Podcast

Mark Sission

Mark Sisson: Why Nutrition Is The Key To Health

Our diet determines which genes get activated
Saturday, August 16, 2014, 9:51 PM

This week, Mark Sisson -- former professional athlete, founder of Mark's Daily Apple, and developer of the Primal Blueprint health & fitness lifestyle -- returns to discuss nutrition. In his opinion, it's the single most important factor for a healthy life.

While other key components like physical exertion, good sleep, de-stressing and sun exposure contribute to overall health and well-being, too (see our 2013 interview with Mark for a full background on his recommended regime), the food we eat can literally determine which of the genes in our genetic code get activated and expressed. So, in a very real way, we indeed are what we eat.

Which raises concerns when looking at the traditional "food pyramid" we've been told to follow since the 1950s. In Mark's eyes, it's based on poor or absent science, and recommends a dangerously flawed regime responsible for many of the chronic health problems of modern society (obesity, diabetes, intestinal disorders, etc). It's so out-of-whack that one of the single most impactful steps we can take as a society would be to flip that pyramid "upside-down":

Humans are by nature very resilient in many regards. The good news is we can live on just about anything—bear claws, seaweed, shoe leather. We have been shown over history to be able to get through long periods of famine because of our ability to extract calories from whatever we put in our stomachs. That's the good news. The bad news is that a lot of the stuff we put in our stomachs has an effect on our genetic expression. Our bodies are trying to rebuild, recreate, renew, regenerate us every day. And based on the inputs that the genes get, we either turn on genes that store fat, that make us sick, that cause or predispose us to cancer, or we turn those genes off. Then we can turn on genes that build muscle, to give us more energy, that make us more clear thinking.

And a lot of these genes operate in a principle we call epigenetics, through food signaling. So it is the types of foods that we choose to eat that cause genes to turn on or off. And we can literally discover what I call these hidden genetic switches and make our food choices in such a manner that we can have a much better chance at arriving at the desired outcome. That might be losing weight; it might be getting off the meds; it might be reducing the ADHD in a young child. All of these things are possible, and quite likely based on food choices. It does not mean that if you are somebody who is living on fast food and soda all day that you are a bad person or even that you are doomed to die at 50. It just means that you have a greater likelihood of not thriving throughout your lifetime.

The gut biome story is going to be a big story for the next two years, and has been for the last year. It is the new frontier. We have a 100,000,000,000,000 organisms living in us that are not us. You know, we have a hundred trillion cells that are bacteria versus ten to fifteen trillion cells that are human. So 90% of the cells in your body are Not You, and there's a lot that they are doing. Some of them are helping you digest food. Some are creating vitamins. Some of them are feeding the cells lining your guts. And some of them are bad. And this balance in the gut biome between the good bacteria and the bad bacteria is huge, and it is an issue for a lot of people. And it relates back to the foods you eat in several ways. One of which is if the foods you eat are causing a leaky gut and the bad bacteria in your gut are leaking into your bloodstream, that's not a good thing. A gut is supposed to be a barrier to entry and only allow the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, simple fatty acids and sugars. But the fact that it's leaking and allowing in bacteria and setting up an immune response is huge. And that is the cause of a lot of people’s inflammation and the cause of a lot of people’s autoimmune diseases. And that relates back to the gut biome. So that is point number one.

Point number two is you have to feed that biome. So the food that you eat is also supporting the bacteria in your gut. And sugar we know tends to support the unhealthy bacteria. Some of the pre-biotic fibers, resistant starches, insulin -- things like that -- actually support the healthy bacteria and allow them to produce the short-chain fatty acids that then go on to feed the cells. It is so critical: it does come down to what you eat. So much of your life and so much of your health and so much of your ability to be energetic and healthy for the rest of your life comes down to what you put in your mouth. That part of it is not rocket science. The real rocket science is figuring out within that spectrum what is best for you, individually.

Mark's organization is releasing the Primal Blueprint Expert Certification program on August 20th. Those interested in better understanding the science of nutrition, and how best to implement it in your diet, can learn more about it here.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Mark Sisson (33m:55s):

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host Chris Martenson and today we are going to delve into one of the most important topics of life no matter what sort of future arrives—being in shape. Now, note that I did not say "getting in shape," as if that were the goal, but being in shape. Now whether your goal is to be more resilient or more healthy or, like me, both, being in shape is essential. However, if we were ranking the most confusing topics of our times, nutrition would be right near the top of my personal list. There is bad science. There is paid industry propaganda. There is good old-fashioned entrenched belief systems. All conspiring to keep nutritional information in a near perpetual state of murkiness.

Now, as we now know, and probably should have always known, you are what you eat. Nutrition is undoubtedly the single most important input to your immediate and long-term state of health. Now the good news is that the clouds are parting and good science and solid research are now available. And we are lucky today to have back on the show one of the leaders in bringing this information to us. Today we are talking with Mark Sisson, a prolific and energetic author, speaker, and businessman dedicated to changing how you eat, look, exercise, and feel.

Now if you have heard of the Paleo Diet and the Primal Blueprint, you are familiar with his work already. His primary website is Marksdailyapple.com, a website with an enormous wealth of information on health, fitness, nutrition, success stories—which I personally love—and a host of other resources. Now we have linked to it at the bottom of the podcast along with first podcast for people interested in hearing Mark’s background and the basics of the Primal eating regime. Mark, it is a real pleasure to have you back on the show.

Mark Sisson: It is a pleasure to be back, Chris. Thanks for having me.

Chris Martenson: Well, since we are what we eat, our nutritional guidelines that form the Food Pyramid we see everywhere, and which inform the sorts of foods we feed to our kids every day in school lunches, for example—that should be as credible, defensible, and data-driven as the engineering that goes into the car I drive. Is it?

Mark Sisson: You would think so, right?

Chris Martenson: Yeah, I would. Is it?

Mark Sisson: No. And therein lies probably one of the biggest problems we face, you know, as a society is this reliance on a set of data that is 50 years old and was never really accurate to begin with. And yet we have seemed to come down this path with, despite our individual best interest to want to try and do the right thing—"tell me what I need to do to be fit and lean and strong"—we have been given horrendous advice, in my opinion. So one of the things that I have set about as my mission is to educate people and to provide information on what would be more appropriate choices if people said, “I want to be healthy and resilient.”

Chris Martenson: And so if we start on that with the Food Pyramid, just grossly speaking, what is wrong with it?

Mark Sisson: Well, a lot of things are wrong with it. First of all, it was created by some individuals within government policy making committees that had no idea what they were doing, led astray by special interest groups—go figure—and backed by science that was then reinvested in discovering once again the wrong outcomes. It was a horrendous mishmash of sketchy politics, shady special interest, and shoddy science. And the bottom line is: 6 to 11 servings of grains a day form the basis of our Food Pyramid and within the Paleo and the Primal movement we look at that as just an outrageous basis for anyone’s diet. It is just a cheap source of calories that converts to glucose pretty quickly in your bloodstream. And that is the best you can say about it. It is fraught with industrial seed oils because we were told a long time ago to avoid saturated fats even though saturated fats are not the proximate cause of heart disease or any of the issues that they seem to have been linked with. And yet, we have been told then to avoid these saturated fats and to consume vegetable oils—corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, canola. And it turns out these are the exact oils that have been helping to increase heart disease and even cancer.

And I can go on and on. I mean, there is an abundance of sugar. We now consume far more sugar than we had ever in any point in human history and that is causing us to gain weight and to become pre-diabetic or get metabolic syndrome or even Type 2 diabetes. And that is a direct reflection of a food manufacturing industry that once they got the directive from the US Department of Agriculture to reduce fat, all they could do was increase carbohydrate and to do so they increased sugar.

So virtually everything is wrong with the Food Pyramid, as many people in the ancestral health world would tell you. The best thing you could do would be to turn it upside down.

Chris Martenson: Well, you know, it is okay to get things wrong from time to time, but we have some epidemiology—we have got some data, I am sure, everybody has seen this and I am sure you have too—which is that horrifying map of obesity over time where you just see states turning from blue to red starting about from the fifties, coming up through the 2000’s. And it is clearly an obesity epidemic. And we clearly have to pin that on something. Would that not be our eating habits?

