Weekend Link Love – Edition 229

Weekend Link LoveResearch of the Week

A new study (of old, “missing” data) found that reducing saturated fats (to below 10% of energy intake) from animal fats and increasing omega-6 linoleic acid from polyunsaturated margarines (to 15% of energy intake) increased the risk of death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease. Okay, but those are just clinical endpoints. Who cares about those? I want to know what happened to their cholesterol levels.

An “active lifestyle approach” (raking leaves, gardening, walking to the store) was just as beneficial as a “structured exercise approach” in reducing metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, those in the “active lifestyle” group were far more likely to get the recommended 30 minutes of “exercise” a day.

Interesting Blog Posts

Dr. Andro over at Suppversity explains why the deload week might need to graduate to deload weeks.

Media, Schmedia

The NY Times story of how a desperate mom used Primal-esque dietary changes (including gluten removal and omega-3 inclusion) to beat back a severe form of juvenile idiopathic arthritis in her kid that didn’t seem to respond to drugs.

And yet in the same breath, the NY Times blog discounts the utility of the gluten-free “fad.”

It seems humans have been making soup – or at least employing leakproof cooking vessels – for much longer than previously thought.

Everything Else

Upcoming PrimalCon presenter Tracy Barksdale’s got a new natural movement/parkour gym in the works called True Nature Training. If you’re near Austin, enjoy moving, or simply want to help a fellow warrior in the fight for Primal health, consider donating a few bucks to the campaign.

Last week, I sat down with Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity to have a chat about my personal vision of fitness. Give it a listen.

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Feb 10 – Feb 16)

Comment of the Week

I want to borrow a baby to wear.

– First, Joy said that. Then:

Making your own is pretty straightforward.

-From Ion Freeman. It’s pretty fun, too.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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37 thoughts on “Weekend Link Love – Edition 229”

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  1. the original work on the old data was actually only about cholesterol levels. They went down.
    Now this new paper says mortality among the patients went up about over 50% (!) on the high omega-6 diet.
    The original authors are either evil or missed the mortality bit…

    1. Never discount the power of confirmation bias. 🙁

      I think the study that finally ushered in the idea that smoking causes lung cancer was from a study attempting to prove that smoking causes heart attacks. If I remember correctly the original researcher when through many rat generations of frustration (he couldn’t get the rats to die of heart attacks before they died of lung cancer) before the light bulb clicked on.

      I actually teach my kids to skip the “hypothesis” part of the scientific method except for worrying about safety/moral issues. You have to be open to the results of an experiment as completely as possible to get at truth and even then it’s a tricky business.

      1. You shouldn’t skip the hypothesis part (does increased saturated fat intake raise cholesterol?) but you should prepare to take a variety of other pre and post measures, these might be informed by the discussion/results sections of previous scientific articles or may be spontaneously decided upon when planning the experiment. Then, after you have finished the experiment and collected all data you should answer your hypothesis (e.g. yes, it raises cholesterol) but make other obversations, considerations and recommendations for future studies in your discussion section (e.g. Health professionals may be tempted to recommend a diet low in saturated fat upon finding out that it’s consumption raises cholesterol but they should be cautioned and led to observe that mortality rate was lower in patients who consumed a higher amount of saturate fat. A retrospective study on the mortality of these patients is being formulated and future studies should investigte the link between saturated fat intake, mortality, cardiac incidents and cancer.”)

        In my opinion, the discussion sections is often more informative than the written section of the results, although you should always make your own interpretation of the data given.

        1. There’s no escaping the need for a hypothesis when asking grant money. 😉

          However, there is also no escaping confirmation bias for us humans.

          Look at your “simple” question – “Does increased saturated fat intake raise cholesterol?” There all sorts of assumptions built into that “simple” hypothesis. Will the researcher be okay (finanically, career wise) if the data actually suggests that fat intake lowers cholesterol? If the researcher assumes he’s right from the outset, wouldn’t any data that doesn’t confirm his hypothesis be “outliers” and subject to being thrown out? And why do we care if cholesterol is raised anyway?

          The real question that research should be asking is “What affect does saturated fat have on the body?” Then you are open to any answer that comes back to you, rather than narrowly attempting to prove your point in the experiment. No amount of post or pre analysis will make you more open to the idea you’re wrong if you’re not willing or able to go there.

          A hypothesis will almost always shut people down to the results of an experiment. We all love being right and even the best of us have a bit of ego in it. The only way to over come that is simply to not guess at the outcome of an experiment.

  2. Re the active lifestyle approach: Yeah, Grok didn’t drive to a gym and find the closest parking space in order to work out.

    1. I used to feel guilty about doing this… but then it started snowing and the wind started picking up.. and my mind quickly changed and thought:

      “there is a time and place for working out… and being out here in this weather is not one of those times…”

  3. I support any one who says I need to take 12 days off in order to fully recover…. whenever I did this before I just thought I was being lazy… now I can say that I’m “de-training.”

