer in terms of health benefits. 

Soluble fiber, on the other hand, is interesting. Soluble fiber can absorb water, which enhances the thickness of the stomach’s contents. This slows stomach emptying, which can give the body more time to absorb nutrients. More importantly, most types of soluble fiber are fermentable by gut microbes (psyllium and methylcellulose are exceptions). In other words, they act as food for the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit your GI tract, especially in your colon. Insoluble fiber doesn’t ferment very well, so it does little to support your gut bugs.

Fermentable fibers are also called prebiotic fibers, a term you’re probably familiar with, or microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (aka MACs). There are lots of different types of soluble, fermentable fibers including

  • Fructo-oligosaccharides
  • Galacto-oligosaccharides
  • Pectins
  • Inulin
  • Beta-glucan
  • Gums (such as xanthan gum, carrageenan, guar gum)
  • Type IV resistant starch

Each has a unique effect on the composition of your microbiome, promoting some beneficial species while suppressing others. 

When gut microbes ferment these types of fibers, they produce a variety of end products, or postbiotics. These include certain vitamins and neurotransmitters and, notably, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate, propionate, and acetate. SCFAs, it turns out, do all sorts of interesting things in the body. Many of the benefits attributed to “fiber” are probably more accurately characterized as benefits due to the effects of SCFAs.

What Are the Benefits of Fiber Consumption?

The biggest benefit of fiber, based on what we know now, is that fermentable fiber in particular supports a healthy and diverse microbiome. It’s difficult to name a physiological function or health parameter that is not impacted by the gut microbiome, including but not limited to digestive,27 cognitive and neurological,28 29 immune,30 psychological,31 metabolic,32 and liver33 health.  

By feeding and bolstering the populations of “good bacteria,” we reduce the amount of available real estate for “bad bacteria” to set up shop. Beyond that, the SCFAs that are byproducts of fiber fermentation, including butyrate, propionate, and acetate, improve our health in many ways. I’ve covered the health benefits of prebiotics and postbiotics in depth in other posts, and many, if not most, of those can be chalked up to SCFAs. 

Butyrate in particular has been shown to have beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity34 and inflammation,35 both of which contribute to all manner of modern, non-communicable disease. It’s also the preferred fuel source for our native colonic cells. Basically, without enough butyrate (and, by extension, fermentable prebiotic fiber to make it), our colons don’t work as well as they should. This can lead to digestive impairments and perhaps even cancer. Mucin-degrading bacteria predominate in colorectal cancer patients,36 for example, while butyrate-producing bacteria rule the roost in healthy patients without cancer. Populations with lower rates of colorectal cancer also tend to have higher levels of butyrate.37 Propionate is helpful, too, though not to the extent of butyrate.38

Ok, But What About Poop?

But fiber does help with, ahem, performance in the bathroom, right? 

This one’s a mixed bag. A recent meta-analysis concluded that while increasing insoluble dietary fiber does increase the frequency of bowel movements, it does nothing for stool consistency, treatment success, laxative use, and painful defecation.39 So it will make you poop more often, sure, but if you’re experiencing pain, each bowel movement is still going to hurt, and you’re still going to need laxatives to do it. Galacto-oligosaccharides, guar gum, and inulin, all prebiotic fibers, also appear to improve constipation.40 41 42 However, other research finds that stopping or dialing back dietary fiber intake reduces constipation.43

Folks with gastrointestinal disorders like IBS and IBD that can cause constipation or diarrhea should proceed with caution, as the evidence for fiber’s benefits is inconsistent in these populations.44 One survey of Crohn’s patients found that those eating more fiber (23 grams/day) had fewer flare-ups than those eating less (10 grams/day), while colitis patients reported no difference in symptoms based on fiber intake. On the other hand, studies indicate that a low-FODMAP diet, which eliminates most sources of fiber, especially fermentable prebiotic fiber, is an effective treatment for IBS and IBD.45 46  Low-FODMAP diets have been shown to reduce bloating, abdominal pain, quality of life, and overall symptoms in intestinal disorders.47

How Much Fiber Do You Need?

The official recommendations from the Institute of Medicine are 25 grams per day for women under 50 and 38 grams per day for men under 50 (21 grams and 30 grams, respectively, once you enter your sixth decade). The USDA says you should aim for 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume.

However, I have a real problem with those recommendations because they lump all types of fiber together. They make no distinction between the types that serve only to create impressive poops and those that your gut microbes can ferment. It’s all just “fiber” according to these guys. But fiber isn’t fiber isn’t fiber.

And we can’t ignore the elephant in the room: the loud chorus coming from the direction of the carnivore movement proclaiming that dietary fiber is largely or wholly unnecessary. I’m open to the possibility that a properly constructed carnivorous diet (which may, remember, include gristly animal fiber) obviates the need for plant fiber, prebiotic or otherwise. We don’t have strong data to support that claim yet, but it might be true. A person’s microbiome composition shifts in response to dietary changes.48 It’s possible that people who eat lots of plants need lots of fiber to feed the microbes that are there because they eat a lot of plants. And people who eat mostly meat have a microbiome tailored to a low-plant diet; thus, they don’t need a lot of plant fiber to thrive. Like begets like, as it were. 

That’s possible. The problem is that most humans throughout history and prehistory probably consumed diets that by today’s standards would be considered very high-fiber, perhaps averaging 100 grams or more of fiber per day. Coprolite (read: ancient fossilized stool) studies indicate that our ancestors may have consumed a significant amount of prebiotics.49 That means our bodies have come to expect the metabolites that gut bacteria produce by fermenting that fiber. We can get butyrate from collagen and gelatin, but is it enough?50 51 I’m not sure. 

