Tag: hormones

The Definitive Guide to Resistant Starch

A few years back, I briefly covered a throwaway Yahoo! article about how “carbs will make you lose weight” because so many readers had emailed about it. It turned out that the “carbs” in the article were resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate that our digestive enzymes cannot break down. I’ll admit now, with regret, that I didn’t look as deeply into the matter as I might have. I didn’t dismiss resistant starch, but I did downplay its importance, characterizing it as “just another type of prebiotic” – important but not necessary so long as you were eating other fermentable fibers. While technically true, we’re fast learning that resistant starch may be a special type of prebiotic with a special place in the human diet.

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Dear Mark: Wheat Germ Agglutinin and Leptin, Early Allergen Introduction, Fasted Training, Green Bananas, and Sunchokes

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a five-parter. First, I discuss wheat germ agglutinin’s potential interaction with the leptin receptor. Next, I explore the prospect of introducing gluten and peanuts (among other potential allergens) to youngsters as a way to prevent allergies from developing. I also discuss whether fasted workouts are a sound strategy to boost fat burning, if any good non-nightshade sources of resistant starch exist, and the nutritional benefits of sunchokes.

Let’s go:

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Dear Mark: Milk Thistle and Estrogen, Low Libido, and Pollution Mitigation

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a three-parter. First, I cover the potentially estrogenic effects of milk thistle extract and discuss whether or not it’s a problem for your endocrine health that outweighs the benefits to liver health. Next, I discuss the reasons why someone might have a low libido eating a paleo style diet, and give a few potential solutions to explore. And finally, Carrie helps a reader figure out some ways to mitigate or avoid the damage wrought by air pollution. It’s everywhere these days, but that doesn’t mean we have to sit there and accept our fate.

Let’s go:

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The “Inevitabilities” of Aging: How Inevitable Are They?

How many times have you heard someone say, “It’s all downhill after 40/50/60?” Or how about that time you tweaked your back and everyone was quick to tell you to get used to it because it’s never going to get any better? Some people, I guess, prefer to have control over their health wrested out of their hands and distributed to the fates. Some people like the idea of letting “nature take its course.” At least that way nothing that goes wrong is your fault, because you never had a chance anyway, right?

Wrong. Age isn’t “just” a number, and we can’t maintain Dorian Gray-esque vigor all through life, but that doesn’t mean we’re destined to be frail, brittle things relegated to chairs and walkers and homes and doctor’s offices.

Today, let’s take a look at some common “inevitabilities” of aging and why they may not be so inevitable after all.

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5 Helpful Analogies for Understanding Complex Health Issues

For millennia, the best teachers have used stories, analogies, and parables to break down complicated concepts into understandable bits that everyone can grasp. Aesop’s fables, the greatest religious texts throughout history, and Plato’s allegory of the cave are some of the most famous, showing us how to live morally, contemplate our existence, and make our way through the dilemmas that comprise everyday life. Today, I’m going to discuss five simple analogies that can help you understand five complex health topics a bit better, or perhaps be able to introduce them to the people (often skeptical or less-than-scientifically-inclined friends and relatives) around you who could use the lesson.

Let’s get right to it:

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Why We Crave Comfort Foods

We all have them – ”comfort” foods that feel like more than just food. Far beyond the random edibles of our day, these are imbued with the likes of positive memories, celebratory identities, nurturing associations. They’re the feel-good recipes or psychological standbys that satiate us on a deeper level. Irrational as it might sound (but isn’t really), food is more than function. It’s more than taste or even nutrition (gasp!). Food, specifically our personal list of comforting favorites (resulting from cultural and emotional experience), has the power to shift our mood as well as our physiology.

When we go Primal, we end up rethinking our relationship with these old standbys. In some cases, we cherish the memory but let them go for the sake of health goals. We might experiment with adapting them, or we might simply reserve the right to enjoy them in their original forms on special occasions. However we re-envision our favorites post-Primal, I’d suggest we don’t need to throw out the concept of comfort food itself. Though the actual preferences are personal, the impact of comfort food as a whole is real – and measurable. Research has shown that eating – or even writing about – comfort food actually blunts negative emotions like loneliness. As with any phenomenon, the more we understand it, the better able we are to use it for good in our lives and health.

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Dear Mark: Sleepy After Chicken, Microwaving Bone Broth, and Safest CAFO Meat

It’s time for yet another edition of Dear Mark, and this time I’m covering some interesting topics. First up is the phenomenon of sleepiness following a meal of chicken with the skin on. Far from being an unwelcome, foggy sort of fatigue, this particular brand of sleepiness is pleasing. Could it be something in the chicken? Next, I discuss whether or not the proteins in bone broth are irreparably alerted – in a bad way – upon microwave exposure. I don’t come to an ironclad conclusion, but I do try to give some perspective on the issue. Finally, I try to decide on the “safest” CAFO meat to order when you’re unable to procure grass-fed or pastured. Let’s go:

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How to Get Fitter, Faster and Stronger with Quality Sleep

Ah, sleep. We all know how much we need it, mostly because when we don’t get enough, the world takes on a different, more negative hue. Lights seem brighter and sounds more vivid, and not in a good way. Perpetual fogginess clouds our thoughts, slurs our words, and prevents us from focusing on anything but the coffee pot timer. And then there’s the sleep deprivation research corroborating our experiences and explaining in lurid detail just how vital sleep is for our health. I’ve done my part in bringing this information to you, focusing for the most part on the metabolic health benefits of getting sufficient quality time with everyone’s sweet slumbery mistress. I’ve linked to articles discussing the links between poor sleep and ill liver health, disrupted metabolic function, and cancer. If you’re a regular reader of MDA, you’re probably aware of all this. Bad sleep can make you fat, sick, and prone to serious degenerative diseases.

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Dear Mark: Obesogens, Tots Who Hate Veggies, and Pregnancy Recovery

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’ve got three topics for you. First are the obesogens, those endocrine-disrupting chemicals that permeate our environment, our foods, our consumer products, and even our bodies. They sound scary and terrible, but how much should we be worrying about them? Next up is the tot who hates his veggies, as classic a trope as any other. Should we be force feeding these kids broccoli, collard greens, and butternut squash at all costs? Or should we take a more laissez faire approach and let them develop their tastes on their own? Finally, I discuss the importance of proper pregnancy recovery, especially in regards to lifting heavy (and not so heavy but extremely wiggly) things.

Let’s go…

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Dear Mark: Can’t Squat, Please Help; Plus, High CRP, No Symptoms, and Glutathione

In this week’s edition of “Dear Mark,” I answer two reader emails that end up being more like three questions. First, I try to help out Alex, who’s having trouble reaching full depth in the Grok squat without falling over backwards. This is a common issue, believe it or not, and luckily there are some pretty simple fixes that people can try. In my response, I explain why he might be toppling over and what he can do to fix it. After that, I answer a question about C-reactive protein, the “inflammation” marker. One reader is feeling great and sitting at an ideal body weight, but a recent blood test in which CRP was elevated has worried her. She wants to know what she can do about it, so I explain why it might be elevated, why it might not be an issue, why it might be one, and what she can do to boost glutathione, which her doctor recommended she increase.

Let’s go:

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