Monday Musings: Intergenerational Diabetes, New and Improved Pasteurization, Sitting is Still Bad, and Really Old Wine

Diabetes is that rare brand of nasty disease that fails to strike real, visceral fear. It doesn’t carry the weight of a cancer or an AIDS or a heart disease. It’s something you get, like a gut, a long list of prescriptions, and a walker, as you grow older. People just live with it – millions upon millions across the world – and are rarely shocked or surprised to hear that others have it. Their ranks are ever growing, with, if a recent study on the effects of gestational diabetes on the fetus has anything to say about it, much of the conscription taking place in the womb. It’s called intergenerational diabetes, and it means that pregnant women with diabetes or even just poor maternal glucose tolerance could be turning their little ones into future type 2 diabetics. This is fetal diabetes without a genetic component; this is epigenetic owing to environmental (womb) input. The authors speculate that pregnant mothers with type 2 diabetes (diet and lifestyle induced, remember) could engender irreversible alterations to both the unborn kid’s hypothalamic neural network (where leptin, the satiety hormone, does its thing), pancreatic function, and muscle and liver insulin signaling. The idea is that they pop out with type 2 diabetes right off the bat. It’s diet-induced, sure, but not how we normally think of it. No baby bottle full of Coke required here. Of course, I still see this sort of condition as being reversible with diet and exercise…it’s just that it will require a LOT more adherence and starting at an earlier age. Moving on…

A Spanish research group has come up with an alternative to dairy pasteurization. Its particular brand of high-pressure processing replaces heat treatment while deactivating the same yeasts and moulds, boosting shelf life, and tasting better than pasteurized dairy. The jury is definitely still out on whether ultra high pressure (up to 6,000 bars worth) affects the nutritive content of the dairy and the rancidity/stability of the butterfat. I’d bet it does. Yeah, it lasts longer than pasteurized, but that doesn’t preclude the fats from being damaged or oxidized. Maybe the WAPF folks will speak on this. They’re certainly no fan of high-pressure homogenization.

Next on the docket, we’ve gone over this before, so it’s nothing new, but it is good to reiterate: prolonged sitting isn’t good for you. It’s not good for your joint mobility, your posture, or your overall health. According to a recent study, people who spend more than four hours a day watching TV or sitting at the computer are at a greater risk for dying earlier than those who spend fewer than two hours. Risk of cardiac events experienced significant gains among couch potatoes.

Are you still sitting?

Oh, and although I’d never suggest the mere presence of evidence of early consumption of a particular food justifies declaring said food healthy, I was admittedly happy to hear that wine consumption just got pushed back 1,000 years to 4100 B.C.. Archaeologists searching an ancient Armenian cave complex found a wine production facility, complete with vines, seeds, press (and press remains), fermentation vat, wine-soaked shards of pottery, plea a cup and “drinking bowl.” I like the idea of drinking wine from a bowl, and I think reenactment is totally justified here. Have a bowl tonight without guilt!

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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60 thoughts on “Monday Musings: Intergenerational Diabetes, New and Improved Pasteurization, Sitting is Still Bad, and Really Old Wine”

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  1. Thanks for the information about alternative pasteurization. Seems like a solution in search of a problem. Do we really need milk to last beyond a week or two?

    1. Yes.

      I live in Japan and the only milk I can get from the commissary is ultra-pasteurized from California. I don’t know about anyone else’s experiences, but when we just moved here and had no dishes, food, etc., (and the mini-mart is an awful place), milk was a frequent part of my imperfect diet. If ultra-pressurized is more nutritive than ultra-pasteurized, I’d be all for it.

  2. I’m the only one in my nuclear family to not have diabetes, and I’m 45. Everyone in the family was diagnosed at age 40 or later. They all eat like crap….. I mean, really crappy. For example, my father used to drink at least 6 Dr. Peppers per day for over 20 years. He was diagnosed diabetic in his 50s.

    He never ate as poorly as my mom, though.

    Anyway, I have high hopes for not getting diabetes. I’ve always eaten well and always worked out. Never had any real troubles, but did come in at 5.5 on the A1C while in the middle of my years as a vegan!

