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: is it primal?

Is It Primal? – Nut Milks, Maca Root, Stinky Tofu, and Other Foods Scrutinized

It’s been awhile since we’ve done one of these, hasn’t it? I had thought I’d exhausted the pool of foods and supplements for the “Is It Primal?” series, and that I’d be scraping the bottom of the barrel. Well, I was wrong. The questions about specific items have been pouring in unabated, and today it’s time to cover the next round of questionable foods. First up are nut milks, a perennial favorite of the dairy-free paleo world. Then I cover the widely used root with purported aphrodisiac qualities, maca, followed by stinky, smelly, grimy, pungent fermented tofu. There’s that word – “fermented” – that always makes us stop and reconsider a food. After that, I explore the suitability of azomite, a garden soil amendment and livestock feed supplement that some humans use as a mineral supplement. Last up are glass noodles made from mung bean starch.

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We Don’t Know What Constitutes a True Paleo Diet

Critics often lambast the Primal Blueprint and other ancestral/paleo ways of eating for what they see as fatal flaws:

First, that we don’t know what our ancestors were truly eating.

Second, that there wasn’t just one paleo diet.

Third, that even if we could know exactly what our ancestors were eating, it doesn’t mean those foods were the ideal foods; they were trying to eat whatever was available, not whatever was most nutritious or synergistic with their genome.

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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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Is It Primal? – Soda Water, Listerine, Tamarind, and Other Foods Scrutinized

It’s time for another edition of “Is It Primal?” Judging from the endless stream of questions I receive regarding the suitability of certain foods and ingredients, I’m not sure I’ll ever run out of things to scrutinize. As always, though, know that no single food I cover in these posts will make or break your health. If I give an unfavorable verdict to one of your favorite foods, that doesn’t mean you have to banish it from your diet forever. It doesn’t mean the occasional dalliance will necessarily make something rotten in the state of your metabolism. It just means that, given the opportunity to choose between something (approved) like a slab of grass-fed beef, a pastured egg, some sautéed kale, or a sweet potato and something (not approved) like sourdough rye, I’d choose the former. You might not, and that’s fine.

That said, let’s get down to it!

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Is It Primal? – Pork Rinds, Cottage Cheese, Monk Fruit Sweetener, and Other Foods Scrutinized

It’s time for another edition of “Is It Primal?” Before I begin, though, I want to reiterate that these are just my general recommendations. People ask for my opinion on various foods, and I provide them with an answer. It’s tough and nigh impossible to delineate Primal or not Primal in black and white terms, simply because the suitability of a food depends not only on the composition of that food, but also the context of the person who’s (considering) eating it. I’ll give you the basics, I’ll give you my opinion, and you have to determine the specifics. Sound good? And hey, don’t throw out your expensive electronics after reading this post.

Anyway, today we’re discussing pork rinds, cottage cheese, monk fruit sweetener, sago, and black elderberry syrup. Let’s get to it.

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Is It Primal? – Popcorn, Corn Tortillas, Rye, and Other Foods Scrutinized

Every so often, people ask about foods that are clearly not Primal. While the more diehard among you might expect me to ignore and lambast these fine folks, I think this is the wrong tactic. We can’t have any sacred cows (except, perhaps, grass-fed ones) in this business; we must always be willing to examine our beliefs and explore “forbidden” foods. If some of them turn out to be not so bad – or even beneficial – we end up with even more choices. And that’s generally a good thing to have. Plus, even though most of the questionable foods may not end up getting “Primal approval,” at least we’ll be more informed and better prepared to make good choices when we decide to “stray” or cheat. Because cheating is going to happen. Because the 80/20 rule is a good rule to follow. Why not know what we’re getting into? Why not lean toward harm reduction, even as we eat something that isn’t exactly Primal?

That’s ultimately what this ongoing series is all about.

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Is It Primal? – Smoked Salmon, Nutritional Yeast, 5-Hour Energy Drinks, and Other Foods Scrutinized

It’s about that time for another round of “Is It Primal?” Today we’re covering smoked salmon, a surprisingly stable source of omega-3s. After that, I finally get to nutritional yeast, a food that many of you have been asking about for many moons. I hope you’re happy with the answer. Next up are 5-Hour Energy Drinks, which aren’t quite as bad as you might think. After that, I cover the edibility of brines – olive, pickle, sauerkraut, cocktail onion, and so on. The final object of scrutiny is Kremelta, a kind of coconut oil shortening.

Let’s take a look:

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Is it Primal? – Balsamic Vinegar, Chestnuts, Apricot Kernels, and Other Foods Scrutinized

It’s time for yet another edition of “Is It Primal?” where I determine and decree the worthiness of various foods. First up, I discuss balsamic vinegar – both types – and explain whether or not it belongs in a Primal eating plan. After that, chestnuts get roasted over the open fire of my analysis. Apricot kernels, those weird little almond lookalikes, are next, followed by chitosan. Finally, I cover the safety and healthfulness of Korean nori snacks. Keep in mind, readers: once my edict on a particular food has been handed down, once it has been deemed Primal or not Primal, the word is sacrosanct. It must be hewed to, or else you will suffer the consequences, which can include such horrors as revocation of your Primal Cred card or banishment to Vegan Island.

Take heed.

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Is It Primal? – Chai, Rice Noodles, Choffy, and Other Foods Scrutinized

It never ends, does it? Right when you feel like you can settle down into your way of eating, right when you’re about to draw the blanket made of plants, animals, and maybe a little dark chocolate up around your shoulders and drift off to a restful sleep in your pitch black room untainted by artificial lighting, a niggling doubt of a question worms its way into your head: is [insert food or drink that you’ve loved since childhood/wondered about since going Primal/been asked about from curious friends] Primal? And so you toss off the blanket, leap out of bed, throw open your laptop and fire away an email to me asking about the food’s place in the lifestyle. I don’t blame you, because I’m constantly doing the same kind of thing with my own question mark foods.

Yes, it’s that time again, boys and girls: another edition of “Is it Primal?” This should be a fun one with wide appeal, because today we’re dealing with a variety of foods from around the world. Chai, the famous Indian tea, gets top billing, followed by rice noodles and Choffy. Then, I finish off with my take on “gluten-free” real sourdough bread and Marmite.

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Is It Primal? – Non-Alcoholic Beer, Non-Alcoholic Wine, Gluten-Free Beer, and Other Foods Scrutinized

I suppose you could call today’s “Is it Primal?” the alcohol edition, because we’re dealing with three alcohol-related inquiries. Actually, two of the inquiries relate to non-alcoholic beverages, one to an alcoholic beverage, one to a substance that can potentially facilitate alcohol-induced activities, and one to a substance that can help relieve sunburns that you get after passing out in the sun from too many alcoholic beverages. Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch, but I think you get the point. I dig into the suitability and Primality of non-alcoholic beer, non-alcoholic wine (the horror!), gluten-free beer, the Andean aphrodisiac known as maca root, and the humble but ubiquitous aloe vera.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

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