Mark Sisson: Absolutely. I do not know what else you would pin it on. It is not—you know, some people assume, “Well, wait a minute, it must be largely due to our inactivity. We are not moving around that much. We are not exercising. Maybe that is the problem.” But, as we know from the science, 80% of your body composition happens as a result of how you eat. Very little of it is due to how much exercise you do. Now that is not to say that we should not exercise. We all should. But to think that you can exercise away a bad diet is just faulty logic and faulty reasoning. So it does come down to the food choices.

And I want to be clear that, you know, humans are by nature very resilient in many regards. The good news is we can live on just about anything—bear claws, seaweed, shoe leather. We have been shown over history to be able to get through long periods of famine because of our ability to extract calories from whatever we put in our stomachs. That is the good news. The bad news is that a lot of the stuff we put in our stomachs has an effect on our genetic expression. Our bodies are trying to rebuild, recreate, renew, regenerate us every day. And based on the inputs that the genes get, we either turn on genes that store fat, that make us sick, that cause or predispose us to cancer, or we turn those genes off. Then we can turn on genes that build muscle, that give us more energy, that make us more clear thinking.

And a lot of these genes operate in a principle we call "epigenetics" through food signaling. So it is the types of foods that we choose to eat that cause genes to turn on or off. And we can literally discover what I call these hidden genetic switches and make our food choices in such a manner that we can have a much better chance at arriving at the desired outcome. That might be losing weight. It might be getting off the meds. It might be reducing the ADHD in a young child. All of these things are possible and quite likely based on food choices. It does not mean that if you are somebody who is living on fast food and soda all day that you are a bad person or even that you are doomed to die at 50. It just means that you have a greater likelihood of not thriving throughout your lifetime.

Chris Martenson: Now, Mark, as you brought this up, the whole idea of our flexible genetics and our ability to consume shoe leather if need be—this forms a part of some criticism I have been reading about the Paleo diet. I think Scientific American called it “half-baked” primarily on that idea alone that we are much more genetically flexible than perhaps Paleo is speaking to. Michael Pollan took time out to speak about what is wrong with the Paleo diet. How do you respond to these criticisms?

Mark Sisson: Again, these are not—we go back to the original premise, which is the confusion among most citizens about what is the right thing to do. "I want to do the right thing. Please tell me what the right thing is. Where is the science?" And the answer is: There is no right answer. There are just choices that we can make based on the data, based on the science. And with regard to the Paleo diet or the Primal Blueprint eating strategy, a lot of the science is based on a combination of evolutionary biology. What did humans thrive on throughout the first two and a half million years of human history that pretty much forged the genetic recipe that we currently all carry right now? And then how is that borne out in modern genetic science? Every time we do a study now, we have the ability to look at the effect on the genes of whatever that food or that nutrient that we were introducing into the study—what was the effect at a gene level, which is really how all of these things manifest themselves is at the genetic level.

So when you go back to a discourse or complaints about the Paleo diet or the Primal Blueprint, they are really not substantive. They just suggest that there is much more diversity available to the average person. In other words, there are a lot of people that I know that are vegetarians who do very well, who thrive quite nicely on a vegetarian diet. That is difficult to do when you are eating Paleo, because lot of Paleo has to do with quality sources of animal protein, animal fat, and so on and so forth. So it is not to suggest that our way is the only way. It is a way that has been proven to work for a lot of people. I mean, on Mark’s Daily Apple, we have hundreds of thousands of user experiences.

And, as you pointed out, Chris, your favorite part of MDA is the Friday success stories. And these are extremely compelling stories of people who have lost massive amounts of weight and gotten off their medications, have more energy. You know, understand now that it is a way of life that is actually quite easy to embrace. And probably I think the thing that is most compelling about this way of living—it is not just a diet, it is how you exercise and sleep and sun exposure and how you play and de-stress and things like that—but the most compelling part of it is it's just really easy to embrace. It does not require struggle and sacrifice and calorie counting and portion control and a lot of the other nonsense that you sort of have to embrace if you take on one of the other strategies. Does that make sense?

Chris Martenson: It does make sense. And speaking to the science on this though, I have to confess as a smart guy trained in the sciences, I still find the whole topic of nutritional science a little perplexing because, you know, one day this thing is considered a superfood that you should eat every meal and the next day it is reviled. And vitamins help. No, they do not. Yes, they do. No, they do not. Correlation and causation are difficult even for the trained to separate, but the casual reader has no hope on this. On and on. What are we to—is there a body of knowledge that we know about that we can rest upon? And what do you do with all this new data that comes out? How do you make sense of it?

Mark Sisson: Well, so it is interesting that I feel that—look, if you go to the man on the street and you start interviewing people about their eating styles, you will find a variety of eating styles. Now if you start to challenge their eating styles, it is as if you are challenging their religion. So if I encounter a vegan and we have a discussion about what might be more appropriate style of eating, we are not going to change each other’s minds, at least not in that initial conversation. So I tell people, "look, if you are searching for a possibility of how to address your issues, whether they be overweight, whether they be arthritis, a pre-disposition to heart disease. You are on medications. Whatever it is. The first thing you do is do a lot of research and literally pick a style, an eating style, a style of living where there is a lot of good, solid research behind it." And you will find that on some of the vegan sites and some of the vegetarian sites. And you will find a lot of in the Paleo sites and certainly on Mark’s Daily Apple, which is my site. I mean, we have got 4,000 articles we have written in the last seven and a half, eight years.

It really at some point, it still is a belief system. I'm not going to lie. It is difficult to pull out the exact appropriate way of eating for every individual because everyone is different. So there is a point at which you sort of say, “Okay, I have read enough. I have done enough research that I am going to commit to this style of eating for a while. And I am going to do an experiment on myself and I am going to eliminate these foods. And I am going to start to include these foods. I am going to notice what happens.” And that is really what happens to a lot of people who take on a Paleo eating strategy is they will say, “Look, I am just going to do this for 30 days. I am all-in for 30 days. I will see what I notice.” And, of course, people notice almost invariably the weight drops off, the inflammation goes down, the blood sugar normalizes, the blood lipids come back into a range that is indicative of health and a lack of risk of heart disease and so on and so forth.

But this is sort of a very libertarian approach to taking control of your life and your health, which is really a major part of your life. And doing so in a way that you understand the variables and then are able to put new variables in or introduce new variables along the way, understanding why you are doing it. "Okay, if I am going to take out whole grains, why am I taking out whole grains? Well, I have read so many articles on how grains convert to glucose in the bloodstream and we do not want that much glucose in the bloodstream. We want to be burning more fat than the typical human. And many of the grains have anti-nutrients like gluten and gliadins and lectins and phytates and saponins." The more research you do, the more you are able to conduct this experiment on yourself. Going, “Okay, if I give up grains and I notice that my arthritis clears up or I notice that I have lost weight or I notice that my sinus infections do not linger or I do not get sick anymore, there is more than just a correlation there. There may be some causation in my particular genetic component.”

And then, of course, the obvious conclusion is either I eliminate this stuff forever—and, gosh, there is a whole passel of amazingly tasty, healthful foods I can substitute so it is not like I am sacrificing anything—or I can continue to do what I was doing and suffer the pain of the arthritis or the Irritable Bowel Syndrome or whatever there was that I was trying to address. But at least the choice is mine and I am making it consciously, as opposed to being a victim of the US Department of Agriculture’s advice on how to eat right.

Chris Martenson: Excellent. So I would love to—let’s make this personal. So I have been eating very well by American standards and pretty good by Paleo standards for a while. And I noticed that I have been feeling pretty rundown still. And in particular, my joints were limiting my exercise because they hurt a lot. And so after doing some blood work out with a really good naturopath who is all about the data. So we did some blood work and there were some interesting results there. We recently discovered I have huge amounts of circulating antibodies, IGG specifically, mainly against dairy. Eggs were off the charts—top of the line. And grains, so wheat especially. So I think I now know that I have been generally inflamed because I have been having pretty strong reactions to certain foods that I have been eating. So I have been doing a couple of things.

The first is I have now cut those specific inflammatory foods out of my diet and I have been including more anti-inflammatory things like turmeric, dark berries, things like that. What advice can you give on the whole topic of dietary-induced inflammation? Because that feels like it has been a pretty big mover and shaker in my life. Am I making too much of it? Is it a real thing? And can it be treated successfully through an improved eating regime?