How to Increase Fiber Consumption and Stay Primal

Let’s say you want to experiment with increasing your fiber consumption, perhaps as an experiment to see how it will affect gut health and digestion. You certainly don’t need to increase your grain intake to do so. As you’d expect, I explicitly do not recommend you do that. 

Setting aside the obvious downsides of grain consumption, whole or otherwise, grains contain predominantly insoluble, non-fermentable fiber (oats being the notable exception). The better way to increase your consumption of soluble, fermentable fiber is to eat plenty of vegetables, the more variety the better. You can throw in some legumes if they’re part of your repertoire (watch your total carb intake), but it’s not necessary. Top it off with some fermented dairy like full-fat kefir or yogurt. That provides galacto-oligosaccharides plus beneficial probiotics to further seed the microbiome. 

Especially if you have digestive issues, constipation, or chronic diarrhea, go slowly and pay attention to how fiber affects your symptoms. Allow time for your gut flora to adjust to the new food source. Expect flatulence.

Bottom Line

As you can see, the fiber story isn’t simple. At all. While I don’t think all the pro-fiber furor stands up to scrutiny, I’m also not ready to write it off as immaterial to human health. Heck, the only food that’s actually expressly “designed” to feed humans—breast milk—contains prebiotic compounds whose main purpose is to feed and cultivate healthy gut flora in infants, which suggests that the need for prebiotics is innate.52 

Overall, because the health of our gut community is inextricably tied to the health of our minds and bodies, I think attaining fermentable fiber through the fruits and vegetables we eat is important. Do I think everyone should be supplementing with prebiotic fiber? No. I add inulin to my Primal Fuel protein powder, mostly to improve mouth-feel but also to feed beneficial microbes and increase butyrate production. Sometimes I use raw potato starch for its considerable resistant starch content, often just mixing it into sparkling water and drinking it straight. 

But for the most part, the fiber I eat is incidental to the foods I consume. Berries, non-starchy vegetables, jicama, garlic, onions, mushrooms, green bananas, nuts and seeds—these are all foods rich in fiber, particularly prebiotic fiber. If you’re eating varied and diverse Primal foods, your bases are probably adequately covered when it comes to fiber too. 

What do you think, folks? How has fiber helped or harmed you? I’d love to hear from everyone.

Take care and be well.

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New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 205 https://www.marksdailyapple.com/new-and-noteworthy-205/ https://www.marksdailyapple.com/new-and-noteworthy-205/#comments Fri, 20 Jan 2023 20:35:12 +0000 https://www.marksdailyapple.com/?p=132101 Research of the Week

NAC protects against COVID infection.

Donating blood might be one way to lessen the risk of Parkinson's.

The effects of cousin marriage bans in the US.

Is impulsivity ever adaptive?

Heart rate during competition predicts athletic success.

Muscles control liver circadian rhythm.

New Primal Kitchen Podcasts
Primal Kitchen Podcast: The Link Between Dairy Intolerance and Dairy Genes with Alexandre Family Farm Founders Blake and Stephanie

Primal Health Coach Radio: The Truth about Vitamin E with Dr. Barrie Tan
Media, Schmedia
A hypothesis about fairy circles.

Not a great idea.
Interesting Blog Posts
When you need high dose biotin.

On ancestral diets, hydration, and salt.

Reading bubbles.
Social Notes
Something new is coming.

"But animal fat is making you fat!"
Everything Else
Suicides increased when kids went back to in-person school.

Disguising solar panels as ancient Roman tiles.
Things I’m Up to and Interested In
Interesting podcast: Regarding PUFA and child neurological development.

One of my favorite studies: Two eggs a day keeps the short stature away.

Interesting tool: "Google search" for the contents of books.

Of course: Animal foods are very important for sustainable and healthy diets.

Bronze Age Spanish island diet: Meat and vegetables.
Question I'm Asking
How's the new year going so far?
Recipe Corner

Great way to eat more mushrooms (and shrimp).
Homemade salt-packed anchovies.

Time Capsule
One year ago (Jan 1 – Jan 20)

10 Productivity Hacks That Really Work—What are they?
Dear Mark: Should Teens Take Creatine—Probably.

Comment of the Week
"What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger."

-Pretty good heuristic from Jerry.

The post New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 205 appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

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Research of the Week

NAC protects against COVID infection.

Donating blood might be one way to lessen the risk of Parkinson’s.

The effects of cousin marriage bans in the US.

Is impulsivity ever adaptive?

Heart rate during competition predicts athletic success.

Muscles control liver circadian rhythm.

New Primal Kitchen Podcasts

Primal Kitchen Podcast: The Link Between Dairy Intolerance and Dairy Genes with Alexandre Family Farm Founders Blake and Stephanie

Primal Health Coach Radio: The Truth about Vitamin E with Dr. Barrie Tan

Media, Schmedia

A hypothesis about fairy circles.

Not a great idea.

Interesting Blog Posts

When you need high dose biotin.

On ancestral diets, hydration, and salt.

Reading bubbles.

Social Notes

Something new is coming.

But animal fat is making you fat!”

Everything Else

Suicides increased when kids went back to in-person school.

Disguising solar panels as ancient Roman tiles.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

Interesting podcast: Regarding PUFA and child neurological development.

One of my favorite studies: Two eggs a day keeps the short stature away.

Interesting tool: “Google search” for the contents of books.

Of course: Animal foods are very important for sustainable and healthy diets.

Bronze Age Spanish island diet: Meat and vegetables.

Question I’m Asking

How’s the new year going so far?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Jan 1 – Jan 20)

Comment of the Week

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

-Pretty good heuristic from Jerry.

The post New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 205 appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

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11 Tools That Can Help You Achieve Your Health and Fitness Goals https://www.marksdailyapple.com/tools-for-fitness-health-goals/ https://www.marksdailyapple.com/tools-for-fitness-health-goals/#respond Wed, 18 Jan 2023 23:34:51 +0000 https://www.marksdailyapple.com/?p=132056 Despite being rational humans, we don't always act in our own best interest. We know we should eat certain foods to look good, feel good, and get healthier, but often succumb to junk food that tastes good in the moment but makes us feel worse in the long term. We know getting to bed before 10 pm makes us perform better the next day, but it's fun to stay up late. This is the human experience: the push and pull between our rational higher minds and what feels good in the moment. This is most evident in our relationship to working out. Working out is hard. It's work. We are applying intense stress to our bodies and getting uncomfortable enough that the body's only response is to get stronger, faster, and to adapt to the stress. That's what makes it work, but it's also what makes it hard to do: it's not "fun" in the purest sense of the word. There's pain, sweat, and grueling effort. Hardest of all, we have to want to work out . Most of us can't get fit through daily living. We work in offices, sit at desks, drive in cars. We aren't hunting, gathering, exploring, climbing as part of our daily lives anymore. It's a choice we must make. Today, I'm going to list a number of  tools (low- and high-tech) and techniques to help making the right choice easier. Whether we like it or not, we don't always do what we know we should—myself included—so this post is for all of us. Here are eleven tools and tips that will give you that little nudge you need to stay on track and do what's best for yourself. Set a Goal A lot of people fail because they never even set a goal. Now, a goal can be almost anything. You can aim for a certain amount of weight to lose or inches to shave off your waist. You can try to hit a specific weight on the squat rack or a time on the mile run. Your goal can be more broad, like "run a marathon." It can be hyper-specific, like "run a marathon in under three hours." It can be flexible, like "hike 50 miles a month" rather than "12 miles a week." Your goal can even be "do something fun and active every day" or "play more often." But the point is that you should probably have a goal of some sort in order to achieve a goal. Heart Rate Monitor I'm not a big fitness tracking guy, but I recognize their utility for certain people. A heart rate monitor is probably the best overall option for people because it allows you to track your heart rate and heart rate variability. Why are these important? Knowing your heart rate throughout a workout helps you adjust intensity to hit your goals. If you're trying to build up cardiovascular and aerobic capacity, you'll want to perform low level aerobic activity while keeping your heart rate under … Continue reading "11 Tools That Can Help You Achieve Your Health and Fitness Goals"

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Woman checking workout watch at the gymDespite being rational humans, we don’t always act in our own best interest. We know we should eat certain foods to look good, feel good, and get healthier, but often succumb to junk food that tastes good in the moment but makes us feel worse in the long term. We know getting to bed before 10 pm makes us perform better the next day, but it’s fun to stay up late. This is the human experience: the push and pull between our rational higher minds and what feels good in the moment. This is most evident in our relationship to working out.

Working out is hard. It’s work. We are applying intense stress to our bodies and getting uncomfortable enough that the body’s only response is to get stronger, faster, and to adapt to the stress. That’s what makes it work, but it’s also what makes it hard to do: it’s not “fun” in the purest sense of the word. There’s pain, sweat, and grueling effort. Hardest of all, we have to want to work out . Most of us can’t get fit through daily living. We work in offices, sit at desks, drive in cars. We aren’t hunting, gathering, exploring, climbing as part of our daily lives anymore. It’s a choice we must make.

Today, I’m going to list a number of  tools (low- and high-tech) and techniques to help making the right choice easier. Whether we like it or not, we don’t always do what we know we should—myself included—so this post is for all of us. Here are eleven tools and tips that will give you that little nudge you need to stay on track and do what’s best for yourself.

Set a Goal

A lot of people fail because they never even set a goal. Now, a goal can be almost anything. You can aim for a certain amount of weight to lose or inches to shave off your waist. You can try to hit a specific weight on the squat rack or a time on the mile run. Your goal can be more broad, like “run a marathon.” It can be hyper-specific, like “run a marathon in under three hours.” It can be flexible, like “hike 50 miles a month” rather than “12 miles a week.” Your goal can even be “do something fun and active every day” or “play more often.” But the point is that you should probably have a goal of some sort in order to achieve a goal.

Heart Rate Monitor

I’m not a big fitness tracking guy, but I recognize their utility for certain people. A heart rate monitor is probably the best overall option for people because it allows you to track your heart rate and heart rate variability. Why are these important?

Knowing your heart rate throughout a workout helps you adjust intensity to hit your goals. If you’re trying to build up cardiovascular and aerobic capacity, you’ll want to perform low level aerobic activity while keeping your heart rate under “180 minus age.” If you’re 40, that means your target aerobic heart rate is 140. Stay under that and you’re burning mostly fat and building your aerobic capacity. Go over and you’re burning a larger percentage of glycogen. The heart rate monitor tracks that for you.

Knowing your heart rate variability (HRV) in the morning upon waking can tell you how recovered you are and how prepared your body is for a workout that day. A higher HRV means you’re recovered and can push it. A lower HRV means you’re still in recovery mode and should take it easy. HRV is also a good general biomarker to track for overall health.