    1. 5.4 on the A1C is risky for diabetes. Of course, it also depends on what your hemoglobin status was. If they told you you were anemic when you had that test, that will skew the A1C number. I’m not clear on whether it’ll make it higher or lower, and I’ve been sick with a GI bug and not in the mood to try to parse it out on my own just now. Ha.

      My mom ate so poorly that despite my stepmother insisting on me eating a wider variety of vegetables and the occasional liver from age three onwards, I still had wickedly crooked permanent teeth and misaligned jaws. That’s a direct result of maternal diet, if Weston Price’s findings have any validity–and I’m pretty sure they do.

  3. I consider myself ‘fortunate’ to have diabetes in the last two generations of my family on every side.

    Having that knowledge has enabled me to pay attention to the threat of diabetes for me and my family.

    BUT first I had to undo all the teaching I learned about food from my diabetes-prone family. And that has been a long process.

    I really appreciate this message of diabetes being so insidious. It needs to be brought out into the open.

  4. Depressing for me to read about gestational diabetes affecting the health prospects of the unborn … I was a gestational glucose intolerant/diabetic in my pregnancies (I had no idea), and returned to normal as soon as I was delivered.

    20 years ago they didn’t routinely check blood glucose levels and my son was born 5 weeks early at 6lb 5oz and proceeded to have what was clearly (with hindsight) a hypo on delivery. A switched on consultant read through my notes at 29 weeks into the second pregnancy with my daughter and gave me a fasted glucose test which went off the scale – I was diet controlled for the next 6 weeks – she arrived 5 weeks early too at 5lb 12oz but didn’t have any problems.

    My daughter is now following a Primal lifestyle (she’s 18 and lives away so I only have her word for how closely!) so I’m hopeful she’ll mitigate any congenital predisposition but I really need to get my son to understand his potential risk I guess, quite hard getting a 22 year old to take these things seriously though.

    Interesting piece and a silent killer in many instances.

  5. I would not expect high-pressure pasteurization to oxidize fats or do anything weird to proteins. I use a much higher pressure procedure on my cells in lab (I’m a biology PhD student) to break them open to extract various proteins and lipids, and can still isolate those macromolecules without any problem. And their modification profiles (oxidation, carbonylation, etc.) still look good. The only thing is that you have to be careful about keeping the temperature low at those pressures, and limiting bubbles.

    Also, good point on diabetes. I’ve always found it baffling how resigned and accepting people tend to be toward a disease that’s disastrous for your lifespan and quality of life.

    1. Yeah, but the idea of Big Industrial Food being *careful* with something like this just kind of makes me giggle. They can’t even be careful with bacterial load, who says they won’t be careless with a pasteurization method too?

      Plus, you *want* some of the germs in milk that pasteurization kills. Raw milk will more often ferment than rot. Reason being, it comes with lactobacillus already included. That’s a *good* type of bacteria to introduce to your insides, yet pasteurization doesn’t distinguish between good and bad bacteria. And when germs finally do get into the milk they’re usually not the good ones.

  6. I’m not very happy with the way the Couch Potato study was reported by Amanda Jekowsky. The abstraction hid very key pieces of information, such as the mean and standard deviation of the ages. Your abstraction was also poor, in that virtually NO data were presented. Humbug on that. How can we get a copy of the study?

    I will say that while the report did not alarm me, it did raise a concern since I do sit for prolonged periods of time in the execution of my job. What’s the alternative?

  7. So glad to see the information about gestational diabetes having a lasting effect on the baby becoming more common knowledge. I’ve always suspected this (it makes sense) and it makes me sad to see (and hear with each pregnancy) the recommendations of the doctors to eat a “balanced, low-fat diet with plenty of fiber.”
    I have to explain each pregnancy why I refuse to drink the glucose cocktail, and instead monitor my own glucose for a week using a glucose monitor, which is much more accurate. I don’t eat any sugar or processed carbs at all, so why would drinking 12 ounces of it be an accurate measure of my glucose…
    Thanks for the links Mark.

