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Male menopause is a real thing, and the medical term for it is andropause. According to the Mayo Clinic, the term “Male Menopause” has been used to describe decreasing testosterone levels related to aging. See this article from Mark back in 2018.
One of the symptoms of male menopause can be erectile dysfunction (ED). Although for younger men, you can have ED without male menopause. ED can destroy a man’s confidence not just in the bedroom but in the larger picture of his life by causing depression, stress, moodiness and anger all things that peak performers do not want to associate with. But for men aged 35-64 these things can sneak up on us, fast.
We are all so busy “performing.” Being a Dad, a good husband, business owner, a hard worker, friend, trying to get your workouts squeezed into an already hectic week. In many cases, this usually leads to a pattern of not not getting enough sleep because of late night emails for work after having put the kids to bed, up early the next day to get right back at your hard charging life, with too little exercise and not enough Primal Nutrition. Which leaves you with high stress. Stress leads to high cortisol (more about cortisol below).
Maybe you had a little too much wine at dinner … it happens. Your wife or lover wants to “play” and so do you, but no response. Once, certainly is nothing to worry about but the definition of ED is “is the recurrent or persistent inability to attain and/or maintain an erection in order for satisfactory sexual performance.” So, what to do?
First, let’s look closer at the leading causes.
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Possible Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
In order to eliminate the frustration of ED we must first understand what may be causing it.
Too Little Sleep
Research from Mathew Walker’s book “Why We Sleep” point to the necessity of 7 plus hours of sleep per night. Of all the healthy things we can do to at the very least preserve our hormones, sleep is number one! According to Walker in his book, “If you have hopes of reproductive success, fitness or prowess, you would do well to get a full night’s sleep every night.” In fact as far as Testosterone is concerned, Walker cites a study done at the University of Chicago where a group of lean healthy young males in their mid 20’s were limited to 5 hours of sleep for one week. After the sleep deprivation for a week, “sample hormone levels circulating in the blood of the participants showed a marked drop in testosterone.The size of the hormone blunting effect was so large that it effectively ages a man by ten to fifteen years in terms of testosterone virility.” WOW is all I can say!
Too Much Stress
It’s a vicious cycle. Lack of adequate sleep, stress from family and work, financial stress, all of this leads to worry. Worry leads to high cortisol levels. Cortisol is also known as “the stress hormone” and chronically high levels can lead to irritability, moodiness and depression. The results of all that stress is hormones out of whack, especially testosterone, thyroid hormones and adrenal hormones. In other words, cortisol is part of the “fight or flight” mechanism that is built into all of us. When it is ON all the time, that will disrupt our hormonal levels which may lead to ED.
We need our inflammation response. When you slice your finger on a kitchen knife and you see a red ring around the cut, that’s acute inflammation.
Systemic chronic inflammation is the kind that causes problems. Caused by, you guessed it! Vegetable oils cooked under high heat, refined carbs, stress and not enough sleep. Chronic inflammation will not only hurt your sex life but long term, is a leading cause of dementia. These killer culprits lead to insulin sensitivity and inflammation and thus fat gain and yup, hormone distress again.
Not Enough Exercise
According to a report out of Harvard Medical School, “There is no specific exercise program for men looking to reduce the risk of ED. But a well-rounded exercise program that includes just half an hour of physical activity on all or most days of the week delivers solid health benefits.”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28095426/‘>1
- 3.5x higher risk of mortality
- 3x higher risk of functional decline
- Greater risk of falls
- Higher chance of hospitalization
Muscle itself is a powerful endocrine organ, emitting hormonal messages that regulate metabolism, inflammation, and overall function.
Muscle also provides a metabolic reservoir for support and recovery from physical trauma—injuries, wounds, damage to our tissues. When muscle mass drops to extremely low levels, it means you’re not only more likely to be hospitalized, you’re more likely to never make it out of that hospital bed.
Worse still, sarcopenia isn’t just loss of musclehttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20487503‘>3
- Low muscle mass
- Low muscle strength
- Poor physical performance (walking speed, for example)
Even if you don’t have full-blown sarcopenia, you may have “pre-sarcopenia.” Millions of people are walking around (or, rather, shuffling around) with lower-than-ideal muscle mass and strength. Today’s post applies to them, too.
So whether you’re looking at the clinical condition or simply the reduction in muscle mass and strength, you must stave off sarcopenia if you hope to live a healthy, happy, productive life.