Mark Sisson: Well, how do you feel now?

Chris Martenson: I feel better. It has only been three weeks, but I can feel better—

Mark Sisson: It has only been three weeks and you feel better and you feel noticeably better?

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

Mark Sisson: Alright, well, I mean, you just answered your own question. Absolutely, most systemic inflammation that we suffer has a dietary etiology. Most systemic inflammation is a result of something that you are eating that is either causing your gut to leak and creating an immune response or just causing a systemic inflammation throughout because of high sugar—there are any number of possibilities. But they literally almost all come back to something in your diet. And your job as an interested individual who wants to achieve the optimal health level possible for yourself is to research. And one great way to do that is to go get your blood tested and see if you have inflammatory markers—homocysteine, CRP, IGG, as you saw. And to be able to parse that blood work and go, “Wow, there is something going on here.”

And then, as you noticed and probably prompted your initial visit, your joints should not be hurting at your age, you know, unless you are beating yourself up working out too much, which is another red flag for us. People’s joins should not hurt that much. And this is what—I mean, I was a grain eater my whole life. I was a marathon runner and a triathlete and I felt I needed grains to carb load every single day of my life up to the point of taking in 700 to 1,000 grams of carbs a day. And I was—I had irritable bowel syndrome. I had basically arthritis at an early age. It hurt to get up and move every morning. It was ridiculous. And here I was supposed to be one of the fittest people on the planet, and I was really very unhealthy and falling apart. And yet I defended my right to eat grains. Because I thought, “Well, whole grains, they have to be healthy. Come on, whole grains? Seriously?” They have got to be healthy.

And yet I started doing—I have been researching this for 30 years. And even as I was reading the research about the problems with grains, I was still defending my own personal right to eat grains because I am not a celiac. So it must be okay. Well, it was not until I gave them up at the age of 47. I mean, I have been doing this for 40 years, for crying out loud. At the age of 47 within 30 days my arthritis went away. The Irritable Bowel Syndrome that had run my life since I was 14, cleared up, went away. Sinus infections...

So when something that—I did not need blood markers to even—to prove to me that that was problematic. It was my feeling better that was the big “aha” moment for me. And I said, “Wow, if I feel this good giving up grains, especially in light of the fact that I have continued to almost stubbornly defend my right to eat grains because they must be healthy for me. Imagine how many tens of millions of people have similar issues that could be addressed by giving up either grains or eggs or dairy or whatever it is and simply by just being a little bit more conscious about what they eat, what they put in their mouths. And noticing the difference, if they have the discipline to eliminate those foods for a certain period of time and kind of just sit back and notice the results.

Chris Martenson: I love this idea of the individuality of noticing the results. Because the best you can do is come up with some broad guidelines. You know, the Food Pyramid, if we turned it upside down is correct, broadly speaking. But then there are the individual things. In my individual readout, I had a sensitivity to almonds as well, which were a big portion of my diet. That is fine. I switched to walnuts, which I had almost no sensitivity to. And with that data, I am now armed with something that is very useful. We have also found through the emerging field of epigentics, the gut biome, other studies that are showing that DNA is anything but a fixed element. That it has a communication that exists between our bodies and the world. And so I am just wondering what you have been noticing in that whole field, particularly with the gut biome? Is there any research or data yet supporting the idea that people either have better or improved or changed for the better gut biomes as a result of Paleo?

Mark Sisson: Oh, absolutely. The gut biome story is the big story for the next two years and has been for the last six months or a year. It is the new frontier. We have a hundred trillion organisms living in us that are not us. You know, we have a hundred trillion cells that are bacteria and ten to fifteen trillion cells that are human. So 90% of the cells in your body are not you, and there is a lot that they are doing. Some of them are helping you digest food. Some are creating vitamins. Some of them are feeding the cells lining your guts. And some of them are bad. And this balance in the gut biome between the good bacteria and the bad bacteria is huge and it is an issue for a lot of people. And it relates back to the foods you eat in several ways. One of which is that if the foods you eat are causing a leaky gut and the bad bacteria in your gut are leaking into your bloodstream, I mean, that is not a good thing. A gut is supposed to be a barrier to entry and only allow the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, simple fatty acids and sugars. But the fact that it is now leaking and allowing in bacteria and setting up an immune response is huge. And that is a cause of a lot of people’s inflammation and the cause of a lot of people’s autoimmune diseases. And that relates back to the gut biome. So that is point number one.

Point number two is you have to feed that biome. So the food that you eat is also supporting the bacteria in your gut. And sugar we know tends to support the unhealthy bacteria. Some of the pre-biotic fibers—resistant starches, inulin, things like that—actually support the healthy bacteria and allow them to produce the short-chain fatty acids that then go on to feed the cells. It is so critical, it does come down to what you eat. So much of your life and so much of your health and so much of your ability to be energetic and healthy for the rest of your life comes down to what you put in your mouth. It is not—that part of it is not rocket science. The real rocket science is figuring out within that spectrum what is best for you individually.

Chris Martenson: Well, everything is an experiment as long as you remember to collect the data and that is certainly something that has been part of my program here as I have been consciously really altering my diet is just a quick daily jot of how I am feeling and what I am noticing. And it has helped me really observe and be cognizant of the changes that have been happening. Because they are kind of slow and subtle, but not when you compare back three weeks ago and say, “Woah, I wrote that, huh?” Today I do not sound at all like that. So that is a really good part of this.

Now, what I love about what you are doing is that you are out educating people and that is really what we do at Peak Prosperity. We are just about—we think that information is the most important thing people can access and we live in the Information Age. There is so much available. But it has to be parsed and made available. And I know you have got a lot of books and pieces out, but you have got a new program running soon that is really around helping to educate and bring people up. Can you talk to us about that?

Mark Sisson: Sure. So we have just introduced the Primal Blueprint Expert Certification Program. This is an online training program. It is 13 modules, multi-media. There is a lot of text, but there are videos. There is a test at the end of each module and it is designed to allow people to test their knowledge of the Primal Blueprint technologies, if you will, specifically. So, we have ways of teaching individuals to become better at burning fat and not so dependent on sugar. We have strategies for hacking your sleep so that you get the most out of your sleep and benefit from the hours of sleeping. Or how to figure out how much sun exposure is appropriate for you. This certification is designed primarily for trainers, for medical and health professionals who want to specifically increase their knowledge in this area. Registered dieticians who historically have had to learn some really dated dogma in terms of the Food Pyramid—once they have gotten their degree, now they can have fun implementing some of the Primal Blueprint eating strategies. So it is designed to allow professionals to literally put on their business card, “I am Primal Blueprint certified.” And if that adds to their income, great. And if adds just to their knowledge, that is just as great.

We have also designed it for just people who are not intending to make a living doing this, who just want to sort of prove to themselves that they really fully understand all of the concepts that are behind the Primal Blueprint. And to have that sense of knowledge going forward in their lives that—I mean, there is a real empowerment and confidence when you intuitively know that the choices you are making are serving you well. I mean, that is really what this comes down to and that is my mission in life is to educate people on how to make choices that will serve them with the knowledge of what the ramifications of those choices will be.

So if you make a bad choice, I am okay with that as long as you know what the ramifications of that choice are. If you make a choice willingly and say, “Look I am willing to have a entire piece of cake with ice cream on it because I am at a friend’s party and that is what I am going to do and damn it I am willing to do that,” knowing full well that you are going to suffer for the next five hours and why all of these different biochemical reactions are going on in your body. I am okay with that. You know, it is not about—I just want you to be informed. That is really my mission in life is to educate people.

Chris Martenson: The libertarian eating regime. I get it. It makes sense. We are all informed and we make our choices and that is where personal responsibility comes in. Personally, I cannot wait to actually take a look at this certification program. Because here is what—I am just interested in how you take that large of a body of work and turn it into a structured way that people can step through it. I am interested simply as an observer how you went about doing that because that is a lot of work.

