Dear Mark: Seaweed Supplements, BMI and Mortality, and Sleep Versus Exercise

Wakame - SeaweedIn today’s Dear Mark I discuss my favorite seaweed supplement, kelp granules, which aren’t really a supplement in the classic sense, but more of a food that you can treat as a supplement. Next, I give my thoughts on the latest study to suggest that an overweight BMI confers the lowest mortality risk in people. Finally, I handle a question from a parent currently trying to juggle sleep with exercise who wonders which to choose. It’s a tough question, to be sure, but I give my best attempt at a helpful, realistic answer.

Let’s get to it:

Hi Mark, Is there any one special brand of seaweed supplement that you would recommend?



Usually, I eat seaweed, rather than take seaweed supplements. I’m a big fan of seaweed salads from good sushi spots. They’re generally made with sesame oil, a touch of sugar, and rice vinegar, so they’re pretty Primal. I also like to drop a ribbon or two of kelp (kombu) into my bone broths an hour before I strain them. And roasted nori sheets are good as edible wrappers or roasted with a light dusting of olive oil and sea salt.

If you’re looking for brands, Maine Coast Sea Vegetables is a reputable one. They harvest their sea vegetables in the North Atlantic, regularly test their products for heavy metal contamination, and provide nutritional information for everything. I keep a few containers of their kelp granules (the seaweed highest in iodine, with a quarter teaspoon offering 20 times the RDA), and these could easily be used as a supplement. Sprinkle them on food, into water, broth, tea, or even just the palm of your hand. They lend a crunchy, briny flavor. Very tasty.

What do you think about this latest study?

CDC Researchers Find Lower Mortality Rates Among Overweight People

Should we be keeping some fat on ourselves vs getting down to less than 10% body fat OR would you say that 99% of these unhealthy thin people simply lacked the proper lean body mass and organ reserve that chubby people might have on them? I’d love you to share your thoughts with the MDA community!



This isn’t a new idea. For many years, studies have shown that “overweight” people (in terms of BMI) generally live longer than normal or underweight people. In fact, this latest study is a meta-analysis of all of those other studies. Here are a few thoughts:

As you guessed, part of it probably comes down to lean body mass, which BMI on its own can’t really track. In elderly Asians, BMI had no correlation to mortality risk, while more lean mass was linked to a lower risk. More lean mass means more mobility and strength, more organ reserve, and a greater ability to take care of oneself (shop for groceries, drive a car, get up out of bed, carry things, and generally be able to function day-to-day).

What about waist circumference or visceral fat versus subcutaneous fat, neither of which the meta-analysis examined? Studies that factor in waist circumference – a pretty good indicator of body fatness – show that smaller waists are healthier. In fact, a recent study that compared the utility of BMI and waist circumference in predicting mortality determined that while BMI is useful, waist circumference is more predictive. Visceral fat is also an independent predictor of mortality risk. If your BMI is higher because of squishy subcutaneous body fat, you’ll probably be healthier and die later than the guy with the same BMI because of hard intra-abdominal fat.

Illness often reduces bodyweight, too. Think about cancer, the treatments for which tend to kill appetite and reduce BMI. If you’re on the lower end of the BMI because you’re battling cancer, your mortality risk is going to be higher. Furthermore, heavier patients usually recover better from surgical procedures, like coronary bypasses. And in one study where BMIs between 22 and 26 were associated with the lowest mortality for the general population (but slightly higher for the elderly), excluding smokers and cancer patients pushed the low-mortality range “leftward” to 20. Another study showed that among men aged 65-93, those who lost weight – even if it was body fat – had a higher mortality risk. Gaining body fat was also linked to increased mortality, but the safest move was remaining weight stable.

What about morbidity – quality of life as one ages? Research indicates that those with an overweight BMI do live longer, but with a greater incidence of arthritis, diabetes, and general physical disability. Personally, I’m more concerned with improving and maintaining a high quality of life than I am with living past 100. I’d rather die younger and disease-free than older and kept alive with a plethora of medications and interventions. Live long and drop dead, I say.

