The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
“Insufficient play is another major disconnect in modern life, causing reduced productivity, increased stress, and accelerated aging. Stuart Brown, author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul and one of the world’s leading experts on play, calls play a ‘profound biologic process.’ He explains that play, across the span of a lifetime, promotes the development and maintenance of a ‘cognitively fluid mind.’
“Cognitive fluidity—being able to go with the flow, think outside the box, process what-if scenarios, and react quickly and effectively to changes in our environment—is believed by anthropologists to represent one of the most profound breakthroughs in human evolution. This breakthrough in brain function, probably emerging 60,000 years ago, meant that humans’ brains could link knowledge from different domains. The way humans understood and approached the world became both more flexible and more expansive. This enabled more creative use of technology, better transfer of knowledge between generations, and a resultant spike in human longevity. Cognitive fluidity is still essential today, helping us adapt and thrive in a complex, high-tech society. When we get stuck in patterns of overwork and overstress, we lose that important connection with our creative, intuitive, playful selves. Our work suffers and so does our happiness.”
—From The New Primal Blueprint
I’ve always been a student of performance—in my athletic days and now. Whether it’s nutritional intake, training strategies, or supplement choices, this is where science comes to life for me. Over the years, I made this interest work for my fitness performance and now for my optimal health. It’s not about “hacking” the body’s functioning but understanding it from the ground floor up. This knowledge helps me live and age through life more on my own terms, which is exactly the way I like it.
If you look at the latest stats, you might assume there’s no cognitive health crisis. The overall number of dementia cases are going up, but that’s because the aging population is growing. Older folks are living longer than ever before, so there are more people around who can develop dementia. Dementia and Alzheimer’s rates are dropping in the Western world. Politicians, those archetypical paragons of cognitive aptitude, are hanging around in office longer than ever. Technology, science, and other fields that require large amounts of cognitive ability are progressing.
But broad trends and large numbers are just statistics. However reassuring they are to public policy analysts, they mean nothing to the individual suffering from cognitive decline. They’re too abstract. Your grandpa no longer knowing who you are? That’s real. You, personally, don’t want to lose your cognitive abilities as you age. You, personally, don’t want to see the people you love get Alzheimer’s. Individual cases matter to those individuals and their loved ones. And it’s still happening more than it should.
Most discussion of chronically-elevated insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia) and insulin resistance revolves around their relationship to bodyweight. This is unsurprising. Bodyweight’s what “sells tickets.” It’s why most people get interested in diet, health, fitness, and nutrition—to lose weight or avoid gaining it.
But improving insulin sensitivity and reducing fasting insulin levels have major ramifications for your health, longevity, and resistance to disease. And it’s not just because “weight gain is unhealthy.” Insulin itself, in excess, exerts seriously damaging effects. Today, I want to impress upon you the importance of controlling your insulin response by laying out some of the health problems that stem from not controlling it.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering 5 questions from readers. First, are there differential mortality effects of mortality on men and women? What role do social networks play? Second, is ketosis muscle-sparing? Yes, and here’s why. Third, which of the recipes in Keto Reset can be made ahead of time and frozen? We’ve got some busy parents here, after all. For the fourth question, I clarify my stance on net carbs and whether or not to count vegetables. And last, I explain how is is not necessarily ought.
A few weeks ago, I went over 7 of the most important longevity biomarkers to track. Today, I’m shifting gears a bit. The theme remains longevity markers, but the markers I’ll discuss today are subjective, logistical, and psychological ones. A couple involve physical sense but you can’t measure these with a blood draw or a lab scan. The only way to assess your standing is through some genuine self-experiment and honest soul-searching. Or by, in one case, running a mile.
So, as you read through today’s list, keep that in mind. Where do you stand—truly? Do any of these apply to you? Number of years aside, what do you really want your longevity gains to look like, feel like? What changes are you willing to commit to now that will make this a more probable reality—to live longer and live more while doing it? Here are a few markers to start with.
Let’s have at it….
Last year, I wrote about 10 of the most interesting predictors of longevity. Many of them were subjective, but, as we all know, the objective physiological processes that occur in the human body also predict how long we live. Luckily, we can measure most of them. Some are standard at doctor’s checkups. Some require more involved (and expensive) testing. Some you can complete yourself at home with simple household objects.
But if you care at all about how well you’re doing in the longevity game, it’s worth paying attention to some of them.
There are straightforward, pharmaceutical methods for altering specific hormones, and, as I showed in last week’s testosterone replacement therapy post, they can really help. But a safer intervention for your overall endocrine environment is a systemic one. Some might call it scattershot approach in that one input affects multiple endocrine targets. I’d say, “That’s the whole point.”
Today, I’m going to give you some tried and true methods for helping to normalize your endocrine health. These are things that apply to everyone, as far as I can tell. They won’t fix every problem, but they’re good places to start. Whether you’re a post-menopausal woman, a 21-year-old bodybuilder worried about overtraining, or a thyroid patient, these interventions can’t hurt and will probably help.
After I turned 60, a routine checkup showed that I had lower-than-normal free testosterone levels. I hadn’t noticed anything that would have alerted me. No symptoms. No indication. Everything worked well. But it nagged at me. I knew testosterone did much more for a man’s health than just “build muscle”—which I had no real interest in at this point—so I decided to explore TRT, or testosterone replacement therapy.
I did a careful survey of the literature, coming away pleasantly surprised. The evidence was almost uniformly in favor, with the well-constructed studies showing major benefits for TRT. This is TRT, mind you. Not “juicing,” not steroid abuse. Restoration of biologically-appropriate levels of testosterone. Thus began my experiment….
There are some who hold the view that at birth, each of us is allotted a finite supply of energy which exercise depletes, thus hastening our demise. An intense regimen like CrossFit, in this paradigm, would hasten a person’s demise.
That’s wrong, of course. Those who remain sedentary their entire lives often have short, miserable ones, while regular exercisers enjoy better health throughout their time on earth. Exercise has real potential to prolong life and compress morbidity. But it is a major stressor that, if applied incorrectly or excessively, can reduce health and overall wellness.