Meet Mark

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...

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Tag: gluten

This Gluten-Free Thing Is a Really Overblown Fad!

This is a comment I’m starting to see more and more often. Go to any news article about gluten and the comment section will be littered with angry outbursts and outright vitriol for people who go gluten-free. Skeptical blogs love to trot out posts lambasting and ridiculing the “gluten-free fad.” And from what I can tell, nothing inspires a contemptible eye-roll like a person asking a waiter in a restaurant if they have gluten-free options. By some stretch of the known laws of cause-and-effect, the removal of gluten from someone’s diet apparently causes irreparable harm to people with knowledge of the decision and deserves unequivocal reprobation. Otherwise, why else would they care so much?

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Dear Mark: Paralysis by Overanalysis, Beer, and Liquid Coconut Oil

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got three questions to cover. First up is a question from a reader who feels paralyzed by too much health information. Whereas before the basics might have made sense to him, digging further into the literature and the blogs is only making it harder and harder to make the right choice, or any choice at all. I totally understand and can relate. Next, I discuss the possible negative health effects of beer. Is it just the gluten that’s a problem, or are there other issues as well? Finally, I explore liquid coconut oil, or coconut oil that’s been altered to remain liquid at any temperature. Is it safe? Is it Primal? Is it actually worth using? Find out the answers to all these questions in today’s Dear Mark.

Let’s go:

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Dear Mark: Gallbladder-less, CrossFit on Hiking, and Gluten Cutter

We’ve got a three parter for today’s edition of Dear Mark. First up is a question about gallbladders and a Primal way of eating. Or, more specifically, the lack of a gallbladder, and how one can make Primal work without one. Just because your ability to digest fat is a bit impaired doesn’t mean you can’t eat this way. Next, I explore what CrossFit really thinks (or doesn’t) about walking, hiking, and other sorts of frequent slow moving. After all the anaerobic WODs, is there room for a relaxing walk with your significant other? And finally, I discuss the usefulness – or not – of Gluten Cutter and other gluten digestive aids. These products claim to help even sensitive people digest and detoxify gluten safely, but are they legit?

Let’s go:

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Dear Mark: HIIT, Omega-3s and Cooking, and Gluten-Free Baked Goods

It’s time, yet again, for another edition of Dear Mark. As per usual, I’m doing a roundup of reader questions. First, I cover high intensity interval training, also known as HIIT. It’s the subject of an ongoing study that’s been getting a lot of play in the media, and, while we don’t have access to the as-yet-unpublished research, we do know a little something about HIIT from numerous other studies. Next, a reader asks about the effect of cooking on the omega-3 content and stability of salmon. I provide a bit of research and attempt to assuage his despondency about what he sees as a lack of reliable seafood. Finally, I give my take on the gluten-free baked goods phenomenon. Sure, it’s gluten-free, but does it belong in a Primal eating plan? Read on to see what I think.

Let’s get to it:

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Dear Mark: Wheat and Asthma, Minimalist Winter Shoes, High-Fat Rat Cognition Study, and Sun Exposure Timing

Today’s edition of “Dear Mark” runs the gamut. The topics will be somewhat familiar, since I tackle wheat, minimalist shoes, high-fat diets in the news, and vitamin D, but with interesting spins on each. First, I discuss the link between wheat and asthma. Next, I do a somewhat exhaustive search of the available winter minimalist shoe options, a topic that I’ve never had cause to explore for myself. Since I do this for you guys, though, I tried to help out. After that, it’s my quick but (in my mind) pretty conclusive take on the latest article to pin cognitive decline on a high-fat diet for a reader who’s dealing with a similar condition herself (or himself; the gender of the name “Jo” is somewhat ambiguous). And finally, I discuss whether or not there’s a best time of day to obtain vitamin D from the sun.

Let’s get going:

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Is It Primal? – Non-Alcoholic Beer, Non-Alcoholic Wine, Gluten-Free Beer, and Other Foods Scrutinized

I suppose you could call today’s “Is it Primal?” the alcohol edition, because we’re dealing with three alcohol-related inquiries. Actually, two of the inquiries relate to non-alcoholic beverages, one to an alcoholic beverage, one to a substance that can potentially facilitate alcohol-induced activities, and one to a substance that can help relieve sunburns that you get after passing out in the sun from too many alcoholic beverages. Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch, but I think you get the point. I dig into the suitability and Primality of non-alcoholic beer, non-alcoholic wine (the horror!), gluten-free beer, the Andean aphrodisiac known as maca root, and the humble but ubiquitous aloe vera.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

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The Problems with Modern Wheat

This may seem like a redundant topic, since most of you following a Primal eating plan are already avoiding wheat. The occasional dabbing of soy sauce, maybe a bit of crusty bread at a restaurant, sure, but for the most part, you’re not munching on baguettes in parks on sunny days, wolfing down huge sandwiches, and eating pasta. Wheat avoidance tends to be the rule in our circle. Still, though, haven’t you had that moment where someone asks “What’s wrong with wheat?” and you mutter something about gluten and the advent of agriculture that doesn’t really sound convincing, even to you? Consider today’s post a crash course in exactly why modern wheat in particular is a problem. To borrow a horrible concept that has helped politicians and their cronies obfuscate the truth for decades, these are “talking points” to which you can always refer when asked. The only difference is that these talking points are based on actual research.

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The Primal Blueprint 8 Key Concepts

With the Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge having just begun, it’s the perfect time to go over the Primal Blueprint 8 Key Concepts. I believe that fully grokking these powerful ideas is crucial to success during the challenge. As the saying goes, knowledge is power. Having a firm grasp of these key concepts will provide a framework for – and make you more resolute in – your daily decisions. Read them, commit them to memory, live by them, and you’ll be well on your way to a lifetime of health and wellness.

In the coming days and weeks, I will lay out the path to Primal health in greater detail, but for now, are you ready to learn the basics? Let’s get to it…

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How Common is Gluten Sensitivity?

I’ve long suspected that everyone has some degree of sensitivity to gluten, even if they’ve never been formally diagnosed and even if they don’t notice any overt symptoms after eating it. Now we have concrete evidence that non-celiac gluten sensitivity actually exists. My own story was that of a lifetime grain-eater who defended my “right” to eat grains until I was 47 – until the evidence was just too overwhelming to ignore. Once I gave them up as part of a 30-day experiment, lo and behold, my arthritis cleared up, my lifelong IBS went away, and my occasional GERD disappeared. Ditching grains, especially wheat, changed my life for forever and made me understand how easy it is for so many people to overlook this possible problem. A recent study, which I highlighted in Weekend Link Love, confirmed the existence of non-celiac wheat sensitivity. Subjects without the atrophied villi (tiny projects that line the intestines and help absorb nutrients) characteristic of celiac and without positive tests for various markers that indicate celiac experienced gluten-related symptoms after a blinded wheat challenge. It doesn’t give us much of a clue as to the prevalence of sensitivity, but it establishes that such a thing might exist among the general population.

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Is Wheat Addictive?

Within the Primal/paleo community and elsewhere, it’s often stated offhandedly that wheat is addictive. And absolutely, wheat for many people feels like something they could never give up. I hear it all the time: “I couldn’t live without bread.” “What would I do without cereal, dinner rolls, toast, {insert your favorite grain-based food item here}.” And wheat is often the main culprit in the sugar/insulin rollercoaster that drives sugar-burners’ need to eat (more wheat) every few waking hours. But is wheat addictive in a different sense – as an opiate like heroin and other drugs? Today I take a look at the research and attempt to separate fact from fiction. What do we really know about wheat as an opiate? Let’s find out…

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