Sarcopenia Treatments You Can Do At Home
Let’s be clear about something. Sarcopenia is usually “age-related,” but it doesn’t have to be. Sarcopenia is any muscle loss or degeneration resulting from disuse. Immobility—wearing a cast, being on bed rest, leading a totally sedentary life—can trigger sarcopenia too. “Age-related” sarcopenia also ultimately comes down to disuse; the age thing makes the effect stronger.
This is good news. If immobility causes sarcopenia, mobility should help prevent it. If disuse of the muscles causes muscle wasting, use of them will prevent it. These are all within your grasp.
Okay, so how do you fight it?
Lift Heavy Things
Strength training has to come first because it’s the direct refutation of sarcopenia’s pull. When you contradict gravity, your muscles do work and sarcopenia loses. When you acquiesce to gravity, your muscles do nothing and sarcopenia wins.
Many studies show that seniors can actually gain and not just maintain lean mass through resistance training:
- Even immediately after hip surgery, the elderly can utilize resistance training to put on lean mass.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21253481‘>5
- Stroke survivors (aged 50-76) were able to enjoy significant hypertrophy with strength training.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20487503‘>7
If senior citizens can build muscle by lifting heavy things, sarcopenia doesn’t stand a chance.
Eat More Protein
Seniors have poorer “protein efficiency” than the general population. To get the same amount of muscle protein synthesis, they need to eat a lot more protein than younger people. Recent studies indicate that a protein intake of at least 1.0-1.3 g protein/kg bodyweight or 0.5-0.6 g protein/lb bodyweight is more suitable for the healthy and frail elderly to ensure nitrogen balance.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22770932‘>9
Make sure the protein you eat is primarily animal-based. Foods like meat, whey protein, eggs, and dairy are all far more effective at promoting muscle protein synthesis then plant-based sources of protein.
Get sunlight and take vitamin D
Vitamin D is vital for fighting sarcopenia. Assuming you’re deficient in it, and many older people are, taking it boosts testosterone production and improves sarcopenia outcomes—particularly in women.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24140234/‘>11
Sunlight is also vital for the increased nitric oxide production, which tends to plummet in and contribute to sarcopenia by impairing muscle protein synthesis.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25898953/‘>13
Women need testosterone too, in lower amounts, so it’s a good idea to check levels. In older women, using hormone replacement therapy is also linked to a lower risk of sarcopenia.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25898953/‘>15 In older women, for example, higher levels of the inflammatory cytokine IL-6, was linked to reduced strength and walking speed.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27702700/‘>17 Obesity causing sarcopenia is looking a lot more likely.
The biggest drops typically start after age 50, with strength and muscle mass declining by 1-2% annually thereafter. What you don’t want to do is wait until you’re 50 years old to start trying to counteract the sarcopenia. You want to go into middle age with as much muscle as you can build so that you’re starting your “decline” (if it even happens) from a higher baseline.
Do everything I suggest before it becomes a problem.
That’s about it for today, folks. Follow these recommendations and you should reduce your chance of developing sarcopenia. And if you already have it, following them becomes even more crucial—as long as you check things over with your doctor first, of course.
Take care, everyone. Let me know down below if you have any experience dealing with sarcopenia. If so, what worked? What didn’t?
Have a great week.
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“Love the skin you’re in,” so the saying goes. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. Skin conditions, ranging from mildly irritating to painfully debilitating, are ubiquitous nowadays. Even mild-to-moderate symptoms can take a serious physical and emotional toll.
I started thinking about skin the other day after a bout of nostalgia had me revisiting old reader success stories. Going through the archives, I was reminded how many readers reported that their acne, psoriasis, eczema, and other skin conditions were “miraculously” resolved after going Primal.
I’m not surprised. I’ve always believed that there is a deep connection between skin health, gut health, and inflammation. The Primal Blueprint is designed to support a diverse, well-balanced microbiome, reduce chronic inflammation, and provide epigenetic signals that optimize health. It makes sense that clearer skin would be one of the benefits.
As I perused the success stories, it occurred to me that it’s been a while since we talked about skin issues here. Today I’m going to cover three of the most common, along with some alternative (non-pharmaceutical) approaches to addressing them. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging anyone for opting for pharmaceutical options. However, many conventional treatments—antibiotics, oral steroids, hormonal birth control pills, and isotretinoin (sold with brand name Accutane)—have serious, sometimes downright scary, side effects.
