Category: Recent Articles

New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 207

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.

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What is Abdominal Bracing and How to Do It?

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.

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What Is Cryotherapy And Should You Try It?

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. 

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New and Noteworthy: What I Read This Week—Edition 206

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!

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How do Potatoes Fit in a Primal Diet?

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.

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What Does Fiber Do, And Do You Need More?

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. 

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