Tag: research analysis

Dear Mark: Should Teens Take Creatine?

One of the most common supplement questions I receive is about creatine. Namely, is it good for you? Is it safe? And, today, should teens be using it?

You should run any new supplement or practice by your doctor, but my quick and short answer is “yes.” In general, teens can safely take it with some medical exceptions. Teens can greatly benefit from it. Teens, especially those who don’t eat any animal products, should consider taking creatine. But I don’t only do quick and short answers here. Let’s dig into the science of teen creatine use to determine exactly why it’s so beneficial and safe. First, the question:
Hi Mark,

I have 2 sons who are athletes and asking me about Creatine.
One is 21 and plays college football… and the other is 15 and plays football and baseball.
My youngest one is hitting me up to start taking Creatine. Do you have feedback on this? Or an article you can pint me to that you have written. I have always been against it, only because I don’t know enough about it.

Thanks for your help,
Alicia Murray
Now the details. To begin with, let’s dispel some popular myths about creatine.

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Study: The Link between Body Temperature and Physical Activity

I used to offer extended commentary on new research in a weekly series called “Monday Musings.” I’d cover and summarize a study or two or three, give some commentary, and open it up for questions from the readers. It was a fun and informative way to spend a Monday. Well, with more and more research being published than ever before, and more and more people being interested in health than ever before, I figured I’d resurrect the practice and begin analyzing new research in brief, digestible chunks.

First study is “Historical body temperature records as a population-level ‘thermometer’ of physical activity in the United States.”

I’m not a cold weather guy anymore. Years of living in Malibu and now Miami Beach have softened me. I’ll admit that readily. But back when I was a kid in Maine, I used to brave those cold blustery (even snowy) days without much in the way of cold weather clothing. My friends and I would stay out all day long and never stop moving, never really feeling the cold. We weren’t out there shirtless or anything, but we also weren’t wearing four layers. We weren’t bundled up.

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Yerba Mate: Miracle Tea or Just Another Caffeine Kick?

Yerba mate (YERB-ah mah-TAY). Ever heard of it? It is an herb with a storied history as an alternative to traditional teas for the inhabitants of its native South America. I’ve received numerous emails recently asking about its properties and its role in the Primal Blueprint eating plan. Let’s dive straight in.
What is Yerba Mate?
Yerba mate tea is prepared by steeping the dried leaves and twigs of the mate plant in hot water (not boiling water, which can make the tea bitter). It has an herbal, almost grassy, taste, with some varieties somewhat reminiscent of certain types of green tea. Traditionally, yerba mate is drunk communally from a hollow gourd with a metal straw, but a coffee mug works just as well (you know, for when your gourd is in the dishwasher).

Like many teas and coffees, yerba mate is imbued with an impressive amount of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins and vitamin C. Minerals include manganese, potassium, and zinc, and the antioxidants include quercetin, theobromine, and theophylline, which all have notable health benefits.

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The Definitive Guide to Keto

I use my Los Angeles surroundings as a barometer for changes in the mainstream approach to health, and it holds up quite well. Silicon Valley can claim to be the cradle of technology, but L.A. is definitely the cradle of diet and fitness trends; and the latest is most definitely keto. At the local cafe where every species of Malibu fitness enthusiast gathers to gossip and fuel up, I’m seeing fewer gels and energy bars, and way more butter coffees and discarded packets of the new powdered ketone supplement products.

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7 Mistakes to Avoid When You’re Reading Research

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post about how to read scientific research papers. That covered what to do. Today I’m going to tell you what NOT to do as a consumer of research studies.

The following are bad practices that can cause you to misinterpret research findings, dismiss valid research, or apply scientific findings incorrectly in your own life.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Reading Scientific Research

Scientific journal articles can be incredibly intimidating to read, even for other scientists. Heck, I have a Ph.D. in a research science and have authored scientific papers, but sometimes I look at a research report outside my field of study and just go, “Nope, can’t decipher this.”

Learning to read them is an important skill, however, in today’s environment of what I call “research sensationalism.” This is where the popular media gets hold of a scientific research report and blows the findings WAY out of proportion, usually while misrepresenting what the researchers actually did and/or found. You know what I’m talking about.