Mark Sisson: Well, we have been working on it for two and a half years. It is 110,000 words of text. Like I said, there is an exam at the end of each module. They are not easy. They are designed to truly test your knowledge. I think we have done a great job of distilling it. And, of course, there are hundreds of links to additional reading material and things like that. The idea is to—we want people to pass. We want people to understand this and we want them to impart that wisdom to their friends. We feel that this certification is one of the best ways to leverage this incredible technology that we have tapped into that up to now has really been only offered by my books and my website and a few other tangential offerings that we have. But this is a way to leverage so that everybody who gets certified is now the go-to expert in their town or their city or their CrossFit box or whatever.

Chris Martenson: So if somebody really burrows in or starts down the Paleo regime, would you say to anybody listening, no matter what their current state of health, that they could improve that?

Mark Sisson: Absolutely. That is interesting you bring it up in that way. I think as I go through life and I meet people all over the world, everybody has an issue. And it may be really benign in your point of view. But to them, it is really driving them. They wake up with a little soreness or they do not have the energy they wish they had, even though they go to the gym and they work out and they think they eat right. So everybody’s got some little thing, some little physical thing that still sticks in the back of their mind like, “I need to improve this. I wish I could address this one issue.” And that is what makes this a journey rather than just an end goal. The journey is always sort of, “Alright, how can I get to the next level? How can I maximize my experience on this earth given my set of genes? How can I get the most fun, enjoyment, contentment, satisfaction out of my time here?” And so, again, that comes back to the essence of the Primal Blueprint is how do we get the most out of life?

Chris Martenson: And the expert certification program sounds like a way to really burrow in deep for those who are interested in that and for people who are interested in the lighter approach. You have a 21-day program people can just download and start, can’t they?

Mark Sisson: Yeah, so we have a 21-day total body transformation. The 21 days is contemplated to be just enough time to take on these new lifestyles and ingrain them as habits. And literally, for the gene reprogramming to take place it takes about 21 days. So once you have gone through this really step-by-step hand-holding process that we have outlined: "Here is what you do day one. Here is what you do day two. And so on." At the end of 21 days, you are fully Primal. And now you decide, “Wow, if I feel this good, am I in a position to do this for the rest of my life?” And the answer is almost invariably absolutely.

Chris Martenson: Absolutely. Well, I can certainly attest in my own life it has made a big difference in what I have eaten. And getting this additional data was really helpful to me because I was close. But, again, I needed some personal tweaking. And I think there is further to go. My first step is fixing a leaky gut. And then after that, I am going to reassess and will get some more data and I will go for the next thing. Because I do feel like it is a journey. But without the data I would not know where to begin. It is just... in particular with my type of leaky gut, I might eat something on Tuesday and I might not suffer the effects till Friday. And it is too far of a gap for me to figure that out.

Mark Sisson: No, that is exactly right. And we are lucky that we live in an age where we can quantify a lot of these things. And as much of the Primal Blueprint and the Paleo movement is about kind of going back and looking at a simple life, at eliminating a lot of the trappings of society and technology, the fact that we can use these to our advantage is also really important. To use the data, to collect the data scientifically. And then to go, “Okay, I see exactly what is happening now.” And 50 years ago, 10 years ago, I could not have identified this based on—I would still be sort of guessing at what I am doing.

Chris Martenson: Well, fantastic. Mark, I really am very much looking forward to checking out this Primal Blueprint Expert Certification Program. I want to see what it looks like and how you did it. And I am sure it is just going to be a fantastic offering. So with that, your website is Marksdailyapple.com, no apostrophe in the "Mark’s," but people can get there easily enough. And is there any other place or events that you are running?

Mark Sisson: Yes, if you want to check out the certification, it is at primalblueprint.com, which is our store.

Chris Martenson: Excellent, primalblueprint.com. Check that out there. And anything else? Do you have any events going on or other things you would like to—

Mark Sisson: We have always got stuff going on. We have got a big event in Oxnard called Primal Con coming up the end of September. And we have more of those coming up next year in 2015. You can read about all of that on PrimalBlueprint.com.

Chris Martenson: Fantastic. Mark, thank you so much for your time, and thank you for the work you are doing.

Mark Sisson: I appreciate it. Thanks for having me, Chris.

About the guest

Mark Sisson

Mark Sisson is the author of a #1 bestselling health book on Amazon.com, The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy, as well as The Primal Blueprint Cookbook: Primal, Low Carb, Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free and the top-rated health and fitness blog MarksDailyApple.com. He is also the founder of Primal Nutrition, Inc., a company devoted to health education and designing state-of-the-art supplements that address the challenges of living in the modern world.

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36 Comments

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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It is my Intent.

I was wondering where to post this piece from Physorg. About the influence of gut biomes on our decisions.

This phenomenon is more evidence that Tom Campbell is correct. We are able to influence the outcomes of the future (Within the error bars) by our intent.

Be very careful of your intent. (Be careful what you wish for.)

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
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Environmental impact

I'm curious if anyone can speak to the environmental impact of this diet.  I have read many times that meat production is a greater contributor to greenhouse gas emissions than even car traffic (correct me if I'm wrong please).  If the whole world switched over to this diet wouldn't it have a negative impact on an already stressed eco-system?  How can this be managed by individuals choosing this diet to reduce the impact.  E.g. rabbit is better than beef or substituting legumes for meat?  How can Paleo be made resilient for a future which might include food shortages?  How can someone who wants to produce a portion their own food adapt their efforts to this diet?  I'm interested in this, but if I'm going to try it it has to fit with the rest of my efforts centered on making myself and my family more resilient.

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KugsCheese
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Chronic Inflammation Markers

Check your CRP (includes correlation with cancer), Homocysteine (heart), and HbA1c (glycation, sugar control)

dude59's picture
dude59
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Re: the environmental impact of a good diet

As Mark has said, (probably elsewhere), you need about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass. for most of us that works out to about three ounces per day, and most of that can come for the vegetables that you eat (yes, Kale and Broccoli have protein!). The current problem is that we actually eat too much protein, and many more processed carbs than we need.

Getting the correct amount of good protein should not be an environmental problem. The current problem is how we abuse the environment to extract everything as cheaply as possibly in current dollars. Fresh vegetables and grass fed beef is better for you, and even if it costs a bit more now, eating right will probably reduce your medical bills in the future.

 

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kevinoman0221
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environmental impact

@Thetallestmanonearth - There need not be any negative environmental impact from a Paleo diet, and in fact, I'd argue it encourages a positive impact. Paleo encourages consumption of grass-fed, pasture raised meats, organic veggies, nuts, berries, roots, tubers, fruits - all of these can be produced by means that are net-restorative to the earth. Look into Permaculture to learn more about this. Essentially, the rotational grazing of animals builds topsoil and a better microbiome, adds fertility to the soil, prevents desertification, reduces water runoff, and more. Similarly, a perennial food production system that produces fruit and nuts from trees planted alongside nitrogen-fixers in a food forest or silvopasture system, once mature, can produce as much or more calories per acre as a monocropped grain field, but without wasting all the water, without depleting topsoil, while adding fertility to the soil rather than depleting it, while being a home to a countless variety of life forms that otherwise would have been razed from the earth.

Conversely, "non-paleo" foods are grains and legumes, both of which are grown in monocropped systems that rely on extensive use of pasticides, herbicides, non-renewable water irrigation, fossil fuels, cause massive topsoil loss, destroy the microbiome and displace/destroy countless species. It is hard to imagine being able to produce these foods on anywhere near this scale without these horrible costs. The paleo foods, though, can and are being produced sustainably. It is just a matter of educating people and scaling up.

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
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Not all land suitable for vegetable farming

With respect to the idea that eating meat is more or less harmful for the environment, the answer is 'it depends.'

Here in New England, some land is really only suitable for running animals on.  It is tilted, rocky pasture land.

The animals actually improve the soil conditions if they are run on it properly (rotated on a good schedule), so I feel that's a perfectly acceptable use.

Most of what people refer to with the heavy impact of animal farming is when we use arable land to grow grains which we then feed to animals to produce protein and fatten them up for market.  Then the impacts to produce a pound of meat are pretty high.

Another fair use, in my opinion, is for things like hogs that are excellent at converting farm and kitchen waste into protein.  

So I am not personally against meat use and we strongly favor grass or scrap fed, local meats that also support local farmers.

But for the whole world?  There I rather doubt that the math pencils out.  I doubt there's enough range/pasture land to support the quantities of meat required, but I have not run the numbers, nor seen them run.

kevinoman0221's picture
kevinoman0221
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protein

As Mark has said, (probably elsewhere), you need about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass. for most of us that works out to about three ounces per day, and most of that can come for the vegetables that you eat (yes, Kale and Broccoli have protein!). The current problem is that we actually eat too much protein, and many more processed carbs than we need.

@dude59 - In this article of Mark's here http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-much-protein-should-you-be-eating/#axzz3Alo0OH2b he says the RDA of 0.8g per kg of body weight is an absolute minimum and may be ok if you are perfectly healthy and sedentary. He then discusses several other cases (including dieters and anyone who is active) where more protein is better, up to 2g per pound (over 4g per kg).

So if we take a 200lb active person trying to lose weight, it's not unreasonable he/she would want to eat 1g per pound of body weight. That's 200 grams in a day. It would be misleading to say "that is only 7 ounces of protein" because that would be a dry weight of protein that doesn't exist in food sources. Take one of the most protein concentrated foods, canned tuna -- you'd have to eat 5 cups of it (nearly 28 ounces) to get 200 grams of protein.

To say that this protein can be mostly obtained from vegetables is also misleading. Cooked spinach has one of the highest concentrations of protein of vegetables (according to Nutritiondata.com) and has 4 grams protein per 100 grams of spinach. So to get your 200 grams of protein here, you'd have to consume at least 5,000 grams of spinach per day. That's 11 lbs of cooked spinach. Daily. Not feasible.

Even if you wanted to cut everything in half and only consume 0.5g protein per lb of body weight, or just get half your protein from vegetable sources, that's still more than 5 lbs of cooked spinach. Still a no-go.

To get it from a raw source -- Kale has 3g protein per 100g. So it's even less feasible than cooked spinach.

I disagree with the statement that we currently consume too much protein. Study after study shows people doing better when increasing their protein consumption from real foods, especially those who previously followed the standard American diet. Mark's article, linked above, touches on this point.

I know it is commonly repeated in vegetarian and vegan circles that it's easy to get all the protein you need from vegetables, but it's simply not true. The data is right there for anyone to do the math. Maybe if you consider grains and legumes as part of "vegetables," but certainly not from Paleo veggies such as leafy greens.

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
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Thank you Kevin, dude and

Thank you Kevin, dude and Chris.  After writing my initial comment I thought about my little homestead as it is now and as I have planned it for the future and realized that in a lot of ways I am already growing what could be close to a Paleo diet (as I understand it).  Most of the grain I plan to grow is for animal feed.  I do plan to grow beans and peas as storage crops, but I'm not sure how those fit in with Paleo.  We are planting as many perennials as we can (nuts, fruit and berries).  We raise chickens and we're planning for a rotational grazing system for goats, rabbits and pigs. I can see how on a local scale, in a temperate biome it is possible to sustainably eat a paleo diet.

As to my larger question: can we feed the world this way? Chris said:

But for the whole world?  There I rather doubt that the math pencils out.  I doubt there's enough range/pasture land to support the quantities of meat required, but I have not run the numbers, nor seen them run.

I agree with this, and upon further reflection I don't know that there is a sustainable method by which we can support the current population.  I guess that is one of the "predicaments" discussed here.  We have been able to grow beyond our ecosystems ability to support us only because of petroleum and agriculture inputs made possible by petroleum. Like it or not, that will end. That presents not only an personal challenge (how do I feed myself, my family and my community), but a larger ethical challenge (how do we decide who gets what when there is not enough to go around?).

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kevinoman0221
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Re: Can the environment support everyone eating Paleo?

Regarding the question: Can the environment support everyone eating Paleo?

I don't know. But can the environment support everyone NOT eating Paleo?

Given the amount of topsoil we lose every year, the rate at which fossil aquifers are depleting in order to irrigate grains and soy fields, the impact of climate change on our agriculture systems, I don't see how we can afford NOT to transition to a sustainable, perennial agro-forrestry/silvopasture based system ASAP. And what do these food production systems produce efficiently? Pastured meats. Nuts. Fruit. Vegetables. Tubers. All the Paleo-allowed foods. What do they not produce well? Grains. The single most non-paleo food item.

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
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Well said Kevin.  I agree

Well said Kevin.  I agree that permaculture and related techniques are the closest thing we have to a solution for our food problems.

Atreat's picture
Atreat
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Primal

Good interview, I read the Primal blueprint a few years ago and have gradually incorporated both his ideas on diet and exercise.  At 52 I am more fit and healthier than I've been since my early 20's. Great information.

One aspect that wasn't touched on in the interview with Mark, was the great information on his website about intermittent fasting. It isn't nearly as daunting as it might sound and can be a powerful tool.

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Thetallestmanonearth
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(No subject)

Jason Clark's picture
Jason Clark
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Longevity

I'm glad that the issue of economics has been discussed in this thread, though there is probably no getting around the fact that grains provide more calories per acre than anything else. So I do agree with Chris that the math probably doesn't add up for the wider world, which has no choice but to continue to rely on cereal grains as its main staple...at least until population can be brought down (hopefully, peacefully). I'd add that if the rest of the world is eating mainly grains because that is all they can afford, what does that do to us psychologically to eat a more privileged diet? What does it do in terms of empathy and communication? We already consume 1/4 of the world's resources while only constituting 1/20 of the population. We already live in an age of widening inequality. Just sayin'. 

The issue to me is not simply one of health--unless of course we are talking about a personal health issue likely caused by grain consumption, and in the case of diabetes, I'd note that unrefined grains are much less at fault than refined grains or sugar/HFCS. But looking at health from a macro-scale, it seems to me that the country with the longest life expectancy with appreciable population (i.e., not a city-state) is Japan, and we know how rice-centered the cuisine is over there. Or perhaps it's the fact that the Japanese (at least until recently) eat much less meat than we do? (It surely couldn't be their cigarette smoking!). These facts would seem to be at odds with the Paleo diet, as I understand it.

As for inverting the Food Pyramid, which was proposed a couple times during the interview, I like the idea of consuming more calories from fruits and vegetables--which are nutritionally dense--than from grains, though this will depend on local conditions--the availability and price of produce. I don't like the idea of centering the new pyramid around meat, or even fish--which is more healthful than meat, but environmentally problematic. I like the idea of grass-fed beef, but think that meat shouldn't make up more than 10-20% of daily calories, again, depending on locale, as Chris points out. Certainly I would not favor inverting the FP to elevate sweets and snacks to main foods, as has actually occurred in developed and some developing countries. The obesity epidemic is probably due as much from sugar/HFCS as from refined cereals, but the real problem is over-consumption, and that brings us to the question of protein requirements.  

 

Kevin writes:

So if we take a 200lb active person trying to lose weight, it's not unreasonable he/she would want to eat 1g per pound of body weight. 

It so happens that I'm a 200 lb. active person (age 62, 6') who has been tracking his protein consumption for the past two months with the aid of Nutritiondata. I've been averaging about 100 g/Day of protein, largely (80-90%) from non-animal sources. I doubt that I'd benefit from eating 200 grams. My RDA is actually 72g. (0.8 g X 90 kgs.), and I'm taking in about 1.1 grams of protein per kg. of weight (or about 1/2 gram per lb. of weight). So I'm already eating 1/3 more protein than recommended (or required). Why increase that to 200/72 = nearly triple the RDA? That seems excessive unless one is a body-builder, or maybe a football player. I'll bet that Japanese men (avg. life expectancy = 82 years) don't eat much above the RDA. I wouldn't be surprised if many of them are under the RDA. Still, I'll grant that protein needs depend on both the amount and type of activity. In my case about 2 hrs. of easy to moderate cycling and not much else. My health is generally good (rarely ill, just chronic hypertension). I certainly don't feel lacking in energy, but I've cleaned up my act in terms of eliminating processed foods/snacks, alcohol, and other forms of empty calories. That made the biggest difference to me.  

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Jason Clark
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Sample diet

I've long been mainly vegetarian, and was even vegan for a couple years 40 years ago (probably had a protein deficiency back then). I take (some) issue with your statement that vegetarians can't get adequate protein. I agree it takes some planning (like incorporating lots of Tofu and other soy products or loading up on peas and beans). But even without the aid of soy, one can get a fair amt. of protein. Here's what I ate one day recently (protein figures courtesy of Nutritiondata).