Given that, I know many of my readers are interested in diet and lifestyle interventions that might help. They won’t fix all your skin issues, but they’re bound to improve some aspects of your life, even if your skin doesn’t clear up completely.
Acne is widespread among adolescents and adults. The most common form of acne is acne vulgaris. You’re undoubtedly familiar with the characteristic whiteheads and blackheads usually found on the face, chest, back, and shoulders. Cystic and nodular acne are severe types of acne vulgaris involve large, deep, painful blemishes that take longer to heal.
Acne doesn’t have a single root cause. Sebum (oil) production, pore blockage, bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes), and inflammation each contribute. Androgens increase sebum production, and hormonal changes due to puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, PCOS, or menopause often lead to outbreaks.
As common as these skin issues are today, they are not an inevitable part of the human condition. Grandfather of the ancestral health movement Loren Cordain asserts that acne is basically unheard of in traditional-living societies.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26897386/‘>2
Both observational and experimental studies link greater intake of high-glycemic carbohydrates to more frequent and more severe acne symptoms. For some people, acne is significantly improved simply by lowering the glycemic load of their diet.
High-glycemic load diets probably promote acne through several metabolic pathways, including by stimulating insulinlike growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and androgen.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4769025/‘>4 Acne sufferers would do well to moderate their carb intake, especially high-glycemic carbs. The good news is that if you’re already eating a Primal-aligned diet, you’ve probably greatly cut down your glycemic load by removing grains and added sugars, as well as legumes. Fruit can also carry a heft wallop.
The AAD recommends that acne sufferers limit dairy intake.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0261561418301663‘>6 This jibes with tons of anecdotal evidence from people who report significant relief from acne symptoms when they cut out dairy.
What about other food sensitivities?
I can’t tell you how many readers have confided they struggled for years, even decades, with acne before switching to a Primal diet and finally getting relief. Many of them have traced their problem back to gluten. Some are particularly affected by dairy, others by soy. Occasionally, random food sensitivities are the issue.
Despite the preponderance of anecdotal evidence, there is a glaring lack of scientific studies on food sensitivities and acne, so the link remains somewhat controversial. No matter. This is one of those cases where proof is in the pudding as far as I’m concerned.
If you are suffering from stubborn acne, consider what foods may be triggering for you. Start with the usual suspects. Track your symptoms and see if you can spot any patterns. When you identify likely culprits, try eliminating them for a few weeks and see what happens with your skin.
What If Dietary Changes Alone Don’t Solve My Acne?
First things first, look at your gut health. There is a strong gut-skin connection.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23886975‘>8 You have nothing to lose by adding sauerkraut or kimchi to your meals. If you’re not sensitive to dairy, try kefir, one of my favorite sources of probiotics. You can even try doing a yogurt mask since topical probiotic treatments could be beneficial.
Supplementing with certain nutrients might help, too. There is limited evidence in support of
zinc,https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17147561/‘>10 and fish oil supplements.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6516982/‘>12 Doctors aren’t sure what causes it. Rashes seem to be triggered by an immune system reaction, but it’s not clear why. Specific triggers differ from person to person.
Because the root causes are unknown, finding relief can also be difficult and frustrating. Patients are advised to keep affected areas moisturized, avoid detergents and soaps that might irritate the skin, opt for cotton clothing, and take baths with oatmeal or vinegar. Doctors may prescribe topical steroids or other creams or, in extreme cases, immunosuppressing drugs.
Other Ways to Address Eczema
Studies of infants and young children have found that eczema sufferers have, on average, less microbial diversity in their guts.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30860574/‘>14 Probiotic supplementation, especially with strains of Lactobacillus, may reduce the risk of developing eczemahttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11069570‘>16 A 2012 meta-analysis also concluded that when pregnant women supplement with probiotics, their babies have a significantly reduced risk of developing eczema.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6517242/‘>18 There are so many other benefits of supporting a healthy microbiome that it doesn’t hurt to try probiotics, though.
