For the last 30 years, the messaging has been clear: Slather your body with sunscreen if you so much as even think about going outside in the sun. Cloudy and rainy? Doesn’t matter. Wear the sunscreen. Want to build up a base tan? You’re killing yourself. Wear the sunscreen. It’s only ten minutes? That ten minutes of sunscreen-less sun exposure will shave a year off your life. Wear the sunscreen.
In more recent years, the tide has shifted. Research has come out showing that most commercial sunscreen contains chemical compounds that act as carcinogens when absorbed, at least in animal models. Maybe we don’t even want to block the sun at all. Or maybe we do, but there’s a better way to do it than using chemical filters that absorb into our skin. At any rate, I figured with summer rolling around that it was time to revisit the topic of sunscreen. So let’s do that, shall we?
In part one of this series on improving vagal tone, I explained that the vagus nerve is the information superhighway of your autonomic nervous system. It connects your brain to organs and glands throughout the body and acts as the main conduit of your parasympathetic (“rest-and-digest”) nervous system. Vagal nerve activity touches just about every system in the body, including respiration, immunity, cardiovascular activity, digestion, and the gut microbiome.
The term “vagal tone” refers to how active your parasympathetic nervous system is. Ideally, we want high vagal tone, because that indicates a generally relaxed state where the body can focus on growth and repair. When vagal tone is low, the sympathetic (“fight-flight-freeze”) nervous system is dominant. That’s no good. The sympathetic nervous system should kick in when we need to respond to an acute threat or stressor, but we don’t want it running in the background all the time.
Unfortunately, a chronically stressed, sympathetic-dominant state is the norm for most people nowadays. Scientists are always on the hunt for ways to alleviate that stress and reduce the medical burden associated with it. Some researchers are investigating pharmaceutical means of improving vagal tone, along with protocols for using electrostimulation. You don’t need these high-tech procedures, though. Once you start digging into the science of the vagus nerve, you realize something cool: Most of the things we promote in the Primal community probably improve vagal tone.
If you listen to the experts, the authorities, the think tanks, eating meat destroys the environment. It “destroys your health” too, of course, but by far the biggest argument being pushed—and the one most regular people implicitly accept as “probably accurate”—is that meat consumption is detrimental to planetary health. I’m not going to cover the health part. That’s been done to death. If you’re reading this blog post, you probably reject that aspect of the argument. Hell, you might be chowing down on a steak at this very moment. This post is for the people who still worry about the effect of meat on the environment. It’s a noble concern, one that I share. So today, I’m going to explain how you can eat meat and still reduce your environmental impact. Stay on track no matter where you are. Instantly download your Primal and Keto Guide to Eating Out Eat local. This one is almost entirely self-explanatory. When meat travels across the world to get to your plate, or even halfway across the country, it’s burning through fuel and producing emissions that harm the environment. It has to travel from the farm to the packing plant, from the plant to the shipyard, from the shipyard to the sea, across the sea to the port, from the port to the distribution center, from the distribution center to the store, from the store to your home. If your meat is local, all those middle men and their emissions are, well, omitted. It goes from the farm to the local abattoir, and then onto the farmers market or local grocer. And sometimes, the farm has their own in-house slaughtering and packing setup, and you cut the middle men out even more. If enough people do this, the local market expands, and the effect multiplies. So do it! Eat grass-fed, sustainably-farmed animals. There’s an entire book about this: Robb Wolf and Diana Rodgers’ Sacred Cow. They also did a very relevant guest post on this stuff. The basic gist is that animals raised on pasture with rotational grazing that mimics the way herbivores travel and eat in nature can build up the soil, fertilize the land, and trigger greater plant growth and stronger, deeper root systems that further enrich the soil and its bacterial inhabitants. It’s almost like pasture needs herbivores just as much as herbivores need pasture. More than that, not all land is fungible. There’s a ton of land that’s inhospitable to crops but perfect for livestock. If you got rid of livestock, you’d be wasting that land; you couldn’t just plant some corn on it. It’s livestock or nothing. Where do your omegas come from? Get sustainably sourced, third-party tested Omega-3s Remember that there’s more to the environment than carbon emissions. There are many other aspects of the environment to observe and protect—and proper meat can help. When you get locally packed meat that’s wrapped in butcher paper ten miles from your house, there’s less plastic and less airborne pollutants gumming up … Continue reading “How to Eat Meat and Still Reduce Your Environmental Impact”
The ancients prayed to it. Farmers relied on it. The seasons depend on the earth’s tilt toward it. The sun is always up there, shining down, filling the world with light and heat, sending down powerful rays of energy that scatter across the surface, sneak through windows, penetrate otherwise dark caves. You can’t avoid it, unless you shut yourself inside, draw the blinds, and close your eyes.
That’s what we’re supposed to do: avoid it. “Any amount of sun exposure is unsafe,” according to the experts, and will give us skin cancer. They tell us it’s a toxin. If we have to be outside, we’d better slather on the sunscreen, wear a hat that shields our entire body, and avoid the harsh midday sun at all costs.
As we covered in Parts I and II of this series, during perimenopause and menopause women can experience a complex web of physical, psychological, and social symptoms.
The treatment usually prescribed by doctors, hormone therapy (HT), is controversial and not appropriate for some women. I won’t get into the HT debate here—Mark did a great job covering the pros and cons recently. Suffice it to say that HT isn’t the answer for everyone, and it’s not a panacea by any means.
Whether or not they choose to go the HT route, many women desire additional support during perimenopause and beyond. For the sake of keeping this post from becoming a novella, I’m going to focus on mind-body therapies today.
For hundreds of thousands of years, humans had an unbroken tradition of evening firesides. It’s where we told stories, recounted the happenings of the day, sang, danced, and just sat in comfortable silence staring into the flames. It’s also where we graduated from desperate scavengers scooping half-eaten marrow and gnawing bone scraps for gristly morsels into legitimate cooks.
Now that line is broken. Now we sit around the television. We sit under the perma-glow of the LED, gazing into our phones. If we even cook, we do it under perfectly controlled settings. Which is fine, but it’s missing something: the wildness of fire.