So, you overdid it…or just ate something that doesn’t work with your body. Maybe you didn’t binge per se but you abandoned the original plan and now you’re feeling the pain. You ate, maybe more than you intended, maybe differently than you intended.
Non-Primal foods were consumed – perhaps many of them or just a few in larger than planned quantities. Non-Primal and sub-Primal drinks were imbibed beyond the point of intention. And now the consequences are playing out. You’re stuck in a bloated, sloth-like, catatonic state. You’re nursing a major headache with every shade shut and the covers over your head wishing in a rather non-seasonal mindset that your children would take the noise to some distant corner of the neighborhood. Maybe you’ve taken up residence in the bathroom.
In a less dramatic scenario, perhaps you’re just pushing yourself through the day because you notice your energy is off, your digestion not up to full speed, your mood not quite as equanimous as usual. Whether you feel it was worth it or not, who wouldn’t want to reverse the course of misery itself after the fact?
Think of it this way: with health comes sensitivity to what’s unhealthy.
I’ll admit I don’t really get into cleanses or detoxes. That said, I do think we can help our bodies in their own miraculous processes get back on track – or at least get out of their way while they undo the damage. With a little time and care, we can recover and move on not too much worse for the wear. The healthier we eat and live on a daily basis, the better condition we’re in to weather these upsets. Unfortunately, however, the cleaner we eat the other 364 days of the year, the more we might feel a significant detour in our diet. That heaping plate of mashed potatoes with processed gravy product might have barely registered pre-Primal. Today it can leave you with indigestion and noxious gas for a good 36 hours.
If you’re looking to feel better after a big day (or season) of non-Primal eating, consider these modest proposals for what ails you.
Commit to a morning fast.
Conventional wisdom says eat normally after a holiday binge, but the body says differently. (Guess which one I’m inclined to heed.) Maybe the digestive fallout makes fasting a given, but even if you’re able to eat, give your body a break until early or even mid-afternoon. CW thinks if you go for a few hours without eating you’re sure to throw yourself head on into a major binge. That’s not the case for most Primal folks. Give your body the time it needs to take care of the residuals from the day before.
Drink some tea.
Lay off the food for a while, but go ahead and hydrate. Resist, however, Grandma’s suggestion to down a shot of hard booze. (Hands for how many times folks have heard this from family or friends?) Research has shown alcohol actually slows gastric emptying.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21156747‘>2 Although the tea in the study was simple black tea, consider something without caffeine. (Your body has enough to contend with at the moment.) Chamomile can relax your nerves and your digestive tract, while peppermint can soothe an upset stomach. Opt for something other than mint, however, if heartburn is an issue. Keep in mind you shouldn’t down massive quantities of water (another common recommendation you’ll hear from conventional sources). You don’t want to drink so much that you end up diluting the gastric juices that are trying to do their job.
There’s not much in terms of research (to be found in English anyway), but this is one age-old home remedy that will likely help. The folk wisdom that recommends schnapps, for example, is generally based on herb/bitter based schnapps formulations. The remedy is in the herb – not the alcohol.
Avoid antacids and acid reducing medication.
Your gastric juices are there to digest your food. If your food is slow to digest and feels like a rock in your stomach, does countering or reducing the natural acids that will break things down and move them along make any logical sense? Steer clear of these “remedies” and let your body do its thing.
Take a good helping of probiotic.
Whatever you ate likely did a number on your bacterial profile. A recent study, in fact, shows it only takes a few days to effect substantial change (about the same duration as most holiday visits to non-Primal relatives).https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18392240‘>4 Those residuals of your holiday meal will move along more quickly if you get it in gear. There’s motivation to get up!
Don’t underestimate the power of fresh air and sun.
Especially if you’re feeling nauseated, fresh air can pull you out of your misery. Add sun, and you might just have a new lease on life. Sure, you may feel just as crappy an hour after you go back inside, but stay outside as long as you can to give yourself some relief.
Eat a small Primal meal at the end of the day.
Avoid sending your insulin spiking multiple times that day by grazing. Fast as long as it’s productive and comfortable, and then enjoy a modest Primal meal. When you do, choose something that will keep you satisfied for the rest of the night without taking up too much space/energy in an already sensitive stomach. Some vegetable-based fiber and protein should do the trick.
Go to bed early.
You’ve been through the wringer. However lethargic you’ve felt, certain body processes have been on overdrive or have been working harder to compensate for the food related stresses. Give into your body’s intuitive demands, and hit the sack early. Tomorrow is another Primal day.
Have you had any post-indulgence days that left you seeking relief? What’s works for you? Let me know your thoughts, and thanks for reading, everyone.
Powered by WPeMatico
People rag on the holiday season for being too commercial. You can certainly go too far in that direction, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving meaningful gifts to people you care about. In fact, that’s one of the kindest acts a person can do. Today’s Primal gift guide does not consist of pointless consumerist pap that your giftees will enjoy for a day or two until the newness wears off and they move on to the next thing to spend their money on. These are useful gifts. Gifts that enhance life, that further our relationships, that expand our culinary horizons, that compel us to go out and experience the world. There’s no shame in celebrating the holidays in this manner, because these are good gifts given out of love, fellowship, and friendship—all of which embody the true meaning of the season.
That said, let’s get to the gifts!
Note: I’ve broken these down into Gifts for Men, Gifts for Women, and Gifts for Kids, but don’t let that tie you down. I happen to personally enjoy many of the gifts mentioned below in the “women” and “kids” sections.
Gifts for Men
A large sturdy steel grill with folding legs, so you can place it directly over the fire to cook right on the grill or use the grill as a stand for your pan or griddle. I’ve used these types of grills to cook fresh fish in the sand over a bed of coals as the sun dips down below the horizon, and there’s nothing like it. Anyone who loves to grill or cook in the great outdoors needs this.
