Monthly Archives: May 2012

Why Mark Doesn’t Eat Grains

Grains, the largest food group in many nutriti...

As I’m sure you’ve seen, eyes raise and questions arise when you order a burger wrapped in lettuce or discard a “wrap” and eat the contents. It just isn’t normal. You’re not normal. But not all are personally offended by your decision. Some are honestly curious and flabbergasted. Some just want to know why someone would give up grains and how they get along without them.

Let’s take a look at the eight most popular and prevalent questions and then try to come up with some good responses to them. I’ll give both longer ones and succincter ones (that you can fire off in an elevator).

“Oh, is that a low-carb thing?”

While grains represent an easy, cheap source of carbohydrates (that most sedentary people simply don’t need), they also contain “anti-nutrients,” proteins and lectins and other nutritional factors that impair digestion, perforate the intestinal lining, increase inflammation, and can even exacerbate or (possibly) induce auto-immune diseases. Since the purpose of life is to reproduce and that grain has to make it into the ground to germinate and turn into a plant, grains don’t want to be eaten, and they use the anti-nutrients to dissuade consumption in lieu of the running, climbing, flying, crawling, biting, and stinging that animals use to survive.

Response: “Kinda, but it’s more than that. In order to survive and spread their genes, a grain uses anti-nutrients to dissuade animals from eating them. Some animals have adapted quite well, but humans haven’t, so I choose not to eat them.”

“I could never give up bread. And aren’t grains the staff of life?”

For the past several thousand years of human history, bread has been a staple food. The ancient Egyptians baked it. The Greeks and Romans made it. You probably grew up with it. It was – and is – cheap and filling. Today, because billions simply need calories from wherever they can get them, grains are the ticket, the “staff of life.” But it’s not like we’ll wither away into nothingness, all because we failed to heed the biological dietary necessity to eat grains ordained by some higher power. Grains aren’t the staff of life in an inherent sense, but rather because they’re cheap, reliable, and easy to work with. They provide calories and a modicum of nutrients to people who absolutely require those calories, regardless of any nutritional downsides. Having joint pain and bloating because you ate some whole wheat, while unpleasant, is better than dying of starvation because you refused it.

Response: “An unfortunately large number of people are forced to subsist on grains as a staple, because they’re cheap and plentiful and calories are scarce, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to eat. Grains aren’t necessary if you have access to plenty of fresh animals and plants.”

“Where do you get your fiber?”

As if only cereal grains contain non-starch polysaccharides. As if all the world’s inulin, pectin, chitin, beta-glucans, and oligosaccharides are found solely in wheat, barley, rye, rice, oat, and corn. As if some of the richest sources of soluble fiber – you know, prebiotics, or the kind that our gut bacteria can ferment and convert into metabolically-active short chain fatty acids – aren’t fruits, roots, nuts, and green vegetables. And, as if the richest sources of insoluble fiber – the metabolically-inert stuff that pretty much nothing can digest and which serves only as a bulking agent for improving the robustness of our bowel movements – aren’t whole grains.

Response: “I get my fiber from fruits and vegetables. Best of all, our gut bacteria can actually digest the fiber from fruits and vegetables, thereby producing short chain fatty acids that improve our metabolic health. Grain fiber is just a bulking agent that fills your toilet bowl.”

“What about the USDA food pyramid?”

What about it? Take a look around you. The obesity rate is the highest it’s ever been, and almost everyone who’s not obese is “just” overweight. Diabetes is on the rise. People live out the end of their lives relying on a complicated cocktail of pharmaceuticals and medical apparati just to eke out a few more years. All this, despite the majestic, all-powerful USDA dietary recommendations informing everything we put into our collective mouths. How’s that USDA food pyramid working out for us so far, I’d like to ask. I’m not necessarily assigning a causative role to the pyramid (though it certainly plays a role, in my view) in the obesity epidemic. I’m just saying that it has done absolutely nothing to staunch the rise of diet-related illness. I’m saying it doesn’t have a real impressive track record.

Response: “Since the USDA food pyramid was released in 1992, the obesity rate has increased unabated. What about it?”

“That must be terribly inconvenient. What do you eat for breakfast? What about sandwiches? What about dining out?”

