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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March 24 2013

Weekend Link Love – Edition 235

By Mark Sisson
65 Comments

Weekend Link LoveResearch of the Week

It seems that Victorian-era rural Englanders had pretty great life expectations (roughly equal to modern day Brits) thanks to their hearty (4k+ calories per day) whole foods diets and regular physical activity.

Humans have unique brain structures that are not found in monkeys, who also do not have any analogous structures that perform similar roles. Pretty cool.

In an observational study, skim and low-fat milk were associated with more childhood obesity than whole and 2% milk.

Interesting Blog Posts

It’s really not that hard, is it?

Other areas of life exist besides the gym, the toilet, and the bus stop where squatting can be helpful and biologically appropriate.

Media, Schmedia

Let them eat fat, they say. Does anyone else sense a shift?

Australia may have drop bears, poisonous spiders the size of your face, and murderous fauna lurking in every corner of the country, but they might also get the first paleo franchise restaurant chain.

Everything Else

This is one kind of paleo reenactment that I can probably get behind: The Primitive, a modern knife inspired by paleolithic design.

Your body on stress.

Are you a New Yorker who has had success on a paleo diet? Dr. Oz wants to hear from you. If you fill out the form, mention me and maybe we’ll end up on the show together.

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Mar 24 – Mar 30)

Comment of the Week

Okay Mark, you just got me to crawl around on my hands and knees for 10 minutes. I did not think there was a man alive who could make me do that!

– I’m just full of surprises.

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65 thoughts on “Weekend Link Love – Edition 235”

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  1. It’s well established that a low fat, zero cholesterol lifestyle is harmful to health, but does the paleo lifestyle tip the scales too far in the opposite direction? Healthy fats are good for us, but how much is too much?

      1. Right. I find I can’t overeat fat the way I could carbs, I start feeling ill. And I get really gassy. 🙂

        1. I don’t know… I CAN eat a whole stick of butter and still go back for more if I let myself. While I fully agree that fat is very health promoting, I’m not sure eating a whole stick falls under the “health promoting” category. A few tablespoons with scrambled eggs? Absolutely. But probably not a whole stick.

        2. Well, the reason I ask is that I have grave misgivings about the sheer amount of healthy fats people are eating in the belief that more is better and that no amount can do us any harm. But the truth is a little more complicated. Polyunsaturated fats such as cod liver oil are valued for their anti-inflammatory properties, yet, taken in large quantities, they can actually become inflammatory, causing skin damage, contributing to heart disease and, ironically, to arthritis.

          Butter may be better for us than margarine (to say the least), but many people are being given the erroneous impression that chugging huge slabs of butter can do us nothing but good. The process of atherosclerosis that begins for most of us during teenage, is rapidly accelerated by this kind of behavior, but I feel that this message is being lost or dismissed in the reaction against the low fat lobby. This will prove a costly mistake for many of us.

          People are liberally applying a wide variety of exotic oils to their food, thinking that, if they do not contribute to weight gain, it’s not a problem, and any excess will be harmlessly excreted from the system. This is not true. Thyroid function may be boosted in an attempt to burn these fats and make them safe, but there is only so much protection that metabolism can provide.

          We are still frying foods in flax oil believing that it’s high smoking point is providing protection against oxidation, whereas high temperatures damage this delicate oil almost immediately, making it highly toxic and inflammatory. All unsaturated oils contain omega-3 acid and omega-6 acid, and we generally don’t need to add flax oil on top, anyway.

          Even healthy saturated fats like coconut oil, consumed in large quantities will elevate LDL levels excessively, and contribute to the development of arterial plaques. My fear is that, though many people involved in the paleo lifestyle, are extremely well-informed, others are unaware of some fundamental facts which, if ignored, could have catastrophic health implications.

          The one thing that might offer some protection from the effects of all these fats – such as the enzyme-inhibiting and immuno-suppressive effects of excessive unsaturated fats – is lots of fiber. But fiber has been deliberately eliminated from many of our diets in an ill-advised attempt to minimize carbohydrates, an approach popularized by diets such as Atkins. It may be time for a re-think.

  2. I’m almost jealous! I know how hard it is running your own service business (I’ve owned a grocery store in a mountain community), but I love cooking Primal and have wondered how a Paleo or Primal cafe would go over in my town. With all the outdoor opportunities here and a burgeoning Crossfit community, I think it’d do well.

    Maybe a catering service? Delivery to the trailhead? Hmmm.

    1. Wow! CrossFit and a primal attitude are a natural combination. A Primal Cafe would be a great hang out for them. You’ve run a business so I don’t have to mention how difficult it is. It would be good to find a low cost way to test the idea (a point made in Ready, Fire, Aim). A food wagon before a restaurant?