    1. I’m pregnant and coming up on my glucose test for gestational diabetes. I can honestly say I am dreading whatever flavored syrup they want me to drink. Like you, I’m primal…I could probably eat two bananas and give as accurate a set of results as any non-primal pregnant lady that sucks down that glucose stuff.

      1. It’s actually more accurate to get a postprandial than it is to take the GTT, whether you are pregnant or not. The key is whether you exhibit diabetic symptoms within *the normal course of your day.* You can’t get that measure by fasting and then drinking sugar syrup. What if you don’t habitually have that high of a sugar intake?

        It’s even more fun when someone’s a low-carber and then goes and does the GTT. The good labs and docs will warn you to raise your carb intake for several days prior. Those who don’t know to do that risk getting a false positive on their test.

      2. If you are primal for some time I would not worry with results.

        Btw when my sister was pregnant, the lab had her eat a roll instead of drinking glucose. Which is not ideal but more acceptable in my view, as it is closer to real life situation.

  8. I also had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my second child. However when I asked my doctor to see the scale on how to determine if I had diabetes I noticed that I was only a few points over. I monitored my glucose levels and only had to be on a strict diet however I feel that that horrible sugar drink they give pregnant mothers made me go over. I am not sure but she was not deliverd early, and she was not a big baby 6pds. Would it be ok with my next pregnancy to deny that drink given my history and now that I am fully primal?

  9. Passed my GD test with flying colours. The glucose stuff I had a choice of Fruit Punch or Orange flavour. It pretty much tastes like the syrup you use to flavour softdrinks. It’s gross and sweet. Just very very strong.

  10. We’ve been harping to our local WFoods that they should please DUMP the “ultra” pasteurized and get merely pasteurized – and NO homogenization. There have been numerous observational correlations between the introduction of homogenized milk and the societal onset/increase of heart disease and various allergies due to the substantive changes in the milk/milk fats subjected to such high pressures.
    (if anyone has links of actual studies it would be appreciated…)

    if it last longer in the shelf – it’s more dead – and in the absence of purely scientific data – i believe we can very safely reason that the higher the temp of processing, the more things are destroyed/altered –

    gimme rich, fresh raw cream pleeeeeease~!

    Discoveries for a Full Life

    1. I made the same request at my local Whole Foods. I buy organic heavy cream and the one organic brand they carry is ultra pasteurized, with carrageenan added. Other creams they carry (not organic) are merely pasteurized, with no additives. I tried to explain that perhaps people buying organic cream would especially object to the added carrageenan, but there has been no change. I’m left pondering the relative merits of organic with additives or non-organic without. No hope of buying raw.

      1. I get grass-fed milk, lower-temp pasteurized and not homogenized. It’s more important to me that the cattle graze than that they get fed organic grain–I mean, come on, cows aren’t grain-eaters. At most they get some wild grass seed in the fall with their forage. That’s an incidental thing–but they also get some bugs in their diet, inadvertently, and yet we don’t call them insectivores, you know?

        But it all depends on where you live, as to what dairy’s available. Completely the luck of the draw. I just happen to have a good dairy that serves this area.

      2. Whole Foods thinks canola oil, soy oil and soy lecithin are organic & “natural” while lard is evil.

        if you try to tell them, they just laugh at you.

        also they just teamed up w/ Dr. Furhman.

        so i give up & go somewhere else for raw dairy.


  11. My mother had gestational diabetes (and actually is type II now, as well). It never occurred to me that this could be the cause of many of my problems. I’ve been told I do not have any blood sugar problems by my doctor (my A1C is very, very good), but I have always had a problem with satiety and “carb addiction”. I am one of those people that craves carbs even weeks into a fully primal life. I always thought it was purely mental, but perhaps there is something more at work here.

  12. Your first few sentences is exactly how it is in my family. It’s pretty rampant on both sides of my family, but it’s met with “well, I guess I got it now, just don’t tell anyone…” and that’s it. It seems to be more embarrassing than threatening. Kinda weird. All I know is I’m actively seeking to avoid it so it at least stops with me.