There’s definitely something to having some meat on your bones. I’d hazard a guess that a mix of lean muscle and some subcutaneous fat layered on top of dense bones is the best mix for longevity and health as we age, but let’s not get carried away. All else being equal, on an individual level, being not-fat (not necessarily six pack-lean), active, fit, strong, and mobile are still the surest paths to health and happiness. This study doesn’t change that.

Dear Mark,

Thank you so much for all you do to inspire and teach so many people.

I appreciate the wisdom of the PB very much. However, lately my husband and I have been struggling to get both sufficient quality sleep AND reasonable exercise. We have a 6-month-old and a 3-year-old, and we are up at least twice and sometimes more each night. (Some people call this “nighttime parenting,” some people call it “totally sucks”…we are just trying to deal.) We both work outside the home. My husband tries to exercise in the early morning and I aim for after the kids are asleep, but both of us struggle to actually get it done, often opting for sleep instead. We do our best to make weekend family time active, but those playtimes, while fun, don’t feel sufficient. Please trust me when I say there isn’t time on weeknights between the time we get home and the time we put the kids to bed to take a significant family walk or otherwise mesh exercise with family time.

For situations where one really has to choose between sleep or exercise, which would you say is more important? Should we choose sleep 50% of the time and exercise the other 50%? Just focus on proper nutrition?

Thanks so much for any thoughts you can share.



Sleep is more important than exercise, if you have to choose. Poor sleep makes you insulin resistant, thus countering the insulin-sensitizing effect exercise normally has on muscle. Poor sleep increases oxidative stress and inflammation, essentially acting as another stressor on top of exercise. Sleep deprivation also worsens your posture, which will negatively affect your ability to safely perform exercises, particularly full body compound movements (like squats and deadlifts). A poor night’s sleep will even impair your performance when you do decide to lift heavy weights, making your workouts less effective. Exercise will often feel harder without enough sleep, even if you’re not actually working any harder.

“Reasonable exercise” is relative to your situation. If you’re not getting enough sleep, the level of exercise you’re managing to get may in fact be reasonable. You just have to accept that, and realize that trying to circumvent this will only make your fitness and health even worse.

When you do exercise, I have some tips:

  • Make it really count. Go short and hard. Don’t do extended workouts that destroy you, because you simply won’t have the energy and they will do more harm than good.
  • Don’t train for a marathon or wake up at the crack of dawn to CrossFit for an hour. You’ll likely burnout very quickly.
  • If possible, keep some exercise equipment around the house so you don’t have to take thirty minutes to drive to and from the gym. Search Craigslist for a barbell set, or perhaps some kettlebells.
  • Incorporate exercise into your daily life rather than shift everything around to make room for an hour-long block. Do ten pushups, or ten kettlebell swings, or a few squats every ten minutes you’re at home.
  • When you pass the pullup bar – oh yeah, install a pullup station – do one or two or three every single time.

Exercising like this won’t really heap a lot of stress onto your already stressed body, but it will keep you mobile, keep you strong, and keep you pretty fit. What’s more is that this is probably how Grok spent his days, with bits of activity peppered throughout.

You might want to consider co-sleeping, if it works for you. I know the practice gets a bad rap from most pediatricians and Western society at large, but co-sleeping with your children/infants is the ancestral parenting norm, and it can really reduce the stress of having to wake up during the night. You’ll still have to wake up, but you won’t have to get up and walk to another room to tend to the little ones. You can breastfeed in bed, or even while dozing. In case you’re worried about being the weird parents, even in the US, where co-sleeping is officially frowned upon and most parents deny practicing it, research suggests that it happens far more frequently than reported. They may say they don’t co-sleep while in reality they’re sharing beds several days a week. Co-sleeping doesn’t have to mean bed-sharing, either; you can have the crib or bed right next to yours. Just a thought.

That’s it for today, guys. Thanks for reading.