Thanks to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, coconut oil applied topically to eczema rashes may provide some relief.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22207450/‘>20, acupuncture https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22813359‘>22
Ultraviolet radiation triggers the release of nitric oxide, which in turn activates T cells that modulate the overactive immune response.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29241748‘>24 cardiovascular disease.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31309536‘>26 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22004481/‘>28
Many psoriasis patients try supplementing with fish oil, selenium, and vitamins D and B12, but there is only mixed evidence that they are actually effective.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30193251‘>30
Stress leads to psoriasis flare-ups.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30193251‘>32 Or, treat yourself to an at-home spa day. Start with an Epsom salt or oatmeal bath, then apply some topical treatments using stuff you already have in the house. The National Psoriasis Association recommends using aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, and tea tree oil topically, as well as mahonia (Oregon grape) cream (which you probably don’t have lying around).https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28628749/‘>34
Skin disorders are complex. The remedies I mentioned here are not the only ones you might try. Severe or prolonged cases may respond best to a combination of treatments, including medications.
No matter what your specific challenge, the following are always good practice:
Support a healthy gut microbiome through the usual means.
Eat a nutrient-rich diet. Most vitamins and minerals directly and indirectly affect skin health. Vitamins A, D, and E probably get the most attention, but they are all important.
Avoid harsh cleansers and products that might irritate your skin. I have a few posts about Primal skincare, but the most Primal skincare “product” is just plain (clean, filtered) water.
Avoid foods that promote inflammation. If you suspect that food sensitivities make your skin problems worse, simple elimination experiments can provide answers. For skin issues, it’s not generally necessary to undertake a complete elimination diet along the lines of the autoimmune protocol (AIP) or low-FODMAP. However, if you have other symptoms that suggest serious gut health impairment, your practitioner may recommend that you do eliminate a wider swath of foods for a while.
Finally, avoid touching your face as much as possible. That’s just a good idea anyway.
I know I just scratched the tip of the iceberg here. Tell me about your personal successes and challenges. What’s your secret for healthy skin? Maybe your advice can help someone else.
The post 3 Common Skin Conditions and What to Do about Them appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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At this point, intermittent fasting isn’t a new concept, nor is it a difficult one. You take in all of your calories for the day within a limited window of time, and the rest of the day, you stick with water, maybe a cup of coffee, or tea in the morning if you feel so inclined. The idea is that giving your body a period of time “off” from digesting food allows your cells to heal and renew in other ways.
A Practice Born Because Calorie Restriction is Unpleasant
Intermittent fasting became popular because calorie restriction was found to contribute to healthy aging. A few mouse and worm studies seem to show that drastic reductions in food intake over a long period of time could prolong your life.
The research is compelling, but I’m not convinced actively restricting your calorie intake through sheer will is the true path to enjoyable longevity. I don’t want to be thin, frail, distractible, or preoccupied with food. I’d rather be vibrant and full of zest. I want to eat big strapping meals of steak and veggies smothered in butter without worrying about calories. I want to maintain muscle mass and have enough energy to go on long hikes and have the legs to still leap for high passes (over the young guys) at the end of Ultimate games. And as I appreciate the neuroprotective and autophagy-promoting qualities of calorie restriction, I’d rather not expend the mental energy and fortitude required to maintain such a regimen day-in and day-out.
Intermittent fasting is the workaround. Pushing off breakfast for a few hours gives me all of the benefits of calorie restriction, without all the misery.
Fasting is the way to have your cake and eat it too. Beyond the already proven benefits of a Primal Blueprint low-carb lifestyle, fasting once in a while seems to offer many of the same benefits of calorie restriction – you know, stuff like increased longevity, neuroprotection, increased insulin sensitivity, stronger resistance to stress, some cool effects on endogenous hormone production, increased mental clarity, plus more – but without the active, agonizing restriction.
You just eat Primally, focusing on meat and vegetables with plenty of animal fat, and skip meals on occasion. A sixteen-hour fast is on the low-but-still-effective end, or you could opt for longer, more intermittent fasts – say, a full twenty-four hours once or twice a week. Women may need to time fasts a little differently than men. More on that here.
When you’re done with the fast, eat as much as you want (which usually isn’t an issue, once you’re keto-adapted). It essentially turns into “eat when you’re hungry,” because let’s face it: eating the types of foods we evolved eating induces powerful satiety and makes eating the right amount of food a subconscious act. Fasting becomes a whole lot easier (and intuitive) when you’ve got your food quality dialed in. And I’ll come back to that little caveat at the end here.
“Fasting” was the top search term for MDA last week, and I hadn’t done a big post on it in a while, so I thought I’d do a comprehensive rundown of all the benefits (some conclusive, others prospective) you can expect to obtain from IF.
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Intermittent Fasting and Longevity
Everyone wants to live longer, but I find longevity pointless if you’re not enjoying yourself. Otherwise, life becomes dreary.