A Watch

A cheap sports watch will do wonders for anyone who runs or sprints and cares about their times. Easiest way in the world to time your sessions, track your speed, and observe your progress.

You can go fancy and get a Garmin or an Apple Watch, but that’s not necessary for most people with smartphones (unless they want to track HRV as well).

Aesthetic Notebook for Tracking Workouts

Tracking your progress, especially in the weight room, is a great idea for people . When it’s on paper, it’s real. When you know exactly how much you lifted last workout, you know exactly how much to lift next workout. You can look back on your progress and get a nice burst of dopamine, and you’ll be more likely to stick with the program.

There are plenty of apps and spreadsheets and high tech tools for recording workouts, but I find a physical notebook with really high quality paper and an expensive pen make for the best fitness tracking. Barring that, the basic “Notes” app on your phone works too.

Strava

The beauty of Strava is two-fold. First, it turns your smartphone (or other activity-tracking device like a watch or heart rate monitor) into a high-powered activity-data gathering device. Before an activity, you activate Strava and it will track your vital stats and later you’re able to pore over and analyze the data. Second, it acts as a fitness-based social media feed. You see what your Strava friends are up to and they see what you’ve accomplished. You compare, compete, and encourage each other.

It’s great for data lovers who enjoy obsessing over the minutiae of performance and recovery. It’s great for people who derive motivation from competing with their friends or need encouragement from others. It’s particularly good for social media addicts who want to divert their obsessions into more fruitful enterprises.

Fatbet

Fatbet is a throwback to a simpler time online. Make a Fatbet by setting a fat loss goal and placing a wager that you will reach the goal. Convince other people you know to make Fatbets and place wagers, too. If you lose your Fatbet, you must pony up the wager, whether it’s money, donations to charity, personal favors, or buying dinner for the winners. By drawing on mankind’s innate drive to win bets and defeat opponents, Fatbet can help keep you making the right choices on your path to losing weight. This seems like a good choice. It doesn’t necessarily involve money, if that’s not your thing, but it should be effective because everyone likes winning.

Zombies Run!

Zombies Run! is a gamified fitness app that combines real world running, walking, or cycling with zombie-related storylines. Put your headphones on/earbuds in, start jogging, then start the mission. As you run, the story develops and the GPS tracks you or counts your steps. Maybe you’re taking supplies to a local township. Maybe you’re rescuing some stranded civilians. It could be anything. And at any moment, zombies can burst out and give chase, forcing you to really push yourself. It’s actually quite a clever idea and gets great reviews on the iPhone and Android App Stores.

The Jerry Seinfeld

Seinfeld’s method of staying productive while avoiding day-crippling bad decisions is decidedly low-tech and is normally used for getting work done or doing chores, rather than reaching health and fitness goals. But that’s okay. It’s easily modified. You set a few goals (like “lift heavy things” or “eat no grains”), set daily minimums for each goal, devise boundaries and strategies for each goal, print out a calendar for each goal, and procure a big red pen. Every time you hit the daily minimum for a given goal, make a big red “X” on the day of the given goal’s calendar. If you miss a daily minimum, you don’t get an X. Strive to get an X on each day of each calendar. Chain them together. Don’t break the chain!

I like this one. First, I’m a Seinfeld fan, so I might be biased. Two, it’s simple and it requires the user to interact with real-world objects: pen and paper. On the computer, it’s easy to minimize a window, switch to a different browser, ignore email updates, or just never visit the website that logs your unfulfilled commitments, but a calendar on the wall or your desk stares you in the face. It’s right there in your line of vision, and if you want to avoid it you have to physically remove it. I suppose you could use an online motivational calendar like Streaks, but I wonder if the effect would be the same.

Cronometer

There are lots of food trackers, but I think the best is Cronometer. The free app and desktop version have everything you need, and if you upgrade to the premium version (for a pittance) you get access to more customization. All the entries source nutrient info from official food databases, so if you want to know how much methionine, glycine, and folate is in beef sirloin with the fat cut off, you can get that info and trust that it’s based on the best possible

Gymnastics Rings Hung in Your House

Gymnastics rings are the best bang for your buck workout tool to keep laying around. Hang it from a rafter or a doorframe. If that doesn’t work, try a tree branch outside. Just hang it up somewhere you often visit, and then every time you pass by it, do some pull-ups, dips, or rows. It’s that simple.

Movement Alarm Clock

I like this one a lot. Set the alarm to go off every thirty minutes or so, and use it as motivation to get up and do a set of pushups, pullups, and/or squats or do a microworkout just to keep active throughout the day. If you sit a lot at work (or even if you’re a standup workstation superstar), using a basic alarm clock to keep moving every hour (at least) should keep some of the negative health effects of sitting at bay. You know you shouldn’t be sitting for that long, and the clock is free, so you really have no excuse.

Before you know it, you’ve been hitting a set or two of exercises every hour, going for a short walk every two or three, gotten stronger, fitter, leaner, and accumulated a large amount of training volume without thinking about it or going to the gym. It’s almost magic.

Not everyone needs a dedicated tool to keep on the straight and narrow, but I’d wager that very few of us are completely rational actors who make nothing but logical decisions each and every day. Even something as simple as the alarm clock method or the Seinfeld method could be useful. The only way to really know is to try it out yourself.

Have you used any of these tools to reach your goals? I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences. Can you recommend any of your personal favorites that aren’t on this list? I’m sure readers would love to know more. Thanks for reading!