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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88 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Seaweed Supplements, BMI and Mortality, and Sleep Versus Exercise”

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  1. Thank you for covering the study on overweight people living longer. All of the talk about it in the media has been bothering me when people start trying to say that now overweight people are the healthiest. I guess by BMI I am considered overweight but I don’t think it counts since my body fat % is like 10 %.

    For the parents looking to exercise and sleep, you don’t even need to buy any exercise equipment (other than a pull up bar). I devoted all of last week to doing cool body weight exercises. I didn’t go to the gym once (since they are packed right now) but I got in my workouts.

    1. Wayne and others, remember that you may be exactly the kind of person pushing the statistics to say that people with slightly higher BMIs have longer life expectancies. When I’m powerlifting, my BMI puts me in the overweight category too, and I’m at my best. The studies are not looking at “who looks fat” or “body fat percentage” or “who is skinny but lazy” or “who is skinny and wiry” or “who is fat but works out” or anything like that — only at some numbers that measure weight and height with no more nuance at all. For these studies, Arnold Schwarznegger at his most ripped counts firmly for the overweight camp.

      Whenever we look at scientific studies, we need to be careful about what they are really measuring.

      1. Per the link, Arnold Schwarzenegger was 260 lb and 6’2″, with a BMI of 33.4 if the off season; 235 lb for a BMI of 30.2 at competition. In other words, obese. I’m of the impression that male off-season bodybuilders generally have a BMI over 30.

    2. People just want to find a study to justify leading an unhealthy lifestyle and then cling to it. I wasnt fooled for a second, there also used to be several doctors studies saying cigarettes were safe.

      1. I think you are completely right, people just want to feel ok about being unhealthy.

        kt, I don’t think there are enough hardcore lifters out there (with high weight and low body fat) to skew the stats that much.

  2. Laura, if you click on my signature and go to my blog, you can read my thoughts on exercise for parents of young children. In a nutshell, if you are actively and playfully parenting a young child, you are getting most of the exercise your great grandmothers have gotten since they came down out of trees. Adding Mark’s suggestions, you are good to go.

    1. My cat makes a point of going through the whole spinal elongation routine while I’m stretching, as much as to say, “watch and learn”!

    2. Groktimus: My 16 year old cat sometimes drags her dirty bottom on the carpet, leaving skid marks:( Please reconsider modelling your behaviour after the cat.

    1. As a parent who co-slept with our son for 6 months I would totally reccommend it. He was in a cradle by the bed and it was so easy to wake in the night and give him a feed without taking a single step out of the bed. Almost by intuition I was awake 10 seconds before he rustled, and my light sleeping husband got a lot more sleep than if we had had a screaming baby in the next room. Follow your heart, or give it a try out of curiosity.

  3. I love Maine Coast Sea Vegetables kelp granules! They come in a little shaker, and I keep it right beside the salt shaker,adding it to my food 3-4 times a week. The flavor is really mild. Fortunately, I live in Maine, so I can pick it up at my local health food store.

    1. My Whole Foods (Annapolis, MD) carries them. I sprinkle them on my eggs a few times a week.

    2. Maine Coast Sea Vegetables kelp granules are awesome. I do the “sprinkle in palm” and lick it up action every few days or so. It’s crucial to get enough iodine in the diet.

  4. I agree with Mark – get some sleep. Working plus lack of sleep plus winter colds/flu equals parents who never fully recover. It happened to me – a few viruses plus sleep deprivation and I was breathing with only 1/3 of my lung capacity.

    I also like the idea of quick workouts with weights, but if you’re so tired that just looking at a 3lb dumbell is exhausting, then take a short walk WITH the kids. Kids love the outdoors. My second child had a congenital heart defect and wasn’t allowed to be exposed to public places, but I pushed both kids in a stroller in all kinds of weather. It stops the crying, restores sanity and everyone comes home happy.