  13. The chair thing kind of bothers me, seeing how I set over 10 hours per day. I sit in lecture, I sit at home and at the library studying, and I sit when I’m practicing in the dental pre-clinic. My life has more sitting lined up in the future 🙂

    Perhaps I can install a dental station where the patient sits and I’m performing dentistry while on a treadmill… oooo sooo primal 🙂

  14. I cannot believe I am talking about this on a public forum…but here goes. I have a question about poop. In Mark’s post about poop he says it should float. Whenever I go on a healthy eating kick (no grains, no sugar, no junk- fairly primal) it floats. However, EVERY other resource on the internet makes it out to be a problem, saying your sh*t has gas bubbles in it or something. Can someone help me out here?

    1. There’s more to it than bacteria producing gas — you’re eating a lot of fat, too. (and by CW standards that’s a big no-no.) I wouldn’t say the entire intarwebs is anti float though.

      Anyway, you’re healthy, that matters more than poo density!

  15. Great! How exactly do I stop driving 40,000 miles per year plus 15-20 plane rides minimum per year?

    Since I can’t and still support my family and my employees how do I counteract all of this driving and sitting?

  16. I’m 37. Mom had gestational diabetes when she was pregnant with me but not with my brother. Guess who has more problems with carbs. However, I started eating less carbs and more protein about 10 years and have been increasing it steadily ever since. With getting rid of grains, diary, and legumes, I can go about six hours between meals and not even feel great. 10 years a go I couldn’t go more than a couple hours without dizzy spells. So the right diet can beat diabetes. I decided a couple years ago that I was going to attack first instead of having diabetes have the first attack.

  17. Working a 12 hour day as a NICU nurse is a tough day. I hardly ever sit, and even if I do sit down to chart on the computer, a moniter starts going off, and up I go to check on the baby. So, my sitting is constantly up and down all day long, with long periods of standing at an isolette. The unit is big, and I average 4 to 5 miles a day walking. However, after reading that study, I am thankful for the physical demand of my job. I could not imagine having to sit all day. I would go bonkers. But, I will also say, I go out of my way to move… I park far away, I use the stairs (we are on the 7th floor), I offer to get supplies for others if they need them. I just make a concerted effort to keep my body moving. Having a desk job would make that more challenging, but it can be done.

  18. Dana-

    I recently took an OGTT, and since I eat low-carb, I didn’t eat many carbs the few days before the test. Would you mind explaining how I might have gotten a false-positive? I was thinking that if anything, going into an OGTT with previous low-carb intake might make the results look better than if a high-carb diet was followed. I look forward to your reply!


      1. Thank you Tomas! I will definitely check it out…looks like a lot of info in that interview…

        Take care,


    1. LC dieting leads to liver glycogen depletion, which in turn increases the body’s use of fat and ketones as sources of energy. In this state, your body fat cells are in energy release mode, and your muscles are primed to run on the fat released by them (or dietary fat). That is, you body’s fat and muscle cells are in a state of physiological (or benign) insulin resistance. When a carb-rich meal is consumed, neither fat nor muscle cells use as much glucose as they would have done otherwise. Blood glucose goes up as a result, and you may get a false positive.

      1. Thanks Ned!

        BTW, I checked out your blog, and was surprised to find we had strangely similar starting points (same BW, same height, only 1 year off in age), but you get the prize for final weight. I went from 209 to about 180, where I have remained for several years.

        Great job! Keep spreading the good word…


  19. It’s scary to think that a mother’s food choices can affect the baby right away, though not at all surprising. I’m glad for sites like MDA for bringing this kind of information to a broader audience. Thanks Mark.

    As for sitting at work/at home, there are days where I easily sit for 10+ hours. Most of the time, this drives me crazy, and I tend to sneak out every couple of hours to stretch for about 5 minutes. People here at work still get smoke breaks, so I figure why can’t I do something POSITIVE for my health for 5 minutes? As long as it doesn’t get you fired, I figure go for it.

  20. Diet during pregnancy… I have often thought about this. I was pregnant three years ago and although I wasn’t Primal then (didn’t even know such a thing existed), I can say that for at least five of those months I couldn’t stomach meat of any kind. And for the first three months, vegetables of any kind were out. I was so utterly sick and all I wanted was bread.