Well, you see, all you gotta do for a bread-free sandwich is spread a little mayo on your right hand, some mustard on the left, and pile on the avocado, the deli slices, and the tomato slices in between. Easy as pie. Seriously, though, I don’t get this question. Have these people never heard of bacon and eggs? Omelets? A steak and salad? Do they think a sandwich is indivisible? That once you place the final slice of bread atop the meat, lettuce, and cheese the sandwich can never be altered, that you physically cannot pry the bread off the innards? Have they ever even witnessed the creation of a sandwich? Are they going to weird fascistic restaurants that force you to consume the bread and pasta? I just don’t get this one. I really don’t.

Response: “Just take off the bread and eat the other stuff. Bam.”

“Everything in moderation, I say. I don’t like to deprive myself of anything.”

Ah, yes, the eminent voice of reason. “Everything in moderation”, they say. Trans-fat? Bring it on, or else it’s deprivation! Margarine? Slather it on my veggies! Must not deprive! Arsenic? Sure, I’ll have a bite! Why not? That said, I’m just not seeing where the deprivation comes in. I fail to see how not eating a food that leads to poor health, digestive upset, and bloating is somehow deprivation. You could say that I’m technically depriving myself of feeling like crap by not eating grains, but that’s a good kind of deprivation. If you want to be quite literal, eating grains deprives you of a full, healthy existence.

Response: “When I eat grains, I feel terrible, bloated, and not like myself. The way I see it, I’d be depriving myself of a full, rich, healthy, happy life if I were to eat grains in moderation. Besides, do a rib-eye, some buttered broccoli, and a glass of red wine sound like deprivation to you?”

“I’ve been eating grains all my life and don’t seem to have a problem.”

You may not have an obvious problem now, but that’s only because you’ve grown accustomed to your body and it to your diet. The signals of discomfort are dulled, and the intensity of the pain has reduced. You’ve gotten used to the stomach upset, the intermittent bouts of diarrhea. You know how all those “things just happen” as you get older, a view that is reinforced when you see the same thing happening to everyone else around you (all of whom also happen to eat grains)? How you start going downhill at 40, it becomes hard to lose weight, all that stuff. Spend some time looking at what everyone is eating – grains, grains, and more grains – and you might notice a connection.

Response: “I felt the same way until I tried ditching them for 30 days. All those little niggling aches and pains and complaints that I figured were just an inevitable aspect of life have disappeared. I feel better than ever.”

“Where do you get your minerals?”

Although whole grains may look nutrient-dense, simply looking at the mineral content of a whole grain on a nutrition website tell you very little about how your body absorbs (or doesn’t absorb) those minerals. Remember those anti-nutritional factors present in most whole grains? Another one is called phytic acid, which binds to minerals in the grain and prevents their absorption in the gut. Calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron, and several others are susceptible to the lure of phytic acid, and research shows that cultures who rely on grains for the bulk of their macronutrients and micronutrients display deficiencies in these and other minerals.

Response: “Since they’re bound up to phytic acid, the minerals in grains aren’t really even all that bioavailable to your body. What you see listed on the nutritional facts isn’t what you’re actually absorbing and assimilating. I get my minerals from plants, fruits, and animals, which our bodies can actually absorb.”

Whenever you deviate from the norm, people are going to ask questions and try to challenge you. That’s fine and totally understandable. Remember – there was a time when all this Primal stuff sounded crazy to you, too. We are different. And people are going to react. They’re going to be defensive, inquisitive, accusatory, or all of the above. Try not to be defensive yourself. Try to maintain composure and think back to when the idea of giving up grains was utter madness, take a nice diaphragmatic breath, and respond. This is a time to educate, and perhaps even inspire. Utilize it.

By Mark Sisson – at

Read more:


Tags: , , , , , , ,

What Causes An Irregular Heartbeat?

Heart; conduction system

This type of irregular heartbeat affects millions of Americans. Understanding the causes and symptoms of atrial fibrillation can help you manage the condition and prevent additional complications.

Atrial fibrillation is a condition that affects millions of Americans. This type of irregular heart rhythm, also known as an arrhythmia, is the most common serious irregular heartbeat, especially in people over 60.

Your heart’s rhythm is normally controlled by a structure in the upper part of your heart called the sinoatrial node. This node sends an electrical signal to the rest of your heart that keeps your heart beating at about 60 to 100 beats a minute. This is known as your normal sinus rhythm.