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What is PEMF Therapy? https://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-is-pemf-therapy/ https://www.marksdailyapple.com/what-is-pemf-therapy/#comments Tue, 17 Jan 2023 19:09:01 +0000 https://www.marksdailyapple.com/?p=132008 In today’s world, we are constantly being exposed to electromagnetic fields, which tends to make people nervous. Who hasn’t heard concerns about EMFs and their potential health harms? We’re supposed to keep our cell phones away from our heads, turn the wifi off at night, avoid living under big power lines.  So it would make sense if you were wary of PEMF therapy. In both cases, the “EMF” stands for electromagnetic field (the P standing for pulsed). But while just-EMF is supposed to be harmful (although the degree to which we need to worry is still up for debate), the pulsed kind is supposed to offer wide-ranging benefits. What gives? Let’s back up. PEMF therapy claims to use low-frequency electromagnetic fields to help your own electrified cells function more optimally. With chronic illness on the rise, PEMF potentially offers a non-invasive therapy that can be used in place of or alongside conventional treatments to enhance their effectiveness.  People have been using magnets for therapeutic purposes since ancient times, long before the principles of magnetism and electricity were fully understood. Modern PEMF technology has been around for decades and is well-studied, although much of the early research was conducted behind the Iron Curtain, so it perhaps feels newer than it actually is. But PEMF therapy isn’t new, nor does it fall under the realm of “alternative” therapies. It has been FDA-approved for healing nonunion fractures for over four decades. NASA has developed PEMF technology to be used in regenerating cartilage. There’s a decent chance that your allopathic doctor knows about it and may even have a PEMF device in their clinic. Before trying it out for yourself, here’s what you need to know to get started.  How Does PEMF Therapy Work? First, you’ll need access to a PEMF device, which generally consists of a control unit attached to an accessory such as a paddle or mat. The accessory contains metal coils through which electricity is passed, generating an electromagnetic field. Simply place the paddle or pad over the treatment area, turn on the machine, and let it do its thing. Some machines come with pads the size of small throw blankets so you can treat your whole body at once.  While you lie there, a pulsed electromagnetic field (hence the name) is passing through your body. That sounds like the stuff of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, but it’s not painful. You shouldn’t feel anything other than a pulsing or tapping sensation and perhaps some muscle contractions.  As the electromagnetic field passes through, it interacts with your body’s own electrical systems, if you will, to improve health. Exactly how it does that it still something of a mystery. The basic science is well-understood, boiling down to Faraday’s law of induction (for all the physicists in the crowd. The rest of us don’t need to get bogged down in the details, although I invite any of you physics-minded types to expound on electromagnetism in the comments.) But, if you keep drilling down to the … Continue reading "What is PEMF Therapy?"

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Man in pain holding back while sittingIn today’s world, we are constantly being exposed to electromagnetic fields, which tends to make people nervous. Who hasn’t heard concerns about EMFs and their potential health harms? We’re supposed to keep our cell phones away from our heads, turn the wifi off at night, avoid living under big power lines. 

So it would make sense if you were wary of PEMF therapy. In both cases, the “EMF” stands for electromagnetic field (the P standing for pulsed). But while just-EMF is supposed to be harmful (although the degree to which we need to worry is still up for debate), the pulsed kind is supposed to offer wide-ranging benefits. What gives?

Let’s back up. PEMF therapy claims to use low-frequency electromagnetic fields to help your own electrified cells function more optimally. With chronic illness on the rise, PEMF potentially offers a non-invasive therapy that can be used in place of or alongside conventional treatments to enhance their effectiveness

People have been using magnets for therapeutic purposes since ancient times, long before the principles of magnetism and electricity were fully understood. Modern PEMF technology has been around for decades and is well-studied, although much of the early research was conducted behind the Iron Curtain, so it perhaps feels newer than it actually is. But PEMF therapy isn’t new, nor does it fall under the realm of “alternative” therapies. It has been FDA-approved for healing nonunion fractures for over four decades. NASA has developed PEMF technology to be used in regenerating cartilage.53 There’s a decent chance that your allopathic doctor knows about it and may even have a PEMF device in their clinic.

Before trying it out for yourself, here’s what you need to know to get started. 

How Does PEMF Therapy Work?

First, you’ll need access to a PEMF device, which generally consists of a control unit attached to an accessory such as a paddle or mat. The accessory contains metal coils through which electricity is passed, generating an electromagnetic field. Simply place the paddle or pad over the treatment area, turn on the machine, and let it do its thing. Some machines come with pads the size of small throw blankets so you can treat your whole body at once. 

While you lie there, a pulsed electromagnetic field (hence the name) is passing through your body. That sounds like the stuff of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, but it’s not painful. You shouldn’t feel anything other than a pulsing or tapping sensation and perhaps some muscle contractions. 

As the electromagnetic field passes through, it interacts with your body’s own electrical systems, if you will, to improve health. Exactly how it does that it still something of a mystery. The basic science is well-understood, boiling down to Faraday’s law of induction (for all the physicists in the crowd. The rest of us don’t need to get bogged down in the details, although I invite any of you physics-minded types to expound on electromagnetism in the comments.) But, if you keep drilling down to the fundamental how of it all, things start to get murky.

The general idea here is that when your cells aren’t functioning optimally or they can’t communicate with the cells around them, this forms the basis of many chronic illnesses. PEMFs seem to promote or restore healthy cellular functioning. 