 

Oatmeal (100 g.)                     12 g. protein

Sesame seed (3 tbsp)             12 g.

Basil seed (40 g.)                     6 g.

Spinach, cooked (600 g.)         15 g.

Brown rice (1 cup)                     6 g.

Eggs (2)                                  12 g.

Watermelon seed (30 g.)            8 g.

Guava (0.8 Kg.)                         24 g. (!)

Mushroom (0.8 Kg.)                   16 g.

Total Protein                            111 grams

% protein from animal sources = 12/ 111, or about 11%

Notice I rely a lot on seeds (and nuts) of various kinds, as well as the spinach, plus some freak fruits like guava, which is extremely high in both protein and dietary fiber for a fruit. Mushrooms are also very high in protein. So one needn't resort to eating beans to get 100 grams/day of protein. This day I consumed about 2,200 calories. 

Now you may very well say that 100 grams (or 0.5 grams per lb. of body weight in my case) isn't enough protein, and I'd answer that it depends on age and activity. It seems to be enough for me. A better question might be: am I getting enough of the important amino acids?

 

 

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davefairtex
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authenticity

The whole discussion felt quite authentic.  Chris wasn't simply talking about "staying fit" and healthy in some theoretical sense, but actually had real issues to discuss in his own particular case and how altering diet had positively affected him.  It comes from actually living the stuff he talks about.

It made me think: exactly what is the effect of that 8-oz coke I drink every day?

I also liked Mark talking about defending his right to eat bread.  I can identify with that!

 

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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Leading causes of Death.

And what to do about them.

Jason Clark's picture
Jason Clark
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Video

Sometimes a bit simplistic, but nevertheless a persuasive account of the benefits of plant-based foods vs. animal foods. The data seems to me overwhelming, and that is part of the reason I went vegan back in 1970, and mostly vegetarian afterwards (with a few 'social' relapses in later life). It is hard to be vegan in a mainly meat-eating world, but the benefits are undeniably there.

Poultry comes out surprisingly as the chief villain here. I wonder if it's because of the way most chickens are raised nowadays? I try to choose 'free range' chicken. Truthfully, I've always preferred fish to both dairy and poultry/eggs, but one is driven more and more into farmed fish because the wild variety is endangered, and I doubt that farmed fish has equivalent benefits. 

It would have been nice had this doctor summarized his presentation with recommended proportions of various foods--his own food pyramid. Does he think grains should be primary, or vegetables or fruit? Are they all of equal importance?

What I have trouble believing is that one has to go hardcore vegan to reap all the benefits in terms of the major killers, like CVD, cancer, diabetes, etc. And there are different forms of veganism. Living on Ramen noodles, potato chips, and softdrinks is vegan, but surely not wise eating. Here's where Macrobiotics had good suggestions: eat whole foods, mainly plant-based (with cereals at the center), and locally grown in season. True, its Achilles Heel was the reliance on too much salt, which we now know to be harmful, and it also unnecessarily avoided raw foods like the plague, which was not very logical, given adequate hygiene. 

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Jason Clark's picture
Jason Clark
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Legumes?

I like it! Democratic, rather than hierarchical. But what about nuts and seeds? Sea vegetables? Where do they fit? I don't know of any society on earth which consumes 1/4 of their food as beans (maybe some Indians or native Mexicans might approach this), so I'd lump nuts and seeds with beans and peas into the 'legume' category. Seaweed and mushrooms I guess could fit into the 'vegetable' category, as they are low in calories and nutritionally dense like vegetables.

Do the proportions represent calories, e.g., eat 500 calories of fruit, etc. per day for a 2,000 calorie diet? Or do they represent volume? (I think calories would be more logical). 500 calories would be a lot of spinach, but then one would get its superior nutritional benefit.

Since I'm concerned about societal separation and inequality causing alienation, I'd prefer not to exclude animal food categories entirely. So I'd consider having five more or less equal categories: fruits, grains, legumes, and vegetables, plus animal foods: each accounting for about 400 calories in a standard 2,000 calorie diet. That would be completely balanced. If Americans only ate 20% of their calories as animal food, they'd be acting more like Japanese, and would live longer and suffer less degenerative disease. This is not to say that the ideal diet for humans could not be closer to absolute veganism, but it would be a good baseline. As it is, most of the world is consuming more and more animal food, harming both the health of the planet and that of humanity. We are going backwards...The arithmetic tells us that the greater the human population, the more vegan we must become, not less. But still, as Chris pointed out, there are places not really conducive to agriculture, where grazing is ideal, so I think there will always be a place for livestock. The problem isn't that we aren't vegan, it's that we eat too much meat (and dairy and fish). So lose the rigid categories and think of proportions instead. Someone like me who gets 10% of his calories from animal food resembles a vegan like you much more than I resemble a typical American that gets maybe 1/3 of his calories from animal food. In addition, you and I are probably a lot more health-conscious and careful about avoiding bad processed foods, and this is really what's most important to health.

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robie robinson
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is there a sense that the ruminant and those

husbands of the same need be vilified?

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-08-22/an-open-letter-to-george-monbiot

 

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pgp
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Food-religion vs science and my two top tips

There's no substitute for science and people stuck behind food religions or religions in general can be handicapped because they can't open their minds to clear science.

I'm an engineer by profession and gym-going certified personal trainer as a hobby and it has taken me 20 years to figure out (the hard way) what is now fast becoming widely accepted; paleolithic dietary principles work - you really can't argue with 2 million years of primate evolution (unless you are a bible thumper of course).

I'd therefore strongly recommend books that follow the paleolithic model (like Mark Sission's - though I've not read it cover to cover yet) to everyone and offer the following two tips from my own experience which helped me and others enormously and thus could help you.    There are no overnight cures but the point is you don't have to starve yourself or upend your whole life to make a few simple changes to eat well - you will NOT be hungry if you eat correctly.

 

Tip 1:

Dump bread, crackers, rice and pasta.  If you have a sweet tooth (and can't just go cold-turkey) then you can at least "get off" the addiction of raw, refined or processed sugar (and starches) fairly easily by using sweeteners (avoid aspartame, research the safest).  So that also means avoiding milk (however raw unsweetened and unthickened yogurt and cheese is ok because the sugar has been consumed by the "good" bacteria).  Avoid fruit juice which is very high in available sugars.  Honey is not a substitute unless you are a bee.

Iced tea for example wtih sucralose sweetener (which I think is one of the least toxic) was my cure from glasses of milk and fruit juice.    There will always be arguments about the safety of sweeteners and if you're the purist you wouldn't use them at all but I think its better to control the sugar addiction first.  Be aware that some sweeteners can irritate your gut (it'll be written on the packet) but everyone reacts differently so avoid them or use sparingly once you've controlled your sugar lust.

 

Tip 2:

Your biggest meal should be eaten at lunch time.  Essentially swap lunch for dinner.  This makes a huge difference to satiety and general feeling of well being.  This isn't always easy but it can be done if you plan well.

Avoid hunger by eating MORE.  You do this by filling your stomach with low-carb vegetables. Ratatouille for example is an excellent nutrient rich and sugar low side dish, think heaped plate however.   Green-beans, green-peas, salad (the whole lettuce not just a few leaves, preferably without dressing but using flavours like olives, sundried tomatoes and blue-cheese), cauliflower, broccoli etc...   So think vegetarian but without the calories from oils, starchy grains and potatoes. 

NOW you must eat a portion of meat (for protein), make sure it is NOT too lean, fat is really important.  The quality of meat is always a concern (organic is always best if you can afford it but free range is the next best).  You can make hamburgers (without flour) and Bolognese (without the pasta) from mince/ground-beef; try roasted chicken pieces (skin on is OK, fats are GOOD) etc...     Organic vegetables are generally better for you, I'd argue they are more nutrient rich but its still fast grown food which means it may never be as good as (properly) home grown.  Fish is ok but with increased plastic toxicity and heavy metal contamination its becoming a food to avoid - thanks heavy industry and over-population.