Ever go to farmer’s market and there’s the knife sharpener with a Honda generator going and his belt sander cranking out razor edges on santoku blades that haven’t been sharpened in 5 years? There’s a smaller, consumer version available known as the Ken Onion knife sharpener. I don’t have one myself but know a few people who swear by them. They don’t provide the meditative effects of spending 45 minutes on the sharpening stone, but the learning curve is quite moderate. You get in with a dull knife and out with a sharp one in a couple minutes.
In case you aren’t aware, Butcher Box delivers grass-fed beef, pasture-raised pork and chicken, and wild caught fish to your doorstep. This is meat and fish whose provenance you can be assured of. What could be better than that? I for one am a huge fan of high quality meat appearing at my house.
It’s also the perfect gift for any meat lover. And if you use this link, you get to add on 2 NY strips and 4 top sirloin steaks for free to whatever package you order.
Men, you need this. If you’re anything like I was—a driven, type A personality, someone who accepts stress even when objectively I shouldn’t be involved and certainly aren’t culpable—you need to get a handle on your stress. You need to learn how. And that’s what Adaptogenic Calm does: it trains your body to adapt to the stress. It helps calm down your stress response system so you’re not overreacting to the little things that don’t matter. This allows you to respond to the stressors that do matter. Adaptogenic Calm is not a blanket snuffing out stress no matter the source. It helps you adapt in either direction.
Gifts for Women
Pique tea crystals distill the essence of tea leaves through a unique proprietary process known as “cold brew crystallization” that maximizes the extraction of antioxidant compounds and makes your job as tea quaffer easier. Because let’s face it: actual tea is a fickle, finicky beast. Each tea requires specific temperatures and steeping times to extract the good stuff while preserving the taste. The beauty of this product is that you don’t have mess around with all that if you don’t want to.
Included with the broad selection of tea crystals is a music box that plays Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” every time you open it, along with a guide containing ancient and hidden secrets for unlocking your full potential as a human.
I’m sure better, stronger immersion blenders exist for more money, but I have never met this blender’s equal in the home kitchen. It’s not inexpensive by any means. It is effective, though, and well worth the money. Cheaper immersion blenders require liquid to start. This does not. You can make some incredible whipped butternut squash, for example, just by adding a touch of cream and butter to steamed squash and putting the blender to work.
Grounding is legit. I don’t know exactly what’s happening, but there’s something special about connecting yourself to the earth—ideally barefoot on bare ground. However, going barefoot isn’t always in the cards. Sometimes you need shoes. Sometimes society expects you to wear them. And so the Grounded Athlete, a one-man operation, has created a Tarahumara-style sandal with a piece of copper in the sole that interfaces with the earth and connects to silver threading that runs through the strap attached to your foot. You can hike and run and train in these things while staying connected.
Support a small business doing something important and meaningful. Connect to the earth even when you’re shod. Try Gaia Grounding Sandals.
Of all the books I’ve written, this one sold the least. And yet it’s my favorite one of all time, and it’s the one that generates the most heart-felt responses from readers. Those who did buy it and read it were almost all affected. It helped them re-evaluate the way they’re living (not just eating and exercising). The way they practice self-care and gratitude. The way they form and maintain relationships, professional and romantic alike. Most importantly, it has helped thousands have a better relationship with themselves—because that’s the relationship modernity has fractured more than anything else.
Gifts for Kids
Growing up my friend had a giant stock tank at his house that his dad used to wash the dogs and we used as a “pool.” Hey, when you’re six years old a stock tank feels like a swimming pool in the summer. This is one of the weirdest gifts, and no kid will probably ask Santa for one, but if you have the room for it the stock tank will quickly become a favorite. Don’t ask me why. It just works. Get as big as you can handle.
I have fond memories of sneaking books and a flashlight under the covers after lights out, reading adventure stories late into the night. But man, I look back and shudder at what that was doing to my circadian rhythm. Luckily, there are better options for kids who want to trade sleep for trips to the world of literature: Amber clip-on reading lights. These clip on to the book and emit a warm, amber-colored candle-like glow that is easy on your circadian rhythm and has minimal impacts to melatonin production. Kids need to read but they also need to sleep. This let’s them do both.
I’ve raised a boy and a girl up from childhood through adolescence and on into adulthood. I have to say, the teen years for my daughter Devyn was probably the toughest bit of parenting I’ve ever had. It wasn’t bad, it turned out great, but it wasn’t easy. There’s a lot going on during those years. I wish I’d had this book, Leslie Klenke’s Paleo Girl, on hand to at the very least hand it over to her to read. I consider it an invaluable resource.
Oh, and they’re great for adults, too.
What about you, folks? What Primal gifts are you currently coveting? What are you giving out this year? Let us know in the comment section!
Powered by WPeMatico
Serotonin is a funny one.
Although the prevailing sentiment is that we want to “increase serotonin,” it’s not that simple. There’s no indication that more serotonin is necessarily better in every situation, or even generally. The link between serotonin and “happiness” or “mood” isn’t so clear-cut as the experts would have you believe, either. So while I am going to tell you how to “boost” serotonin levels because serotonin is a vital neurotransmitter, I plan on sticking to foods, supplements, and behaviors that promote physiological levels of serotonin. Boosting serotonin beyond what the body is designed for may not help you, and it may have unpleasant and unwanted effects.
Is Serotonin a Mood Booster?
Yes and no. For evidence, I submit two items. The first is clinical research and the second is pure anecdote, albeit personal anecdote.
Everyone has heard of SSRIs, or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. The most common form of antidepressants, their purported mode of action is to reduce the re-absorption of serotonin by neurons which increases the circulating concentration of serotonin in the brain. They increase brain levels of serotonin so it’s able to act longer. The evidence in favor of SSRIs in treating depression is mixed. Not everyone benefits, and it often takes several months to take effect. But they do help some people.