      1. I work at a gluten free cafe in Melbourne that’s very primal, and modestly paleo and we get lots of crossfitters coming in for brunch. They’re a great bunch who order massive meals, usually post-workout!

  3. Yep, Dr. Oz and Woman’s World magazine is where America gets it’s superb health knowledge. I learned this while managing a GNC where I also learned first hand how the public is fleeced!

    1. GNC is a place to get suspect performance enhancers and supplies to build a semi-synthetic, legal-roid controlled body.
      Theoretically it would decrease a person’s ability to engage in geomancy and other grounded, terra-based activities.
      It’s like throwing a lego block at the computer screen when you’re playing tetris.

  4. On the Mid-Victorian study, Mark:

    There’s a lot of references there, and these people have obviously put a lot of work in. However, I think it can be so difficult to obtain real knowledge of the past that there may be a fair amount of wishful thinking and kite-flying going on.

    Take this:

    “The imported canned meats were fatty …”

    That fat is bad — and that, therefore, it couldn’t have been in the diet in the earlier period — sounds to me like an assumption being brought to the study rather than anything that’s emerged from it. What do they think 19C rural dwellers were doing with their carcase fats before canned meats were around? Sure some was used for greasing axles, candle-making, and whatnot, but they were surely eating some, and cooking in some.

    Lardy cake, anyone?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lardy_cake

    Again, it seems to me that there’s a (rather modern) puritanical distaste for fermented beverages being expressed here. Was much of the beer actually “small beer” — yeah, I’d think so. I’m not sure all of it was. I’m inclined to think that alcohol is best consumed only in moderation, but let’s not falsify the historical record in the pursuit of current “health goals”. If the beer were too weak it would only have gone off very rapidly — although if you hopped it heavily you could brew it rather weaker. Hops were only really cheap in the southern-ost counties of Kent and Sussex where they were grown. I’m pretty sure farm labourers often drank far more than was probably good for them … but, of course, you couldn’t drink the water, and tea, which (a) is antiseptic and (b) is made with boiled water anyway still had not totally replaced beer as the staple drink.

    I’m pretty sure “Hodge” drank as much as he could get hold of:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/11874/11874-h/11874-h.htm

    And one of the big incentives to joining the army in Napoleonic times seems to have been the (generous) spirits ration.

    From an earlier period — you don’t get a gut like that (not seen as a problem by Hogarth) by sipping temperately on 2% beer once a day:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/17/William_Hogarth_-_Beer_Street.jpg

    On meat — for country dwellers, this seems often to have meant bacon, not what was known as “butcher’s meat”. So much for the implication that it was only later on with the importation of “imported canned meat” that — shock! horror! — meat was “salted”.

    I think the paper is interesting. But I think there’s an agenda advancing behind it. I’m really not convinced that the historical claims it makes are very accurate.

    1. Lewis – I read through it and I tend to agree with your analysis. It’s nice that the authors and are almost on the same page, but eating “fatty meats from can” is not all that much different to eating “salted fatty meats, fresh?”.

      And yeah, everyone back then drank a lot. The “average” colonial Americans would put all but hard core modern drinkers under the table. It was a critical source of calories as well as a sanitary way to drink water. (Not that was imbued for those vitreous reasons, that was just their net nutritional effect.)

      1. It’s actually true that Colonial Americans drank more tea (until certain obvious historical events) than their British counterparts by FAR. So much so that there are stories of Colonial Americans becoming “tea drunk” (probably due to the theanine in the tea).

        This also owing to the fact that it was a much safer way to consume water likely to be rife with bacteria (though they probably didn’t make the connection). They just new that they felt bad after drinking plain water, but good after drinking tea.

        So Colonial Americans got their antioxidants for sure!

    2. The salted canned meats were a major contribution to scurvy on ships. When sailors could get on land to hunt fresh meat, they would halt the progression of scurvy. I don’t think it was a value judgement on salt and fat so much as an observation that health declined when potted meat became cheaper than fresh.

  5. Without a doubt, How the Mid-Victorians Worked, Ate and Died is one of your best links ever. Thank you!

  6. There is definetly a shift occuring, along with a line up of people waiting to capitalize on the “new” information.

  7. Where do you buy that knife, and how much is it? Because I’m searching the internet and coming up empty. 🙁

    1. It may not be available for purchase yet. The article says a “product by Italian kitchenware maker Del Ben.” (In the article, the company name Del Ben is also a link to their site, but I could not find the Primative on it. I also searched for it and one article said that Del Ben will handle production. Most talked about it like it was already available for purchase…

  8. I still can hardly believe that no one in the U.S. has started a chain of Paleo eats yet!

  9. One problem I have with Dr. Oz is how he seems to switch his philosophies on many health subjects, especially weight loss, depending on what’s hot at the time and what sells. Although he is very subtle about this, I feel that if he truly has convictions on health he should not promote the “latest and greatest” unless it coincides with his personal beliefs and practices. Nothing wrong with introducing new findings and information but it should be billed as such and not hyped. Dr. Oz is Oprah’s homemade money machine for sure and his show is staring to reflect it.