    1. Ditto! I co-slept with both my kids. I’m just now transitioning my younger one to his own bed (he’ll be 3 on Wednesday!!). So far about half the time he sleeps through the night and the other half he tiptoes to our bed, climbs in, BFs for about 2 minutes, then goes back to sleep. Cosleeping saved my sanity since my older son (who’s now 8.5) BFed every 2 hours, then every 2.5, then 3, etc. I would have been seriously sleep-deprived if he slept in another room….

      1. +1. Co-sleeping is the best for proper adult sleep, and it is so sweet to wake up with baby kisses and laughter as they grow. I’m so pleased I did it, (still doing it at 3.5yrs) even though my mother was horrified and presumed I’d suffocate my baby as per all her drug-addict-alcoholic mass media scare-mongery stories.
        In truth, co-sleeping is wonderful.

      2. +1 again on co-sleeping. I co-slept with my daughter and nursed her until we were both ready to stop. I got much more sleep and so did she. My mother was horrified too, but later had to admit how well-adjusted she turned out to be. She’s 18 now and we get along so much better than many mother/daughter duos. At least part of it was the strong mother/child bond forged while she was tiny that carried us through the scary puberty years.

        1. Sorry to throw some cold water on Mark’s suggestion of co-sleeping, but research has shown that for parents who start out not co-sleeping, and then try it later as a way to cope with their lack of sleep/baby’s night wakings, do not have an improvement in sleep. I can attest to this from my own experience. After having by son in a bassinet for 4 months and then his crib for 2 months, I tried co-sleeping and found that his constant movement and me being so interesting to him kept us both up more. That same research shows that parents who start co-sleeping from the very beginning do sleep better. So unfortunately Mark’s suggestion has probably come to late for these parents.

          I recommend the book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” by Marc Weissbluth. It’s a bit dense, but the info is better than other sleep books I read (and with a son who didn’t have his first uninterrupted night’s sleep until 15 months, I read several!!).

        2. Different families have different experiences with co-sleeping, sometimes even with different kids! My older slept better in her own bed and room, my younger has always been the consummate snuggler and responded much better to attachment parenting (my older and I both have sensory issues that would have made it more difficult with her).

          I’d say it’s absolutely worth a try, but don’t feel obliged to do it if it’s not working. 🙂 New parents have ore than enough pressure on them already without adding some from themselves. I’m personally glad for those snuggles; they won’t be this young forever and there will come a day when I’ll miss them.

  5. I’m so glad you addressed co-sleeping Mark!! Good on ya mate! Co-sleeping is a wonderful way to ensure a decent nights sleep when nursing. It’s the only way I was able to return to work and actually function. I also went to bed when the baby did. 8pm. Lights out. Once the baby stops the night time feedings and starts getting solid sack time, so will you.

  6. Overweight and lower mortality rates.

    I wonder if it has to do with cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that people with higher, rather than lower, cholestrol numbers tend to live longer than those with low numbers.

    Go to the Weston A. Price Foundation site ( and look for the article entitled “The Benefits of High Cholesterol,” by Uffe Ravnskov, M.D., Ph.D.

  7. Seaweed salad sounds yummy! Isn’t the texture of seaweed kind of weird and slimy, though? I tried to put it in soup once, and it didn’t go well.

    I’ve started mixing kelp granules half and half with my salt, and I just use that whenever I salt my food. It doesn’t taste any different to me, and I know I’m getting my iodine!

    I have a question though…is it possible to eat too many kelp granules? It doesn’t seem likely, since it’s a food, but I just want to make sure (:

    1. “Is it possible to eat too many kelp granules?”

      I’m wondering the same thing. I’ve read that too much iodine can affect the thyroid just as adversely as not enough. However, I doubt that the iodine from food (natural kelp, not kelp supplements) would create a problem as long as you don’t go overboard with it.

      I would be more concerned about where the kelp comes from. Obviously, eating kelp that came from Japan, or even anywhere in the Pacific, might not be a great idea.

    2. Hey Alyssa,

      Yes seaweed salad is kinda slimy and if you’re a texture person (like me), you’ll likely be put off by it. The taste isn’t too bad though. Kinda sweet if I remember correctly.