In recent years, depression studies have pitted SSRIs against another drug—tianeptine—that does the opposite: increases the absorption of serotonin by neurons and decreases the concentration of serotonin the brain. If the “serotonin=happy” hypothesis is correct, tianeptine shouldn’t improve depression. It should worsen it. But that’s not what happens. Both tianeptine, which lowers brain serotonin, and SSRIs, which increase it, have been shown to improve depression symptoms in patients with clinical depression. If anything, tianeptine might even be more effective.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26805875‘>2 Adequate levels of serotonin help us deal with stress, while chronic stress can deplete serotonin. As the precursor to melatonin, serotonin also has a powerful effect on sleep and circadian rhythm.
The underrecognized effect of serotonin on the brain’s ability to learn may explain why increasing serotonin levels through SSRIs can help depression patients.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11051338/‘>4 Gut serotonin may also travel to the brain via the vagus nerve, the “highway” that allows our gut to interface with our brain.
Serotonin also has other peripheral effects. For instance, it plays a role in bone formation and maintenance, with brain serotonin maintaining bone formation and gut serotonin inhibiting it.
How to Increase Serotonin
While you don’t necessarily want to boost serotonin to supernatural levels, it’s quite clear that low brain serotonin can have some unwanted effects. How do you make sure you’re making enough serotonin in your brain to enable optimal neuronal communication and melatonin synthesis, minimize rumination, and improve mood?
- Eat tryptophan foods
- Get plenty of natural light
- Get sun or take vitamin D
- Eat seafood or take omega-3s
- Spend time in nature
- Eat some carbs
- Take curcumin
- Drink coffee
- Get a massage
- Get your micronutrients
- Take tryptophan on an empty stomach
Eat Tryptophan Foods
We often forget that “thoughts” and “feelings” aren’t just ephemera floating around inside our heads without a material representative. Every thought, feeling, emotion, or mood we experience is a physical thing made of matter. We don’t just “feel better.” To feel better, we manufacture serotonin using an amino acid called tryptophan as the precursor.
Whether it’s turkey, eggs, dairy, beef, lamb, chicken, or fish, animal protein is a reliable source of tryptophan. Studies show that whey protein and egg protein both acutely increase tryptophan availability in the brain.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18648776‘>6
Get Plenty of Natural Light
Sunlight is a direct trigger of serotonin synthesis. The brighter the sunlight, the higher the serotonin production.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2728098/‘>8https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24558199‘>10
I recommend getting most of your vitamin D from the sun. It’s better regulated that way, and you get the added benefit of lots of natural light. If you need or want to supplement (probably a good idea for most people during the colder seasons when sun exposure is low), look for a high potency formula. Here’s what I take.
Eat Seafood or Take Omega-3s
Not only does seafood provide ample amounts of the amino acid tryptophan, the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in marine fat increase serotonin production in the brain and improve serotonin transport across neurons.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27723543‘>12 Turns out that turmeric (or curcumin, rather) increases brain serotonin levels in a dose-dependent matter.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2419509‘>14 This is probably why going for a walk or grabbing a quick workout is a surefire way to beat ruminating thoughts.
Generic alternative health gurus will tell you caffeine depletes serotonin. It sounds right, doesn’t it? What they won’t say is that caffeine has actually been shown to increase brain serotonin, at least in rats.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16162447‘>16
Get Your Micronutrients
This should really be standard advice for any health issue. Many problems go away when we eat more micronutrients—vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients—because micronutrients are essential to fundamental physiological processes and pathways. It’s a safe bet that all of us are at least mildly deficient in a handful of important nutrients—like B6, which regulates serotonin synthesis.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29016477/‘>1
10 experienced lifters deadlifted for 4 sets of 4 reps in both shod and unshod conditions. Although being barefoot made no difference when it came to some of the performance measures, barefoot lifting did improve the rate of force development. The difference wasn’t massive, but it was there. Barefoot lifters were able to develop more force more quickly than when they were wearing shoes, suggesting that there is a “disconnect” between the shod foot and the ground that must be surmounted before force can develop. Barefoot lifters didn’t have that disconnect; they were connected from the get-go.
Proprioception is bodily awareness in space and movement. It’s knowing where your limbs are in relation to the rest of the environment. Good proprioception means you have an intuitive sense of what your body is doing and where it is as you move through the world—where your feet are, where your arms are, where your head is in relation to that tree branch coming right at you. It allows you to respond more effectively to the environment.
Good proprioception is a prerequisite for being a good dancer, a good dodgeball player, a good fighter or boxer.
To create proprioception, your nervous system utilizes all the sensory organs. What you see, hear, smell, and feel—and think. Shoes cut off your proprioceptive interface with the ground. Going barefoot re-establishes that interface, giving your nervous system access to all the data streaming in through the hundreds of nerves located on the soles of your feet.
A shod foot is a single piece, just a big blunt slab of meat atop which you totter. You balance on the soles of your shoes. One linear surface.
A bare foot is a composite of separate muscles and nerves and bones and fascia. You can situate your weight over different sections of your foot much more easily. You can “choose” to focus on balancing on, say, the forefoot, the midfoot, the heels, the sides, the toes, or the whole foot. Balance when barefoot lifting becomes a symphony of constituents all working together—and apart if you so choose.
Barefoot lifting provides a much richer stimulus to your vestibular system.
Better Foot Health
The foot contains dozens of muscles, most of which lie dormant inside a shoe. They go slack, they get weak, they aren’t engaged. Lifting in a shoe is fine but you’re leaving a lot of potential on the table. Now, this isn’t about hypertrophy of the foot muscles. Don’t expect “gains” down there. But you can expect a stronger, more resilient foot that can handle long walks or even runs with regular barefoot lifting. You can also expect fewer foot problems, like plantar fasciitis, provided you ease into your barefoot lifting.
