Tag: toxins

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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Monday Musings: Vitamin D, Toxic Strawberries, New PUFAs Coming Soon

A quick look at Google Trends shows a clear, undeniable trend: that of regular folks armed with curiosity, questions, and Internet connections taking their health into their own hands and searching for information on “vitamin D.” Search traffic for the keywords is at an all-time high, having steadily increased for years. But just as people are discovering importance of getting enough vitamin D, either through sunshine or supplementation, out comes the official paltry new vitamin D guidelines.

As far as I’m concerned, vitamin D deficiency is one the biggest health issues in this country. I’ve written extensively on the topic here, here, here and here. I’ll continue to get sunlight when it’s available and supplement when it’s not. And I’m sure my fellow paleo bloggers will do the same. (As mentioned yesterday, Dr. Davis does a good job explaining exactly how paltry the new recommendations are.) This is a perfect example of why we distance ourselves from CW. What do you say? Has the latest report changed how you view vitamin D?

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How Air Pollution Impacts Your Health (and What to Do About It)

I make no bones about enjoying the conveniences of our modern age. As much as I esteem our beloved Grok figure, I wouldn’t opt to trade places with him. (All right, it might be fun for a day.) That said, I’ve always acknowledged that modern living comes with a price: persistent stress, rampant responsibilities, less sleep, less play, less sun, and novel environmental toxins. Pollution, in particular, is one of my central considerations in designing the Primal Blueprint well beyond a basic paleo model. Although we’re wholly Grok’s kin, let’s face it: we’re hardly in Paleolithic Kansas anymore.

Unlike some drawbacks to modern living, pollution (especially air pollution) is one downside that’s hard to avoid. Sure, you can live upwind from the industrial section of town, or you can settle in the country. Regardless, factories set up shop in new areas, highways are added to accommodate increasing sprawl, jets fly overhead, and crop dusters spread “drift” far beyond target fields. (And then there’s the next door neighbor’s daily chiminea ritual, stinky “vintage” truck, or perpetual tendency to spill gasoline in his garage while filling the lawn mower.) Not to be a killjoy, but very few of us live beyond air pollution’s reach.

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A Primal Primer: Estrogen

The human endocrine system exists in a state of delicate balance. None of its constituents function in a vacuum, and trying to explain every hormonal interrelationship would take volumes, but one statement is fairly safe to make: one hormone affects another. Secreting one often inhibits the next, which in turn sets off an entirely different chain reaction of hormonal secretions, inhibitions, and syntheses. I almost feel like trying to micromanage your entire endocrine system is tedious and counterproductive (and probably impossible to do effectively). I much prefer to simply eat right, exercise smart, get good sleep, normalize stress, and take advantage of simple lifestyle hacks. Still, it doesn’t hurt to understand some of the major hormonal players, especially one as widely maligned by the strength and fitness community as estrogen.

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Dear Mark: Latest in Gene Expression Research

One of my favorite topics, as many of you know, is epigenetics. It’s the burgeoning area of science that has blown apart the traditional nature-nurture dichotomy by examining the lifestyle-induced activation or dampening of genes. Epigenetics is increasingly filling in the gaps for understanding and monitoring degenerative disease risk. If you’re relatively new to MDA, take a look-see at my past articles (Gene Expression, What I Mean By “Reprogramming Your Genes”, Gene Expression: Location, Location, Location, Environmental Toxins and Gene Expression, Epigenetics and Depression) for a good Primal introduction to the concept. That said, when it comes to science there’s always more to read and know. New discoveries. Bold initiatives. Elegant correlations. Confirmed expectations and unexpected wrinkles. It’s what gets me up and roaring in the morning. Gladly, I’m not the only one….

Mark,

I’m fascinated by the idea that all the signals I send my body through diet and exercise and other environmental conditions can, as you say, literally reprogram my genes. I’m always on the lookout now for research that shows how lifestyle factors are related to gene expression. Have you seen anything new in your studies?

Stephanie

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Sustainable Lifestyles: Green Living and Health

Over the last couple weeks I’ve had the pleasure to announce two PrimalCon speakers: Maya White and Brad Kearns. As you may recall, Maya will be teaching PrimalCon participants how to sit, stand and walk like Grok, and Brad will be explaining how to apply the Primal Blueprint principles to endurance training. Today I’m pleased to announce the 3rd of 4 PrimalCon speakers. Nicoletta Florio, green-living expert extraordinaire, will show attendees how living a sustainable, green life is not only what’s best for the earth, but also what is best for your health. If you’ve ever wondered whether the PB could be considered a “green” diet, whether the world over could feasibly adopt the PB eating patterns, or what sort of impact our dietary choices have on our health and the planet this session is for you. Read on to to learn more from Nikki in her own words…

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How to Choose a Safe Water Bottle

I’ve made my stance on bottled water quite clear before, but I’ll go ahead and reiterate: bottled water is a joke. It’s completely unnecessary, unless you’re in a nation with unsafe water quality, and the plastic bottles make for excellent landfill fodder. You could reuse the bottles, but then you’ve gotta worry about the plastic leaching into your water, especially the more you refill and reuse them (and don’t ever stick ‘em in the dishwasher). Poor taste is one thing – I can’t expect a person to happily drink tap water that tastes terrible – but tap is perfectly safe to drink, especially if used with a simple filter. And if it weren’t, most bottled water wouldn’t be any better, since it’s often just repackaged tap (check the label or cap – if it says “from a municipal source” or “from a community water system” or anything along similar lines, it’s tap water). Sparkling water in glass bottles is justifiable (tap isn’t bubbly, after all, although you could make it so at home, and the glass bottles are definitely reusable (I like filling them with homemade salad dressings).

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Dear Mark: Trans Fat

The message has been circulating for a few years now: trans fats = bad. It’s one of the rare times I find myself in alignment with conventional nutritional guidelines. (Of course, it’s not so simple, but I’ll unpack that one in a moment.) The fact is, manufacturers have done a better job sending the anti-trans fat message than public health agencies. Everywhere you turn in the grocery store the “No Trans Fat!” tag leaps out at you, complete with manic font and exclamation point, from hundreds of boxes, bags, and packages. (“Well, it must be healthy then!”) Unfortunately, the marketing push has crowded out the real science when it comes to the public’s engagement with the real issue. As you can guess, there’s more to the trans fat picture than the self-congratulatory manufacturer claims.

Dear Mark,

I know trans fats are unhealthy and I avoid them like the plague. But like so many things sometimes I need a little reminder why. (I regularly brush up my knowledge by visiting your site so that when a friend asks why I avoid grains I don’t say something like “Grains are bad because… something about lectins and phytates – can’t remember why… but they’re bad.”) Could you write up an easy to remember primer on what trans fats are and why are they unhealthy?

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