      I can’t help you with the kelp questions, however. No experience in that at all.

    3. Texture also depends on the type of seaweed. I’ve had seaweed salads that weren’t at all slimy. If you are adding it to soup, just slice it thin and short, like short noodles. It won’t be any slimier than anything else in the soup.

      1. Shary, I didn’t even think about where my kelp comes from! I just buy it in bulk from Whole Foods. I’ll have to look into that!

        Yep, I’m definitely a texture person. Glad to hear that not all seaweed is slimy, though! And I think my soup definitely would’ve been better if I had made it noodle-like. I just kinda threw it in there in big chunks haha (:

  8. Have an 8 month old at home, i can tell you an investment in one or 2 kettlebells, some indian clubs and a pullup bar goes a long way to squeezing in some quick and dirty mobility excersse practice. try this once or twice a week, 40 KB swings, 30 squats, 20 pushups, 10 pullups, jumpups or any variation on this. if you can do it twice with good form you are talking 10 to 15 minutes. keep moving the rest of the time or swing some clubs and you will be good to go.

  9. I co-slept with both my kids. Not because I worked out side the home and needed the sleep. But because it felt more natural to me. Both my kids are turning out to well ajusted young people.

    1. I work inside my home too and have co-slept with all my kids. The 12 and 10 year now sleep in their own rooms and have for years. The year old has a sidecar crib and it’s wonderful. Sleep deprivation is not good for anyone, regardless of one works for pay or not.

  10. Thank you for all of this—great information, and I was thrilled about the positive statements regarding co-sleeping. My daughter, 8, was sleeping in my bed most nights (I am a single mom). I had trouble sleeping with herbecause she crowds me and moves around a lot. But, I liked that she was in the room with me and I could shut our cats out (who are nocturnal and try to wake us). So…my solution a couple of weeks ago was to finally just move her bed into my room. We both love it. I like that she’s near me—I can lock our door, I don’t worry so much how I would protect her or get her out in the case of a fire, but we both have our own beds. We read together and separately at night. She likes a nightlight (although I’m sharing your information with her about lights affecting quality of rest) and I got a sleep mask so that the light doesn’t bother me. Win, win, win. And I don’t care if it’s the norm. It feels like it’s the right thing to do and for us, it is. So glad to hear your statements in support of it as well!

    1. Great idea about the bed in your room. We did that when our younger son was born, older co-sleeping in bed-son moved to his own bed in our room. That worked for three years and now both boys have bunkbeds so they can be in the same room.

  11. From March 11th to 20th we’ll have a 3-year-old and a 6-month old*, so this timely. And we just installed a pull up station!

    * there’s no actual transfer of kids. We have a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old now. They’re just changing ages.

  12. I just installed a pull-up bar in the hallway leading to the bathroom. I’ve given myself a “toll” of 5 pull-ups each time I go in there. I probably did 150- 175 reps last week and each set takes about 10 seconds. Amazing how many times you are in and out of that little room each day.

    1. Wow that’s amazing! I’m lucky if I do 10+ pullups a week….I should probably invest in a pullup bar for the house as well.

  13. I’m from middle east and co – parenting is the norm here, it’s been the norm for a few thousand years, in fact. I wonder why it is frowned upon in America?

    1. I think because morbid obesity in rampant. My wife tells me little babies get crushed to death every year.

      Also, there are blankets. We sleep with blankets, which babies have trouble breathing through.

    2. Americans are scared that co-sleeping with a baby means they won’t leave the house 18 years later. 😉

      More seriously, American Primary Docs are surprisingly prone to group think on the basis of very little evidence. The idea that you’ll crush your baby I’m sure has a grain of truth (drunk/several hundred pounds overweight is probably not a good idea) But I’m equally as sure there’s no hard science behind the paranoia. (See post above)

      Ironically, I’ve tended to note that parents who are willing to selectively ignore mainstream medical thinking tend to have more independent critters. The ones who can’t break away from Prevention magazine thinking and have made sure they had “independent” sleepers seem much more likely to have kids in their basement at age 27.

