Dear Mark: Ravenous Freshman, Lipopolysaccharides, Himalayan Salt, and Squid

SquidFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’ll be covering four topics. First, I discuss a worrisome, troubling species: the ravenous college freshman. Is it a problem? Should this beast be culled or somehow reigned in? Next up are lipopolysaccharides, specifically the LPS that seem to arise in response to high-fat foods. Should we be worried? After that, I explore whether or not we should be switching out our normal salts for fancy pink Himalayan salt. Finally, I cover a question from a fish-hating reader who loves squid. Fish and bivalves seem to get all the love in the media and even in our community, but what about the cephalopods? How do they stack up as a replacement?

Let’s go:

Hi there,

My slender son is a freshman in college and came home for Christmas informing us that he is following the Primal [Blueprint] diet. While l have read many of the links on this site and think this makes sense, l am having a hard time getting my son to understand portion control. I have a family of five, and l can’t afford his eating habits! Yesterday I made a 19 pound turkey, since he ate most of our bird on Christmas. I came home from work today and he ate half the bird as well as the 6 sweet potatoes I boiled and mashed. This was supposed to feed us all. He is eating bags of oranges, grapes, almonds and pounds of protein at one sitting. This seems gluttonous to me! I have had to go grocery shopping every day since he’s been home. He is never full! He was always a slow eater before this and often left a plate unfinished. I can’t believe eating mass quantities of food is healthy for him! Please help me understand your portion recommendations!


This sounds pretty normal to me. It sounds like your son’s body has realized that real, actual nutrition is available and near, and he’s simply making up for all the lost years of not eating enough.

Don’t worry too much, especially if he isn’t gaining too much fat. Since he was “slender,” he probably could stand to gain some weight anyway. Also, try to resist assigning morality to one’s eating. Gluttony may have gotten that one guy in Seven killed (and even that was at the hand’s of a deranged, misguided lunatic), but in your son’s case, he’s just listening to what his body is telling him to do. The financial thing is understandable. Once he’s back at school, though, shouldn’t he have access to the dining halls? Those tend to be buffet-style, all-you-can-eat, so he’ll be getting his (your?) money’s worth.

Once his nutrient stores have been topped off, he stops growing, and/or his metabolism stops being superhuman, I imagine he’ll reduce his portion size.

But, man – he ate over nine pounds of turkey (well, I guess he didn’t eat the bones) and six sweet potatoes? Multiple bags of fruit and nuts at every meal? That’s just impressive. To be 19 and growing and hungry all the time is a special time in a young man’s life. Don’t begrudge him it. Let him continue.

Dear Mark,

Recently the Human Food Project, which you promoted, seemed to fire a shot over the bow of paleo eaters in warning that a high fat diet has been shown in many studies to increase LPS levels (lipopolysaccharides) causing inflammation and a whole range of diseases that we paleo eaters think we’re on the best track to avoid. They described however that this increase can be mitigated by a well cultivated microbiome (specifically, high levels of the species Bifidobacterium). As a result they recommended eating lots of onions and garlic which have been shown to grow these helpful bacteria. Now I think most paleo eaters know they should be eating some onions and garlic, but are we playing with fire here? Do we need to make sure we’re getting some of these everyday as well as eating a range of fermented foods or else the whole approach results in disaster? Is getting inflammation markers tested on a regular basis the only way to really be sure that a high fat diet is ok for an individual?


I’m not too worried about for several reasons:

Being Primal eaters, you guys are already eating lots of prebiotic foods, the soluble, fermentable fibers to which the Human Food Project is referring and which protect and nourish the gut and promote a healthy biome. And if you aren’t, then maybe you should start eating them.

Being Primal eaters, you guys are eating all sorts of other plant foods which may modify the LPS response to food. Oranges (their juice, to be specific), for example, have been shown to reduce LPS when added to fat-rich, carb-rich meals.

Being Primal, you guys are getting plenty of regular exercise, or even just frequent slow moving. Physical activity reduces circulating levels of LPS and down regulates the production of TNF-?.

