The liver is incredible. Most people think of it as a filter, but filters are physical barriers that accumulate junk and have to be cleaned. The liver isn’t a filter. It’s a chemical processing plant. Rather than sit there, passively receiving, filtering out, and storing undesirable compounds, the liver encounters toxic chemicals and attempts to metabolize them into less-toxic metabolites that we can handle.
- It oxidizes the toxins, preparing them for further modification
- It converts the toxins to a less-toxic, water-soluble version that’s easier to excrete
- It excretes the toxins through feces or urine
Bam. It’s an elegant process, provided everything is working well back there. And it’s not the only process it controls.
The liver is the primary site of cholesterol synthesis and disposal. It creates cholesterol as needed and converts excess into bile salts for removal via the bile duct. The liver also plays a huge role in the burning of fat for energy, the storage of vitamin A, the metabolism of hormones, and the regulation of blood sugar. If you enjoy burning ketones, you can thank the liver because that’s where they’re produced.
The liver supports full-body health, in other words. If it isn’t working correctly, nothing is. Everything starts to fall apart.
How do we support the liver?
It’s not one thing we do. It’s many things. It’s nutrition, supplementation, lifestyle, sleep — everything. It’s also the things we don’t do. The stakes are high, you see. Whenever there’s a grand overarching orchestrator regulating dozens of different processes in the body, you must protect it from multiple angles. A lot can go wrong. Or right, depending on how you look at it.
Since the liver is “hidden away” and you can’t really “feel” it, you may not give it too much thought. When you’re overweight, you know it. When your fitness is suffering, you consciously experience it. When your liver is overburdened or suffering, you don’t necessarily know it. That’s where doing the right things for the sake of doing them comes in handy.
So, what should you do to maintain pristine liver health?
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11 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Liver
Liver health depends on steps you take toward a healthy lifestyle, and equally as important, the things you refrain from doing. Here are some things you can to to contribute to lifelong liver health:
- Reduce linoleic acid intake
- Reduce refined carb intake
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Stop overeating, and lose weight
- Practice time-restricted eating
- Eat fatty fish and get omega-3s
- Eat egg yolks and other choline sources
- Take NAC
- Take whey protein
- Regularly deplete your liver glycogen
- Get good, regular sleep
Reduce Linoleic Acid Intake
When a patient can’t eat, they get something called parenteral nutrition — a direct infusion of nutrients into the gut. The classic parenteral nutrition consists of an emulsion of olive oil and soybean oil. It’s very rich in linoleic acid and typically leads to elevated liver enzymes and fatty liver. That’s right: the medical establishment for whatever reason just accepts that people receiving parenteral nutrition have a high chance of developing fatty liver disease.
Okay, but what’s happening here? Is it really causal? Yes. The more linoleic acid you eat, the more oxidized metabolites of linoleic acid show up in your body. The more oxidized metabolites of linoleic acid you have, the higher your risk of fatty liver. These toxic metabolites of LA are actually full-fledged biomarkers of liver injury.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4405421/#:~:text=This%20study%20suggests%20that%20human,patients%20with%20obesity%20(48).‘>2 which affects how efficiently your liver works.
Of course, the combo of high linoleic acid and high refined carbohydrate is just about the worst thing possible.
Reduce Alcohol Intake
To detox alcohol, the liver converts it into the metabolite acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is far more toxic than ethanol itself, so the body then releases acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and glutathione to break down the acetaldehyde. If you stick to just a few drinks and space them out accordingly, your body’s natural antioxidant enzyme production can keep up. If you start binging, though, glutathione stores become overwhelmed and the liver must produce more. Meanwhile, acetaldehyde, which is between 10-30 times more toxic than ethanol, accrues in your body.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413112001891‘>4
Eat Fatty Fish and Get Omega-3s
If you offset some of that olive oil and soybean oil with a blend of medium triglycerides and fish oil, liver enzymes may drop and overall integrity of the liver may improve.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22308119/‘>6 Taking it with vitamin C may be even more effective.