  4. The most common phrase in archeology today seems to be “for much longer than previously thought.”

  5. For several years, the NYTimes has had some fascinating articles that support ancestral health theory. They’re a big supporter of Taubes, for example. But there is no editorial consistency in their message, and I guess, perhaps there shouldn’t be. After all, they shouldn’t be pushing an agenda, they should be reporting, and they do. They have to fill a lot of space, so of course it gets contradictory. Gretchen Reynolds is publishing a bunch of great stuff there, but Tara Parker-Pope, who I believe oversees the health/exercise/nutrition stuff, is lost in a sea of CW.

  6. Gah how can people be so up-in-arms about a gluten-free diet after reading stories like Shepherd’s?? They can’t honestly believe that removing one single little food item from one’s diet could cause enough harm to warn people from trying it, can they? To me, the only reasonable message to send would be to just TRY IT. If you go gluten free for a month and don’t feel any different, then by all means, gorge yourself on gluten! But if you feel better, then how incredible is that?! Just by changing one tiny thing about your diet, you gain a HUGE improvement in quality of life! It just boggles my mind that people don’t see it that way.

    1. I’ve experienced this too. I have a friend with some kind of bowel disease. She’s basically never had a solid BM since she was 12 or 13. I tell her to stop eating wheat for 30 or 60 days, but you’d think I was asking her to move to Mars for treatment.

    2. She used a gluten free diet and, um, methotrexate to put her child in remission.

      1. As Karen P. said, they took their son off of methotrexate. The article also stated that he has had 5 flare ups in the last year, 2 following a course of antibiotics and the other 3 following ingestion of gluten. All 5 of the flare ups have gone away, without the methotrexate. All 5 flare ups went away by avoiding the gluten that appears to have triggered 3 of them. I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a pattern here; one that is independant of the methotrexate.

    3. Then, once they do believe, many state it is impossible to keep up the deprivation. It becomes so obvious once you try it and see results, but so many people are not open to change or new ideas . . .

  7. I remember Mark saying that when he ruined his knee playing Ultimate a few years back, he didn’t lose any muscle mass as he took a long layoff. Sounds like his body loved the workout break.

  8. The deloading study only looks at rats and muscle size, i.e., hypertrophy or body-building. Although I believe the same idea applies to strength and sports performance, this article doesn’t address that area.

  9. “They also worried that people could end up eating less healthfully. A gluten-free muffin generally contains less fiber than a wheat-based one and still offers the same nutritional dangers — fat and sugar. Gluten-free foods are also less likely to be fortified with vitamins.”

    Sooo…not only should you not be eating gluten, you should also not be eating sugary processed replacements for gluten-based foods? And if you maintain a gluten-free diet, you’ll have to make sure to get your vitamins (and fiber) from real food because you can’t rely on fortified grains?


    1. Yeah I thought that was funny too. What is the obsession with “fiber” from wheat and bread products? It’s bizarre.

  10. Thanks for the link love. My pickled beets are a hit all round, from kids snack, appetizer to endurance boosting treat. Pleasure to have discovered your site, added to my RSS reader!

  11. From the soup article:

    “The kidneys and liver are limited in how much protein they can process in a day — when more than that amount is consumed, ammonia or urea levels in the blood can increase, leading to headaches, fatigue and even death. So humans must get more than half their calories from fat and carbohydrates.”

    I seem to remember Mark talkinb about this–yes, here it is:


    Also here:


    I admit that this is all tl;dr (too long, didn’t read)…so can someone explain does NPR have it wrong? Are they just parroting CW?

    1. I am guessing that they used CW to explain a statement by “archaeologist John Speth, an emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.” He was quoted pretty heavily in the article. The statement above the one you quoted is this Speth saying “that Neanderthals [snip] would have needed boiling technology to render fat from animal bones to supplement their diet of lean meat, so that they could have avoided death by protein poisoning.”

  12. I’m thrilled to see this article in the NYT. I developed RA over a year ago. The pain and swelling were terrible, and my doctor wanted to start me on methotrexate – I asked her for 8 weeks to try a dietary trial. I went strict Paleo and my symptoms went away. I don’t know if it works for all RA sufferers – but I know it works for me. If I eat any wheat at all, the symptoms come back – but according to blood tests, I do not have celiac. These stories, while anecdotal, deserve much wider dissemination. Hopefully more people can be helped…

  13. Re the gluten-free ‘fad’. There are other issues in here e.g. the amount of processed food which might affect how someone does on a gluten-free diet. I don’t think the article accounts for these or separates the different issues.

    It beats me why so many people going gluten-free buy all the gluten-free processed rubbish (cakes, breads, sweet, pancakes…). Why look for substitute junk food? I find it far easier to eat gluten-free real foods like vegies, meat, eggs, fruit. Had a look at some gluten-free bread a friend of mine had bought the other day and the list of additives was huge… but this is marketed as a health product! I am sure one could go gluten-free and still have a very unhealthy diet. So the study they did with the gluten-free bread and muffins has a complicating factor indeed.

    1. This is my brother and his family. Gluten Free (we thought they were nuts at first). My 2yo niece eats a diet consisting of mainly gluten free bread with canola oil spread. They are only open minded when they want to be, and so far not that interested in “real food.”