By my reading of the literature, PEMF therapy is best characterized as an “enhancer.” Instead of injecting some therapeutic agent or prompting supranormal physiological responses, PEMF enhances your body’s ability to do what it would ideally do naturally: maintain homeostasis, heal from injury, fight off foreign invaders, and eradicate dysfunctional cells (including cancerous ones). It clears the way for optimal functioning, removing barriers where they exist and facilitating the body’s ability to build, repair, and heal itself

There are now thousands of studies demonstrating various mechanisms of action of PEMF therapy. These include but are not limited to 54

  • Enhancing cellular energy by promoting ATP synthesis. (ATP, you may recall, is the “energy currency” that fuels all cellular processes.)55
  • Acting on the cellular membrane. Restoring membrane potential and modifying the activity of receptors and ion channels, allowing for better passage of nutrients and oxygen into the cell and waste products out. Modifying the activity of proteins on the cell’s surface and impacting intracellular communication. 
  • Modulating gene expression.
  • Improving circulation, perhaps by increasing nitric oxide production, which acts as a vasodilator, and promoting angiogenesis, or the formation of new blood vessels.56 This also boosts nutrient and oxygen delivery and waste product clearance. (Notably, though, PEMF also seems to exert anti-angiogenic effects on tumor cells, cutting off their blood supply.57 It also seems to disrupt harmful angiogenesis in rheumatoid arthritis.58
  • Increasing cerebral blood flow.59
  • Reducing inflammation.60
  • Entraining brain rhythms and modulating neurotransmitter activity.61
  • Stimulating growth factors that aid in the generation of bone and tissue.62
  • Regenerating neuronal cells.63

What Is PEMF Therapy Used For?

Because PEMF therapy seems to promote healthy cellular physiology, and every tissue and organ in the body boils down to cells, PEMFs could theoretically be applied anywhere there is dysfunction or dysregulation. Indeed, if you pop “PEMF and [any medical problem]” into Google Scholar, you’ll probably get a hit.

This is not to say that PEMF therapy is the magic bullet we’ve all been waiting for, ready to eradicate all disease so we can achieve our centenarian aspirations. Any proponents who are being honest will tell you that it’s hard to predict if PEMF therapy will be successful for a given individual and, if so, how long it will take. Insofar as PEMF seems to boost the body’s innate healing and homeostatic processes, it can only do so much. Your body has to do the rest. 

Still, PEMF therapy shows promise across an impressively wide array of conditions thanks to the mechanisms of action listed above, plus many others. To give you a taste: 

Fractures, Bone Health

This was one of the earliest applications for PEMF and is still a popular non-surgical therapy for non-union fractures, which are bone fractures that refuse to heal. PEMF therapy stimulates osteoblasts (bone building cells) and suppresses osteoclasts (bone degrading cells). A recent 2020 meta-analysis confirms that PEMF helps fractures heal faster and more quickly.64

Similarly, PEMF therapy can help mitigate bone loss, improve bone mineral density, and reduce pain in people with osteoporosis.65 

Arthritis

Both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis may benefit from PEMF thanks to its anti-inflammatory action and how it it promotes collagen deposition in joints.66 There’s also evidence that PEMF stimulates special cells in the joints called mesenchymal stromal cells that play a vital role in healing and repair.67 

Pain

Pain management, especially chronic pain, is a vexing problem for medical providers or patients thanks to analgesic drugs’ long-term side effects, which are often significant. PEMF doesn’t just mask pain but targets the underlying inflammation and edema that cause pain after injury or surgery,68 as well as in chronic pain conditions like back pain69 and fibromyalgia.70 

Mental Health and Neurological Disorders

Electromagnetic therapies have long been used in treating brain issues like depression, but PEMF should not be confused with electroconvulsive therapy (a very intense therapy reserved for severe depression) or the more common transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The latter is conceptually similar to PEMF, with low-frequency electromagnetic stimulation applied to the brain, but it is more targeted and designed to induce neuronal firing. It also can only be used in a clinical setting. PEMF targets the entire brain and can be used at home. 

We have some evidence that PEMF can be a safe and effective treatment modality for depression,71 and there is much interest in its potential to help with other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. 

Cancer

PEMF therapy won’t cure cancer, but where it might shine is as an adjuvant treatment that increases the effectiveness of conventional treatments and decreases negative side effects. In in vitro studies, PEMF induces cancer cell apoptosis (cell death).72 

Long COVID

Untold numbers of people are going to be struggling with post-COVID symptoms such as persistent respiratory issues, weakness, and fatigue in the coming years. PEMF might help by reducing inflammation, improving microvasculature, reducing rouleaux formation in the blood (the clumping together of red blood cells), or other mechanisms. There are already some published case reports documenting benefits73 74 and at least one registered clinical trial. This could be a game-changer.

Is PEMF Therapy Safe?

As I said, most concerns regarding PEMF safety are due to inappropriately conflating PEMFs with EMFs from electronic devices and power lines. PEMF therapy devices have been studied for decades and are being used every day in medical clinics and homes around the world without any reports of serious adverse effects.

More to the point, PEMF therapy devices are not the same as the EMFs people are worried about when they talk about “electro-smog.” Furthermore, even if you wanted to avoid electromagnetic fields, you couldn’t. The Earth itself emits a pulsed electromagnetic field. Solar radiation—the sunlight hitting your skin that is so essential for health that I made sun exposure one of the 10 Primal Blueprint laws—is electromagnetic. 

YOU are electromagnetic. The human body is basically electrified meat wrapped around a skeleton. EEGs measure electrical activity in the brain. You’ve heard about electrolytes and their critical role in everyday functioning. Well, the electro in electrolytes refers to the fact that electrolytes are ions that carry a positive or negative charge and facilitate electrical activity in the body. In short, don’t be put off by PEMF because of the “electromagnetic” part.