The popular c. elegans worm enjoys increased longevity with both twenty-four and forty-eight hour IFs via signaling through a gene that we all have.full PDF) from the 1940s found that varying amounts of twenty-four hour IFs (every other day, every fourth day, every eighth day, etc) prolonged the lifespan of rats without retarding or stunting the growth (as occurred with calorie restricting them). Female rats responded best to every eight day fasts, while males responded best to every other day fasts.
Reductions in brain insulin signaling have been shown to increase lifespan in animals, either by calorie restricting or actively knocking out brain insulin receptors.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21244426‘>3
Going in and pharmaceutically manhandling your cholesterol synthesizing equipment is one thing; eating real food and exercising, resulting in possible alterations to your lipid profile, is another. We don’t set out to force your blood lipids into submission, but lifestyle changes that happen to change them for “the better” are usually a good thing. Fasting brings potent changes to blood lipids in an “organic” way – you’re just letting your machinery do its thing on its own – and this is probably a very good thing.
Intermittent fasting is as effective or even more effective than calorie restriction in improving metabolic syndrome markers in overweight women, and it’s a whole lot easier to stick with.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20300080‘>5
I discussed this last week, but it can’t hurt to mention that short-term alternate day fasting wrought improvements in LDL particle size and distribution in obese adults.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20815899‘>7
Heck, intermittent fasting even helped cocaine addicts stick to their treatment and rehab program.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18184721‘>9 In fact, here’s a review of most of the animal anti-cancer evidence.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19135806‘>11 This is refreshing news. A preliminary studyhttp://ajpregu.physiology.org/content/296/1/R29.full‘>13 I’ve found this to be the case for me. If the body “needs” food right after a workout, why would hunger be blunted? This is why I tend to hold off on the eating post-workout. Every little bit helps, especially as you age.
Fasting doesn’t cause your brain tissue to waste away, contrary to what some people will tell you. It’s actually good for brain health. Any dietary restriction tends to increase neuronal plasticity and promote neurogenesis, but it was IF that had the greatest effect (with the fewest downsides).http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1471-4159.2003.01586.x/full‘>15 That is, mice who ate larger meals more infrequently saw greater increases in brain and overall bodily health. Still another study found that IF was beneficial for peripheral nerve function in mice by promoting the maintenance of the neuronal pathways responsible for locomotor performance.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21106691‘>17), which is the process by which cells recycle waste material, eliminate or downregulate wasteful processes, and repair themselves. Why is autophagy so important? It’s required to maintain muscle masshttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20104028‘>19 It reduces the negative effects of aginghttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17934054‘>21
Without the autophagy that fasting provides, you would get very few of the benefits. Fasting even increases neuronal autophagy,http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21051570‘>23 (which mean better performance down the line), improved muscle protein synthesis,http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20187284‘>25 (you’ll earn your meal and make more muscle out of it if you train on an empty stomach). Studies on Muslim athletes during Ramadan show no effect on performance while fasting,http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19787180‘>27 in those who exercise and fast rather than just fast. When you train in a fasted state, glycogen breakdown is blunted28 and more fat is burned, leaving you more glycolytic energy in the tank for when you really need it and less body fat. Those are just a sampling of the benefits to fasted training; there are dozens more.
Mental Well-being and Clarity
A lot of health influencers will tell you that failure to eat something every few hours will cause mental fog and sluggishness, so keep a banana or a granola bar on your person at all times. Of course, this is all based on an assumption that we need to supply exogenous carbs on a regular basis to properly fuel the brain. This notion that fasting is only the province of anorexics or “caveman” has kept many people from experiencing the vast array of benefits.
I maintain that one’s comfort in handling intermittent fasting effortlessly does increase dramatically when you’ve reprogrammed those cells (and genes) to predispose your body to derive most of your day-to-day energy from fat, as opposed to constantly dipping into glycogen stores (as happens when we rely so much on refeeding carbs every few hours).
Overall, fasting just seems right. It’s like a reset button for your entire body, presumably across a large spectrum of maladies and dysfunctions. It puts your body into repair mode – at the cellular level – and it can restore normal hormonal function in the obese or overweight. Now, you don’t have to fast, but it’s definitely something to consider.
Have you tried intermittent fasting yet? Let me know how intermittent fasting has worked – or hasn’t – with your lifestyle in the comment section!
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