What’s the takeaway here? Eat food, including plenty of plants, some fibrous, some orange. Get your exercise. In short, this is just confirmation that true health and wellness depends on a host of lifestyle factors – not just what you eat. Changing your food isn’t enough.

Some espouse health benefits of consuming some Himalayan salt sole the first thing in the morning. Presumably, it also provides some beneficial minerals. How many mgs of salt does it eat up our daily allowance and is it worth it?

Also, is it a better choice when salt is desired for seasoning?



Pink Himalayan salt does have some (lots of) minerals, but they’re pretty much only present in trace amounts. About 98-99% of the minerals will be plain old sodium chloride, or salt. You won’t get very much magnesium, calcium, iron, iodine, or anything else out of it. That’s not to say it’s useless and that you should use iodized table salt. I’m just extremely skeptical of any of the amazing health benefits.

Some do find it helpful to take a nice whack of salt in the morning. As I mentioned in a recent post, salt levels are depleted in times of stress, and adding salt as a standalone supplement can provide a buffer. If you find yourself lacking energy or just feel somewhat off – and you haven’t been eating much salt – consider drinking some salt water or eating a really salty breakfast. I’m not sure the Himalayan salt is the crucial factor here, though. Whatever salt you use, you’ll be getting the vast majority of your dietary minerals from the foods you eat. Trying to get them through pink salt will be impossible (and pretty disgusting).

I will say that the colored, unrefined salts have more interesting flavors and textures than plain salt. Nothing like adding a few pinches of pink salt crystals to sautéed green beans that give a little crunch with every bite.

Dear Mark,

I must first off say a BIG thank you to you for all your hard work and free information on this site, seldom are worthwile things free anymore. I must also thank you for your book and all the gems contained there in, it has helped me so much with my goals of eating healthy for life, rather than on off dieting and towards getting the lean, strong physique I desire. I look forward to reading your latest release when time permits. I just wanted to ask what are your thoughts on squid vs fish in terms of health benefits (omega 3s and all that good stuff). I have tried many many times to choke down fish because of the health benefits but I absolutely hate the taste. I love squid however, and would like to know if eating squid in place of fish is giving those same health benefits? Also if this is the case, how many times a week would you advise consuming squid? I have researched this myself but the information I found is a little vague and I knew I would be able to get the clear cut facts from you. Thank you again for all your tireless work and help.

Kind Regards

Adelaide, Australia.

Squid is fantastic. Although its tentacled appearance can be unsettling for people, it’s actually an extremely mild, adaptable, nutritious source of marine protein that looks relatively innocuous in ring form. It’s chewy (very much so when cooked incorrectly) and works well with any flavor profile I’ve ever tried to throw at it.

As for the omega-3 content, it’s not quite a “fatty” fish on the level of salmon or sardines, but a four ounce portion of raw squid contains over half a gram of omega-3s. If you’re keeping omega-6s low, you really don’t need massive amounts of omega-3s, so squid can fill in quite nicely. Plus, we don’t just eat seafood for the fats. The sea minerals are also important, and squid is a very rich source of selenium and copper (PDF) – two vital nutrients for cardiovascular and thyroid health. Squid is also pretty high in cholesterol, which some may balk at, but I wouldn’t, especially if you’re trying to get stronger. Steroid hormones are synthesized from cholesterol, and one study showed that increased dietary cholesterol translated to strength gains during weight training.

Keep an eye out for squid ink, too. One study found that feeding it to chickens increased their performance and improved their antioxidant capacity (PDF).

Eat the heck out of your squid. Just don’t turn it into seed oil-fried calamari dipped in seed oil mayo. I also wouldn’t try choking down the fish. Keep searching for a fish that doesn’t offend, but don’t force yourself. I’m of the opinion that regularly feeding yourself something that physically repulses you is bound to increase stress and be counterproductive in the long run.

That’s it for today, guys. Be sure to leave a comment and thanks for reading!

TAGS:  dear mark

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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