 

There's a million other tips which is probably why you'd buy Mark Sissions book or do his course and then research.  A lot of of those tips are are common sense but the above tricks are the two I found most profound because while I always knew sugar is bad I could never really kick it completely nor drop that last few kilos of unwanted body fat and easily maintain it.   Ultimately the paleolithic dietary model balances the complex digestive, satiety and blood-sugar regulatory hormones, allowing your body to naturally regulate your fat, hunger and energy levels optimally.  The human body does work but you have to let it do its thang.

 

 

 

 

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ommm
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Good suggestions but ...
pgp wrote:

There's no substitute for science and people stuck behind food religions or religions in general can be handicapped because they can't open their minds to clear science.

I'm an engineer by profession and gym-going certified personal trainer as a hobby and it has taken me 20 years to figure out (the hard way) what is now fast becoming widely accepted; paleolithic dietary principles work - you really can't argue with 2 million years of primate evolution (unless you are a bible thumper of course).

I'd therefore strongly recommend books that follow the paleolithic model (like Mark Sission's - though I've not read it cover to cover yet) to everyone and offer the following two tips from my own experience which helped me and others enormously and thus could help you.    There are no overnight cures but the point is you don't have to starve yourself or upend your whole life to make a few simple changes to eat well - you will NOT be hungry if you eat correctly.

 

Tip 1:

Dump bread, crackers, rice and pasta.  If you have a sweet tooth (and can't just go cold-turkey) then you can at least "get off" the addiction of raw, refined or processed sugar (and starches) fairly easily by using sweeteners (avoid aspartame, research the safest).  So that also means avoiding milk (however raw unsweetened and unthickened yogurt and cheese is ok because the sugar has been consumed by the "good" bacteria).  Avoid fruit juice which is very high in available sugars.  Honey is not a substitute unless you are a bee.

Iced tea for example wtih sucralose sweetener (which I think is one of the least toxic) was my cure from glasses of milk and fruit juice.    There will always be arguments about the safety of sweeteners and if you're the purist you wouldn't use them at all but I think its better to control the sugar addiction first.  Be aware that some sweeteners can irritate your gut (it'll be written on the packet) but everyone reacts differently so avoid them or use sparingly once you've controlled your sugar lust.

 

Tip 2:

Your biggest meal should be eaten at lunch time.  Essentially swap lunch for dinner.  This makes a huge difference to satiety and general feeling of well being.  This isn't always easy but it can be done if you plan well.

Avoid hunger by eating MORE.  You do this by filling your stomach with low-carb vegetables. Ratatouille for example is an excellent nutrient rich and sugar low side dish, think heaped plate however.   Green-beans, green-peas, salad (the whole lettuce not just a few leaves, preferably without dressing but using flavours like olives, sundried tomatoes and blue-cheese), cauliflower, broccoli etc...   So think vegetarian but without the calories from oils, starchy grains and potatoes. 

NOW you must eat a portion of meat (for protein), make sure it is NOT too lean, fat is really important.  The quality of meat is always a concern (organic is always best if you can afford it but free range is the next best).  You can make hamburgers (without flour) and Bolognese (without the pasta) from mince/ground-beef; try roasted chicken pieces (skin on is OK, fats are GOOD) etc...     Organic vegetables are generally better for you, I'd argue they are more nutrient rich but its still fast grown food which means it may never be as good as (properly) home grown.  Fish is ok but with increased plastic toxicity and heavy metal contamination its becoming a food to avoid - thanks heavy industry and over-population.

 

There's a million other tips which is probably why you'd buy Mark Sissions book or do his course and then research.  A lot of of those tips are are common sense but the above tricks are the two I found most profound because while I always knew sugar is bad I could never really kick it completely nor drop that last few kilos of unwanted body fat and easily maintain it.   Ultimately the paleolithic dietary model balances the complex digestive, satiety and blood-sugar regulatory hormones, allowing your body to naturally regulate your fat, hunger and energy levels optimally.  The human body does work but you have to let it do its thang.

 

 

 

 

By and large I agree with most of what you say but the paleo diet is a bit of a religion too.  Here's my two tips:

Never forget about biochemical individuality

Never forget about metabolic types

Hint: not all paleolithic people ate alike nor had the same genetics.

 

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Environment limited

I don't think the world can support 9 billion no matter what food we eat.  By all accounts the world may not really be "designed" to support the waste and profligacy of even 1 billion.

Humans have polluted the oceans and contaminated the fish supply, vegetables contain traces of insecticides and herbicides, feeder lots give us antibiotic resistant ecolli, even free range beef is full of hormones and antibiotics to improve productivity.  None of it is free from pretro-chemical pollutants.  What food is it that we should consider avoiding ?

Controlling the growth of population and setting up an economic model that would support contraction of population and preservation of resources would be the first step toward sanity but seems less likely than finding a leprechaun at the next rainbow.  In the mean time poisoning ourselves by pretending we have multiple stomachs for digesting grass, grains and starches doesn't seem like much of a solution either.

Science should focus on a paleolithic dietary solutions for the masses (vertical farming, test-tube/3D meat etc...) and not on better ways to turn the human race into a giant herd of two legged horses.

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Genes matter

Ommm is right, genetics matter and not everyone is the same.  I would argue that Paleo is just a word used not to prefix a food-religion per se, but to wrap up a very broad dietary concept:  eat what you are evolved to eat, just as we expect for animals in a zoo.

Some people are going to need to go paleolithic and some people seem to be able to tolerate more grains and starch.  Some people just eat too much (are always hungry) have sweet "tooths" and put on weight easily, some are skinny but have hypercholestrolemia other suffer from hyperinsulinemia (diabetes II)   Genetic predisposition to disease from a toxin or irritant is everything, not all of us get cancer by 70.

So I think the point here is that if you are having trouble with disease (diabetes II) from weight gain or auto-immune dysfunction then you may find it very beneficial to remove grains and sugar from your diet.  If you are already trying to do that but struggling then my advice may be helpful to you.

If however you have an indestructible digestive constitution and feel great well into your fifties then you are one lucky SOB and you can skip right to the next article.

 

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pgp wrote: Ommm is right,
pgp wrote:

Ommm is right, genetics matter and not everyone is the same.  I would argue that Paleo is just a word used not to prefix a food-religion per se, but to wrap up a very broad dietary concept:  eat what you are evolved to eat, just as we expect for animals in a zoo.

Some people are going to need to go paleolithic and some people seem to be able to tolerate more grains and starch.  Some people just eat too much (are always hungry) have sweet "tooths" and put on weight easily, some are skinny but have hypercholestrolemia other suffer from hyperinsulinemia (diabetes II)   Genetic predisposition to disease from a toxin or irritant is everything, not all of us get cancer by 70.

So I think the point here is that if you are having trouble with disease (diabetes II) from weight gain or auto-immune dysfunction then you may find it very beneficial to remove grains and sugar from your diet.  If you are already trying to do that but struggling then my advice may be helpful to you.

If however you have an indestructible digestive constitution and feel great well into your fifties then you are one lucky SOB and you can skip right to the next article.

 

Most disease is RNA based.  RNA can be modified by environment and passed down; negative behaviors basd in RNA changes accrue over generations.  Example: Irish Drunk, American Obesity.  Negative RNA changes can be undone at least partly by doing therapeutic fasting, eating properly, exercising, stress reduction.  GI can be reprogrammed with probiotics and fecal transplant.

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RNA

That's interesting, Kugs. Can you link to any additional material you'd recommend? I'm particularly interested in material showing how negative RNA changes can be reduced with fasting, exercise, diet, stress reduction.

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Right so behavior affects RNA

Right so behavior affects RNA - the passing down of the smoking addiction is a well documented example.  You're not guaranteed to become a smoker however just predisposed and you can unlearn it for your offspring. 

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Yes you can get enough

Yes you can get enough protein, but isn't the problem that when you eat all those oats, nuts and seeds you are also eating a bunch of starch that you may not want but can't avoid.  In other words isn't a vegetarian diet high in carbohydrates ?

If you're attempting to avoid sugars (complex carbs or otherwise) because of all the reported ill-affects can you actually do that on a vegetarian diet, without eating eggs and dairy ?  Eating purified and heavily processed soy protein powders would be cheating.

