Tag: injury/ailment

Osteoarthritis is Not Your Destiny

Our concept of health only exists in opposition to its absence. Healthy is the default position. We’re not “supposed” to get strokes, coronary heart disease, diabetes, or cancer. Sure, a few people, here and there, are far more likely to suffer the ravages of the degenerative diseases of civilization, but the real numbers are inflated. For most of the population, we can avoid the worst of it, and if you spend a bit of time on MDA or any other ancestral online communities, you’ll see example after example of people taking charge of their health and experiencing newfound vibrancy. We’ve all gotta die someday, but we most assuredly do not have to die at 56 from a clogged artery.

But I cover longevity plenty. As you know, I’m also interested in increasing one’s enjoyment of life; I’m a big quality over quantity guy (both are good as long as the former is satisfied). And for my money, I can’t think of anything so central to our enjoyment of life as the ability move around pain free.

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A Different Perspective on Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroid has been covered to death before. I’m particularly fond of The Healthy Skeptic’s coverage – check out Chris Kresser’s ongoing series (possibly before you read on) for some great information on the thyroid. Carnivorous Danny Roddy did a good piece on it last year as well. As such, I won’t be redoing or rehashing an “intro to thyroid.” Instead, I’ll give a brief overview and then discuss why I think some of us may be looking at thyroid “dysfunction” in the wrong light.

The thyroid is a complicated little bugger wielding a lot of influence over the metabolism, and it seems like just about anything has been fingered as a trigger of its dysfunction. Lack of carbs in the diet, too few calories, too much iodine, too little iodine, too many grains, intermittent fasting, excessive cortisol, and multiple other factors have gotten the blame. Unraveling the multiple potential triggers for its dysfunction can be tough. But is dysfunction always the right way to describe a slight reduction in thyroid hormones? I’m not so sure.

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Dear Mark: Seasonal Allergies

By numerous accounts, this spring has been the most brutal in years for seasonal allergy sufferers. (Do I see some nodding heads out there?) As much as everyone looks forward to spring, some folks grit their teeth for several weeks or live on a steady dose of allergy pills. I always get questions this time of year from folks who are looking for ways to get through spring a little happier and maybe less medicated. Here’s one such email from reader Joyce….

Dear Mark,

I’m from the Upper Midwest where spring came early this year. No complaining about that, mind you – we earn our warm season! I’ve always had problems in spring, but this year I’ve been in really bad shape (like everybody what I hear). I’m relatively new to your site, and I’m slowly adopting elements of the Primal Blueprint. So far, it’s been going great! It’s got me thinking though about diet and whether what I eat/don’t eat can make any difference. What’s your take on this? I’d love any recommendations that could get me in the garden earlier!

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How to Deal with Overtraining

The thing about overtraining is that it exists on a spectrum, without clear-cut rules or boundaries. As I said last week, sufficient training volume is entirely subjective, and it’s constantly changing depending on an individual trainee’s goals, nutrition, sleep habits, stress levels, and injury status. What worked well for the last three months might prove to be excessive if your diet gets disrupted. A particularly stressful stretch at the office could undo a heretofore-steady strength progression. The human body is resilient, but there are limits – and the limits aren’t always clearly delineated. To divine them, it takes finesse and thoughtful tinkering at the edges. Sometimes you have to fall off the edge to know where it is. It’s more art than science. There are some solid, basically objective ways to deal with it, though, even if you’re not sure what constitutes overtraining for you.

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8 Signs You Are Overtraining

When you spend some time among the ever-growing circle of evolutionary-based health writers, thinkers, bloggers, and doctors, you notice a curious thing happening. Conventional Wisdom is becoming turned on its head. Saturated fat is generally healthy and excessive endurance training is generally unhealthy become the presiding narratives. Grains are either unnecessary or have the tendency to attack the gut lining, even guts with “clinically undetectable levels of sensitivity.” You don’t need six square meals a day to keep your metabolism up and running, after all; one or two a day will do just fine.

Less is more – as far as exercise goes – is becoming another accepted truth, especially when you understand that 80% of your body composition is determined by how you eat.

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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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Bodyweight Exercises and Injury Prevention

Despite our recent spate of posts extolling the many and varied benefits of heavy resistance training, I’ve actually been moving away from the weight room for a couple reasons. Foremost is my desire to stay active and as injury-free as possible. While I still wholeheartedly endorse and believe in lifting hard and lifting heavy, at my age I’m starting to realize that the potential for injury – at least for me, personally – is too great to risk spending three days lifting heavy things on a weekly basis. At this point in my life, my motivation is simply different. I’m not really interested in pushing myself to the limit, let alone past the limit (realistically, those days are behind me); I’m instead focusing on maintaining my current performance. It’s almost a Buddhist thing where I’m content with my strength and my body (and have been for a long time now), rather than dissatisfied and constantly striving for more. I also Grok (or “own”) the notion that my diet dictates 80% of my body composition, so I really don’t have to work so hard to maintain muscle mass, strength, power, body fat etc. I’ve touched on this in the past, but a recent email from reader Griffin made me realize a substantial post was in order.

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The Dirty on Dirty Cow Poop: E. Coli

E. coli, that plucky little strain of intestinal bacteria, has popped up in the news again. You’re probably pretty familiar with its recent appearances (Taco Bell, packaged spinach, alfalfa sprouts, and most famously ground beef – all pretty Primal foods, except for, well, one of ‘em). You may even be alarmed at its apparent ubiquity in our food supply. This time, though, you have no reason to fear it – it was traced back to a Danville, VA Nestle plant pumping out infected cookie dough – unless you’re having one of those hazy 80/20 days where it’s more like 20/80 and you wake up covered in wrappers with that weird chemical film in your mouth that can only come from processed junk. If that’s the case, you might want to exercise caution.

So what is E. coli, exactly?

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H1ow N1ot to Get Swine Flu

Swine flu. Even the hype surrounding it is pandemic. It’s made headlines in every major newspaper and magazine. The CDC has a new press release every half hour. TV talking heads and radio pundits furrow their brows and express extreme consternation as they tell us to start “bracing for the worst.” President Obama has asked for another billion-and–a-half dollars (that we don’t have) to fend off this impending menace. Frightened school boards are halting classes everywhere until they are given a better action plan. Cruises are cancelled, trips are postponed, pigs are slaughtered, nations are blamed. It’s crazy.

I’m sorry. At this point, I’m not buying it.

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Natural Headache Remedies

Months ago, we discussed natural alternatives to OTC pain relievers. Now, before you assume I’m some hippie snake oil peddler, mine is not a blanket, ideological opposition to pharmaceuticals; rather, it’s just that if there are more natural, cheaper, less intrusive ways to relieve pain, why not try them first?

But that last post was just about general pain relief. What about headaches? Nearly everyone gets them on occasion, and they’re seemingly common enough to warrant entire advertising campaigns revolving around their treatment. One of the natural pain relievers we previously noted was willow bark, which is chemically similar to aspirin. That’s an option for headaches. Magnesium, we said, is used to alleviate migraines, which are an especially painful form of headaches. Those are two common treatments, but surely there are other substances, methods, or solutions out there.

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