Tag: dear mark

Dear Mark: Trans Fat

The message has been circulating for a few years now: trans fats = bad. It’s one of the rare times I find myself in alignment with conventional nutritional guidelines. (Of course, it’s not so simple, but I’ll unpack that one in a moment.) The fact is, manufacturers have done a better job sending the anti-trans fat message than public health agencies. Everywhere you turn in the grocery store the “No Trans Fat!” tag leaps out at you, complete with manic font and exclamation point, from hundreds of boxes, bags, and packages. (“Well, it must be healthy then!”) Unfortunately, the marketing push has crowded out the real science when it comes to the public’s engagement with the real issue. As you can guess, there’s more to the trans fat picture than the self-congratulatory manufacturer claims.

Dear Mark,

I know trans fats are unhealthy and I avoid them like the plague. But like so many things sometimes I need a little reminder why. (I regularly brush up my knowledge by visiting your site so that when a friend asks why I avoid grains I don’t say something like “Grains are bad because… something about lectins and phytates – can’t remember why… but they’re bad.”) Could you write up an easy to remember primer on what trans fats are and why are they unhealthy?

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Dear Mark: How Primal is Hemp?

As I’ve always said, part of the Primal Blueprint’s power is its continuing evaluation and evolution. As a broad lens defined by tried and true physiological principles, the PB can effectively assess and (when appropriate) seamlessly accommodate “new”/rediscovered practices and foods. Readers send me questions all the time that help redefine or further confirm the Blueprint’s existing range. Here’s one such inquiry.

Dear Mark,

I’ve been seeing more hemp products in the stores these days and have friends who call themselves hemp converts. They say it’s a good protein source. What do you think of hemp? Do you consider it Primal?

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Stuff That I Read (or Watch), And You Should Too

I recently received an email question from a knowledge-hungry reader.

Mark,

I’m becoming VERY interested in learning how the body works; what happens when we eat carbohydrates, the effects of antioxidants, etc. I was given a good introduction in “Good Calories, Bad Calories” and of course the 3rd chapter in your book, where you talk about insulin, or even your article “what happens when you carb binge”. Wikipedia and Google help me to a certain point, but I soon become overwhelmed; it’s hard to put everything together… where do I go from there?

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Dear Mark: Arachidonic Acid

I spend a lot of time highlighting the importance of omega-3 fatty acids and downplaying their poly cohorts, omega-6s. Of course, I do this for good reason. Western dietary patterns and modern agricultural practices have made omega-3s harder to come by and blown any semblance of omega-3/omega-6 dietary balance out of the water. As maligned as omega-6s are these days, however, they’re still essential fatty acids. Our bodies need them and can’t produce them on their own – straight and simple. The problem comes when we mistake emphasizing the omega imbalance in modern diets with disparaging omega-6 entirely. Although the Primal Blueprint promotes a healthy fatty acid balance – one that parallels that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors – I still get questions about omega-6s, particularly reservations about the role arachidonic acid (part of the omega-6 fatty acid family) plays in the PB.

Dear Mark,

While I totally agree with the importance and value of meat/eggs and vegetables, minus all grains and added sugars…my question is about the arachidonic acid (AA) found mostly in meat and egg yolks. It has been demonized by many, Barry Sears, etc., as the cause of all inflammation in the body. Is that a concern for us on the PB plan?

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Dear Readers

From time to time I’ll get an email from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader that just throws me for a loop. It might be esoteric, simply outside of my core knowledge, or just downright strange. Still other questions are best answered by consensus.

When enough of these spill into my inbox I’ll crowdsource the questions, opening them up to the infinite wisdom of the MDA community. This has resulted in some great discussions in the past (Dear Readers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Well, it’s that time again. Help out a fellow MDAer with a response in the comment board. Thanks, everyone!

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Dear Mark: Insurance and Alternative Therapies

One benefit of the national debate over health insurance is the spotlight on health care itself. I don’t pretend to have the answer to the political quagmires, but I have to say I’ve enjoyed the deliberation (most of it anyway). Most of all, I appreciate seeing health care issues hashed out in a wide public forum. (I’m holding out hope that it will lead to a real discussion of genuine health itself. A few public figures have tried to steer it that way to little avail so far.) While politicians and talking heads bicker and vent, I tend to take more interest in the stories of independent-minded people who’ve learned to steer the system in their favor, those who’ve fought it tooth and nail and those who’ve checked out of it altogether to go their own route. (Gee, no one fitting that description here … wink). In the last year I’ve gotten a good number of emails from folks trying to do just that – navigating the health care system and their insurance companies as they take charge of their health and buck CW in favor of what they consider more effective interventions that complement their Primal journeys. Here’s one such message…

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Dear Mark: Primal Trail Food

Just when you feel you’ve made the successful transition to Primal eating in everyday life, you stumble upon a scenario that sends you back to the drawing board. For some people, it’s the holidays. For others, it’s travel. For reader Brian, it’s regular camping trips into the real “primal environment”:

Dear Mark,

Each summer and throughout the year, I spend weeks at a time leading hiking, backpacking and camping trips in the backcountry. While this seems like it’s definitely a primal activity, traditional backpacking fare consists of oatmeal, tortillas, granola, peanut butter, pasta, rice, and beans. These foods are light, compact, durable, will fill you up, do not need to be refrigerated, and are easily packable. At the end of each week, though, I always feel worn out – depleted, almost – and I realize now that it is probably because of what I eat. Do you have any primal menu suggestions for those of us who actually live, at times, in a primal environment? (Hunting and gathering are unfortunately not viable options.) Thanks!

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Dear Mark: Your Brain on Junk Food

Clearly, we eat not just to fill our stomachs but to satisfy a whole host of biochemical drives. The brain is built to incentivize our efforts not just with the quieting of hunger pangs but the kick-starting of an intricate hormonal “reward” system. When it comes to diet, I’ve always said what nurtures the body nurtures the brain. The proof is in the biochemical picture. And while I wholeheartedly believe that we each choose what we eat and how we treat our bodies, there’s something to the science that shows addictive properties in junk food. I occasionally get emails on this topic. Here’s a timely one from last week.

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Dear Mark: Time Change

If you ask people whether “falling back” or “springing forward” hits them hardest, most will say spring. (I’m in this camp also.) I’ll admit that I love the extra hour of sleep in fall but dread the reverse a few months later. Switching the clock (in either direction) can leave you feeling oddly displaced, like you’re never where you’re supposed to be at any given time. The world is going about its business in the usual routine, but something feels off. For some people, sleep is the area hardest hit and the last thing to finally adjust. I get emails pretty frequently about sleep. For some readers, it’s the final frontier in their Primal conversion. Not surprisingly, time changes (both fall and spring) seem to inspire more emails on this front. To summarize the batch, a lot of people feel thrown for a couple of weeks and struggle somewhat to keep their energy up while they transition their sleep schedules.

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Dear Mark: How to Politely Pass on Dessert

It’s a common question I get: how to graciously decline the proudly presented delicacy, the traditional or long-labored sweet, the celebratory dessert. Like it or not, desserts are woven into our cultural doings and gatherings. As one reader put it recently, “I’ve been trying to go quasi-primal for about 6 months and have had very good results. A challenging situation that I’ve experienced is declining dessert offers from friends who LOVE to bake. How do I politely decline a chef’s generosity without offending them?”

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