In atrial fibrillation, the sinoatrial node does not direct the heartbeat. Rather, it causes heartbeats to start from many locations in upper chambers of the heart, or the atria.

The term atrial fibrillation refers to the quivering, or fibrillation, of the upper parts of the heart. It can cause your heart to beat very quickly and inefficiently, which can be dangerous.

Causes of Atrial Fibrillation

The cause of atrial fibrillation can vary from person to person, and sometimes it’s difficult to determine. In many cases, there is a combination of causes. “The most common causes are high blood pressure or an abnormal heart valve,” explains Dr. Dinwoodey.

Other causes of atrial fibrillation include:

  • Coronary artery disease (the clogging of the arteries of the heart that may cause a heart attack)
  • Heart failure
  • Heart defects you are born with
  • Pericarditis (an infection of the lining of the sac that surrounds the heart)
  • An overactive thyroid gland

Risk Factors for Atrial Fibrillation

The biggest risk factor for atrial fibrillation is age. The condition occurs more often in people over 60, and the risk for developing it increases as you get older.

Other common risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Lung disease
  • Family history of atrial fibrillation
  • Heavy use of alcohol

Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

Not everyone who has atrial fibrillation experiences symptoms. “Some people are very aware of their symptoms and can tell right away when an episode of atrial fibrillation starts and stops,” Dinwoodey says. “Other people may not notice any symptoms. For people who have symptoms, the most common ones are decreased tolerance for exercise and feeling a flutter in the chest.”

Other symptoms of atrial fibrillation may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Tiredness

There are two different types of atrial fibrillation, and the frequency of symptoms varies with each type. Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation begins suddenly and often stops on its own. Persistent atrial fibrillation lasts for more than a week, and while it may stop on its own, it frequently requires treatment. Both types may become permanent over time.

If you believe that you are at risk for atrial fibrillation or if you think you’ve experienced an irregular heartbeat, make an appointment to get evaluated by your doctor. Atrial fibrillation can lead to serious problems and additional complications over time. Fortunately, there are many types of treatment that can help keep this condition under control.


1 Comment

Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Health and Science


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Fill ‘Er Up!

English: Dried fruit and nuts on a platter, tr...

Even for the healthiest of eaters, good intentions can fly out the window when your stomach begins to rumble. If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, finding the right kind of foods — healthy foods that will fill you up for the longest amount of time — is essential. High-protein foods, high-fiber foods, and healthy fats are all on the top 10 list of most filling foods.

Snack on Sweet Prunes

The images associated with prunes are sometimes less than flattering, but as a filling food, you can’t beat prunes for a sweet, satisfying snack. They are a high-fiber food which means they help you feel full longer.

Go Crazy for Nuts

Filling snacks, such as pistachios, almonds, pecans, nuts, and seeds, will help you feel full longer because of their fat and protein content. For the same reasons, you have to keep the serving size reasonable, say 6 to 12 nuts.

Fill Up First on Vegetables

Research that shows people eat the same weight of food every day. This factor is crucial to your weight management strategy. When you get hungry, eat vegetables — which are low in calories — in place of higher-calorie food items. These high-fiber foods will help you feel full longer and stay slender.

Get Going With Oatmeal

Nothing says comfort in the morning like a warm bowl of oatmeal, a high-fiber food that can help you feel full longer and manage weight. Oatmeal can be a little bland on its own, but you can liven it up by adding low-fat milk, sliced fruit, and a sprinkling of nuts for an indulgent yet healthy breakfast.

Start Your Meal With Soup

Studies show that if you have soup before your meal you eat less. Opt for a broth-based soup full of high-fiber foods rather than a creamy, salty concoction. Homemade soups are great to make when you have time, and then freeze for a quick meal when you need it.

Go For a Dip

Allow yourself a little savory dip to go along with those carrot and zucchini sticks. The flavor and the fat will keep you feeling full longer and can help your body absorb nutrients like beta-carotene more effectively. Try a little salad dressing, or whip up a batch of creamy, delicious hummus.

Load Up on Lean Protein

Try to include protein in your meals or snacks if you want to feel full longer. A high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet is an effective strategy to manage weight for some people. Animal and plant proteins all add to your sense of fullness. Savor a meal that combines protein with high-fiber foods.