  14. I co-slept with my daughter until she was just over a year old and I loved it. We both got a lot more sleep and it was great being so close to her during that time. A word of warning though. No matter how careful I tried to be, I did fall asleep a couple of times while breastfeeding and the blanket got pulled over my baby’s head, I have no idea for how long. I woke up in a panic and was thankful nothing happened.

    1. My babies thankfully alerted me if I was intruding on their space or if the blanket was pulled up…I luckily had late spring babies so we weren’t using heavy blankets. I also would put the baby up higher, and I’d be lower in the bed (and use my arm to block my pillow). I saw the chiropractor a lot. 🙂

    2. “Nighttime Parenting” by Dr. Sears (i think) is a classic co-sleeping book.
      And for you new parents, I can speak from experience when I say it will not hurt your kids -especially if you are breastfeeding. My oldest son just got married, and yes, he is quite healthy and well-adjusted!

      1. My son too, super indpendent and mature (age 20). I loved co-sleeping and always felt very well-rested. So many times I would wake slightly to see him just looking at me, checking to see if I was there … then we would both immediately fall back to sleep. If he had been sleeping in a different room, he would have had to fully wake up both himself and me to get the reassurance he needed

  15. “Sleep deprivation also worsens your posture, which will negatively affect your ability to safely perform exercises, particularly full body compound movements (like squats and deadlifts).”

    This is so true! When I don’t get enough sleep, I tend to slouch, and my sense of balance during squats and other compound movements is wonky at best.

  16. More love for the co-sleeping here. With our first daughter we had a true BEDROOM: just mattresses on the floor, one queen, one full. That was it. And we all got enough sleep because we could snuggle, nurse, sleep, whatever.

    with #2 I didn’t have enough bedrooms to do this so we had her in our bed, pushed the crib up against our bed and slid her over, then moved the crib to the other side of then room, then eventually put both kids beds in the same room. It worked very very well.

  17. “I keep a few containers of their kelp granules (the seaweed highest in iodine, with a quarter teaspoon offering 20 times the RDA)”

    How often can you eat kelp granules if a 1/4 tsp has 20 times the RDA for iodine? That’s not something you add to food daily, is it?

    I throw a small sheet of kombu into my bone broths toward the end of cooking. I’m curious about the granules as I don’t care for the texture of cooked kombu.

    1. Why add the kombu at the end of cooking?

      Is there a reason not to boil it along with everything else in the pressure cooker?

      I am aware Japanese remove it before boiling breaks when making dashi but no one that I’ve asked knows why.

  18. I have to give +1to co-sleeping! My son also did the bf thing about every 2 to 3 hours. He’d wake, my hubby would take and change him, then give him back to me to feed and we’d all go back to sleep. Neither of us got all sleep deprived. We moved my son into his own room when he was about 3; it only took about 2 weeks of reinforcement to get him to stay there. I thought it worked wonderfully. We read the Dr. Sears attachment parenting books also and liked them. It just seemed natural to have your baby with you. We also did the sling thing; my son is quite articulate for his age and I think a part of it was being up at adult height for conversations ever since he was an infant. The sling made it possible for us to do stuff and still tend the baby; I have a fantastic picture of my husband finishing installing a ceiling fan with our son sleeping in a sling around his shoulders while he did it.

  19. I’m going in the opposite direction on co-sleeping. I have three dogs who, until recently, slept in the same room as us. For multiple reasons, they now sleep in the living room and we get a wonderful night’s sleep. I can’t imagine that having child in bed would be in any way conducive to solid sleep.

    1. LOL – A dog isn’t quite the same as baby. Think puppy who needs to be fed every 2-3 hours. There’s a built in issue of needing to do something in the middle of the night.

      Co-sleeping is the difference between drowsily latching a baby on in the prone position (5 min for everyone) or actually getting up, disturbing the baby, getting them back to sleep and then getting you back to sleep (15 min or longer). No contest if you can make co-sleeping work. I have no idea how well it work with formula.