    1. Yea I would be concerned it would be misrepresented on his show. Whatever show his daughter is on she talked about paleo and summed it up to something that cuts out “entire healthy food groups like grains” never really dove into the concern of lectins or the idea that hey veggies would be a better choice then grains. Idk I hope dr oz gives it a bit more of a thorough explanation. Doubtful though . Mark would be awesome to see you on there! Have an “Ab off” with him!

    2. My philosophy is that half decent MDs, satisfied with their calling in life, have no need to have a TV show like “Dr. Oz”. It’s the modern day equivalent of selling snake oil. You just have to go to medical school now to have people not question what you’re selling.

  10. Dang! I was hoping I could be the one to start the Paleo resteraunt business. Well maybe now that it’s a reality it will be easier for others (possibly myself) to successfully do so!

    1. Running a restaurant is an iffy proposition under the best of circumstances. It’s the last business an entrepreneur should enter, unless he wants a 98% chance of losing money and going out of business within 3 years.

      And I would advise not stressing the ‘paleo’ aspects of the menu, but rather call it something else (hip and avant-garde) and stressing the whole foods angle with a side of gourmet.

    2. Well, I’m sticking my 2 cents in here as a potential customer since I’ve never ran a restaurant of any kind before—

      It seems to me that maybe having a “regular” restaurant with a separate Paleo menu available might be the way to go. Since I’m not a professional cook/restaurateur I don’t know how the $$$ part of that would work, but I would think that an eating establishment that advertised/specialized in a particular way of eating (in this case Paleo) would not do well because potential customers would perceive it as being “specialized” and may be turned off and not want to even try it out — just like a vegan restaurant may turn Paleo folks off, etc. In other words, cook in the Paleo style but don’t advertise it as such—–

      By offering a substantial Paleo menu along with the usual SAD fare, and advertise that Paleo options are available you may eventually hit pay dirt. I’ve eaten in restaurants that offer a variety of options: low-fat, low-calorie, low-fat, meatless, etc. along with their usual crappy stuff.

      I personally would frequent an establishment that offered a variety of choices just because not everyone in my dining party may be into what I’m into eating — and believe me, most of the people I know are not—-

      There must be statistics out there that give you the good/bad when opening a specialty restaurant. If you don’t have unlimited funds, I suggest getting our head out of our ass regarding what people will eat and will spend money on if you truly want to make a successful go of it.

      (Personally, I’d be on a Paleo restaurant in a heartbeat. but then again that’s just me—)

  11. My girlfriend’s dad was recently in Australia, sent me a picture from Paleo Cafe. He said the food was really good. If we start one here, I’ll work at it!

    And I agree with Samantha – the Victorians article was incredible. Actually, this was a particularly awesome link love. Victorians was the highlight, but the childbirth article and the stress article were a tie for super-close second. Keep it up, Mark!

  12. I want to marry the writer of the “Let Them Eat Fat” article. I mean, if I weren’t already married, that is.

  13. I just read an article on Dr. Oz that said he eats a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer diet. If that’s the case, I don’t know he can in good conscious advocate anything else.

  14. Is anyone else problems with formatting on the iPhone??? I always check this website on my phone and today it’s all new and very hard to use.

    HELP!!!

    Thanks 😉

    1. Hello, Alexandra. A responsive design of MDA was launched last week in an effort to make smart phone and tablet browsing of MDA a better experience. What do you find hard to use about it?

      1. It’s easier to read the blog on a small device now, but it seems to want to reload the page once after you’ve already started scrolling (and man you have to scroll a lot to get to the content but the site has always had way to much stuff in the header.)

  15. Victorians had long lives? Nonsense! “Everybody Knows” that until the 1950’s or so, everybody died in their forties! (:-))

    1. No, that’s not true. It was a high infant mortality rate that knocked down the average age. The AVERAGE age in 1900 was 40. Combine that with people living into their 70s and 80s and you can get an average age of 40. It is only in the last century that medicine has wiped out diseases that take our infants. And medicine has also helped more children survive birth. Comparing an average age is only comparing the hostility of the environments.

  16. I delivered my second and third babies from a semi-squat, and aside from the (relative)ease, the best part was that I got to see them right away! I’ll never forget the sight of them looking back up at me(they were both born sunny-side up) , while part of them was still inside.

