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: prevention

What You Need to Know About Foodborne Illness – Part 2: Kitchen Strategies

Last week’s post on foodborne illness might have set a few people’s teeth (or stomachs) on edge. For others, it might have brought up some unfortunate memories of weathering their own bouts of food poisoning. Regardless, reading much about these nasty little pathogens surely makes a person want to know how to steer clear of them. A few readers even noted the tension of “waiting a week” for the follow-up on how to actually help prevent the insidious effects of these common pathogens. Maybe reading about foodborne illness is like hearing that someone in the room has lice. Immediately, you start itching – or in this case, worrying about that last thing you ate.

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What You Need to Know About Foodborne Illness – Part 1

It’s a regular headline: “# of People Sickened by Contaminated Food.” Most recently, it was a case of imported cucumbers with salmonella (one of the most common and serious foodborne pathogens) that resulted in at least 341 people ill and two dead across 30 states. It’s difficult when public service information shifts us toward viewing our food with a nervous eye. The CDC estimates approximately 48 million people get sick from foodborne illness each year. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalized and about 3000 die.

So, what do we do with this information? At best, we decide to learn more about the bigger picture of our modern food supply. At its worst, we go to the place of panic, anxiety-ridden that every single item we bring home must be sanitized or cooked within an inch of its life. Some people even take the news as confirmation that fresh (real) food as “too dangerous” and join the brigade that believes/sells processed, packaged and otherwise adulterated food products as the only “safe options.” Never mind that fast food and processed products have been the subject of these events in the past…

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The Best Kind of Health Insurance

I’m not interested in talking about Supreme Court decisions, the Affordable Health Care Act or for-profit versus non-profit business models. No, today I have something else in mind. It’s a perspective on health insurance that gets almost no attention at all despite the high costs and even higher stakes.

Let’s look at an actual definition first. From Wikipedia: “Health insurance is insurance against the risk of incurring medical expenses among individuals.” And can those darn expenses ever get expensive… Just as budget experts and lifestyle minimalists advise that the best price is no price when that’s an option, I’d argue the same principle applies here. The cheapest health bill is no bill. And what if our daily choices could help make this possible?

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Doctors of the Future: 3 Promising Trends in Medical Education

Isn’t it a funny thing when you spend time on a given project (like, say, a blog post) only to find when it’s done that an intriguing new angle shows up in your line of vision? Take last week’s post on health check-ups and how they might be more effective with some strategic re-envisioning. The next day an article on culinary medicine got me thinking about medical training and the myriad of possibilities for physicians who want to enhance their understanding of nutrition, exercise and lifestyle change (and for patients who would prefer a doctor who has this everyday health knowledge).

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Health Check-Ups: How Important Are They, Really?

This past weekend’s “Link Love” highlighted an article called “Rethinking Movement: Why You Should See a Physical Therapist Every Year.” Arguing for a systemic approach to movement and a deeper appreciation for the interconnections among the body’s neuromuscular, skeletal, cardiovascular and even endocrine functioning, professor emerita of physical therapy, Dr. Shirley Sahrmann proposes that taking a more preemptive approach to movement (a.k.a. prehab) throughout life can head off injury, osteoarthritis, chronic pain as well as the common surgeries and other intensive or pharmaceutical treatments related to these conditions. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a channel surfer, she claims an annual check-up by a physical therapist should be routine practice. Having seen so many injuries and pain issues as a trainer (and suffered from them myself), I find her proposal very compelling. More than that, however, her reasoning opens up a larger question: what really should we be monitoring on an annual basis?

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Dear Mark: Preventing Age-Related Muscle Loss, Sprouted Barley-Fed Meat, and a Pistachio Downside

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got three questions and three answers. First up is a question from Casey, whose father is losing strength and muscle despite maintaining an active lifestyle. What can he do — dietarily and otherwise — to staunch and reverse the losses? Next, Australian cattle farmers are increasingly turning to sprouted grain as a replacement for standard grain feed. How does it compare to pasture feeding? Are there nutritional differences between sprouted and regular grain fodder? And finally, what do we make of the recent study showing negative effects in cyclists who ate a high-pistachio diet for two weeks? Should we rethink our stance on pistachios — and nuts in general?

Let’s go:

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Is Your Workout Worth the Risk?

Almost everyone I know has a chronic injury of some sort. Maybe it’s a lower back that needs extra warming up before a long day, a knee that gets stiff on cold nights, or a tweaked shoulder that prevents good overhead positioning. They’re usually not crippling, debilitating, or otherwise serious infirmities, but they are injuries that limit quality of life and performance. And all those people, to a person, got their injuries from training. My understanding is that this is true for most people who exercise regularly. Injuries happen to everyone.

It’s possible that I’m experiencing selection bias. Perhaps the injury history of the general exercising public isn’t anything like the history of my circle of ex and current endurance athletes, serious fitness buffs, Ultimate Frisbee enthusiasts, and otherwise active individuals. But I’d wager that most people who step foot into a gym have a nagging injury of some sort. The research suggests injuries happen quite frequently.

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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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Why Some Sun Exposure Will Protect You from Deadly Skin Cancer

How does sun exposure relate to skin cancer risk?

The simplistic, popular story is that sunlight exposure has a linear relationship with cancer, similar to how we view smoking. None is safest and each additional minute in the sun will increase our chance of getting cancer. Many people (maybe most) therefore live in a world with danger lurking beyond every shadow, umbrella, overhang, and roof. You let your kid go outside without a layer of sunblock so thick he looks like he’s been smashed in the face with a whip cream pie, and you’re a terrible mother. And don’t even think about the beach unless you’re wearing a burqa. It’s even got a scary name: ultraviolet radiation. Radiation! Isn’t that the stuff inside nucular bombs?

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4 Foods That Have Surprising Medicinal Benefits

“Let food be thy medicine,” said some old Roman guy, I think. Whoever he was, he was right. Food is the foundation for preventive medicine. It’s the first thing we examine when figuring out a health issue, and successful changes to what we eat usually have the most profound effect on our health. If we don’t eat well, we won’t be healthy – simple as that.

But what if food literally was medicine? What if certain foods had specific, established pharmacological effects that rivaled certain pharmaceuticals?

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