As you can see, barefoot lifting isn’t really about hitting new PRs or extracting more raw power and performance from your body—although there’s a good case to be made that better balance and a more stable base can improve your numbers. It’s more about the entire feel of the lifting experience. It becomes more organic. More real. More Primal. When you’re in bare feet lifting heavy things, you feel like a civilized savage human doing real work.
Convinced? Good. Let’s make sure we do it safely.
First, read this post on how to prepare for the barefoot transition. It has a bunch of drills and exercises you can do to get your feet ready to go unshod. Next, read the following section.
Barefoot Lifting Tips to Keep in Mind
Keep these in mind to stay safe and avoid overuse injuries, especially if you’re new to barefoot training.
The body is a piece. Every component matters. No muscle or joint is an island. Take the arches. If they collapse, is that all there is to it? Your arches collapse and everything else continues to work great?
Of course not.
Your arches collapse and your knee loses crucial support, caving inward. You get knee valgus, which throws off your hips and applies a ton of stress on your knee joint (at the wrong spots, no less). As you travel upstream of that collapsed arch, every joint is compromised. Every joint has to adjust for that initial deficit.
Ideally, your foot musculature forms the arch, is the arch. Most people, their shoes or their shoe inserts provide the arch support. If you’re inexperienced with barefoot movement and training, your arches might not be strong enough on their own to withstand heavy weights, and you shouldn’t take that support away and then expect to succeed with weights. If you are experienced, your arches can probably handle it. Mileage varies, then, depending on the state of your bare feet. Proceed with caution and avoid collapsed arches, especially under load.
Olympic weightlifters wear lifting shoes with pronounced, sturdy heels. This raises the heel, reducing the amount of true ankle flexibility you need to get proper depth when squatting. It makes deep squats easier and arguably safer for elite athletes.
Someone like Kelly Starrett with optimal ankle mobility can hit those depths while barefoot, but not everyone has his mobility. If you’re accustomed to lifting in lifting shoes, particularly during squats, the transition to squatting in bare feet will be jarring. Maybe even dangerous, if you use the same weight and attempt to hit the same depth with the same knee angle.
Drop the Weight
With running, big bulky running shoes can mask the damage being done and artificially inflate the number of miles you log past your “natural” capacity. You can go farther, but at what cost?
Strength training isn’t as dynamic as running. It’s also lower impact, so it’s not as risky an endeavor. But you may have to bite the bullet, swallow your ego, and lower the weight a bit when you’re first starting out lifting in bare feet.
Don’t expect to push the weight you were handling in shoes, not right away at least.
Don’t Drop the Weight on Your Feet
This isn’t unique to bare feet: a pair of gym shoes isn’t going to protect your feet from an 80 pound dumbbell in rapid descent. But the advice does grow more urgent when you aren’t wearing any shoes at all.
I don’t think I need to say this, but you never know. Don’t drop weights on your bare feet.
Barefoot lifting can pay big dividends and be incredibly satisfying, as long as you do it safely and intelligently. Hopefully after today, you know how to get started.
Do you lift barefoot? What’s your favorite part about barefoot lifting? What do you get out of it?
Let me know down below and thanks for reading!
Powered by WPeMatico
By far the most exciting health trend to hit the scene in the last few years is the Carnivore Diet. Tens of thousands of people are adopting it. Passionate online communities devoted to discussing and extolling the virtues of exclusive meat-eating have sprung up. And while in raw numbers it isn’t as big as keto, “carnivore diet” is running neck and neck with “vegan diet” on Google Trends for the past year. It’s one I’ve been watching for a long time.
Over ten years ago, I addressed the idea of a zero-carb carnivorous diet right here on this blog.
A few years ago, I went over the advantages and shortcomings of the carnivore diet and even gave my suggestions for making it work better.
Earlier this year, I explored the notion of a seafood-based carnivorous diet.
Today, I’m going to pull it all together and give an overview—a definitive guide, if you will.
Instantly download your Primal and Keto Guide to Eating Out
Okay, so what is the Carnivore Diet?
It’s quite simple (which is part of the appeal and effectiveness). You eat meat and don’t eat plants.
If it explored three-dimensional space by hoof, claw, wing, or tail, had live kin or laid eggs, and defended itself with direct action, non-violent resistance, or by fleeing, you can eat it (and its products). If it rooted itself to the ground, reproduced by bee, consumed sunlight and water, and defended itself with chemical compounds, you cannot eat it (or its products).
If it sounds extreme, you’re right. The carnivore diet is unlike anything most people have ever considered.
But adoption rates aren’t exploding because everyone’s deluding themselves: People are reporting real benefits.
Clearer thinking: If a carnivore diet induces a state of ketosis, it will also increase mitochondrial biogenesis in the brain and reduce brain fog. This allows your brain to generate more energy and clears out excess ammonia which slows down the thinking process.
Improved gut health: A carnivore diet is an extreme elimination diet. It eliminates all the most common triggers of gut inflammation, including fiber, lectins, grains, legumes, sugar, seed oils, and in some cases dairy. If any of those foods are the cause of your gut inflammation, removing them from your diet will improve your gut health and even allow it to heal.
Weight loss: Weight loss gets a whole lot easier when you’re not starving. Most people who go carnivore find they’re unable to eat enough to gain body fat; the diet that is most satiating while still being nutritious will almost always come out ahead without even trying.
What Do You Eat On a Carnivore Diet?
At the heart of it, the carnivore diet is very simple: eat only animal foods and do not eat plant foods.