    I was healthy and had my glucose tested and it was fine, but it makes me wonder what I would want to eat if I got pregnant now (having been all Primal for a few months). Pregnancy really effs everything up that’s for sure. I wonder how Mrs. Grok handled it.

  21. The “couch potato” is an unfortunate reality of the Neolithic Man in this computer drive society we live in. I have to sit at a computer for long periods…

    I try and get up and move around the office, exercise daily, and park far away from destinations. However, I’m certain too much sitting is taking place.

  22. As an occupational therapist in an inpatient acute rehab facility, I see type 2 diabetes (on an ever-increasing basis) daily. I was shocked by the lack of concern most patients seemed to have about their condition. Then I came to realize this may be a combination of no one really telling them how concerned they should be and not having any notion that they have much control over it at any rate. After all they “follow exactly what the doctor told me–don’t eat a portion size larger than my fist, and only eat whole grains…and still I need insulin.” *Sigh.* And the docs aren’t much better–they’re satisfied when the patient’s blood sugars are below 200! I just want to shake them!

    And because diet is mostly out of my scope of practice, the only information I can comfortably share with my patients is what I eat, if they happen to ask me (which, since I look very fit, they often do) and refer them to “internet resources in which they can do their own research” (MDA!)

    In regards to the study on sitting–I feel very fortunate to have a job that has me moving on a daily basis very much like Grok probably did. Sitting for prolonged periods is truly aweful, particularly for your sacro-illiac joint; dysfunctions in this joint are increasingly being recognized in the orthopedic community as the root of many other related aches and pains throughout the body. There is no “ergonomic” way to sit–despite what I learned in OT school–conventional wisdom fails again.

  23. I agree with societies “acceptance” of type 2 diabetes. It has to do with the context in the way it’s talked about by doctors, big pharm and government. They have brain washed us into thinking it’s perfectly normal and it’s no big deal. The problem is not them however! It’s the people who will not change their beliefs and the way they think!

  24. I’m surprised the studies about sitting all day and cardiac risk are not getting more comments.

    Those study findings are quite profound and pronounced. Makes one wonder about the Masai and similar tribes, walking and moving about all day, eating nothing but cow blood, cow, and full fat milk, and having no heart disease.

    Is it the diet, the activity level, or both?

    I work in the ER, walk all day, that makes me happy;)

  25. Hi Mark. I think that the couch potato effect is in part a statistical artifact. For example, those who spend a lot of time sitting down may do that due to a preexisting condition that causes fatigue. The study’s suggestion of a strong connection with watching TV, in particular, looks suspicious from stats point of view.

    Another angle on this is that the human anatomy indicates that sitting is natural, but the unnatural part of the equation maybe the type of things that modern humans sit on. Comfortable chairs, in particular, may induce sitting patterns that can definitely be very unhealthy:

  26. I have had 2 healthy pregnancies, although on a non-primal diet, and both times the fasting combined with the sugar drink you have to take for the glucose test made me feel terrible afterward.

    I’ve been learning more about the primal viewpoint on nutrition and my family is going to give it a try for the month of February. My husband and I are looking forward to it – it’s just difficult to really make that leap from eating the way we were raised to this!

    If I become pregnant again, I fully intend to refuse the glucose test. I just can’t imagine that the combo of fasting/sugar overload could be good for either mother or baby!

  27. The study on screen time and heart attacks/mortality is an observational study that cannot show causes. Although the study controlled for certain illnesses, it may not have made any allowance for those who lack energy due to poor diet, high post-meal blood sugars, lack of sleep, etc. and therefore prefer more sedentary hobbies.

    And isn’t it odd that watching a few hours of TV or playing video games causes heart disease, but having a desk job, playing an instrument or spending a few hours reading aren’t implicated here?

  28. check out they are a customer of mine who build height adjustable desks and work stations. We have a few at our office they are a sit, and stand desk. Its pretty cool to have the option, and most of the people who have them stand most of the day but lower them when they have a customer sitting across from them. I’m lucky to have a boss who is very healthy, and encourages things like that.

