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

Dear Mark: Visting Family – Primal Compromises and Grain Alternatives

Dear Mark,

Browsing the Crossfit nutrition forums, I recently came across an interesting discussion about buckwheat, a possible Primal-friendly grain alternative. It caught my eye because I’ve been on the lookout for alternatives to pasta and bread ever since I found out that my Standard-American-Diet family will be visiting for an entire week (!) next month. What are your thoughts on buckwheat in particular and my conundrum at large?

I’ve previously covered a number of popular grain alternatives in my post about quinoa. In that post you’ll find suggestions like eggplant, butternut squash, crustless quiche, sweet potatoes and stuffed mushrooms. These are good go-to options when you are feeding family members that are used to starchier foods, or when you are making the transition to Primal eating and are finding it difficult to not revert back to eating your usual biscuits, pasta dishes, pancakes and croissants. But what of buckwheat?

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The Definitive Guide to Grains

Amber Waves of Pain
Order up! Yes, folks, it?s definitive guide time again. I?ve read your requests and am happy (as always) to oblige. Grab your coffee (or tea), and pull up a seat. Glad you?re with us.

Insulin, cholesterol, fats? They?re only the tip of the iceberg. I?ve had a few ?definitive? topics up my sleeve for a while now, and grains are it for today. Yes, grains. I know we?ve given them a bad rap before, and it?s safe to say I?ll do it again here. Sometimes the truth hurts, but you know what they say about the messenger, right? Without further ado?

Grains. Every day we?re bombarded with them and their myriad of associations in American (and much of Western) culture: Wilford Brimley, Uncle Ben, the Sunbeam girl, the latest Wheaties athlete, a pastrami on rye, spaghetti dinners, buns for barbeque, corn on the cob, donuts, birthday cake, apple pie, amber waves of grain?. Gee, am I missing anything? Of course. So much, in fact, that it could ? and usually does ? take up the majority of supermarket square footage. (Not to mention those government farm subsidies, but that?s another post.) Yes, grains are solidly etched into our modern Western psyche ? just not so much into our physiology.

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Dear Mark: Gluten

Dear Mark,

You talk a lot about the evils of grains. I follow your logic on why a grain free diet is best, and I have seen weight loss and just feel better overall since heeding your advice. But there is one thing (well, more than one) that I don’t understand but hear about often. Could you explain what gluten is and why it should be avoided?

Gluten is a large, water-soluble protein that creates the elasticity in dough. It’s found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, triticale, and oats. These days it’s also found in additives like thickeners and fillers used in everything from lunch meat to soup to candy.

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Yet Another Half-Baked Grain Study

If you’re anything like me you get a little tired of staring at a monitor for hours on end. I spend a good deal of my time reading the major health and science journals, so I often print out the latest studies and work through them while catching some sun and fresh air in the backyard. (It’s a nicer vista than Vista…)

It was early Saturday that I read a study so obscenely stupid and so ridiculously far-fetched in its conclusion, I nearly choked on my coffee. PLoS posted a cohort study and review (a meta-analysis) of dietary intake of whole grains vs. refined grains and the corresponding impact upon type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, it’s yet another half-baked study, and possibly one of the least intelligent conclusions on grains that I’ve seen to date. Not only are there at least a half-dozen glaring problems en route to the conclusion, but the entire study works from an internally flawed premise.

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Sisson Says: Don’t “Loaf” Around

CARB CONCERNS

Apples are asking what I think about bread. The short answer: not very much. But this is an ongoing issue worthy of some debate, so let’s get it started:

In general, the best source of carbohydrates is a vegetable, not a grain (unless you are an athlete, in which case, you’re probably just trying to consume as many calories as possible).

Among other things, grains contain lectins, a mild toxin (is there such a thing as a mild toxin?). Technically, grains don’t “want” to be your next meal. They didn’t really evolve to be our food source – we humans exploited them when we figured out how easy they were to grow. Consequently, they’re in everything – especially processed foods – because they’re cheap and can be made into just about anything, from sauces to syrups to candies to side dishes.

It’s not for nothing that our ancestors ate only flesh (meat and fish), nuts, roots, fruits and berries, and grabbed at wild greens for fiber. In fact, there’s a whole dietary movement – sometimes called the Caveman diet, sometimes the Paleo diet – we cautiously subscribe to (I’m uncomfortable with extreme diets, though I also am uncomfortable with how we define “extreme”!) Why? Grains are a relatively new thing for humans, and the evidence increasingly points to the notion that this isn’t a good development. If you’re into learning more, check out our Carbs category.

I recommend that you stick to zero grains a day. On the whole, I stick to vegetables for my carbs – I just don’t really “do” carbs. Vegetables have far more vitamins, fiber and minerals than grain-sourced carbohydrates, and they are much lower in calories, giving you room for protein and vital fat. Vegetables also keep your blood sugar levels at a healthy, low level, so you don’t start pumping your pancreas to death.

Scientists point out that the human body was designed to subsist on a mixture of fresh vegetables, good fats (from nuts, fish, oils, and meats), and protein (from fresh meats, beans, a little dairy, and fish). Add in plenty of water, occasional fruit, and you’re set. On the whole, avoid the processed, unnatural, refined, sugary stuff. Try it for just one week and you’ll notice a big difference – really.

[tags] caveman diet, paleolithic diet, paleo diet, no-grain diet, sugar, blood sugar, grains, fiber, paleodan, anthropology [/tags]

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