      And honestly, co-sleeping doesn’t work for everyone precisely because of the disturbance issue. It wasn’t so great for hubby because our babies would kick him, but not me. A sidecar crib with me on the crib side solved the problems.

    2. There is only one hairy beast allowed in my bed and it is me!

      And there is the health aspect with ticks (including deer ticks) and fleas abundant in my local terrain. Plus they stink.

  20. In the choice between exercise/sleep, my experience is that it only takes 1-2 intense Crossfit workouts per week to stay the same and make some progress. (Which I think matches what Mark says). Anyway, just remember that intense exercise/workout everyday isn’t necessary to keep fit when thinking about schedules. It’s very freeing. 🙂

    1. I’m new to paleo and trying to research all I can. Since this thread seems to be so free flowing: I have 5 children and had two jobs and just didn’t sleep much for 25 years. It was worth it. Also; what’s up with magnesium stearate in supplements, including Mark’s?

  21. Great tip on adding the kombu to bone broth. That’s a smart way to get a little extra iodine. I eat lots of fermented sauerkraut, so that would help counter the effect of the goitrogens in the cabbage.

    As a trainer, I think it’s good that a study comes along saying a little body fat is OK. It gives me a little ammo for body image and diet obsessed clients. I’ve had clients go both ways with this info, however, and use it as an excuse to hang on to their spare tire.

    Thank you for clarifying the fact that BMI does not measure body composition, so it’s not the most accurate method to use in all cases. Most bodybuilders would have a BMI that puts them in the obese category. Subcutaneous versus intramuscular fat is a huge deal. For me, waist circumference and waist to hip ratio is far more useful, both in convenience for me as the trainer and for its meaningfulness to my clients.

    Thanks for some great questions and answers.

  22. Maybe weight and mortality has something to do with nutritional intake.

    Older adults are notorious for not eating very much. I know and older gentleman (around 85yo) who probably weighs less than 100 pounds. His breakfast is two slices of toast with a little butter and jam, I think he has about the same for lunch, and then for dinner he and his wife split a Lean Cuisine frozen meal (yes, he only eats half of one for dinner). He’s a really sweet guy, but I can see that his body is literally falling apart. If he had entered his sunset years with a bit more fat reserve he would be a lot better off now, I think. Or, you know, he could just have developed a better diet, with some good protein and fat and stuff like that…

    1. true about older folks not eating much. my mil (may she rip) ate very little, and was fat-phobic to the end… too bad people of all ages eat all the wrong things. (excepting those that give up the CW)

  23. Children make excellent free weights. I curled and did squats, etc, with mine until they were too big for me to lift. Great exercise and no gym required. Hiking with them in backpacks is good exercise, too, as is just chasing them around until they are exhausted. No gym needed, just play!!!

    1. Haha, seriously, Donna! I was reading through all these comments wondering if anyone realized that having young children means you’ll be lifting heavy things all day. I pick up, carry, and put down 26 lbs of wriggly several times an hour. And that’s just the baby.

  24. I’m so glad to hear Mark give a shout-out to co-sleeping. I was drop-dead exhausted with my first. When my second was born, my ped confessed that she co-slept. With my second and third, co-sleeping for two years each, I was never tired. Honestly, there is plenty of research to show that SIDS is actually diminished with co-sleeping. Every other mammal sleeps with it’s young, and it’s wonderful to peacefully wake up to a little one. My husband and I absolutely loved that.

  25. I do not understand why parents in USA are afraid of co sleeping with their child. Its the most natural thing in the world ,humans have been doing it since forever.I am Swedish and I have breastfeed my four children 11 months up to 3,5 years of age. If you co sleep ,you get more sleep and the lactation will work much better since the child can eat whenever he wants. I think accidents happens only if there is drugs/alkohol ,waterbeds or to much pillows in the bed.

