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: toxins

7 Foods You Don’t Need to Buy Organic

A couple weeks ago, I gave you a list of the top 10 foods you should strive to buy organic. Some of you found the list useful, while others felt a bit overwhelmed and disheartened by the information, saying that it felt like they couldn’t eat anything that wasn’t organic. Today, I’ll try to make things a little better by giving you a list of the foods which are perfectly fine in their conventional form. However, even if the following conventional foods are relatively safe for your health, some would argue that you should still buy organic in order to support the workers and protect the environments exposed to agricultural chemicals. That’s totally valid, and it’s part of the reason why I try to buy organic, but it’s not what I’m discussing here. It’s a topic for another time. Today is about maximizing the health of you and your family while cutting costs when and where you can.

So, what common, Primal staples can you buy conventional?

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Dear Mark: Preservatives in Lard, Ace-K, Raspberry Gorging, and Veal

What would you do if someone gifted you with a 5-pound tub of lard? Jump for joy? Grab a spoon? All reasonable responses, but what if that tub of lard had a label that said “contains BHA and BHT”, two antioxidants commonly used to preserve processed food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals – how would you react? That’s the first question I tackle in today’s edition of Dear Mark. After, I discuss whether or not acesulfame potassium, an artificial sweetener, is safe to consume, whether Joe should venture into the creepy raspberry forest threatening to overtake his house, and how organic dairies handle their male calves.

Ready? Let’s get to it:

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Dear Mark: Swimming Pool Chemicals, Washing Veggies, and Carb Blockers

Who doesn’t like a lovely day at the pool? Unless you can’t swim, there’s no reason not to love the cool water, the bright sun, the ping pong (every swimming club worth a dime has a ping pong table, or several of them), the face dunking, the high dive, and the chicken fights. But what if something sinister churned within the depths of the chlorinated water? What if by entering that pool you were risking life, limb, and the pristine alabaster of your eyeball? In today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’ve gone back to the roundup format. I begin with the question of swimming pool chemical safety, follow with a query about washing vegetables, and I finish the post with a short section on carb blocking agents. Sound good?

Let’s go:

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Dear Mark: Are Detoxes and Cleanses Safe and Effective?

Today’s edition of Dear Mark poses and then attempts to answer a question many have pondered: do detox and cleansing diets really work? More specifically, do the “more friendly” types of cleanses work, as opposed to the colon-blasting gut-rending methods? Several years back, I wrote a piece on the latter type of cleanse, and I wasn’t very kind. For all the claims of ropy mucoid plaque bogging down the colon of apparently every American (at least the ones who eat meat), I wasn’t convinced, and the evidence simply wasn’t there. I still maintain my stance, but a recent question from a reader drew my attention to kindler, gentler cleansing and detoxifying diets, the kind that you might see on Dr. Oz or in the cupboard of your vegan buddy.

Do these have any merit? Let’s look into it:

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Dear Mark: Flexibility vs. Mobility, Orange Skin, and Radioactive Matcha

I’m going to keep today’s question and answer session rather brief. I’ll be covering three topics: flexibility and mobility; carotenoderma, or the orange-ing of the skin following ingestion of carotenoid-containing foods; and whether matcha green tea from Japan poses any threat due to radioactive contamination. For the first, I discuss whether it’s flexibility or mobility we want. Second, I explore whether getting orange skin from eating lots of carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash is something to worry about. And finally, I talk about drinking matcha from Japan in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear event.

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Are Your Canned Foods Safe to Eat?: A BPA-Free Buying Guide

By now, you’re undoubtedly aware of BPA, or bisphenol A, and its ubiquitous presence in can liners, plastics, and even receipts. I wrote about its status as a xenoestrogen with the ability to interact with hormonal receptors in animal bodies, as well as its potentially deleterious effects on humans – especially tiny growing humans – and the general takeaway is that avoiding BPA as much as possible is in all our best interests. We can’t avoid everything, but we can do a fairly good job of it. Luckily, the consumers (that’s you) have spoken up loud enough to get companies to pay attention to the way they line their cans so that while BPA remains a pervasive issue, more and more BPA-free products are being introduced. This is good, but which ones are BPA-free isn’t always evident. Grocery stores don’t generally have a BPA-free section (how awesome would that be?) and some (like Trader Joe’s) don’t even put the label on their products.