There are a few considerations to bear in mind, though. Occasionally, people do report mild discomfort when using the device, but this should dissipate over time. Some people may be hypersensitive to electromagnetic fields and so might be more prone to experiencing side effects like fatigue, brain fog, or dizziness. These folks may want to avoid PEMF therapy or at least proceed slowly.

You should consult a doctor before starting PEMF therapy if you have any implanted metal devices, are pregnant, or taking any prescription medications. There is a possibility that PEMFs could increase the drugs’ absorption rate, potentially leading to toxicity.  

Choosing a PEMF Device

Many companies now manufacture devices for home use. They range in price from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars and into five figures for the highest-end models. Which one to choose?

I’d say the best course of action, especially if you intend to use PEMF to address a specific health issue, is to talk to a practitioner familiar with using PEMF to treat your condition. PEMF applications differ in terms of the intensity, frequency, and waveform (shape of the wave), as well as the frequency of treatment, length of each treatment session, and total duration. You want to try to choose the most effective one. In truth, though, nobody knows with any certainty what exact PEMF protocol is best for a given individual or a particular disorder. Still, try to find someone to point you in the right direction, ideally someone who doesn’t have skin in the game. (If a salesperson tells you their device is definitely best for you, back away slowly. They’re selling you unfounded promises.). 

Understand that PEMF therapy can be an expensive and time-consuming proposition. In some studies, participants are using their devices for ten or more hours a day for months at a time. If you’re going to make that investment, it’s worth getting the best device you can afford. If you can, start by finding a doctor in your area who has a PEMF device that you can test drive for a while to see if you notice any benefit before purchasing one yourself.

Bottom Line

PEMF therapy is certainly intriguing. Sure, it’s not something our ancestors would have had access to. That is, unless you consider grounding. Grounding, or earthing, is the practice of walking barefoot to “plug in” to the Earth’s electrical field. Although some of the claims associated with earthing seem a little far-fetched, it’s pretty easy to see the potential overlap between low-frequency PEMF and grounding. Is there something there? Maybe. 

In any case, the idea of using a non-invasive, seemingly low-risk devise to improve cellular communication and energy is appealing. 

To be clear, although I highlighted the positive effects of PEMF therapy here, plenty of studies also show no benefit (but also no harm). This may be because the researchers in the null studies simply used ineffective protocols. There’s no way to know without more data.

Finally, the current research understandably focuses on specific medical issues more than general health and longevity, but I’m sure a lot of you are more interested in how PEMFs could be used to keep the system fully charged, so to speak. Proponents of the technology will say that PEMFs can be used to maintain health and promote optimal well-being. And I can see why that might be the case. Unfortunately, that kind of thing is hard to test (and will never get research money thrown at it).

What do you think? Does this technology pique your interest? Have you used it before, and if so, what were your results? 

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Are Canned Vegetables Healthy? https://www.marksdailyapple.com/canned-vegetables/ https://www.marksdailyapple.com/canned-vegetables/#comments Tue, 10 Jan 2023 19:52:41 +0000 https://www.marksdailyapple.com/?p=131957 I’m lucky to live in warm climates with year-round access to fresh produce, but not everyone can pop over to their local farmer’s market or co-op whenever they want and grab the ingredients for a big-ass salad. Farm-to-table cuisine is great, the Primal ideal even, but the reality is that cooking with fresh, local ingredients requires access and time to shop and prepare food that not everyone enjoys, not always. Many people rely on preserved food for much or all of the year to meet their meat and produce needs, “preserved” meaning frozen, canned, dried, or fermented. Whenever the topic of canned food comes up, I inevitably get questions about whether canned vegetables are nutritious, safe, or even Primal. (And I inevitably get comments about how we don’t need vegetables at all, which I discuss in my Definitive Guide to the carnivore diet.) Sure, Grok wouldn’t have eaten canned vegetables. But modern humans spend almost every minute of every day engaging with technology our ancestors couldn’t have imagined, from highly engineered mattresses topped with cooling pads to regulate our sleep temperature to air fryers to whatever device you’re reading this post on right now. So I’m not too concerned about drawing some Primal line in the sand at food canning. The other questions are important, though. How does canned food stack up to fresh or frozen? Are Canned Vegetables as Nutritious As Fresh or Frozen? It depends on which vegetable and which nutrient you look at, but in general, canning tends to reduce nutrient content compared to fresh or frozen vegetables. But that’s not true across the board. Sometimes, specific nutrients are actually higher in canned offerings. Furthermore—and this is a crucial point—nutrient losses due to canning often even out by the time the food makes it to your plate. Canning exposes food to high heat, so much of that nutrient loss is essentially due to the “cooking” that canned food undergoes. Most frozen vegetables only withstand a quick blanching before being flash frozen. Thus, if you compare fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables immediately after harvesting and processing, canned generally looks the worst, nutrient-wise. However, research shows that canned vegetables maintain their nutrient levels as they sit on the shelves, whereas the nutrients in frozen and fresh vegetables tend to degrade, bringing them more on par with canned. Once you factor in storing and then cooking fresh and frozen vegetables, you find that the initial disparities are much less pronounced as you’re forking it into your mouth. Clearly, the best choice is fresh vegetables consumed as close to harvesting as possible. The reality, though, is the produce at your supermarket may be many weeks out from when it was picked, making it less “fresh” than you might imagine. There’s also the whole issue of seasonal and regional availability to consider. Overall, in terms of building a nutrient-dense diet, in most circumstances, canned vegetables are going to be just as good or nearly as good as grocery store or frozen vegetables. … Continue reading "Are Canned Vegetables Healthy?"