      1. It’s like being really proud of giving up sugar and replacing it with aspartame.

        1. I just found out today aspartame used to be on the Pentagon’s list of chemical warfare agents.
          mmm.. chewing gum!
          So was chlorine if anybody’s forgotten about that.

  14. An “active lifestyle approach” versus a “structured exercise approach” … it doesn’t have to be an either or, a balanced approach is ideal IMHO. I do understand the point is that you don’t have to be a gym rat to obtain optimal health.

  15. From the “missing” data article:
    “The current best estimate is that half of all the clinical trials that are conducted and completed are never published. Even when they are, the underlying data that the results are based on is rarely open to external analysis – which is a cornerstone of proper scientific scrutiny. This means doctors cannot be certain that the drugs they are prescribing daily are properly evaluated for safety and efficacy.”
    Don’t know who else is participating, but thank you, BMJ, for your new “open data” campaign. Also, the AllTrials campaign.

  16. Studies like the active lifestyle vs. the gym make me so happy. I do think that the guidelines (only 30 min a day?) are exceedingly low, but the message is on point.

    As the suburbs continue to die, more and more people are rediscovering and reinventing urban areas, where you can walk to the store, walk up the stairs to your apartment, and walk to public transportation. Pedestrian and bike-friendly towns and cities, surrounded by small to medium organic farms and co-ops, is – I believe – the only thing that will save this country from economic ruin and a health catastrophe.

    More studies on this, please!

  17. “Before I learned martial arts, a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick. When I studied martial arts, a punch was no longer just a punch and a kick was no longer just a kick. Now I understand martial arts, and a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.”

    -Bruce Lee

    Ancestral version:

    “Before I learned about nutrition and exercise , a meal was just a meal and a walk was just a walk. When I studied nutrition and exercise , a meal was no longer just a meal and a walk was no longer just a walk. Now I understand nutrition and exercise, and a meal is just a meal and a walk is just a walk.”

  18. In the “humans have been making soup for a long time” article, did anyone else notice this little factoid in there?

    “A 2011 study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found evidence of cooked starch grains embedded in 46,000-year-old fossil Neanderthal teeth from Iraq.”

    Do you think pre-agricultural hunter-gatherer Neandarthals and/or humans may have included more ‘cooked starch grains’ in their diets than we realized? I can hear it now, anti-Paleo/Primal folks saying, “See?! Grains are Paleo too!”

    But consider this: Perhaps Paleolithic Neanderthals/humans did indeed consume some grains. Maybe they only fueled themselves on grains seasonally or to cope with certain environmental emergencies: like during a cold winter when they couldn’t venture outside of the cave for fear of freezing, or in times of food scarcity, after an unlucky streak of unsuccessful hunts…Actually, the consumption of SOME grains by our hunter-gatherer ancestors seems very likely to me. It seems plausible that to evolve the complex behavior patterns required to establish Neolithic grain agriculture, we probably eased into full-scale grain production in a very gradual process, since evolution doesn’t usually happen overnight. Maybe over the generations, the women, usually the gatherers, started to collect more and more grains from annual grasses for convenience’s sake, and relied less and less on other plant foods for a reliable source of ‘fall-back’ calories to survive on in times of emergency when the men were failing to bring home animals. Why even bother with this thought experiment, you might ask? I’m just trying to make the point that even if archaeologists were to prove for certain that humans were cooking and eating grains in the Paleolithic long before the invention of agriculture, it STILL doesn’t follow that grains are a necessary part of the diet. So Paleo/Primal logic still holds! Cereal grains, even if they were loaded with anti-nutrients and not particularly digestible, may have been an important calorie source for our hunter-gatherer ancestors to ‘fall back on’ or to ‘hold them over’ in tough times (harsh weather, long-periods of failed hunts). Grains weren’t ‘optimal’, but maybe the compromise was worth it since they were reliable and convenient. Little by little, reliance on grains as a calorie source increased. Around the time of the Neolithic Revolution, these humans may have reached a tipping point, and became so reliant on annual grains, that they made a HUGE mistake(in hindsight):they began spending so much time toiling in the grain fields, they hunted less and failed to acquire enough nutrient-dense animal foods (which would account for all the short-statured and cavity-filled skeletons we find from this period). I’d love to hear Mark’s take on this hypothesis. I just think it’s dangerous for us Paleo/Primal folks to get to dogmatic on the whole ‘No humans ate grains before 10,000 BCE’ thing. It makes us vulnerable to attacks after new findings like the one in the article. What if cooked grains are TECHNICALLY Paleo? How would we incorporate that knowledge as primal-minded people?

  19. The natural movement/parkour gym sounds very, very fun. I’d like to see more of that kind of thing pop up worldwide. You can interact with your environment and practice natural movement at any time, really, but think of how awesome it would be during cold winters like this one and how much kids would go ape over playing in it.

    1. Just reminded me of swingset chin-ups. I did some of those today, holding the chains, and doing a fetal sort of crunch at the same time, then dips after using the railings on the deck of a slide.
      Good thing about the winter, not as many people go to parks, so it’s like having a personal outdoor gym.