Tag: immune health

10 Ways to Stay Healthy During Holiday Travel

According to AAA, nearly 100 million Americans will be traveling during what they call the “year-end holiday season” (Dec. 23-Jan. 4). On the positive side, this means possibly spending quality time with family and friends, experiencing new destinations or enjoying a break from the routine of work and (at least some) domestic duties. On the other hand, it can mean a lot of sedentary time, roadside food, poor sleep, collective stress and airport crowds (with their accompanying germs). When the hoopla ends, some of us will greet the New Year relatively unscathed with little more than mild fatigue and gratitude for some peace and quiet. Others, however, will succumb to the added pressures on physical and mental health and spend a portion of their travel time (or what was supposed to be travel time) nursing an illness. It’s little wonder, given the holidays offer the perfect set-up with their intersection of extra-everything when we probably do better with less of, well, just about all of it. It’s a practical Primal question: how can we keep ourselves healthy (and sane) when the best intentions of the season turn on us?

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Dear Mark: Unraveling a Stress Ball, Fiber for Plant-Hating Tot, Offal with Grains, and Exercising with a Cold

For today’s Dear Mark, we’ve got a four-parter. First up is one from a woman in her mid-30s trying to recover from a three-year bout of chronic stress — and all the metabolic fallout that entails. Are there any supplements to help with her situation? Second, what do you feed a picky kid who hates vegetables, hates fruit with peels, and needs more prebiotic fiber? I give a quick list of ideas for getting things moving again. Third, are traditional foods like haggis and liver pâté worth eating if they contain non-Primal ingredients you’d usually avoid? Are the nutrients found in offal really that important? And finally, I help a reader figure out whether she should be exercising while sick.

Let’s go:

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Dear Mark: Can’t Afford Good Meat, Allergy or Preference, Cold Pasta, and Protein in Pregnancy

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a four-parter. First up, how does a person hope to maintain a Primal lifestyle if they can’t afford pastured meats and eggs and are unwilling to eat factory-farmed meat? Is it possible? Yes; read on. Next, what’s the deal with waiters asking if we’re avoiding bread because of “preference” or “allergy”? What’s it to ’em? Third, should Primal people care about the recent study showing a reduced blood glucose response after eating leftover pasta? We should, and I’ll explain why. Finally, how should a husband counsel a pregnant wife who wants nothing to do with mammal meat? I give a few tips.

Let’s go:

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11 Signs You’re Not As Healthy As You Think You Are

You could be the picture of health to everyone who beholds you, feel generally “okay” on a daily basis without any real complaints, and never really feel compelled to visit the doctor for any specific issue. Plus, you’re Primal, so what could possibly go wrong? Except that many of us, if we stop to think about it, have little niggling symptoms that annoy us. And some of them could portend more serious conditions. I don’t want to worry anyone or freak you guys out. I just want you to be aware of seemingly inconsequential symptoms before they become more serious.

I’ve omitted the obvious signs that people don’t ignore, like blood in the toilet or the sudden inability to bear weight on one leg, to focus on the subtler symptoms that many of us take for granted.

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How to Safely Expose Your Kids to Dirt

If you’ve been reading this blog for any reasonable stretch of time, you know that I’m a big proponent of getting dirty. By overvaluing sterility and fearing dirt – in our homes, our guts, even our hospitals – we’ve impaired our immune systems, our gut and digestive health, and even our mental health. The world is a dirty place, and we need to accept that. We need to embrace it, within reason, especially if we’re wards of tiny still-developing humans for whom exposure to dirt has important and resounding benefits. You’ve got the benefits to current and future immune function that I’ve gone over in the past. Then you’ve got soil-based microbes like Mycobacterium vaccae, which increase serotonin levels and may be responsible for the positive disposition that seems to be universal among hobby gardeners. It’s probably why kids have a natural inclination to engage with the ground, get handsy with the soil and make out with mother nature. I say we let them.

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A Primal Primer: Leaky Gut

After I mentioned it in last week’s 10 Principles of Primal Living (Finally) Getting Mainstream Media Coverage post, several readers emailed asking about leaky gut. What is it? How do I know if I have it? Why should I care if I have it? What do I do if I have it? And so on. Turns out many and maybe most people have but a vague idea of what leaky gut actually means.

Today, I’m going to fix that.

In most popular conceptions of human physiology, the gut exists primarily as a passive conduit along which food travels and breaks down for digestion and absorption. It’s where bacteria hang out and digestive enzymes go to work. It’s a “place,” an inert tunnel made of flesh and mucus. Lots of things happen there but the gut itself isn’t doing much.

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7 Things You Had No Idea Gut Bacteria Could Do

If you’re a regular Mark’s Daily Apple reader, you probably have at least a generally accurate if somewhat vague notion of the important functions performed by our gut bacteria. They’re a “big part” of our immune systems. They “improve digestion” and “eat the fibers and resistant starches” that our host enzymes cannot digest. Yeah, gut bacteria are hot right now. Everyone’s talking about them. And, since our host cells are famously outnumbered by our gut bacteria, 10 to 1, we need to be apprised of all that they do.

We don’t know everything yet – and we probably never will – but here are some of the most interesting and unexpected functions of our gut bacteria:

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Dear Mark: Bone Broth Nutrients and Alternatives to Agriculture

Today’s edition of Dear Mark is a two-parter. First, I dig a bit deeper into the nutrients found in bone broth. A reader’s come across some startling nutritional data that seems to call into question the legitimacy of our community’s collective love affair with hot bone water. Find out if we’ve been overselling the benefits. Then, I discuss humankind’s tendency to (try to) tame, quell, counteract, and otherwise improve on nature’s mysterious workings. Can we come up with a viable alternative to agriculture, often characterized as our most egregious offense?

Let’s go:

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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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Are Parasites Primal?

The environment of ages past has shaped who we are today, even (or especially) the difficult, unpleasant stuff – this is the foundation of ancestral health. Take exercise. Early man’s daily life was one of frequent, constant activity interspersed with infrequent bouts of intense activity. Hard exercise is, well, hard and physically unpleasant in the moment, and constant low level activity is often untenable given modern schedules, but both make us stronger, healthier, and ultimately happier. Intermittent fasting, while difficult, can be beneficial when artificially imposed today because our genome evolved under periods of nutritional stress where food was scarce. Going without food from time to time was expected; it was our genome’s evolutionary backdrop. Our bodies evolved with these hardships as assumed and inevitable aspects of the environment. Our modern bodies function best when exposed to these hardships.

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