Count on Beans and Other Legumes

Lentils and chickpeas are more nutritious, filling high-fiber foods that can be included in a number of different types of entrees and healthy snacks. Because beans can add up to a lot of calories if you eat more than a serving or two, you might want to combine them with vegetables and whole grains for a more complex meal that will keep you feeling full longer. And best of all, beans and legumes are inexpensive.

Don’t Skimp on Potato Skins

The humble potato — with its skin on — is uniquely comforting, and also happens to be one of the best sources of potassium you can include in your diet (followed by bananas). Eating the skin is what makes the spud a nutritious, high-fiber food that’s also filling.

Pick Some Fabulous Fresh Fruit

Many fruits are high-fiber foods. They’re also high in water content and flavor — and very satisfying for their low calorie counts. An apple, or a serving of grapes or berries, all make the list of most filling foods. Keep fresh fruit on hand for an easy snack when you’re trying to lose or manage weight, or opt for a lush dessert such as baked apples with dried fruit and walnuts, or experiment with fruit in an entree, such as Fish Veronique with tangy grapes.




Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mexican Stir-Fry

Ingredients for making a fermented salsa. Cloc...

Here’s a quick and easy stir-fry – add a side dish of watermelon for a fat-burning fiesta!

Mexican Stir-Fry


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 16 oz lean turkey breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can (7 oz) sweet green chilies, drained
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced jalapeño pepper, optional
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce, low-sodium
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, optional


  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, add the turkey and sauté until cooked through, approximately 7 minutes; remove turkey from the pan and set aside.
  2. Return pan to the heat and add garlic, onion, sweet chilies, red bell pepper, jalapeño, tomato sauce and chili powder. Cook until onion softens, approx 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cilantro and return the cooked turkey to the pan; simmer 2 to 3 minutes until heated through. Serve immediately over brown rice or leafy greens.

Nutrients per serving (without rice or leafy greens):
Calories: 200, Total Fats: 4 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 67 mg, Sodium: 278 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 11 g, Dietary Fiber: 3 g, Sugars: 1 g, Protein: 28 g, Iron: 3 mg




Citrus Fruits Cut Stroke Risk

Wedges of pink grapefruit, lime, and lemon, an...

The fruits contain antioxidants called flavanones, which have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.  Recent finding: Women who at the most citrus had 19% fewer ischemic strokes (the most common kind) than women who at the least.  The effect is likely to be similar in men.  Recommended:  Two servings of citrus a day – preferably whole fruit.  Juice also has flavanones but is high in calories and little fiber.

Source:  BottomLine Personal Volume 33, Number 9, May 1, 2012

Further Reading:





Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cucumber Salad Relish

7-cups unpeeled pickling cucumbers sliced thin (about 7 large dills)
1-cup sliced onions
1-cup sliced peppers (green, red, orange, yellow)
1-tbsp salt
1-cup white vinegar
2-cups sugar
1-tsp celery seed
1-tsp mustard seed

Mix cucumbers, onions, peppers and salt; set a side
Put vinegar, sugar, celery seed and mustard seed in a pot and bring to a boil
Remove from heat and let cool for one hour
Pour mixture over cucumbers
Put in jars and store in refrigerator
Will keep up to 2 months

Makes 2 quart jars



Tags: , , , , , , ,

Farmers Market Buying Guide


What’s Really Behind Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an extremely common medical problem.  Health-care providers can’t seem to agree on what CFS is, what causes it, how to diagnose it — or even whether it exists at all. Many medical doctors even believe that CFS is strictly a psychological problem and automatically prescribe antidepressants.

The facts: Millions of Americans suffer from fatigue and need medical help. To complicate matters further, CFS is not a single disease with a sole cause or a simple cure. Rather, it is the manifestation of one or more underlying health problems, such as infections, hormone imbalances or numerous other conditions. The goal of treatment is not simply to mask the symptoms — it is to identify the root cause or causes in an individual patient and then recommend the appropriate healing therapies.

CHRONIC INFECTIONPersistent infection is an often-missed cause of CFS. Examples…

Various viruses. Sometimes viruses that normally die off within weeks instead linger on, weakening the immune system and compromising energy production.  Possible culprits: Herpes Viruses (Epstein-Barr/Mononucleosis, Herpes Virus 6).