  17. This Weekend Link Love rocked! Awesome selection of articles! I’m absolutely in love with the “Let them Eat Fat” article! I think the argument on squatting for child birth is incredibly interested. This is another topic where I assumed conventional thinking was the best/only way to go about it (reclined birthing). Squatting makes so much more sense! Thank you Mark for always exposing me to new topics and constantly reminding me to question conventional wisdom. I’m in the mood for goose now after that Let them Eat Fat article 🙂

  18. My daughter and I both love Jane Austen and the Regency period and have been talking about how many primal elements there were in that society — lots of walks, quality socialization with neighbors on short visits, fresh country food, dances that include some serious sprint time (polka anyone?). The Victorian article just drove it all home. I am seriously going to up my intake of cabbage and offal and do my darndest to start walking over to visit my neighbors. Anyone up for a country dance?

  19. I think the fact that Dr. Oz is looking for Paleo Success Stories shows a shift as well. Looking through his website I found the following quotes from him and fellow users. A shift is in order…

    “What’s more, it’s worth remembering that cavemen tended to be much shorter than modern people and often died in their 40s, in part because they weren’t eating a diet that left them with much ability to fight off infection (or saber-toothed tigers).” – yeah, add some wheat and I’m sure I can take on a tiger (maybe Tony the tiger)

    “it is impossible to maintain and it can lead to excessive weight gain after carbohydrates are introduced.” – isn’t that the point, avoiding weight gain by not adding carbohydrates?

    “Without carbohydrates our body can break down our fat and muscle stores looking for energy.” – I’d hate for my body to use my own fat for energy

  20. Some interesting information in the Victorians article. But they seemed to cherry pick the food groups they talked about in detail, and didn’t seem to want to talk about the details of where the calories came from. What I wanted to know was how much refined sugar they ate. I always imagine the diet of that period to be full of traditional British cakes and puddings, and would love to know how often people actually ate these things before mass produced confectionery.

    This is the first time I’ve been moved to comment here – so I should say what a great and useful site this is. 🙂

  21. That article about the Victorians is SOOO interesting! I just got thru reading Tess d’ Uberville which is set in this time period and it talks about how much they walked (6 miles a day sometimes 12 miles) and laboured so hard. How easy we have it these days 🙂

    1. On days when I have the energy and capacity and the weather is enjoyable long, unhurried bouts of cardio for travel or recreation can make me feel a lot more positive.
      I hope to get a bike this year. I plan to camp somewhere new near where I’m already staying but where I don’t expect I’d be found. If I get a bike I’ll regularly use it to make trips into town. If not, I’ll walk, but with a bike I could stay farther away more conveniently. I’ve been stocking water for a day or two at a time and it’s easier to bike with a backpack full of water than to walk and carry it.
      I often find travel by bike more fun than travel by foot. I’ll still do a sufficient amount of walking, however, to keep my lower locomotive appendages in good condition. Moving around on your feet regularly is defense against bone, joint, tendon, and muscle deterioration. It’s good for blood flow too and probably other structural functions I am naive to. It protects against shin splints (as long as you move intelligently and not recklessly).

  22. The information in the “…Unique Brain Structure” article shows more evidence for an Intelligent Designer rather than evolutionary giving.
    Humans are different because they were created different.

  23. I’m another one to comment on the Victorians article : there’s a HUGE load of misinformation and simply wrong stuff in there.
    Don’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.
    The authors seem also to be totally clueless on earlier social organisation and food behaviour in Britain, making dubious comparisions to elevate their take on the ‘especially healty’ mid-Victorian period.
    Mostly bollocks.

  24. Regarding the WSJ article, it was decent and had some good points. However, if one were to read the comments section of the article it becomes plainly visible that the author is not only arrogant, but ignorantly so. He makes many statements such as there is link between obesity and diet, as well as stating that there is no link between diet and things such as heart disease and diabetes.

    However, the part that I really took notice to is when he says that the brain exclusively runs on carbs (yes, he said carbs, not glucose). Obviously, this is wrong. The brain runs on glucose, which can be produced by the body in the absence of carbs through the process of gluconeogenesis and the splitting of triglyceride bonds to fuel the brain as well as provide glycogen for the muscles. Further, in the absence of carbs, the brain can run just as effectively on ketones, and it in fact does so preferentially in a carb-restricted state.

    In conclusion, the article was just okay. But it is clear that the author is not one that should be given much credibility in terms of science (even though he thinks that he is an expert and everybody else is just dumb).

    1. * Sorry, type. I meant to say that he stated that there is NO link between obesity and diet.

      When asked to back his claims he reverts to the tired old excuse that the science is too complex for us to understand, implying that we are all just dullards and he is some sort of genius.

  25. Hi there would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

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