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Dear Mark: Increased Red Meat, Reduced Carb, Increased Death?

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions. First, what’s the deal with the new Harvard study claiming that eating more red meat increases the death rate? Does it actually prove this? Second, how about the one claiming that reduced carb diets also increase death? Should you worry? And finally, why do I recommend eating locally farmed farmer’s market produce, even if it isn’t organic?

Let’s go:

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Is Keto Cheating Unhealthy?

A couple months ago, a study came out that seemed to show that cheating on your keto diet with a high-carb meal opened you up to severe blood vessel damage. Nine healthy, normal weight adults followed a keto diet (70% fat, 20% protein, 10% carbs). Then they ate a high-carb “cheat meal,” measured their blood sugar, and measured their endothelial microparticles—a marker of damage to the endothelial lining and potential harbinger of impaired vascular function. Their blood sugar went way up, and so did their endothelial microparticle count, leading researchers to conclude that keto dieting makes people more susceptible to hyperglycemia-induced endothelial damage.

So, is keto cheating unhealthy? Let’s take a closer look….

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Does Red Meat Give You Colon Cancer?

Have you heard? There’s a new “red meat will kill you” study. This time, it’s colorectal cancer.

Here’s the press release.

Here’s the full study.

I covered this a couple Sundays ago in “Sunday with Sisson.” If you haven’t signed up for that, I’d recommend it. SWS is where I delve into my habits, practices, and observations, health-related and health-unrelated—stuff you won’t find on the blog. Anyway, I thought I’d expand on my response to that study here today.

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5 Hemp Oil Benefits For Health and Wellness

Have you tried hemp oil? After almost a century of being outlawed, hemp—a form of cannabis with extremely low levels of psychoactive THC—is now legal in the United States. This is big news for people interested in the therapeutic effects of cannabidiol (or CBD) because—while hemp doesn’t contain enough THC, the compound that provides the “high” of cannabis, or any other psychoactive compounds—it does contain cannabidiol (CBD). For years, all anyone talked about when they talked about cannabis was the THC content. Breeders focused on driving THC levels as high as possible and ignored the other compounds. Even pharmaceutical companies interested in the medical applications of cannabis focused on the THC, producing synthetic THC-only drugs that performed poorly compared to the real thing. It turns out that all the other components of cannabis matter, too, and foremost among them is CBD. CBD doesn’t get you high, but it does have big physiological impacts. These days, researchers are exploring CBD as a treatment for epilepsy, anxiety, and insomnia. They’ve uncovered potential anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and immunomodulatory properties. And now that it’s quasi legal, hundreds of CBD-rich hemp oil products are appearing on the market. What are the purported benefits of using CBD-rich hemp oil, and what does the evidence say? Although CBD research is growing, it’s still understudied and I expect I’ll have to update this post in the near future with more information. But for now, here’s a rundown of what the research says. 1) Hemp Oil For Anxiety Reduction Anxiety can be crippling. I don’t have generalized social anxiety, but I, like anyone else, know what it feels like to be anxious about something. It happens to everyone. Now imagine feeling that all the time, particularly when it matters most—around other people. The average person doesn’t consider the import and impact of anxiety on a person’s well-being. If CBD can reduce anxiety, that might just be its most important feature. Does it? Before a simulated public speaking event, people with generalized social anxiety disorder were either given 600 mg of CBD or a placebo. Those who received CBD reported less anxiety, reduced cognitive impairment, and more comfort while giving the speech. Seeing as how people without social anxiety disorder claim public speaking as their biggest fear, that CBD helped people with social anxiety disorder give a speech is a huge effect. This appears to be legit. A placebo-controlled trial is nothing to sniff at. 2) Hemp Oil For Sleep A 2017 review provides a nice summary of the effects of CBD on sleep: In insomnia patients, 160 mg/day of CBD increased sleep time and reduced the number of arousals (not that kind) during the night. Lower doses are linked to increased arousals and greater wakefulness. High dose CBD improved sleep; adding THC reduced slow wave sleep. In preliminary research with Parkinson’s patients, CBD reduced REM-related behavioral disorder—which is when you basically act out your dreams as they’re happening. More recently, a large case series (big bunch of case studies done at … Continue reading “5 Hemp Oil Benefits For Health and Wellness”

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