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Overhead shot of different sized cansI’m lucky to live in warm climates with year-round access to fresh produce, but not everyone can pop over to their local farmer’s market or co-op whenever they want and grab the ingredients for a big-ass salad. Farm-to-table cuisine is great, the Primal ideal even, but the reality is that cooking with fresh, local ingredients requires access and time to shop and prepare food that not everyone enjoys, not always. Many people rely on preserved food for much or all of the year to meet their meat and produce needs, “preserved” meaning frozen, canned, dried, or fermented.

Whenever the topic of canned food comes up, I inevitably get questions about whether canned vegetables are nutritious, safe, or even Primal. (And I inevitably get comments about how we don’t need vegetables at all, which I discuss in my Definitive Guide to the carnivore diet.) Sure, Grok wouldn’t have eaten canned vegetables. But modern humans spend almost every minute of every day engaging with technology our ancestors couldn’t have imagined, from highly engineered mattresses topped with cooling pads to regulate our sleep temperature to air fryers to whatever device you’re reading this post on right now.

So I’m not too concerned about drawing some Primal line in the sand at food canning. The other questions are important, though. How does canned food stack up to fresh or frozen?

Are Canned Vegetables as Nutritious As Fresh or Frozen?

It depends on which vegetable and which nutrient you look at, but in general, canning tends to reduce nutrient content compared to fresh or frozen vegetables. But that’s not true across the board. Sometimes, specific nutrients are actually higher in canned offerings.75 76

Furthermore—and this is a crucial point—nutrient losses due to canning often even out by the time the food makes it to your plate. Canning exposes food to high heat, so much of that nutrient loss is essentially due to the “cooking” that canned food undergoes. Most frozen vegetables only withstand a quick blanching before being flash frozen. Thus, if you compare fresh, frozen, and canned vegetables immediately after harvesting and processing, canned generally looks the worst, nutrient-wise. However, research shows that canned vegetables maintain their nutrient levels as they sit on the shelves, whereas the nutrients in frozen and fresh vegetables tend to degrade, bringing them more on par with canned. Once you factor in storing and then cooking fresh and frozen vegetables, you find that the initial disparities are much less pronounced as you’re forking it into your mouth.77

Clearly, the best choice is fresh vegetables consumed as close to harvesting as possible. The reality, though, is the produce at your supermarket may be many weeks out from when it was picked, making it less “fresh” than you might imagine. There’s also the whole issue of seasonal and regional availability to consider.

Overall, in terms of building a nutrient-dense diet, in most circumstances, canned vegetables are going to be just as good or nearly as good as grocery store or frozen vegetables.

BPA Concerns in Canned Foods

Nutrient content isn’t the only consideration when weighing canned versus fresh or frozen vegetables. There’s also the can itself. I have historically avoided canned vegetables in the store due to concerns over BPA in the can linings. (Home-canning in jars is different, of course. I’m all for home canning.) BPA is a known endocrine disruptor linked to immune system dysfunction, cancer, reproductive issues, and more. Since scientists and health watchdog groups have sounded the alarm about BPA in the past decade, industry reports suggest that almost all American manufacturers have moved away from BPA-lined cans.78

While that seems like a positive step, the BPA lining was there for a reason: to prevent corrosion and help preserve the food inside. Manufacturers replaced it, by necessity, with other types of materials that are supposed to be safer—“supposed to” being the operative words here. However, at this point, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what materials are being used by which manufacturers and, more importantly, how they are being tested for safety. Thus, I can’t say with any certainty that these new linings are better.

How Long Do Canned Foods Last?

Food waste is a massive global problem that is both economically and environmentally costly. One way we can reduce food waste is by learning what the expiration dates on our pantry items really mean. According to the USDA, “best by” dates aren’t about food safety but food quality.79 After those dates, the flavor and texture may start to take a hit, but canned foods are still perfectly edible.

There’s certainly no reason to throw canned food away simply because it is a week, a month, or even longer past its best by date. Canned foods stay good for up to five years in your cupboard, though you’ll want to use more acidic items like canned tomatoes within a year or so. Home-canned foods should be used within a year, ideally.

Just use common sense (and your nose). If a can looks damaged—rusted, bulging, or badly dented—it’s not worth taking a chance. Likewise if the food inside has a strange odor. Texture changes, slight discoloration, and crystallization are not signs that the food is spoiled.

Bottom Line

For the most part, I continue to opt for fresh, frozen, or shelved food in glass packaging when available. The notable exception is canned fish. The convenience of a canned sardine or anchovy, and the benefits of the omega-3s they deliver, means they still have a standing place in my cupboard.

Some items are hard to find outside a can, though. Cooked beans don’t come frozen (another argument for skipping legumes?), and while they’re easy and affordable to prepare from dried, that requires preplanning. If beans are a staple in your home, consider preparing big batches and freezing them in individual portions. Tetra Paks are becoming more common for things like stewed tomatoes and soups, but there are questions about their sustainability. They are technically recyclable, but many recycling facilities don’t have the proper machinery, so they end up in a landfill. And glass can be more expensive, which matters especially when the cost of groceries is on the rise.

If you’re going to choose canned foods for reasons of convenience or availability, still look for “BPA-free” on the label. Don’t leave canned tomatoes sitting on the shelf for months at a time. It gives the acidity more time to erode the lining. Buy them close to when you are ready to use them. Same goes for canned fruit. If you are laying up food for emergency preparedness, look at dehydrating as an option.

That about covers it. Anything I missed?

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