Tag: Aging

A Primal Primer: Testosterone

If you’ve been reading recently you know I’ve been on a hormone kick recently. That sexy looking molecule to the right and the hormone du jour: testosterone. Testosterone is the principal anabolic and sex hormone in humans, responsible for sexual desire and function, muscular hypertrophy, densification of bones, and hair growth. Compared to females, males famously produce about ten times the amount of testosterone, but females are far more sensitive to its effects. Though testosterone is largely responsible for those traits and characteristics that are considered “masculine” – physical strength, body hair, dominance, and virility – both sexes require it for proper sexual and physical development. In mammals, males secrete it primarily from the testicles (about 95% of the total amount, in fact) and women secrete it from the ovaries. A modicum is produced in the adrenal glands in both sexes.

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Thriving, Not Just Surviving

I mention the distinction between thriving and surviving quite often on this blog, but I’m not sure I make it often enough, or explicitly. So, here it is: surviving is not thriving. There’s a massive difference, and though the two states of being ideally concur, we too often conflate the two as a rule, to our ultimate detriment. In my opinion, life’s true barometer is experience gained, rather than raw time accrued. What’s the point of living to a ripe old age if you never taste the fruit? Longevity coupled with happiness and experience, good. Sheer longevity for longevity’s sake, miserable, diseased, and decrepit? Bad.

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Real Age Quiz

So, you’re 56 – or 36. Maybe 27 or 42. Perhaps 68. (You get the idea.) Your driver’s license says it all (whether you want it to or not). But the buzz lately says there’s age and then there’s “Real Age.” Yes, your kitchen cabinets, weight set, medicine cabinet, diploma, car, even your speed dial apparently tell the real story your driver’s license (or dear mother) can’t.

The real story here is your “real” biological age as supposedly determined by your responses to approximately 150 questions. They run the gamut – from exercise routine to driving habits to nutrition to stress factors. At the end of the quiz, you receive a number as well as a rundown of practices that added to or reduced your biological age. According to the site, the quiz was based on “125 different factors that can influence the rate of aging” as determined by review of 25,000 medical studies. Some 27 million people have taken the quiz.

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Eating Habits and Memory Function

Diet is a powerful force as we say time and again. Most of the studies revolve around the physical aspects: inflammation, disease risk, body composition, blood markers, etc. But there’s the promise a good diet can offer other elements of health, including cognitive performance. With climbing rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s, these correlations are nothing to shake a stick at.

In that vein, this recent study caught our eye. Researchers from the University of Muenster in Germany followed subjects who had been grouped into three practices: a caloric restriction group (30% cut in daily intake), a group that increased their consumption of essential fatty acids (20% increase), and a control group. After three months, all subjects retook tests focused on memory activities. The group that cut its calories showed a “significant increase” in scores related to verbal memory. The apparent cognitive improvement could be correlated, the researchers say, with “decreases in fasting plasma levels of insulin and high sensitive C-reactive protein.” No noteworthy changes were seen in the other subjects.

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In Vino Veritas (and Health?)

With the holiday season upon us, we thought it might be helpful to perform some healthy rationalizations for our alcohol consumption. Yay!

Now, obviously, people have been getting intoxicated for many millennia (animals will seek out fermenting fruit, too, so it’s not an “unnatural” desire by any means), and that includes our beloved Grok. Neither a teetotaler nor a raging drunk, Grok probably limited his consumption to very rare occasions: namely, whenever he happened across a stash of fermenting fruit. See, all evidence suggests that the purposeful production of alcoholic beverages didn’t begin until around 10,000 BC – pretty much in line with our estimations of the advent of agriculture. Indeed, the process of purposeful fermentation could be said to run against Primal ideals – our commitment to fresh, whole foods, free of artificial additives or manmade machinations – especially nowadays, with enormous industrial factories dedicated to churning out millions of gallons of beer and liquor. That said, fermentation itself is a wholly natural occurrence; beer factories and whiskey mills simply exploit and amplify the process.

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Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

Conventional wisdom (our dear, dear friend) tells us that without the constant application of skin creams and face lotions and mineral moisturizers, we’ll become haggard parchment people with wrinkled mugs that’d put an elderly Sharpei to shame. It seems to have worked, too. Most bathroom mirrors conceal impressive caches of creams, lotions, and oils, and many people instinctively and compulsively lather the stuff on any chance they get (similar to our infatuation with Purell, but that’s another post altogether). But, as we’ve often wondered, is confronting a totally natural occurrence – dry skin – with unnatural methods and products really such a good idea?

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Dear Mark: Muscle Building and Carbs

Dear Mark,

I am a loyal Daily Apple reader who’s just begun a full-scale primal + IF + HIIT lifestyle. My only worry is that of muscle loss or impeded muscle growth. As a friend of multiple muscle builders, I’ve been told that carbohydrates are necessary for that muscle growth. While I’m not about to go back to my high-carb ways, I am willing to make an exception for post-lifting meals (within an hour window). I’ve heard this is the optimal time for carb-intake as your muscles are depleted of glycogen stores. I am wondering if you could shed light on this. Is this method actually effective for muscle growth? If so, how many carbs should I consume, and of what kind? And finally, will making this one compromise induce inflammation or impede fat loss?

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Don’t Let “D” Stand for Deficiency

Remember how we’re always going off about the importance of getting enough vitamin D in your life? How outdoor activity – and vitamin D producing sunlight – is important for any Primal Blueprinter? It seems some recent scientific research is again making this point for us.

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10 Primal Exercises for Elder Apples

First thing’s first. Mark himself (at 55 years and going strong) is a proud member of this group, and he knows many of you are too. Art De Vany, good friend to Mark and fellow Primal practitioner, is a hearty 71. In truth, there’s no shortage of exceptionally fit, strong and seasoned men and women out there, some of whom can hold their own with the fit thirty-something set.

We think being older and wiser doesn’t preclude anyone from the best of Primal living. Granted, many MDA readers in their sixties, seventies or eighties might not be up for the plyometric and sprint routines we suggest. (We’ve gotten and appreciated your emails to this effect.) Though our suggestions for Primal exercise don’t change much with age (Grok’s not letting anyone off easy here!), we freely concede that variations can offer useful alternatives for healthy later decades.

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Science News Roundup: Brain Health

We’re back with another slew of new scientific studies that seem to reinforce our commitment to the Primal Blueprint. Of course, we admittedly don’t need much convincing, but it’s always important for newcomers to see some of the tangible benefits of the lifestyle supported by cutting-edge scientific research.  This week, we’re examining the effects of behavior and nutrition on brain health and memory.

Okay, you all know how the Primal life promotes healthy weight loss, lean mass retention, increased energy, better sleep – those are the basic benefits that attract most newcomers, after all – but brain health? Sounds a little weird, yeah?

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