  29. I had gestational diabetes with all three of my pregnancies, but I also had the good sense to eat in such a way that I got good numbers on my meter (that is, I reduced the carb content of the diet they gave me by quite a bit, and added more meat because it tasted good). I took the issue more seriously with each subsequent pregnancy (with the first I cheated by eating carby snacks between meals when I knew I wouldn’t be testing — I really thought it was kind of a joke and was just keeping my doctor happy). In the final pregnancy I already knew I’d be likely to get it, so I skipped the GTT and just started a low-carb diet and home testing immediately. Good thing I did, because after that baby was born I remained glucose intolerant (the diagnosis would be “pre-diabetes” if I had an official one).

    I wonder if having good glucose control during pregnancy helps minimize the future risk to the kids? Hopefully that is the case. My kids were all born at healthy weights (all between 8 and 9 lbs) and had/have no trouble with blood sugar so far. The oldest (with whom I “cheated” sometimes) has the most trouble with carb addiction, so I have the feeling I did that to her. 🙁

    So my most burning issue now is how to “primalize” all the kids in order to protect them as much as possible. We eat pretty primal at home and I’m still shifting our diet more in that direction, but the school lunches and other public food offerings (summer camp, etc.) are a disaster. I just hope that eating primal at home means that they’ll be able to tolerate the standard diet stuff they eat elsewhere.

  30. I’d love to not have to sit down all day! Alas, I chose this career path and I guess I’ll just have to sit with it (no pun intended)…

  31. Hi,

    I appreciate the lifestyle you are trying to promote. Many people could and would benefit from better eating and more exercise.

    I also appreciate the information about Gestational Diabetes – not many moms fully understand it and many doctors do a poor job of explaining it’s seriousness and risk of future complications.

    However, to say Type 2 diabetes is reversible is somewhat irresponsible. I agree that Type 2 diabetics can live a healthier and more controlled diabetic life if they control what they eat and how much and how they exercise but it like many other autoimmune diseases it is something one has a pre-disposition to.

    I am Type 1 diabetic which is actually quite different from Type 2 despite the similar name – however, it is not anyone’s fault that they became diabetic (either type) and it will never be reversed.

  32. I had gestational diabetes with my first pregnancy. After delivery I lost all my “baby weight” immediately and was very thin. Despite my dr’s doubts I demanded getting screened for Type II and lo and behold I came back positive.

    Now I’m planning for a second pregnancy as a full blown Type II diabetic. This article isn’t telling me what I should do to help protect my second child from the pre-existing Type II I already suffer from. My endocrinologist says that I’ll have to consume a whopping 150 grams of carbs a day and be on insulin, or else I’ll jeopardize the baby. I can’t even imagine consuming that many carbs in a day.

    I need advice please.

    1. Oh boy… you need to get a second opinion on that. I don’t believe your Doctor. You should try to find some Type 2 diabetics on-line who have gone through a successful pregnancy – there are many of them 🙂 If you are on Twitter you can find the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) – Also, get your self to a good Endocrinologist.

      Also – As a Diabetic – I can tell you that once you start counting carbs you will be truly amazed to find out what has carbs in it. I never realized… Beans, Fruit, Vegetables – Carbs are everywhere and if you are taking insulin, you need to account for all of them… so 150 per day may not be so unrealistic…

      1. Thanks. Yeah, I think I’m pretty good about counting carbs I think. At home we generally stick to meats, and low carb veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers, eggplant), eggs and nuts in limited quantities. Although I do occasionally splurge like over the holidays. But I try to avoid it b/c once I have taste of anything with refined sugar it often sends me off the rails altogether and the cravings set in.

        I definitely think 150 is too much but my endocrinologist says I need to stick to that number for a healthy pregnancy. He says insulin will keep my sugars down.

        Anyway, thanks for the resources!

  33. 4 hours a day in front of the TV or computer? So, sitting in a school classroom for 7-8 hours doesn’t apply? Or sitting and reading for four hours doesn’t count? This is such a load of s**t!!!

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