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KugsCheese wrote: pgp
KugsCheese wrote:
pgp wrote:

Ommm is right, genetics matter and not everyone is the same.  I would argue that Paleo is just a word used not to prefix a food-religion per se, but to wrap up a very broad dietary concept:  eat what you are evolved to eat, just as we expect for animals in a zoo.

Some people are going to need to go paleolithic and some people seem to be able to tolerate more grains and starch.  Some people just eat too much (are always hungry) have sweet "tooths" and put on weight easily, some are skinny but have hypercholestrolemia other suffer from hyperinsulinemia (diabetes II)   Genetic predisposition to disease from a toxin or irritant is everything, not all of us get cancer by 70.

So I think the point here is that if you are having trouble with disease (diabetes II) from weight gain or auto-immune dysfunction then you may find it very beneficial to remove grains and sugar from your diet.  If you are already trying to do that but struggling then my advice may be helpful to you.

If however you have an indestructible digestive constitution and feel great well into your fifties then you are one lucky SOB and you can skip right to the next article.

 

Most disease is RNA based.  RNA can be modified by environment and passed down; negative behaviors basd in RNA changes accrue over generations.  Example: Irish Drunk, American Obesity.  Negative RNA changes can be undone at least partly by doing therapeutic fasting, eating properly, exercising, stress reduction.  GI can be reprogrammed with probiotics and fecal transplant.

I agree with the epigenetic aspect and how negative changes can be undone.  Do you have references for disease being RNA based?  Thanks.

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Starch

I don't believe that nuts and seeds contain starch, though there is a small amt. of carbohydrate. Basically, nuts & seeds are predominantly (70-90%) fat, and secondarily have protein, with carbohydrate a minuscule proportion of calories (< 5%). 

 

My whole concept is to avoid purism in food. That's why I don't agree with strict veganism and it's also why I don't agree with carbohydrate free diets. What are you so scared of? People are obese mainly because they eat too much sugar, HFCS, and secondarily refined grains--though Asians, who eat refined rice as their staple, are still much thinner than Europeans and N. Americans, who probably eat more meat and dairy than anything (grains are only about 10% of our total calories). Japanese in their 60's have an average BMI of about 24, while Americans are pushing 30 (obese territory). Japanese live about 5 years longer, while they smoke more and only spend about 5% of GDP on healthcare. Americans smoke much less and spend 18% of GDP and still have pretty poor results (about 38th in world health). So all the meat-eating and fad diets don't translate into high average well being. Of course there are many other variables to consider.

 

I remain convinced that unrefined grains pose fewer risks to health than meat, which is high in saturated fat--which leads to higher cholesterol, unless people really watch their intake (i.e., keep total consumption well below 2,000 calories). This is not to say that Paleo and similar diets won't work in the short term to get weight down. They may. But I think they're a lot harder to maintain than broadly based vegan diets, and anyway, why go totally vegan? There's probably nothing wrong with having 250 calories or less of animal food.  

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Starch-edit

Sorry, I was wrong about the amount of carbs in nuts and seeds. While they do contain 70%+ of calories from fat, they also contain 10-15% of calories from carbs, and a similar amt. in protein. And if you deem all carbs which are not sugars, starches, then they do indeed contain starch. But at least this is low glycemic starch, not likely to lead to obesity and diabetes unless greatly over-consumed. The recommendations are usually for 1 oz/day, but I often allow myself 3 oz, as they are wonderful sources of Omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, and selenium. But that's because I seldom eat dairy. You have to watch your fat calories, which probably should be no greater than 1/3 of total calories. 

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How do we feed animals in the zoo....

There are arguments that high protein diet predisposes people to cancer and this is strong vegetarian argument.   However for every study that shows meats are bad there appear to be other or more studies in recent times that indicate that sugar (carbs) and poly-fats (omega 6) are bad and that the only way to avoid them is by eating more meat and animal fat food sources.

Food is like religion and nationalism, you get those that want to believe in something herding information in a particular direction.

Having said that there is a simple common sense answer:   We should eat what we evolved to eat during the Paleolithic era when the first humans appeared. It turns out they ate a lot of meat from sea and land  (not corn which is just-yesterday by comparison) and that humans were cooking even before the neanderthals and cro magnon man appeared - yes it turns out fire was not invented with the wheel and that the frying pan has been man's second stomach for hundreds of thousands of years.  http://discovermagazine.com/2013/may/09-archaeologists-find-earliest-evidence-of-humans-cooking-with-fire

We feed the animals in the zoo according to their evolved diets, why should humans be the exception ?

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Grains

The latest I've seen is it's not the grains so much as the methods, fertilizers, sprays, and other 'additives'  to the soil that make grains, refined or not, dangerous to humans and animals over the long run. 

There's one site from the man who read, "Wheat Belly", that names a flour maker in the Northwest whose wheat is grown without any contaminants, and the preferred flour to eat in moderation from his farm is plain old white flour especially for those who must eat a 'gluten'  free diet.  Which makes the gluten free diet suspect:  the real culprit looks to be in the contaminants in the wheat grown commercially, not gluten, per se. 

Whole grain is apparently superfluous, other than its fiber, for the rest of us who do not have a gluten problem, as long as the wheat (or any other grain)  is grown under stricter conditions than 99% of what we now consume. 

Lost the source for this, but am posting in the event others may have read about it in the past.  Will post when I discover it again.

 

 

 

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Grains, what grains?

It's good to see more people starting to understand that we are what we eat, and trying to spread the word. I first learned about epigenetics from Dr Catherine Shanahan's book, Deep Nutrition, though Dr Natasha Campbell McBride's work and that of the Weston A Price foundation before that, started to get me on the right track. There is variation among them, of course, but there seems to be a common core (no refined foods, fermented foods, saturated fat, all good).

I'm pretty convinced that an omnivorous diet, of some kind, is essential to health, if one wants to avoid supplements (and who wouldn't?). But I'm not too sure about the grains being inflammatory. I tried the Body Ecology Diet for several months, to ensure that the candida was under control, so didn't eat grains for a few months, though did eat some "grain like seeds", such as buckwheat. I didn't notice much of a change in my slight arthritis. So I wonder what it is about the grains Mark Sisson ate that encouraged arthritis. Is he talking about specific grains, or all seeds or how they are prepared? I now eat more grains again but they are always soaked or sprouted before baking or cooking (e.g. sourdough bread). I noticed, when grinding some sprouted wheat that the wheatgerm had disappeared (not surprising, I suppose).

I might remove grains again for a month just to see the effect, whilst keeping everything else the same, but I'm not sure yet, or whether this means all seeds and nuts. However, I'd like to know why they could affect, or effect, arthritis.

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Diet and Religion seem

Diet and Religion seem similar; everybody's  got their own, and many don't practice anyhow.  In theory, I been impressed by Prof. Campbell's " China Study" Diet.  His book's got all the studies and he claims everybody he knows who doesn't believe him, is dying off, which is pretty impressive. It seems essentially vegan.  Enthusiastically I bought his cookbook before remembering I don't cook if it can't be microwaved

Also, I've had to exterminate some gut bugs that were trying to exterminate me with pain and stress. I used the drug Zispin, and Boy, was I glad it worked! A war crime I know, but what can you do? It now occurs to me, that it may have been the gut, not the actual bugs, but hell, arn't they supposed to work together?  And yes, I do know that Zispin is a psychiatric drug

Chacun a son Gout !

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Not a long-term health promoting diet

I was inspired by this webinar, so I bought the Primal Blueprint and the 21 Days books by Sisson, and I tried the primal diet for 3 weeks+. Then I read The Low-Carb Fraud by T. Colin Campbell and the primal diet completely lost credibility for me.

My recommendation? Simple. If you want to follow a low carb diet like the Primal Blueprint, do yourself a favor and also read these books by T. Colin Campbell:
1) The Low-Carb Fraud. It's a short book that points out the major flaws will all the hype about low carb diets, including the paleo diets
2) The China Study. This one goes in depth into the research that proves that plant-based, whole foods diets clearly provide the best LONG TERM health outcomes, including disease prevention, disease reversal and weight loss.

Then, decide who you're going to believe, a guy with no training in nutrition (Sisson), no scientific research experience, who owns company that sells supplements he endorses, or a nutrition researcher with 50 years of research experience (and something like 300 published peer-reviewed papers), and no financial interest in nutritional products. Your call.

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