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Dear Mark: Is Fluoride Safe?

Today’s question addresses a contentious topic in the health arena: fluoride. It’s in (most of) the tap water we use, (most of) the toothpastes with which we brush, and even (all of) the teas we drink. It represents a bloody stage upon which skeptics and the natural health folks battle it out. Many in the Primal community would like to avoid it (as they would any government-endorsed hydroadditive) if possible; if it’s not possible, they at least want to know just how bad the stuff really is and whether its intake can be mitigated. Should we use fluoride-free toothpaste? Should we install household filters? Argh. So many questions and so few definitive answers… and here’s yet another. Ah, life!
Dear Mark,

What’s your take on fluoride? To drink fluoridated water, or to filter it? To use fluoride-free, natural toothpaste, or is it one of the benefits of living in a modern world?

I can’t seem to find any conclusive evidence on the web as to whether it is good or bad, and while I asked my dentist, I would love a second opinion. (his waiting room was full of posters advocating a “low meat, low fat diet”…)

Thanks,

Annika

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Grocery Store Seafood: What to Eat and What to Avoid

In the comment section of last week’s post on farmed seafood, readers asked about the safety of regular, everyday seafood that you can find in any supermarket in the country – the popular, easily obtainable species that conventional supermarkets proudly display on ice, in frozen sections, and in cans and packets. Not crayfish, New Zealand green lipped mussels, and boutique tank raised Coho salmon, but tilapia, cod, and crab. They may not be ideal or as sexy as some of the species from last week, but they are common.

So – what’s common? To make this as objective and universal as possible, I’ll examine the ten most common seafoods consumed by Americans. As of 2009, they were, from most eaten to least eaten: shrimp, canned tuna, salmon, pollock, tilapia, catfish, crab, cod, clams, and pangasius. Shrimp I’ll cover in depth next week, catfish and clams were handled last week, and I covered farmed versus wild salmon a couple years ago, but what about the others? Which are worth eating? Which should be avoided?

Let’s take a look.

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Dear Mark: Does the Liver Accumulate Toxins?

Liver confuses and confounds many of us. It looks weird, gives off an odd mineral smell, and has a unique texture. We try to reconcile our horrible memories of Mom’s bone-dry renditions of the stuff with all the ethnographic literature describing how hunter-gatherers share precious slivers of the raw trembling organ immediately after a kill. We appreciate and acknowledge the superior nutrient profile of four ounces of beef liver compared to five pounds of colorful fruit even as the shrink-wrapped grass-fed lamb liver direct from the organic farm sits in the freezer untouched. And then we wonder whether it’s even safe to eat, because, you know, it’s the “filter” – the only thing standing between an onslaught of environmental toxins and our vulnerable bodies – and filters accumulate the stuff they’re meant to keep out. See colanders, coffee filters, water purifiers. Liver, then, is many a Primal eater’s Everest. Tantalizing but fraught with seeming danger. Okay, the question:

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Is Fish Oil Linked to Prostate Cancer?

This is a special guest post from expert study-dismantler Denise Minger. (Read Denise’s previous guest posts – Will Eating Whole Grains Help You Live Longer? and High Fat Diet Linked to Breast Cancer? – and her blog at Raw Food SOS.) Enter Denise…

Like salmon? Pop fish oil? Got a prostate? Then listen up. A new cancer study rolled in this week, and at first glance, it looks like bad news for any fish-loving men out there. A team of researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found a disturbing link between blood levels of DHA – that darling omega-3 fat abundant in seafood – and the risk of developing aggressive, “high-grade” prostate tumors.

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