Take Whey Protein
Obese women with fatty liver who took 60 grams of whey protein per day reduced their liver fat by almost 21%.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24316260/‘>8 When liver glycogen is full, it becomes far more likely that your liver will turn any subsequent carbohydrate it encounters into fat for storage. If you keep liver glycogen low, or regularly deplete it, you can avoid de novo lipogenesis because there’s usually a place to store the glucose.
Furthermore, keeping liver glycogen low increases fat utilization from all over the body, including the liver.https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-03/uops-mwt030311.php‘>10 If you don’t get to sleep at a normal, consistent time, your rhythm is disrupted and the molecules can’t do their jobs.
If you hadn’t already noticed, these are good health practices in general. We keep running into this phenomenon, don’t we?
What’s good for the liver is good for the brain is good for the cardiovascular system is good for your performance in the gym is good for the mirror.
It makes things easier and harder.
You know what to do.
Thanks for reading, everyone. Do you have any other recommendations for liver health? Which of these do you follow?
The post All About the Liver, and How to Support Your Favorite Detoxification Organ appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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Today we’re sharing a post by guest authors Robb Wolf, New York Times Best Selling Author and one of the early advocates of the paleo lifestyle, and Diana Rodgers, RD, Real Food Dietitian and Sustainability Advocate. Robb and Diana co-authored Sacred Cow, an eye-opening book about meat, health, and sustainability, out this month.
The ancestral health community generally accepts the right type of meat as a health food. In fact, eating animals is the number one guiding principle of the Primal lifestyle. Still, some groups advise against meat consumption.
Two of the main arguments that you should give up meat are:
- It’s healthier to eat vegan
- You reduce your impact on the planet if you’re vegan
If your primary meat source comes predominantly from a drive-thru, then yes, these arguments probably hold true. But there’s a world of difference between mass-produced meat from large agricultural operations, and pasture-raised meat from small-scale farms. The animals’ diet and living conditions have a profound effect on what the meat does for your body and for (or against) the planet.
Here are the main reasons why eating meat the right way can benefit your health, as well as the planet’s carbon load.
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Meat Is a Great Source of Protein
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient – it simply fills you up better than fat or carbs. It’s also the building block of our bodies and immune systems. Meat is a low calorie way to get the most bioavailable source of protein for humans. It contains all of the amino acids we need to grow and thrive. Unless you are eating a LOT of vegan protein powders, a “plant-based” diet sourced from industrial agriculture is a sure way to ensure you are always hungry and will consume a lot more energy to get the nutrients you need, including protein. Read more here.
Red Meat Is Nutrient Dense
Meat is not just high in protein. It is also a source of many nutrients that are simply not available in plants. Meat provides B12, highly absorbable heme iron, preformed vitamins, all the essential amino acids, zinc, EPA, DHA, vitamin D, and vitamin K2, none of which are found in plant foods. Plants provide important antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber. We need this variety of nutrients to survive. Compared to rice and beans or other plant proteins, red meat contains more vitamins and minerals per gram of protein. In order to get 30g of protein, you could eat about 200 calories of beef or about 700 calories of beans and rice.
Meat Provides Critical Nutrients That Aren’t Available in Other Foods
Vitamin B12 is not found in plant foods and is essential for neural development. Other vitamins and minerals that are found in both meat and plants are usually in their most absorbable form when eating from animals. This includes iron, zinc, vitamin A, calcium and essential fatty acids. Even though chicken and beef are both quality sources of protein, beef simply blows chicken away in the nutrient department. It has significantly more B12, zinc, choline, iron, and potassium. Meat contains heme iron, the most absorbable type of iron. Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common mineral deficiency in the United States. In terms of micronutrients, chicken only has more B3 than beef. Recommendations that ask people to reduce beef intake and replace it with chicken or vegetables are essentially asking them to reduce the nutrient quality of their diets. Read more here.
Without Grazing Animals, Some Ecosystems Fall Out of Balance
Well-managed grazing systems mimic the way that herds of bison used to migrate through the plains, biting and trampling pasture while depositing manure, before moving to the next spot and allowing the previously grazed area to rest. If plants are not controlled, then a few varieties typically takeover and shade out other plants. To test this theory, stop mowing your front yard for six months and see what happens. Without regular harvesting – whether through grazing or mowing – ecosystems can become dormant. Grazing animals help stimulate the constant regeneration and growth of pastures and grasslands. This provides better living conditions for wildlife, encourages plant root growth, and improves soil health.
Well-managed ruminants can also help eliminate the need to use chemicals to maintain weeds and other undesirable plants. Controlled grazing encourages cattle to eat types of forage that they may not otherwise select while adding sheep and goats can specifically target weeds and invasive species of plants. The use of chemical inputs like pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides has also taken its toll. Pesticide usage has led to pollinator decline while fertilizer runoff has created a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico the size of Connecticut, as a few examples.
Good Grazing Management Can Improve Soil Health and Sequester Carbon
In a well-managed grazing system, the rest period after grazing has another important function. The more leaf surface area that a plant has, the quicker it will be able to regrow after a grazing period. By ensuring that the cattle only take the top half of a pasture, producers can ensure that those plants will rebound during the rest period. As plants photosynthesize sunlight, they expand their root systems. Healthy root systems help those plants transmit nutrients into the soil to feed microbial life. The more abundant a root system is, the healthier the soil will be, and the more carbon will be sequestered.
Grazing Animals Can Thrive on Land That Cannot Be Cropped
Removing livestock doesn’t mean that we will free up more land for crop production. More than 60% of agricultural land globally is pasture and rangeland that is too rocky, steep, and/or arid to support cultivated agriculture. Yet this land supports cattle production and nutrient upcycling. Sheep and goats are also well-equipped to thrive in harsh conditions and on challenging types of terrain. By raising well-managed ruminants in these areas, we are able to improve the ecosystems, create better wildlife habitat, and build soil health while also generating a nutrient dense source of protein and other nutrients. Burger King, Cargill and World Wildlife Fund recently announced a new project to reseed 8,000 acres of marginal cropland throughout Montana and South Dakota to ecologically diverse grasslands with beef cattle as the primary grazers to maintain the new ecosystem.
Cattle Upcycle Agricultural Byproducts and Other Materials We Can’t Eat Into Nutritious Meat
Only 13% of global animal feed (including feed for chickens, pigs, and cattle) consists of grain crops, according to United Nations FAO research, and only 32% of overall global grain production in 2010 was used to feed livestock. A staggering 86% of global livestock feed consists of materials that we cannot digest as humans, like crop residues including stover and sugarcane tops. Pigs and chickens are also monogastrics (like humans) and cannot digest these products either. However, ruminant animals like cattle, sheep, and goats can safely consume these materials and turn them into nutrient-dense protein for humans. When looking at what only ruminants eat, the numbers are even lower for grain, at only 10% of the diet for cattle, globally. Grass and leaves makes up 57.4% of global ruminant feed ration. The rest is inedible by humans, like “crop residue” such as corn stalks.
Buying Direct From Local Farmers Boosts Farmer Income and Food Security
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted many of the weaknesses of our current heavily-consolidated and industrialized meat industry. Choosing meat from local farmers helps to create a new supply chain that pays farmers what they actually deserve for the hard, never-ending work of raising livestock. It can also reduce the number of miles that your food has traveled while in some cases offering high standards of welfare for the livestock. Supporting small farmers also supports the preservation of open space in or near your community while keeping money close to home. Investing your food dollars close to home helps build a more resilient local food system that can withstand crises like the current pandemic.
Grazing Animals Produce So Much More Than Meat
Many people view livestock production as providing one simple output: meat. But when you add up the many products that source ingredients from cattle alone including tallow for beauty products, cartilage for osteoarthritis medications, and gelatin for foods as a few examples, it paints a much different picture of a cow’s contribution to our society.
In most cases, synthetic leather is made from two plastic-based substances polyurethane (PU) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The process involves bonding a plastic coating to a fabric backing to create the look and feel of genuine leather. PVC has been identified by numerous organizations as one of the most environmentally damaging types of plastic. Many vegan leather makers also rely on plasticisers like phthalates to make the material flexible. Unfortunately, the wool industry has seen a similar turn of events. Competition from synthetic fibers has led to a reduction in the price for wool leaving many sheep producers in the lurch particularly in New Zealand and Australia.
Livestock Are a Critical Resource for Women and Children in Developing Nations
When people in a position of privilege talk about reducing global meat consumption, they overlook the negative impact that it would have on women and children in developing nations who rely on these animals for economic stability, food security, and vital nutrition. Two of the leading nutrient deficiencies worldwide are Iron and Vitamin B12. Animal products deliver these in the best form. Meat is a critical component of a child’s diet, particularly in developing nations where improved health and cognitive function is a key step to fostering a healthier, more successful nation.
According to ILRI, two-thirds of the world’s 600 million low-income livestock producers are rural women who are responsible for the day-to-day animal management, including processing, marketing, and selling animal products. The organization has found that when women control income, 90% is invested back into their household compared to only 30% to 40% when income is controlled by men. Enabling women to derive economic independence through livestock will directly improve the health, education, and food security of their households. Read more here.
To learn more about these topics and more, pick up the book Sacred Cow: The Case for Better Meat, by Diana Rodgers and Robb Wolf. They also have a companion film coming out this fall. Keep up to date at www.sacredcow.info.
The post 10 Reasons Why Eating Beef is Good for You and the Planet appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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Protein is an incredible essential macronutrient. Fat is plentiful, even when you’re lean, and there are only two absolutely essential fatty acids; the rest we can manufacture from other precursors if required. Carbs we can produce from protein, if we really must, or we can just switch over to ketones and fats for the bulk of the energy that would otherwise come from carbs. Protein cannot be made with the raw material available in our bodies. We have to eat foods containing the range of amino acids that we need.
In other words, protein is incredibly important—which is why today I’m writing a definitive guide on the subject. After today’s post, you’ll have a good handle on the role protein plays in the body, how much protein you need to be eating, which foods are highest in protein, and much more.
First, what roles does protein play in our bodies?
It helps us build muscle.
We use it to construct new cells, muscles, organs, and other tissues.
It’s a chemical messenger, allowing us to turn on and turn off genes.
It forms the fundamental substrates used to manufacture enzymes, DNA, and hormones.
It can even be a fuel source, either directly or through conversion into glucose.
Now, am I saying that the steak you eat directly becomes a thyroid hormone? Does chicken breast turn into DNA?
No. But the strings of amino acids and peptides that make up proteins are eventually broken down and cobbled back together to fulfill all the roles I describe. Every bite of protein you consume contributes toward maintenance of your physiology. And we can’t make new protein. We have to eat it.
What’s the Recommended Daily Protein Intake?
If you go by the official numbers, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDI) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, or 0.36 g protein/lb. That’s what the “experts” say to eat. That’s all you “need.” I disagree, and I’ll tell you why down below, but there’s the official answer.
Sufficient is one thing. Optimal is another. In reality, the amount of protein required for optimal health and performance is different for every population.
Protein Intake for Athletes and Exercisers
Athletes need more protein than the average person, but perhaps not as much as most fitness enthusiasts think (or consume). A 2011 paper on optimal protein intakes for athletes concluded that 1.8 g protein/kg bodyweight (or 0.8 g protein/lb bodyweight) maximizes muscle protein synthesis (while higher amounts are good for dieting athletes interested in preserving lean mass), whereas another settled on “a diet with 12-15% of its energy as protein,” assuming “total energy intake is sufficient to cover the high expenditures caused by daily training” (which could be quite high).https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1763249‘>2 One study even found benefit in 2-3 g protein/kg bodyweight (0.9-1.4 g protein/lb bodyweight) for athletes, a significant increase over standard recommendations.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17299116‘>4 Another study in women showed that a 1.6 g protein/kg bodyweight (or 0.7 g protein/lb bodyweight) diet led to more weight loss, more fat loss, and less lean mass loss than a 0.8 g protein/kg bodyweight diet.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23097268‘>6
Protein Intake When Injured
Healing wounds increases protein requirements. After all, you’re literally rebuilding lost or damaged tissue, the very definition of an anabolic state, and you need protein to build new tissue. One review recommends around 1.5 g protein/kg bodyweight or close to 0.7 g protein/lb bodyweight for injured patients.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16886097‘>8 That said, active seniors will do better with even more and evidence suggests that increasing protein can both improve physical performance without necessarily increasing muscle mass and increase muscle mass when paired with extended resistance training in the elderly.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22889730‘>10https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18175736‘>12
High Protein Benefits
Beyond supporting the basic underpinnings of human physiology, eating more protein than the RDI offers extra benefits.
As a fundamental biological motivator, hunger can’t be ignored forever. Eventually you crack, and the diet fails. Eventually, you’re going to eat. Where extra protein helps is adding satiety. Successful fat loss comes down to managing your hunger; protein helps you manage it without relying on sheer willpower.
Protein For Muscle Gain and Muscle Retention
To increase muscle protein synthesis, you need two primary inputs: resistance training and protein intake. You can lift all the weights in the world, but if you’re not eating enough protein, you won’t gain any muscle. You can’t make extra, it has to come from outside sources.
And then during active weight loss, upping your protein intake will minimize the loss of muscle that usually accompanies fat loss. In women, for example, cutting calories while keeping protein higher than normal led to better lean mass retention than cutting the same number of calories and keeping protein low.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24015701‘>14
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It’s Giving Tuesday, and while I know the world is full of good causes, today I’m highlighting one close to my heart. It’s one I’ve contributed to significantly because it matters on so many levels.
I’ve spent nearly 14 years working against the tide of misinformation out there around human health and agricultural agenda. Diana Rodgers has worked tirelessly and creatively for the same purpose. She’s just launched a crowdfunding campaign to finish what I think will be one of the most groundbreaking, revolutionary documentary films ever—one that has the power to turn the public conversation around health and ecology. But she needs support to finish and distribute this film, and that’s why I’m sharing her campaign today.
Read more and watch her video to see for yourself.
Diana’s film, Sacred Cow: The Case For Better Meat, details the movement toward the greatest revolution in agriculture—a regenerative food system that supports the human need for a nutrient dense diet and the ecologically sound farming methods that mirror and contribute to the natural health of the land itself.
Diana is a licensed, registered dietitian who’s spent the last 17 years living on a working organic vegetable and pasture-based meat farm, and all of her experience and study comes to bear in the film she’s created—a critical message that challenges the prevailing and destructive food system that undermines our individual health, our economic viability, and our environmental sustainability…and champions the intersection of nutrient dense food and regenerative food production for the good of human health and the good of the planet.
Below is Diana’s note. Watch the video. Read more on her site. Share her work and her crowdfunding campaign—and, if you can, contribute. Let me know what thoughts her work inspires for you. Thanks for reading today, everyone.
It’s official: I’ve just launched the crowdfunding campaign and I could really use your help!
As you know, I’ve been working super hard for the last three years on this project, without much of a break. It’s been a struggle at times, but it’s finally coming together – all because of you. Without you, this never would have happened! Thank you.
Please get in there and check out the new video with footage from the film, read about the film’s progress, pre-order my book, get a shirt, or pick up some meat!
Research shows that campaigns that have early funding are the most successful, so if you’re planning on giving, I could really use your help today!
It would be incredible if everyone on this list would share with your friends and family. Let’s make this go viral!
All of the funds raised will go towards marketing the film so as many people as possible can access it easily. Click here to donate now.
Thank you so much for your support!
P.S. If you were forwarded this email, please sign up here, so you can be the first to know of any updates (or fun campaign surprises!). I’d love to have you in this community!
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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering one question from a reader. It’s all about synthetic peptides, small chains of amino acids with potentially huge effects on your health and physiological function. In most cases, these synthetic peptides are based on naturally-occurring compounds found in the human body. Scientists isolate the “active component” of the compound and whip it up in a lab by stringing together the right amino acids. Many of these peptides are available for purchase online, strictly “for research purposes.” But people are using them.
Are these safe for humans? Are they effective?
Mark, I would love if you did a write-up on BPC-157 and LL-37 with regards to gut health. I’m surprised with all your articles on collagen peptides you haven’t written once about “synthetic” peptides. Thanks!
Let Me Cover PBC-157 First….
BPC-157 is a partial reconstruction of a string of 15 amino acids that’s already found in Body Protection Compound, a naturally occurring healing compound the body produces. Its creators took the natural BPC and figured out the most “biologically active” section of its amino acid chain, then synthesized that section alone. You can find the real thing in human stomach juice (and presumably throughout the body doing its job). You can buy the synthetic version online.
What Does BPC-157 Allegedly Do?
It enhances healing and recovery from injury. In one study, BPC-157-treated Achilles’ tendon tissues were more resistant to injury, spread more quickly on a petri dish, and recovered faster than untreated tendon tissues.
In another rat study, their cecums—the beginning of the large intestine—were perforated. Applying BPC-157 enhanced healing, stopped bleeding, and sped up recovery.
It counteracts NSAID toxicity. BPC-157 blocks aspirin-induced bleeding and improves healing of NSAID-mediated lesions in the gut, brain, and liver.
Another rat study even used BPC-157 to improve healing from a spinal cord injury. BPC rats regained functional autonomy, had better control over their tails, and were less spastic.
It can treat periodontal disease, reversing inflammation and reducing bone loss.
It can treat colitis, reducing gut inflammation and restoring mucosal integrity.
Briefly looking through all the anecdotes online, most people are using this peptide to heal joint or tissue injuries, which seems to be the best use. Ben Greenfield swears it healed his tennis elbow and hamstring damage. I even saw one person who used it to improve brain health and function after years of stimulant abuse. Some research does show that BPC-157 can restore dopaminergic function in the brain. Some are even reporting restored sensitivity to stimulants (although using a healing peptide just to restore your ability to get high off Adderall again seems counterproductive).
What Are the Downsides?
It must be subcutaneously injected for maximal efficacy. This isn’t as hard as it looks (millions of diabetics do it every day) but some people are really nervous around needles. Orally-active BPC-157 is available, but I’m not sure how it compares.
There is the small problem of the total lack of published human studies. If there are any, I didn’t see them. The animal studies are impressive, though, and the fact that the peptide chain does naturally occur in our bodies suggests it’s relatively safe, but we don’t know for sure.
A big problem is that you can’t verify the purity of the products available online. You have to read reviews, know the right people, and do the research. These aren’t legally intended for human consumption, so there’s no testing authority regulating the safety and content of these products.
Now For LL-37….
LL-37 is an anti-microbial peptide found naturally in people. It’s heavily involved in the immune response, and its role in health isn’t very clear. It isn’t consistently “good” or “bad.” For instance, its presence can suppress tumor growth in colon and gastric cancer, but it’s been shown to promote tumor growth in ovarian, lung, and breast cancers. But it’s also able to bind to and negate the effects of lipopolysaccharide, the bacterial endotoxin secreted by many gut pathogens, and selectively target apoptotic white blood cells while leaving viable ones unaffected.
Why Are People Using It?
There are online forums populated by people who are using this peptide to heal gut issues, deal with inflammatory diseases, and treat autoimmunity—or, they’re at least buying the peptide, injecting it, and hoping that it works and not always following up with the results. I’m skeptical about using these as justification to experiment. As one recent paper put it, LL-37 is a tiny peptide with huge effects:
Some of the functions of LL-37 are anti-inflammatory, particularly those involved in blocking Gram-negative signaling pathways through TLR4. However, in the context of the inflammatory response, this peptide may also provide proinflammatory signals that can propagate inflammation, stimulate type I IFN production, and result in induction of autoimmune diseases. Further research is needed to fully understand the big effects of this little peptide on immune system function so that potential therapeutic uses can be explored.
Sticking Points With LL-37
Much of this could be a guilt by association situation: LL-37 is often found elevated at disease sites and in diseases states because it’s part of the inflammatory response. It isn’t necessarily causing the disease. But the immune response is a delicate one with huge ramifications. I’d be very careful with injecting a peptide that the body normally produces in times of acute inflammation. That sounds a lot like trying to attempt top-down regulation of innate immunity—a decidedly bottoms-up process. Probably better to wait for human trials rather than rely on positive anecdotes from unsourced forum posts. I’m not saying these people aren’t helping themselves with this compound. I’m saying the risk of complications or unwanted effects would be too high for me.
That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading and be sure to comment down below. Do you have any experience using these synthetic peptides? How about any others?
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Older people (and those headed in that direction, which is everyone else) are really sold a bill of goods when it comes to health and longevity advice. I’m not a young man anymore, and for decades I’ve been hearing all sorts of input about aging that’s proving to be not just misguided, but downright incorrect. Blatant myths about healthy longevity continue to circulate and misinform millions. Older adults at this very moment are enacting routines detrimental to living long that they think are achieving the opposite. A major impetus for creating the Primal Blueprint was to counter these longevity myths. That mission has never felt more personal.
So today, I’m going to explore and refute a few of these top myths, some of which contain kernels of truth that have been overblown and exaggerated. I’ll explain why.
1) “Don’t Lift Heavy: You’ll Throw Out Your Back”
Obviously, a frail grandfather pushing 100 shouldn’t do Starting Strength right off the bat (or maybe ever, depending on how frail he is). That’s not my contention here. My contention:
Lifting as heavy as you can as safely as you can is essential for healthy longevity. That’s why I put it first in the list today. It’s that important.
For one, lean muscle mass is one of the strongest predictors of resistance to mortality. The more muscle a person has (and the stronger they are), the longer they’ll live—all else being equal. That’s true in both men and women.
One reason is that the stronger you are, the more capable you are. You’re better at taking care of yourself, standing up from chairs, ascending stairs, and maintaining basic functionality as you age.
Another reason is that increased lean mass means greater tissue reserve—you have more organ and muscle to lose as you age, so that when aging-related muscle loss sets in, you have longer to go before it gets serious. And that’s not even a guarantee that you’ll lose any. As long as you’re still lifting heavy things, you probably won’t lose much muscle, if any. Remember: the average old person studied in these papers isn’t doing any kind of strength training at all.
It doesn’t have to be barbells and Olympic lifts and CrossFit. It can be machines (see Body By Science, for example) and bodyweight and hikes. What matters is that you lift intensely (and intense is relative) and safely, with good technique and control.
2) “Avoid Animal Protein To Lower IGF-1”
Animal protein has all sorts of evil stuff, they say.
Methionine—linked to reduced longevity in animal models.
Increased IGF-1—a growth promoter that might promote unwanted growth, like cancer.
Yet, a huge study showed that in older people, those 65 or older, increased animal protein intake actually protected against mortality. The older they were and the more protein they ate, the longer they lived.
Meanwhile, low-protein diets have been shown to have all sorts of effects that spell danger for older people hoping to live long and live well:
- Slow the metabolism, increase insulin resistance, and cause body fat gain.
- Impair the immune system and make infections more severe.
- Reduce muscle function, cellular mass (yes, the actual mass of the cell itself), and immune response in elderly women.
- Impair nitrogen balance in athletes.
- Increase the risk of osteoporosis.
- Increase the risk of sarcopenia (muscle wasting).
And about that “excess methionine” and “increased IGF-1”?
In both human and animal studies, there’s a U-shaped relationship between IGF-1 levels and lifespan. Animal studies show an inverse relationship between IGF-1 and diabetes, heart disease, and heart disease deaths (higher IGF-1, less diabetes/heart disease) and a positive association between IGF-1 and cancer (higher IGF-1, more cancer). A recent review of the animal and human evidence found that while a couple human studies show an inverse relationship between IGF-1 and longevity, several more show a positive relationship—higher IGF-1, longer lifespan—and the majority show no clear relationship at all.
3) “You’re Never Getting Back That Cartilage—Once It’s Gone, It’s Gone”
Almost every doctor says this. It’s become an axiom in the world of orthopedics.