  26. There’s a great section on the health benefits of sleep and bonding in the Primal Connection, so why not combine the two with co-sleeping. More time spent with the kids.

  27. Some cultures seem to be scared of everything. I found co-sleeping fantastic. I did it with all 3 of my babies. The drama around co-sleeping in the US reminds me of the cat suffocating baby dramas that you read about. When one of my babies was born my cat used to always curl up beside her. I panicked and considered getting rid of our beloved family pet, until I did the research and found out not one case of baby suffocation was caused by a cat in Australia. Not one case! Yet “THEY” will tell you it happens ALL the time… I’d concentrate on sleeping, and exercise later… they are only tiny for a short time.

  28. I love it: “sleep is more important that exercise”. I feel so sad for my poor sleep-deprived patients setting their alarms for a 6am workout, when what they really need is to stay in bed for an extra hour!
    Thanks for the post.

  29. A big YES for co-sleeping! We have a 6-month-old daughter, she sleeps in the double bed with me and my husband sleeps in a single bed next to us. It’s wonderful, nighttime breastfeeding is super easy and I’m not sleep deprived at all. Plus, I just love waking up in the morning and seeing my precious baby sleeping next to me.

  30. Laura

    I hear you lady! Awesome post by Mark for sure.
    i co-slept with my baba. cot right net to my bed, was awesome… and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

    When he got older, i slept trained my baby at 7 months. he grew dependent on me soothing him to sleep, so I weaned him off relying on me.
    It was probably the hardest thing i have ever done, but I got my sleep back after a few weeks of slowly teaching him to self-sooth.

    He was sleeping through the night really well a month and a half later.

    Except for the time to time wake ups (being ill, teething, or other infrequent wakes) He sleeps like a dream. Happy household.

    P.s. I did not go cold turkey by the way, I read a book called sleep Sense, got my husband in on it and we did team work.

    I used to practice yoga for an hour when my son took midday naps… because i was no longer being deprived of sleep during the night.

    good luck

  31. I can relate to two of the subjects broached above. I have embraced primal eating in the last six months and have seen great results. Even my wife can’t deny the logic when she joined in and saw the pounds fall away. We have a 16 month old daughter and both have stressful jobs and the traditional exercise slot had become just another pressure.. In honesty planning set workouts never really appealed to me as missing sessions or penning in a cycle for it to bucket down or weights when the sun was splitting the sky (Yes we do get the odd ray in northern England) was increasing the tension it was designed to remove. So I have resolved to be active all the time! This ‘peppering’ as you so aptly put it had transformed how I perceive fitness. Any opportunity to do a push a pull a sprint or a stretch is now taken and it has began to help me tune in to what my body needs. Sleep is at premium but now so is my gumption. If I’ve slept well I eat big and hit it hard, if not, I fast and do Tai chi. Grok on!

  32. No way my husband would have been open to the idea of cosleeping–it would have disturbed his precious sleep. I’m glad to hear that attitude is changing at least in some circles. He did bring me the baby and put him/her back to bed during the early part of the night, as he is a night owl and I am early to bed early to rise.

  33. I think it’s weird that co-sleeping is considered weird! I’m not a parent, so what do I know, but I do have a dusty, almost ancient, degree in child development, and co-sleeping strikes me as beneficial to bonding and helpful in regards to practical matters like getting enough sleep.

  34. The thing about sleep is that melatonin is released in order to get good sleep. Melatonin happens to be a very potent antioxidant. Crappy sleep = more damage from free radicals because of low melatonin.

  35. I’ve been reading lots about the health benefits of Seaweed, but yuck! Most Americans don’t really like the taste (I know I don’t.) So I get my sea vegetables in capsule form — a supplement called VeggieCal-D. Might be partly the placebo effect, but since I started taking VeggieCal-D a few years ago, I haven’t gotten sick, and I seem to have more energy when I take it! Plus it has the Vitamin D3 my doctor told me to take.

    Best place to get VeggieCal-D seems to be on Amazon — it runs about $20 a bottle, so it’s very affordable too.