Meat: beef, lamb, bison, pork, chicken, turkey, venison
Seafood: fish, shellfish, shrimp, crab, lobster
Animal foods: eggs, bone broth, animal fat, bone marrow, organs
Eating food from all three categories on a consistent basis is important for obtaining all the nutrients you need.
The following foods are contentious and not all carnivores eat or accept them.
Dairy: milk, cheese, cream, butter; some carnivores avoid lactose and only eat low-lactose dairy like hard cheeses and butter and cream.
Honey: since honey comes from bees, which are animals, honey is technically a carnivore-friendly source of carbohydrates.
Most carnivores allow salt and pepper. Some use herbs and spices and even things like garlic. Some carnivore dieters avoid coffee, tea, and alcohol because they’re made from plants. Others permit them.
Carnivore vs. Keto
If carnivore sounds a lot like keto, you’re right. There are many similarities between carnivore and keto.
They’re both lower-carb and higher-fat than other diets.
They may both help you reach ketosis.
They both involve eating a lot of animal products.
The main difference is that keto contains plants and carnivore isn’t necessarily low-carb.
You could be keto and eat entire salad bowls full of leafy greens.
You could be carnivore and eat 100 grams worth of carbohydrates from milk.
You could be carnivore and eat more protein and more moderate amounts of fat, while keto is by definition a high-fat diet.
But, as commonly practiced, the two can be very similar. Most carnivore dieters eat close to zero carbs, a good amount of fat, and are in ketosis much of the time. Most keto dieters eat more animal products than the average person. It’s very easy to combine the two. In fact, there’s a clinic in Hungary called Paleomedicina that does exactly this, using a high-fat “paleolithic ketogenic” carnivore diet (2:1-3:1 fat:protein ratio) to treat patients with otherwise intractable chronic autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s, and rheumatoid arthritis. Not only are they getting great clinical results, they’re getting great results and closely tracking relevant biomarkers.
Which leads me to the next section…
Who Should Try Carnivore?
Anyone can try it. Populations for whom carnivore seems to work best are people with autoimmune or immune ystem diseases like eczema or rheumatoid arthritis, and people with gut disorders like IBS or Crohn’s.
People with autoimmune and gut disorders almost always have dysfunctional and dysregulated gut biomes, and carnivore represents a hard “reset” for the gut. You pull out all the fermentable fibers and sugars and carbohydrates and gut-disrupting antinutrients found in plant foods and go back to square one.
Carnivore Diet Pros
Animal nutrients are more bioavailable.
Plant nutrients usually undergo a conversion process before humans can utilize them, and not every human has the same conversion capacity. Meanwhile, animals and their constituent parts contain nutrients in the perfect form for other animals to absorb. Retinol is the “animal form” of vitamin A, and it’s far more effective than beta-carotene, the plant form. Long-chained omega-3s found in seafood are far more effective than shorter-chained omega-3s found in plants, which must be converted to the longer “animal form.” Name a nutrient, and it’s probably more bioavailable in animal form.
Animal foods contain unique nutrients you can’t get in plants.
Some of those essential and/or helpful nutrients only occur in meat, like creatine, carnosine, taurine, or vitamin B12. If you don’t eat meat, there’s literally no realistic way to obtain these essential (or conditionally essential) nutrients without relying on supplementation, which didn’t exist until the last hundred years.
Animal foods have no toxins.
Because animals can run and bite and claw and fly to get away from predators, they don’t need to employ kind of passive chemical warfare that many plants use to dissuade predation. Plants cannot run. They cannot move, and so they must manufacture chemicals that irritate guts or outright poison the animals who seek to eat them. There are no phytates, lectins, gluten, oxalates, or other problematic compounds in a ribeye. Except for blatant allergies and intolerances to red meat, like the ones that arise with a Lone Star tick bite, meat is safe from a toxin standpoint.
Eating meat made us human.
When hominids ate very little meat, maybe grabbing a leg bone here, a lizard here or a mouse there, our brains were much smaller and less impressive. As hominids progressed and grew more intelligent, their diets changed to include more and more animal food. They started out as scavengers, cracking bones and skulls left behind by more obligate predators. They developed thrusting weapons. They became incredible throwers and developed lethal projectiles. They developed language and tactics to coordinate assaults and lay traps. And as the meat poured in, the brains grew. Humans as we are them today emerged stepwise with meat.
My take is that it was a combination of a few things:
- Animal meat, fat, and animal-based nutrients. The human expanded as we ate more and more meat, although the causality isn’t clear . It could be the nutrients, protein, and calories found in animal foods provided a stimulus for brain expansion. It could be that our desire for meat necessitated an expanding brain to enhance our intelligence, cunning, tool-making, and hunting ability—that those humans whose brains expanded were better adapted to hunting. It could be all of that at once (my guess).
- Fire. With fire, we could extract more calories from both plant and animal foods—cooked tubers are more digestible than raw and fire allowed us to access the residual calories bound up in bones and connective tissue. Paleo-anthropologists call this “grease processing”: boiling pulverized animal bones in animal skins to extract every last drop of fat, gelatin, and protein.
Seafood. Early humans were coastal dwellers. Researcher Stephen Cunanne has been beating this drum for over a decade, showing through anthropological and neurological evidence that the long-chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA was necessary for human evolution and brain development.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22074361‘>2
Two, it’s unclear whether fiber is necessary. Clearly, it’s not essential in the sense that you will die without it. And there’s evidence that “more fiber” is necessarily helpful in digestive disorders, and may even be harmful. But there is good evidence that prebiotic fiber offers beneficial metabolic and gut health effects in the average person eating an average omnivorous diet. And no, it’s not just about fecal hypertrophy. There is real evidence that feeding your gut bacteria soluble and prebiotic fiber can enhance health and produce beneficial metabolites.
Where the question remains is whether those benefits occur in carnivorous dieters, or whether carnivorous dieters need fiber. Is fiber necessary only on omnivorous diets? Perhaps. I suspect we’ll learn more as time goes on.
While meat is a great way to get bioavailable sources of most B vitamins and many other unique nutrients, plants are the primary sources of folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C in the diet.
If you’re not careful, a low-carb diet can lead to low levels of folate.https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf040401o‘>4 Used in marinades and sauces, plants and herbs can reduce the formation of carcinogens during the cooking process. And every traditional culture we’ve ever seen—even the Inuit and Masaai—consumed plant foods on a regular basis and considered them important and even essential.
If you are someone who reacts poorly to the plant compounds found in vegetables, you may be better off not eating any. Vegetables aren’t required for survival like meat and animal fat are required. But if you can tolerate vegetables, it’s a good idea to eat them. To me, the benefits are great enough that I recommend most people (even carnivores) sample vegetables until they find some they can tolerate. Remember: there’s a difference between eating vegetables for calories and eating vegetables for medicinal purposes.
There are also acute issues that sometimes arise with carnivore diets.
What happens if you’re not pooping like you should?
Confirm you’re actually constipated. Carnivore is a low-residue diet. There’s not much left over after you absorb everything. You’re not eating loads of fiber and most of the nutrients you’re taking in are highly bioavailable. No matter what happens, you won’t be practicing fecal hypertrophy like you were on an omnivorous diet containing fiber. Your “lack” of pooping may be totally normal.
Get more electrolytes. Salt, magnesium, and potassium all impact your digestion. Potassium and magnesium in particular are required for optimal muscle contractions, including the muscle contractions that move food along the digestive tract. Salt provides the chloride we need to produce hydrochloric acid, aka stomach acid.
Check your fat intake. A mistake some people make when starting a carnivore diet is eating too much lean meat. Adding in fattier cuts of meat can speed things up.
Give it time. Your gut biome is adjusting to the new environment. Things may take awhile to normalize. Resistant starch can help here.
Back when Joe Rogan went carnivore for a spell, he had incredible energy and body composition shifts but first had to get past the “explosive diarrhea.” Reports from others around the Internet suggest that this isn’t rare for people just starting out. What to do?
Too much fat, too fast. Increase fat intake more gradually.
Rapid shifts in the gut biome. Suddenly removing all the substrate your gut bacteria were eating can throw things off. Give it some time.
Resistant starch if it persists. If the diarrhea lasts longer than a couple days, try a little raw potato starch (for resistant starch) to improve consistency.
If you noticed, the reasons for diarrhea track closely with the reasons for constipation. Changes to the gut biome can manifest differently along the same diarrhea/constipation spectrum and often have the same solution.
Carnivore Diet Supplements
If you do it perfectly, a carnivore diet should contain all or most of the nutrients you need to thrive. But supplements can make it easier, and they may optimize your experience. A few to consider:
- Mineral water
- Freeze-dried organs
- Fish oil
- Broad-spectrum polyphenol blend
Magnesium: Important electrolyte, vital participant in over 300 physiological functions, and rather hard to get on a pure carnivorous diet. Almost everyone should be supplementing with magnesium.
Mineral water: A good mineral-dense sparkling water like Gerolsteiner is a nice way to obtain hard-to-get minerals like magnesium and calcium.
Freeze-dried organs: The ideal is to eat liver, heart, kidney, and/or spleen on a regular basis. They’re more nutrient-dense and contain wide ranges of nutrients you won’t find elsewhere in the animal. If you can’t or won’t eat fresh organs, you can get freeze-dried capsules.
Fish oil: If you’re not eating seafood, you need a source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil is the most straightforward way to get them.
Collagen: Collagen is necessary to balance out your intake of muscle meat—which will be elevated on a carnivore diet. In the absence of a steady intake of gelatinous bone broth or direct consumption of connective tissue, collagen peptides become essential.
Broad-spectrum polyphenol blend: The carnivore people go back and forth on polyphenols. Are they plant poisons? Plant pesticides? The point remains that the evidence in favor of polyphenol intake is quite robust. And yes, polyphenols are stressors. They act as plant toxins that our bodies interpret as hormetic stressors and trigger a beneficial response. I wouldn’t take something like this every day (nor do I), but I would take it intermittently as a stand-in for intermittent plant consumption.
Electrolytes: Electrolytes are essential, especially on any carb-restricted diet (keto, low-carb, carnivore, etc). There’s this dedicated electrolyte supplement that Robb Wolf helped design, or there’s my own Collagen Quench mix that also contains collagen, vitamin C, and polyphenols (from fruit powder) in addition to the potassium and sodium.
So, Does Carnivore Work?
Carnivore appears to work.
A big part of staying healthy in the modern environment is the erection of artificial boundaries and the self-administration of artificial hardships. We could eat 10000 calories of junk food a day if we wanted. We could sit on the couch and be entertained and have all our food delivered to us if we wanted. Most of us never have to do an iota of actual physical labor if we don’t want to. But because doing that would make us sick and fat, we limit ourselves to moderate amounts of healthy real food, we go the gym, and we make it a point to take walks. These are artificial interventions we enact to emulate the ancestral environment to which we are adapted. These are boundaries.
There isn’t a simpler boundary to set than “eat animals, don’t eat plants.” And therein lies the power.
Now, I’m not going carnivore anytime soon. Although I have shifted my eating in that direction, I’ll always die on the “Big Ass Salads are great” hill (even if I’m loading them up with extra meat and cheese). Carnivore is exciting because it reveals that there’s room for extremes:
It shows that eating only meat won’t kill you—and it may make you stronger. It won’t give you diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, or make you obese. A diet based on animal foods is safe and, for many people, optimal.
Gut health is paramount. Health starts in the gut, as Hippocrates said, and extends to every manifestation of your wellness. Carnivore might not be the only way to fix a leaky, dysfunctional gut, but the fact that it’s so good at improving gut health-related conditions should give you pause.
Plant foods are not benign. The popular conception of a “healthy diet” is one awash in leafy greens, broccoli, whole grains, and other plant foods. Mountains of produce, a “baby’s fist-sized piece of lean meat.” Even those of us who’ve been weird enough to eat low-carb diets rich in animal fat for years often have a tough time washing that stereotype from our consciousness.
Carnivore repudiates what all the health authorities tell us to do. It’s the exact opposite of what our moral and scientific “betters” have been preaching for decades. And because I’ve always been an iconoclast, someone who bristles at the thought of being told what to do, this appeals to me. I’ve never been convinced by the shoddy evidence that meat is bad for us. That entire legions of people are eating nothing but meat and failing to come down with the colon cancer and heart disease they’re “supposed to” is endlessly satisfying.
Once more, I don’t think carnivore is necessarily sustainable for a lifetime, especially if you don’t take special care to eat nose-to-tail-to-tendon-to-tripe-to-skin. But I do think it’s worth a hard look for people with autoimmune diseases, gut disorders, or those people for whom no other diet has worked. I think carnivore-adjacent eating will become a thing. I think carnivore cycling paired with cycles of omnivory will prove useful for a great many people.
What about you, everyone? Have you tried the carnivore diet? Would you?
Powered by WPeMatico
Almost no one’s happy with school these days. Kindergarteners are sitting in front of devices for 4-5 hours a day. Teens are dreading daily online meetings and getting prescriptions for “Zoom fatigue.” Some of this is growing pains—kids, teachers, and parents are being asked to completely change the way they do school on a moment’s notice, and change like that doesn’t come easily. But that’s not the only reason.
There just aren’t many great options left. Parents don’t want their kids stuck on the computer all day, nor do they want them in class masked up and unable to touch or play with their peers. There are big problems in every direction.
Change is in the air. People are fed up with the new way of doing things and realizing they don’t like the old way all that much either. I don’t have kids in school anymore, but I do have a grandkid who will be in school soon. Besides, everyone who lives in a country has a stake in the school system of that country. The schools shape the people who become the adults who shape the nation. That affects everyone. Something needs to change.
If I could wave a wand, how would I change school?
Here’s what I’d like to see:
Later start times
8:30, 9 AM. This would give kids extra sleep. Everyone needs sleep, but kids need it more than anyone. It helps them consolidate memories and recently learned skills.http://www.cdc.gov/features/school-start-times/‘>2 for schools. as kids especially need a lot of sleep. Kids are staying up later and later than ever before. Particularly in studies using teen subjects, delaying school start times by 25-60 minutes can increase total sleep duration by 25-75 minutes per weeknight.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23834604‘>4 This is a travesty, not only because recess (and PE) increase physical activity and step count, but because physical activity improves learning and reduces acting out. In one Texas grade school, implementing four 15-minute recesses a day reduced bullying and tattling, improved focus and eye-contact, and even stopped the neurotic pencil chewing teachers were noticing among their students. The kids are testing ahead of schedule despite less actual classroom time and test prep. Recess improves academic performance, and physical play improves subsequent learning capacity. Give a kid a 15 minute play break for every 45 minutes of book learning and he’ll learn more than the kid who studies an hour straight.
Recess needs to be longer. The absolute daily minimum is 45 minutes (spread across 1-3 sessions including lunch), though I’d like to see the entire day spent outside with movement interlaced with learning/lessons.
Hold classes outdoors
The benefits are immense and irrefutable:
- Kids with ADHD can focus better after exposure to green spaces.
- Kids who frequently spend time outdoors get sick less often and show better motor skills and physical coordination.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494401902415‘>6
- For kids dealing with stress at home (who isn’t?), nature can act as a buffer.http://rer.sagepub.com/content/76/1/1.abstract‘>8 Instead of giving five year olds an hour of paperwork to complete or 15 year olds four hours of work, give them open-ended suggestions.
“Read a book with your parents and tell the class about your favorite part of the story.”
“Find 7 leaves, each from a different tree, and bring them to class.”
“Start a business. Come up with a business plan, a product, and marketing materials.”
Enabling deep work and deep learning during the school day would make most “busy” homework pointless.
Bring back “tracks”
Only don’t limit these tracks to “academics.” It’s not that you split the kids up by “smart” or “dumb” or “advanced” and “behind.” You allow the kids to establish their own track based on interest and aptitude. You get more specific with the tracks.
Someone wants to just do math all day? Let them focus on that.
Someone shows promise as an artist? Let them draw and paint to their heart’s content.
Someone’s obsessed with video games? Let them learn to make their own.
Obviously, even a math-obsessed whiz kid should also read great literature, but I’m not sure the math whiz kid needs to be writing essays on “Brave New World.” Simply reading it is probably enough.
More doing and playing
Humans learn best by doing. Everyone accepts that we learn languages best by speaking it or being thrown into a foreign country, not by reading language lessons. But learning through doing works for everything. Learning the fundamentals matters, but only if you also practice them. I learned to write by reading and aping other writers. This even works in subjects like math. One American educator, Benezet, showed that children who delayed formal math instruction in favor of natural math instruction (doing) until 8th grade quickly caught up to and outperformed kids taught the traditional way.
You could teach (or reinforce) grammar by playing MadLibs. Or just giving kids cool things to read.
Don’t just bring back the old woodshop and metalshop. Introduce full-blown apprenticeship programs. Paid ones.
- And so on
Name a profession and you can probably figure out an apprenticeship program. Heck, this already exists in many states. Check out the listings for California apprenticeships for an idea of what’s possible. Many high schools can even set this up. I bet there are guidance counselors who currently do it, or have. But is it the norm? No. It should be.
