Tag: is it primal?
It’s been a while since I published a Dear Mark post and it’s been a fairly anemic news week, so I thought I’d address a trio of (related) reader questions.
If you’ve ever wondered what it means for a fat to be rancid (both for the fat and your body if you consume it), whether eating just a little store-bought every once in a while is all that bad, or where rice bran oil falls in the spectrum of Primal fats read on.
The first comes from reader Timre –
I am a newcomer to the blog and I have been reading up on oils and fats in here and there is a lot of great information but I am having trouble understanding what fats going rancid and oxidizing under heat means to my health. Can you elaborate on this for me?
I’ve been on a bit of an alternative sweetener kick these past few weeks, for good reason: people want and need to know about this stuff. While a purist shudders at the prospect of any non- or hypo-caloric sugar substitute gracing his or her tongue, I’m a realist. People are going to partake and it’s important to understand what’s entering your body and what, if any, effects it will have. Whether it’s diet soda, artificial sweeteners, stevia, or the mysterious sugar alcohols, people want the sweet without worrying about a big physiological effect – an insulin surge, a blood glucose dip, even a migraine. So I’ve been covering the various types and have tried to be comprehensive about it. As a whole, it all seems fairly safe. Alternative sweeteners might mess with some folks’ adherence to a low-sugar diet, and they might induce or fortify cravings, but the research doesn’t suggest that they’re going to give you cancer or diabetes. The potentially negative effects are all fairly subjective, so it’s safe to play around with them and determine their role in your life based on how they affect your appetite, state-of-mind, and any other subjective health markers.
Quick. What’s a suitable, Primal source of post-workout carbohydrates? If the title of this post and the picture to the right didn’t give you a hint then ask your nearest Primal enthusiast and they’ll tell you without batting an eye, “yams and sweet potatoes”. If, for whatever reason, you need some extra carbs “yams and sweet potatoes” is the answer. Everyone knows this, but is it true?
That’s what I’ll be exploring in today’s post. But first, what are yams and how do they differ from sweet potatoes?
Last week, I made the case that potatoes aren’t nearly as bad as some people make them out to be. They’re carby, sure, but lean, active people who can tolerate carbs are way better off eating potatoes than grains, and even for low-carbers, a potato makes for a good, gluten-free cheat meal. Their place in your diet depends on the metabolic context. In my so-called “final word,” I said there isn’t one, at least not ordained from above. You have to figure out for yourself whether or not they fit into your diet. You might even say you have to go with your gut on this one (in more ways than one, as you’ll see).
Potatoes are controversial in the Primal and paleo world. They represent a bolus of dietary starch, which can wreak havoc on the insulin resistant, but they are undeniably whole, real foods that don’t require much processing beyond simple heating. Grains and legumes, on the other hand, are tiny, disparate sources of calories that need soaking, fermenting, and extensive heating to be palatable (and they’ll still mess you up), but potatoes are big, dense, and obviously food. Chimps have been known to use sticks to dig up and eat wild tubers, and they’ve got even less salivary amylase to break down starch than we do. Evidence exists for human consumption of roots and tubers from multiple sites spanning multiple time periods: Northern Europe (specifically Poland), in the terminal Paleolithic and early Mesolithic. Clearly, we have the physiology (amylase production, glucose metabolism), the tools (fire, hearths, digging implements), and the motivation (attraction to dense caloric sources with negligible or easily neutralized anti-nutrients) to consume starchy tubers.
So what’s the hold up? Why do I generally recommend limiting their intake?
The cereal grain family prides itself on its powerful, expansive arsenal of lectins, phytates, gluten, and other antinutrients. A single seed of its patriarch, wheat, can punch holes in gut linings with ease, and cousin oat has managed to obtain official recognition as being good for the heart even as it doses you with gluten. As healthy whole grains, they hide their armaments in plain sight; they cloak their puny bodies in the very poisons for which they are lauded and applauded. We Primals have got a heated feud going with the family as a whole, but should we paint all its members with the same brush?
Let me draw your attention to rice – diminutive member of the cereal grain family, frequent component of anti-low-carb advocates’ arguments, and the source of much consternation among grain abstainers. Is white rice the proverbial black sheep of the grain family? Does it deserve our full and unwavering opposition? Or, perhaps, can we treat rice like that crazy uncle who drinks a bit too much at family gatherings – occasional visits of short duration are fine and mostly harmless so long as you keep the hard stuff (scotch/soybean oil) locked up?
So you’ve committed to Avoiding Poisonous Things for 30 days. You read the articles from yesterday’s post, cleaned out your pantry and fridge and are ready to get Primal. Now what? After Out With the Old comes in with the new, of course, so it’s time to do some shopping. I want you to fill your kitchen with food that Grok would recognize. These are the foods that the human body is meant to consume. The foods that give us energy and vitality, that make us lean and support our immune systems for a long, healthy and happy life. In short and in full: meat (beef, pork, fowl, fish, etc.), eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and healthy derivative fats/oils and butters (with herbs, spices, extracts, and supplements rounding things out).
Over the next 29 days I’ll be bringing you tips, advice and guidance to help you get through each of the 14 mini-challenges. With well over 2,000 articles on Mark’s Daily Apple, I’ve written extensively about all things related to the Primal lifestyle; from solutions to common stumbling blocks, to simple hacks that produce big results with minimal effort. As such, many of the articles during this month will feature the best that MDA has to offer. Even if you’re a regular MDA reader these challenge articles will prove useful. Not only is it good to periodically revisit the fundamentals I’m sure there will be some articles buried deep in the archives that you’ve missed. And for all Primal Leapers, use this and future challenge articles to complement the Primal Leap Guidebook material.
So you’ve ditched the bags of chips and boxes of crackers and cookies. You’ve found creative uses for all the junk food that used to make up your regular diet. And you’ve Primalized your pantry, stocking up on all the Primal essentials. With nary a can of Cheese Whiz or a bag of Funyuns in sight, what’s a Primal guy or gal to do when a snack attack strikes? I get this question fairly often, and my answer is usually pretty straightforward. But this one from Melanie got me thinking about it again.
I’ve given up chips and crackers and pretzels and granola and all the other high-carb, processed snacks I use to eat between meals. I’ve been Primal for about 6 weeks now and though I’m finding that I rarely have a craving for snack food (I’m hardly ever hungry!) it would still be nice to have a list of Primal approved snacks that require little to no preparation. Thanks for all that you do!
A couple weeks ago, I received an interesting request from a reader:
Hi Mark – first, I know you’ve got a gob of emails beckoning you….I just hope that you can get back to me at some point 🙂 I love reading your blog, so much so that I’ve decided I would like to pursue a career as a nutrition consultant – in natural health of course. I’m so glad there is such an option! Perhaps some of my friends and family would pay a bit more attention if I study & earn a certificate instead of my continual praises of your site and how it’s changed my life. To you and your Bees, my gratitude!
Now, the reason I am messaging you: