The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
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...Tell Me More
“Apps aren’t paleo, Sisson. Grok waited for days for aurochs to wander within spear-chucking range, not overnight for the release of the iPhone X.” True. But this is the world we live in. These are the tools we have.
If you’re going to lug around an addictive piece of tech in your pocket all day, it might as well contain some apps that make living healthy and living Primal easier, rather than harder. What follows are some of the best paleo/Primal apps I’ve found. Some I use, some I don’t. They’re not all explicitly “paleo,” but they’re all at least tangentially related to this thing we call the pursuit of optimal health and happiness.
After I turned 60, a routine checkup showed that I had lower-than-normal free testosterone levels. I hadn’t noticed anything that would have alerted me. No symptoms. No indication. Everything worked well. But it nagged at me. I knew testosterone did much more for a man’s health than just “build muscle”—which I had no real interest in at this point—so I decided to explore TRT, or testosterone replacement therapy.
I did a careful survey of the literature, coming away pleasantly surprised. The evidence was almost uniformly in favor, with the well-constructed studies showing major benefits for TRT. This is TRT, mind you. Not “juicing,” not steroid abuse. Restoration of biologically-appropriate levels of testosterone. Thus began my experiment….
The paleo diet and Primal Blueprint way of eating (a.k.a. Primal) are both based on similar evolutionary science. The story goes something like this. Our modern Western diet bears little resemblance to the eating habits of early humans throughout several 100,000 years of evolutionary history. Instead, since the Agricultural Revolution some mere 10,000 years ago, we’ve adopted a nutritional regime to which our physiology is poorly adapted. When the basics of our diet return to the patterns of our pre-agricultural ancestors, we work with, instead of against, our physiology. More simply: eat as our ancestors ate, and we’ll be healthier for it.
The paleo diet and Primal Blueprint both recommend limiting carb intake (especially grains) to only as many as you require for performance, eating more protein and fat, and including lots of veggies as a base. But in the midst of this common ground are some key differences.
Here at Mark’s Daily Apple, I avoid writing off anything without first investigating it. I keep one foot in the “alternative” health world and one in the “conventional” realm, making sure to maintain a skeptical—but openminded—stance on everything. There’s no other way to do it, if you’re honest. At least as far as I can tell.
No, not every alternative therapy works. A lot of it is pure hogwash. But whether we’re talking about off-label uses of conventional drugs and illegal drugs, natural pharmacological agents, or downright outlandish-sounding interventions, some therapies are worth considering. Not trying, necessarily. Considering.
Today I’m taking on a mammoth in the living room so to speak. Based on the emails I’ve received and the string of developments around the issue, it’s maybe a long time coming.
As of November 11, marijuana is legal for recreational or medical use in 26 states. Recreational use is even legal in the nation’s capital, Washington DC. Despite the DEA declining to recognize the therapeutic potential of marijuana, formal medical research proceeds in labs and clinics, while millions of consumers in states like California, Oregon, and Colorado are running informal n=1 personal experiments. Usage has doubled in the last ten years. A recent Gallup poll found that 1 in 8 American adults “say they smoke marijuana.” Pretty much anytime legalization is up for a vote, it passes.
It seems there’s more weed out there than ever before and more people willing to consume it. They’re eating it, applying it sublingually, vaporizing it, and smoking it. Meanwhile, “pro” and “con” claims mount on both sides.
I never cared much for legumes growing up. Growing up, beans were the “magical (or musical) fruit that made you toot.” They existed in a quantum state: beans were your ally in schoolyard rear-facing attacks and your downfall during encounters with that pretty girl from history class. But the issues I had were mostly superficial. I’ve never come out strongly against legumes. My focus has always been on grain avoidance.
Way back, I placed beans and lentils and other legumes in the “Okay” category. If you wanted to eat them, and you had carb calories to spare, they were a decent choice. Flatulence aside, they are relatively nutritious and come with a big dose of prebiotic fiber for your gut flora (hence the gas).
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two reader questions. First, I answer a very specific question about blackstrap molasses, that nutrient-dense sweetener with the distinctive taste. How can a person who hates molasses work it into their diet? Next, I address concerns surrounding a set of healthy whole grain studies that I’m sure you’ve been hearing about. Are whole grains really healthy? Will they make you live long and prosper? Is there something unique to whole grains we’re missing out on?
Wine is one of humankind’s oldest and most favorite beverages not for the health benefits, or the antioxidants, or the resveratrol, but because it enhances life. Poets, authors, artists, philosophers, and laypeople across the ages will tell you that wine makes food taste better, promotes richer conversation, unfetters creative expression (a single glass can really dissolve writer’s block), relaxes the racing mind and emboldens the spirit.
Over the years, I’ve enjoyed wine with dinner and friends. Usually every night. Not only as a gluten-free replacement for the grain-heavy beer I used to drink to wind down at the end of a day, but as a hedge against the various causes of early mortality light-to-moderate wine consumption seems to protect against. Some of the most recent research suggests that moderate wine consumption may even help against the run-of-the-mill cognitive impairments associated with aging. The mechanisms behind the beneficial relationship of wine and health are not fully understood, but most studies attribute it to the high concentrations of polyphenolic compounds, like flavonoids and resveratrol. Even the alcohol itself has benefits in low doses, increasing nitric oxide release and improving endothelial function. The various health benefits associated with moderate wine consumption were just too well known and numerous to ignore.
In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip K. Dick imagines a world overflowing with “kipple,” useless objects like junk mail, paperclips, empty matchboxes, old lightbulbs, depleted batteries, and gum wrappers that reproduce when no one’s around. It’s a drab, dreary, depressing vision of the future. It’s not that bad yet, but we definitely have a problem with stuff. Our oceans contain vast swirling vortexes of microplastics. The average American house contains over 300,000 objects, most of them we’ve long since forgotten. “Hoarders” is a popular, horrifying reality TV show. The growing minimalist movement is a response to all this: a concerted effort to declutter, remove non-essentials, and simplify one’s life. Dozens of minimalist blogs, podcasts, books, and decluttering/organizing businesses have popped up. One of the best-selling books in 2014 was the English translation of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, which asks readers to discard or donate every possession that does not immediately “spark joy.” Her most recent book is already topping charts and spawning a cult of personality. It’s big.
Hang around on nootropic forums where fans and users congregate and you’ll come away with the notion that you’re missing out on a leg up if you’re not taking the latest and greatest nootropic supplement. Nootropics promise vague benefits to “cognition” and “performance,” but what’s really happening? Do nootropics actually work as advertised? Some of them do, absolutely. But others, maybe not so much.
Today’s post will deal solely with compounds, foods, and supplements available over the counter in most countries. Other supplements may have promise, like modafinil and micro-dosed psychedelics, but are unavailable through standard legal means. Plus, their potential benefits may come with some dramatic side effects. So I won’t discuss those. Not today, at least. Instead, I’ll talk about some of the more commonly referred to ways you may (or may not) be able to boost your brain power—some of which are clearly primal approved.