Lots of kids would really benefit.
Teach basic competencies
There are basic physical skills everyone should learn.
- Self defense
- First aid
- Physical fitness (running, sprinting, climbing, strength standards)
And other “non-physical” core competencies:
- Bill paying/taxes
Home economics, in other words.
Segregation by age makes little evolutionary sense (until the public school system arose, children had historically hung out with other children of all ages). As a kid, whenever we weren’t in school I’d rove around my neighborhood in age-desegregated packs. It was all very fluid. We’d have the bigger kids leading the way, the smaller ones tagging along, and because everyone pretty much lived in the same place their whole lives, kids would graduate into different roles and new kids would always be coming up in the ranks. Without age mixing children miss out on many benefits:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986467/‘>1 on the risks of eating processed foods, grains, and industrialized oils, there are just as many folks panicking when you pass on the rolls. It’s even harder when those folks are your spouse or significant other.
If you’ve ever heard your partner say…
“I’d die if I couldn’t have bread.”
“One cookie isn’t going to wreck your diet.”
“Your body needs sugar!”
“You’re having bacon again?!”
…then you know what I’m talking about. As a health coach, I see this more often than I don’t. One half of a couple decides they’re done feeling foggy and carrying around extra fat, while the other feels “fine” and finds no reason to change how they’re eating — even though they’re pre-diabetic and their blood pressure numbers are sky high.
Signs You’ve Got a Difficult Partner
As you take steps toward improving your health and growing as a person, you might find that, instead of support, you’re suddenly on the receiving end of someone who’s sabotaging you, acting irritated and jealous, or just not willing to grow with you.
Your partner may come home with armloads of chips and cookies and refuse to eat anything that resembles a vegetable. Or make you feel bad when you ask for your burger lettuce wrapped. Or look at you like you’ve got two heads when you grab the full-fat yogurt off the grocery store shelf. Sound familiar? These are all signs that you’re dealing with a difficult partner. Here are some other indicators:
- They’re quick to blame you for their actions
- They seem to try to sabotage you
- They’re controlling
- They avoid or resist conversations with you
- They minimize your wins or your progress
- They judge you based on their beliefs
- They use guilt as a way to control the situation
Here’s the thing though. You can’t change other people. I don’t care how right you are, how much progress you’ve made in your own health journey, or how much time you spend cooking epic protein-forward meals. People only change when they want to change. That said, you don’t have to let someone else’s resistance derail your own goals.
How Difficult Partners Affect Your Health
Aside from it being downright frustrating to live with someone who refuses to take responsibility for their own health, it can increase your risk of certain health conditions.
One study from Montreal’s McGill University Health Centre evaluated the environmental factors, social habits, and eating and exercising patterns of couples and found that participants had a 26% higher chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes when their partner had the disease.https://www.nature.com/articles/ijo2008150‘>3
All of which suggests that what you do can influence your partner. And vice versa.
9 Ways to Deal with a Difficult or Unsupportive Partner
These are the same tactics I teach my health coaching clients. They’re powerful ones you can use in your own life to avoid frustration, discouragement, and potential derailment, while helping inspire your partner to pursue their own holy grail of good health.
1. Don’t just set expectations, make agreements
A source of conflict in many relationships is the disconnect between expectations and agreements. You might tell your partner you’ve decided to follow a ketogenic diet or pursue a Primal lifestyle, but unless you get clear on your expectations and lay out an agreement, that line can get fuzzy.
For instance, if your significant other brings home fresh baked bread when you’re abstaining from grains, you may feel like he or she is trying to sabotage your efforts. But if an agreement hasn’t been laid out and agreed to, all you have is the expectation that your partner shouldn’t be doing that. Perhaps they don’t know how important it is to you to not have bread in the house. Or they think they’re being supportive by bringing home a treat. Getting clear on your expectations and agreements allows you to focus on your health goals without the pressure of assuming your partner knows what you want or need.
2. Have empathy toward your partner
It’s easy to be irritated by a partner who’s still dragging their butt out of bed, sucking down sodas to stay awake, or praising the virtues of Meatless Monday — especially when you’re feeling amazing doing the opposite. But it’s important to consider the emotions they’re going through during this time. There’s a good chance they’re jealous, fearful, or uncertain about your future together. After all, if your favorite couples’ activity used to be laying around, binging on junk food in front of the TV and now you’re hitting the hay earlier, jumping out of bed in the morning, and making time to cook up a nutrient-dense breakfast, they may not be sure how they fit into the picture.
And remember, there’s a big difference between empathy and sympathy. Sympathy is feeling bad or sorry for someone, where empathy is feeling those emotions with someone.
When you’re feeling unsupported, it can be hard not to nag, shout, or give your partner the silent treatment. However, learning how to communicate effectively can help you get over this hurdle and any others that can (and likely will) come up.
Open up about what you’re going through, why you’re shifting your lifestyle, and why you’d really appreciate your support — without putting blame or shame on your significant other. Then, take a step back and hear what they have to say. Listening is as important a skill as talking when it comes to communication. Be aware of your body language too. Things like crossed arms or legs or tightly clasped hands give off a defensive or closed-off vibe.
4. Be a role model
Just by doing what you’re doing (purchasing unprocessed foods, cooking at home, getting out and exercising), you’re planting a seed in your partner’s mind about the importance of good health. Your positive actions have the ability to influence and motivate, without saying a word.
However, the biggest factor in whether or not they’ll be inspired lies in their own beliefs. According to a study, participants who felt like certain results were attainable to them were more apt to see a role model as inspiring. And participants who believed they couldn’t achieve more than they already had started to view themselves more negatively.
- Next »