Bacterial infections. When the normal balance of friendly bacteria in the gut is disturbed — for instance, due to a high-sugar diet or use of antibiotics — harmful bacteria proliferate in the digestive tract. This can overtax the immune system and lead to chronic fatigue.

CARDIOVASCULAR PROBLEMS – Fatigue is a common symptom of various cardiovascular conditions that impair circulation and limit the oxygen available to the brain and muscles.

Congestive heart failure. This occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations and swollen ankles

Chronic hypotension (low blood pressure). Repeated blood pressure readings below 90/60 mmHg indicate hypotension. Other symptoms include fatigue, dizziness or fainting, rapid, shallow breathing, cold clammy skin, pallor, blurred vision, nausea, excessive thirst, trouble concentrating, and/or depression.

Neurally mediated hypotension. With this type of low blood pressure, people become dizzy only after standing or sitting for a prolonged time, and may feel nauseated if they do not lie down. Possible cause: When the adrenal glands (which secrete stress hormones) do not function well, the resulting hormone imbalance may interfere with the nerves’ signals between the heart and brain, impairing the body’s ability to maintain equilibrium.

HORMONE IMBALANCES – When hormones are out of balance, fatigue is common. If you are diagnosed with a hormone deficiency and hormone therapy is recommended, ask your doctor about bioidentical hormones. Unlike synthetic hormone drugs, bioidentical hormones have the same molecular structure as those produced by the human body.  All should be used under a doctor’s guidance.

Adrenal fatigue (AF). In stressful situations, the adrenal glands produce the hormones cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). With AF, this mechanism is overwhelmed by prolonged physical or emotional stress, and these hormones become depleted. Because cortisol and DHEA are vital to energy production, blood sugar control and the anti-inflammatory response, AF can cause unremitting fatigue. Additional symptoms include mood swings, low libido, poor concentration and memory, light-headedness, low back pain, slow recovery from illness, salt and/or sugar cravings, and inability to lose or gain weight despite calorie reduction or increase.

Estrogen and/or progesterone deficiency. A woman’s production of these hormones naturally decreases at menopause but if levels drop too low, she may experience fatigue along with menopausal symptoms, such as severe hot flashes.

Low testosterone. This is common among men, especially those over age 60. Obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure increase the risk for testosterone deficiency. Symptoms include fatigue, reduced muscle mass, weight gain and joint pain.

Growth hormone deficiency. Symptoms, which usually appear after age 65, include fatigue, reduced muscle mass and strength, loss of skin elasticity and increased abdominal fat.

Hypothyroidism (thyroid hormone deficiency). In addition to fatigue, hypothyroidism patients typically have unexplained weight gain, low body temperature, cold hands and feet, frequent chills, dry skin, constipation, and/or depression.


To identify and treat the root cause of an individual’s chronic fatigue, doctors must take into account all accompanying symptoms. If you experience fatigue and…

  • Mood swings, memory problems and/or low back pain, the cause may be adrenal fatigue.
  • A history of root canal problems, the cause may be bacterial infection.
  • Chest pain and/or heart palpitations, the cause may be congestive heart failure.
  • Yellow skin and/or unexplained weight loss, the cause may be hepatitis.
  • Hot flashes, weight gain and/or reduced muscle mass, the cause may be hormone deficiency.
  • Dizziness, nausea and/or clammy skin, the cause may be hypotension (abnormally low blood pressure).
  • Low body temperature, weight gain and/or dry skin, the cause may be hypothyroidism.
  • Flulike symptoms or mononucleosis, the cause may be a viral infection.


1 Comment

Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Health and Science


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Do You Eat More If Your Plate Is The Same Color As Your Food?

Pasta with pesto sauce, a traditional Ligurian...

Some researchers say changing the color of your plate can keep you from eating more.

A study in the journal of consumer research found people served themselves more food, if the plate color matched their food color.

Spaghetti with red marinara sauce seem to disappear on a red plate, but on a white plate the serving size looked bigger because of the contrast even if both plates are the same size.

Pasta with green pesto sauce on a white plate looked larger than on a green flowered plate.

The theory is: the more contrast, the less you’re likely to eat.

Researchers say the plate that helps you to eat the least amount is one that is blue, that color has the least appealing blend with food.

Just in case you don’t have a any blue dishes, just make sure you food does not match your plate.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

It Will Hurt…

%d bloggers like this: