New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week — Edition 125

Research of the Week

The earliest known modern humans in Europe were products of a recent coupling between humans and Neanderthals.

How your face and body morphology influence how threatening you appear to others.

Thru-hiking—at least as commonly practiced—can impair vascular health.

Personality and metabolism.

In rodents, early life sugar consumption impairs later life cognition, perhaps via changes to gut bacteria.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 481: Dr. Caroline Leaf: Host Elle Russ chats with communications pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf, an expert in using direct mind input to change how you think.

Episode 482: Dr. Greg Kelly: Host Brad Kearns chats with Dr. Greg Kelly about circadian strategies for fat loss and longevity.

Health Coach Radio: Erin and Laura chat with Charlene Gisele, who went from high-powered corporate lawyer to higher-powered health coach.

Media, Schmedia

Everyone needs to go outdoors on a regular basis.

L0st Golden City discovered in Egypt.

Interesting Blog Posts

How vegetarian politics is preventing India from truly addressing its diabetes epidemic.

How and why did the Aztecs sacrifice so many humans?

Social Notes

Better get those hibernating bears on statins!

Why I love the beach.

Everything Else

Isn’t this how Planet of the Apes begins?

Isn’t this how The Walking Dead begins?

Turns out that Baltic amber is chock-full of promising pharmaceuticals.

Physical strength and anxiety levels.

America’s land use.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

How about that: For 2 million years, humans were apex predators eating mostly fatty meat.

Important reminder: Sunlight works.

Rocky’s manager knew: No sex before squats.

This is terrible: Dog-napping on the rise in the UK.

This seems abusable: Sampling DNA from ambient air.

Question I’m Asking

Do you think thru-hiking can be healthy if you do it right?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Apr 3 – Apr 9)

Comment of the Week

“The British have a fascination with naming types of birds after female epigamic displays. They already have tits (e.g., marsh tits and great tits), and boobies (e.g., the blue footed booby). Now it looks like they have a ‘knocker’. The real question, though, is ‘Are all knockers white?'”

-Great observation, Aaron.

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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39 thoughts on “New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week — Edition 125”

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  1. I’m in the process of trying to decide between supplementation between GlyNAC, NAD+, NR, NMN, or Ca-AKG. Any thoughts, experience or results out there in the Primal World? Or perhaps Mark can do an analysis/comparison of these products.

  2. While I don’t think it’s a surprise that an extreme athletic effort paired with a crappy diet is detrimental to health, the through hiking “study” really needs a sample size larger than one to be conclusive. Having no follow-up a month later seems like a gross oversight.

    1. Concur.

      There’s a reason early and even fairly recent humans, for many of whom constant travel was life rather than escape, developed time-tested trail foods like pemmican and the various hunter’s stews (like early versions of chili or potjiekos). Snickers bars and pop-tarts are not what I think when I think of thru-hiking.

    2. Modern hikers are likely to have a diet higher in carbs and lower in protein than a stone age hunter, and lower in veggies than a stone age gatherer, since they’re living off groceries and not off the land. They’re also likely to push harder. A stone age man would quit and make camp when he felt tired but a modern man has goals and schedule pressures. So yeah, I could see this. I agree that one sample is not adequate, but I can certainly see a likelihood here.

  3. ONE sample, no control, no alternate trials…

    This is really just an anecdotal way of repeating: ‘you can’t outrun a donut.’

    Let’s try some long distance walks with, say, a diet of real bison pemmican, or just better trail foods. Maybe compare what happens to sedentary people eating the same crap as this guy did.

  4. 23 miles a day on the PCT is around 8-9+ hours a day. I’m not surprised he would have health consequences from that, especially if he didn’t have frequent days where he rested, or only hiked a few miles. Eating junk food every day doesn’t help, but what are you supposed to do? You need non-perishable foods between re-supply, and weight is a major factor. I guess you could eat fat, dehydrated meat & lentils every day?

    1. It’s not hard to backpack long distance with healthy low-carb Primal/keto foods like homemade jerky, dried vegetables, cheese, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, etc, but most trail culture revolves around top ramen, Little Debbie snacks, candy, ice cream, and gluttonous feasts of all-you-can-eat pizza in town. In fact, there are many advantages to a keto diet on the trail, especially greater satiety/lack of hunger, constant energy (fewer insulin swings), and higher protein for muscle repair.

  5. I also grew up in a beach town (Naples, FL) and still love the beach and water in general. In the water swimming or scuba diving every chance I get.

  6. I thought dog napping was a hip new phrase for for an extended nap, like cat napping, and I was interested to see why Mark thought it was so bad. But it isn’t that.

    1. That’s how I read it at first, as well. Then, I reinterpreted “flint knapping” as “flint napping”, which was the most common crime of theft among paleolithic humans, especially the lazy ones.

  7. Thru-hiking doesn’t need to be a contest with yourself to see how hard you can push your body. I know a couple of people who have hiked the AP and the CDT in segments, going home for a while then returning and taking up where they left off. Nothing wrong with that.
    As for the food, it doesn’t need to be junk just because that’s part of the culture. People who subsist on ramen noodles, Little Debbie snacks, etc. likely eat that way out of preference, regardless of where they are and what they’re doing. There are healthier options available.

    1. Agreed. That’s what I do. I’ve hiked the AT, and parts of the CDT and PCT. But protein-rich Primal foods take a lot of knowledge, money and planning (mail drops). The easy way is to restock in dollar stores and gas stations. Such cheap, lightweight food ends up being mostly beige processed sugary and grain-based foods. Extremely high carb diet, like 90% carb. I didn’t see a lot of exceptions.

  8. Doesn’t long distance hiking quantify as low level exercise?

    Nobody will be healthy on a crappy diet no matter how much they walk. I believe Jack Lalanne used to say “Diet is king, exercise is queen”.

    I think the subject’s diet was more of a culprit than his long daily hours of hiking.

  9. Regarding the reference to planet of the apes and walking dead, I think a new apocalyptic genre has been born, zombie-apes apocalypse.

  10. My thru hike was a failed attempt after I hurt my knee a thousand miles in. But it’s obvious to anyone hiking that much it is definitely not good for you. Parts of it were healthy, you get a very natural sleep cycle that’s completely in tune with the sun, my mental health felt great and it was the least stressful I’ve ever been. Physically though, my body was wrecked the entire time. I was skinny-fat, always starving, every part hurt.

  11. “Do you think thru-hiking can be healthy if you do it right?”
    Yes. But the details matter. Health in many(most?) ways starts with diet. When I did the PCT, it was in just under 100 days…which equated to ~27 miles a day. This was not a difficult as some would think. You’d be surprised how quickly your body adapts to daily hiking. I think I was usually in zone 1 & 2. My diet persisted of biltong, macadamia nuts, and honey during the day, with a large dinner of white rice, ghee/tallow and freeze dried beef. I also took some liver pills.
    Now I did not get any bloodwork so I can’t know any of this for certain, but I definitely felt heathier when I was done! I was already quite fit, but I was considerably even more so when I was finished! At least for endurance hiking! Ha! I was ridiculously lean, I felt incredibly well rested, my skin looked vibrant and healthy, and my libido was through the roof! Nature, mass amounts of low level activity, somewhat healthy food, proper circadian rhythm, clean water, no work stress, and 8-10 hours of sleep a night might be a recipe for exquisite health. I felt like an elite athlete again! I realize this is an N=1.
    I do believe fitness can be pushed too far, when it comes to its relationship with health. My buddy did the PCT few years prior to me in 75 days, attempting beat the unassisted time. His body and digestion took a beating, to say the least.

  12. The covid vs outside thing….I agree 100%. 1. Getting outside is gonna help you overall, sunlight, fresh air, exercise, building the natural immunity. Plus, you are less apt to be depressed, get into alcohol or domestic violence…which all the lockdowns have greatly helped all these things to grow.

  13. While I appreciate your opinion of getting outside, and I follow that philosophy daily, you also must add that social distancing is still necessary for now. Conversely, the swarms of spring break parties were proven to spread the virus and there were mainly outdoor activities, so please be specific they outdoors is the place to be and the best environment to avoid the virus however please keep following the medieval expert advice.

  14. Loved your simple Sunday post about sun exposure and COVID. My chemist neighbor reminded me when COVID started going down that Viruses don’t like sunlight or heat. We have been enjoying time outdoors hiking in the mountains, and just relaxing and walking down by the river. THE GREAT OUTDOORS WINS AGAIN!

  15. Gardening is a peaceful time and talking to the plants reduces the tax on carbon?

  16. So hope it is here. That we say what we are doing to get outside. My plans are yard clean up . Things that are no longer usable out to dump. Crafting a long table for our garage sale. I find that focused work calms me. We are moving to a darker place but also a place away from pulp mills and inhabited my plants and trees. To increase my physical activity getting my bicycle up and running. So hoping no real heavy April showers or snow.

  17. I work in a health center in Dallas, Tx. We are in a hot zone for COVID. In the past year forty-nine of our just over 200 (mostly young) employees have tested positive. I am 62 years old and played 85 rounds of golf last year. I also live in a high rise with shared elevator space (obviously). I was tested twice but was found negative both times. I have now completed the vaccine. Was I lucky or did being outside in the sun help?

  18. I am very lucky to live walking distance ( less than a mile ) from a wonderful preserve,” Duke Farms ” ( Doris Dukes former estate ), smack dab in the center of the most densely populated state in the Union, New Jersey.
    Most times I ride my bike in the park on the miles of paved and unpaved trails including a nice climb to to Doris Dukes pet cemetery where among her many pets, her two camels, Baby and Princess, are buried. It is easy to get lots of sun and I never hesitated due to the pandemic. I see many people in the park biking and walking wearing masks and that’s OK by me but I never mask when outdoors. I just intuitively felt no need when outdoors especially in sunlight. I also have been doing group bike rides since the pandemic began and most riders don’t mask. I am not anti-mask but I am so glad the evidence points to what I always thought about being outdoors, ie, the virus is severely limited in that environment and especially so in strong sunlight. Now I just have to get over to Doris Dukes other estate/preserve,
    ” Shangri-La ” in Hawaii. I hear the sun shines real nice there !

  19. RE: sunlight and COVID. I’m a U.S. citizen living with my husband in Baja California. I recently was treated for a very mild case of COVID, and one of my doctor’s very stern instructions was to sit in the sun for 15 minutes twice a day. (Other mandates included “Have a positive attitude.”) This was coupled, of course, with vitamin supplements, anti-viral and mucous-reducing meds, etc. But I found it very interesting! And now your piece in “Sunday with Sisson”. 🙂

  20. Thank you for this very valuable information! You’ve just made a significant difference!

  21. I’ve thru-hiked several long trails and it certainly doesn’t have to be unhealthy! I’ve seen some hikers that seem to consume 50% snickers, 50% advil and I’m sure that’s harming them, but many people spend months dehydrating and packing healthy foods to mail to themselves while on their hike. You can even find fairly healthy foods at grocery stores if you look hard enough.

    There is a robust thru-hiking community online and many how to food articles for those who are interested…There are even people who do keto diets while on trail.

    It is a lot of daily exercise but as long as you keep your pack light your body adapts after about 3 weeks. 15 miles a day is a more typical average and most people take at least one day off every week. Some men on the skinny side do have a really difficult time keeping weight on. I knew one who carried sticks of butter and in colder weather (and ate them straight like energy bars) to help keep weight on. Women have it a little easier with weight on trail. For instance, I, as an already very thin women, usually gain about 3 lbs of muscle over the first month of a hike and keep that on the whole hike.

    I suspect what this study is showing is that processed foods will kill anyone, no matter what they are doing.

  22. Today was a good chance to spend more time outside for me. I’ve lately been going swimming 3 days a week at Golden Gardens beach. On nice days it’s really tricky parking there, like an airport. Today when I parked I took all I needed (bathing suit, towel and a jumprope) in my grab-bag so I wouldn’t go back to my car until I was actually leaving, so as not to disappoint a line of waiting cars. Since Chopin’s 1st piano concerto was on the radio when I arrived at the park I took an extra walk in the woods.

    While this beach can be so crowded it may actually be good to have a mask available, I am not about to walk on a lonely trail in the woods wearing a mask, and I feel like a cat petted backwards when I see something doing that. This is time to enjoy my main guilty pleasures: hiking without a buddy, unmasked and unshod, and listening to classical music.

  23. Re: health and outdoor life – Decades of study and lived experience have made me realise that a basic problem that leads to a lot of completely unnecessary suffering is that science used to be about understanding nature and is now mostly about manipulating it. The world is not improved by this attitude. I have used my study of natural health and fitness to good effect, not needing doctors for more than 40 years and not having the toxicity referred to as colds and flus for more than 25 years. Consistently positive results matter. Terrain is everything. And that is amply supported by getting lots of whole body sunshine without sunscreen or sunglasses, fresh air, strength and mobility training, high quality real food and water and lots of social and physical interaction. Loving touch is essential for health. Anything or anyone that suggests otherwise is either ignorant or malicious.

  24. I owe a lot of thanks to Mark for getting me outside months ago when the pandemic was still fairly new. I live in PA, and discovered some really nice trails near me that I didn’t even know about. Even through the winter I got outside and walked/hiked almost every single day – through snow, ice, light sleet, and rain. I did end up getting Covid during February (from a household member) but it was very mild. I even got outside and walked during that time. There were rarely any other people out because it was so cold! This has become a way of life for me now. I will continue to get outside every day and will not let the weather keep me in!

  25. I thru-hike as a lobbies for years, alone mostly w/me dogs, in mountains mainly, doing OMAD and capable of self-sufficiency for 10-12 days easy…. Like fasting, a breeze…

  26. Absolutely thru-hiking can be healthy but most people who do it are into checking boxes off lists and that’s why they make it unhealthy (going too far each day, carrying crappy food because it’s cheap/light/ they are carb addicts, being too inflexible w/ adapting your plan to changing conditions, etc). Most of us have pretty bad form when it comes to the basic act of walking and this takes its toll as well. When I go backpacking I am the one who rarely gets injured an it is for these reasons.