But then we see this study showing that people have the same microRNAs that control tissue and limb regeneration in lizards and amphibians. They’re most strongly expressed in the ankle joints, less so in the knees, and even less so at the hip—but they’re there, and they’re active.
I’ve seen some impressive things, have been able to personally verify some stunning “anecdotes” from friends and colleagues who were able to regrow cartilage or at least regain all their joint function after major damage to it. Most doctors and studies never capture these people. If you look at the average older person showing up with worn-down joints and degraded or damaged cartilage, how active are they? What’s their diet?
They are mostly inactive. They are often obese or overweight.
They generally aren’t making bone broth and drinking collagen powder. They aren’t avoiding grains and exposing their nether regions to daily sun. They aren’t doing 200 knee circles a day, performing single leg deadlifts, and hiking up mountains. These are the things that, if anything can, will retain and regrow cartilage. Activity. Letting your body know that you still have need of your ankles, knees, and hips. That you’re still an engaged, active human interacting with the physical world.
4) “Retire Early”
This isn’t always bad advice, but retiring and then ceasing all engagement with the outside world will reduce longevity, not increase it. Having a life purpose is essential for living long and living well; not having one is actually an established risk factor for early mortality. And at least when you’re getting up in the morning to go to work, you have a built-in purpose. That purpose may not fulfill your heart and spirit, but it’s a purpose just the same: a reason to get up and keep moving.
Retiring can work. Don’t get me wrong. But the people who retire early and make it work for their health and longevity are staying active. They’re pursuing side projects or even big visions. They have hobbies, friends, and loved ones who they hang out with all the time.
The ones who don’t? Well, they are at at increased risk of dying early.
You don’t have to keep working a job you hate, or even a job you enjoy. You can retire. Just maintain your mission.
5) “Take It Easy As You Get Older”
As older people, we’re told that sex might be “too strenuous for the heart” (Truth: It’s good for it). We’re told to “take the elevator to save our knees.” They tell us “Oh, don’t get up, I’ll get it for you.”
They don’t tell me that because, well, I’m already up and doing the thing. I’m active and obviously so. I don’t take it easy.
Stay vigorous, friends. Stay vivacious. Don’t be foolhardy, mind you. Be engaged.
“Take it easy” quickly becomes “sit in the easy chair all day long watching the news.” Don’t let it happen.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t rest. Rest is everything. Sleep is important. But you must earn your rest, and when you have the energy, take advantage of it. Don’t rest on your laurels.
As you can see, there are tiny kernels of truth in many of these myths. We should all be careful lifting heavy things and pay close attention to technique and form. Everyone should care for their cartilage and avoid damage to it. No one should continue working a job that sucks their soul and depletes their will to live if they can move on from it. And so on.
What we all need to avoid is sending the message to our brain, body, and cells that we’re done. That we’ve given up and our active, engaged life is effectively over. Because when that happens, it truly is over.
Someone asked me when aging begins. How old is “old”?
I think I know now. Aging begins when you start listening to conventional longevity advice. As I said on Twitter earlier today, healthy aging begins when you do the opposite.
Want more on building a life that will allow you to live well into later decades? I definitely have more on that coming up. A perceptive reader shared the news in one of the Facebook groups already, so let me mention it here. My new book, Keto For Life: Reset Your Biological Clock In 21 Days and Optimize Your Diet For Longevity, is coming out December 31, 2019. I’ll have more info, including a special bonus package for those who preorder, in just a few weeks. In the meantime, you can read more about it here on our publisher’s page.
That’s it for today, friends. Chime in down below about longevity or any other health topics you’re thinking about these days. What are the most egregious aging myths you’ve heard? What do you do instead? Take care.
Karlsen T, Nauman J, Dalen H, Langhammer A, Wisløff U. The Combined Association of Skeletal Muscle Strength and Physical Activity on Mortality in Older Women: The HUNT2 Study. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017;92(5):710-718.
Malta A, De oliveira JC, Ribeiro TA, et al. Low-protein diet in adult male rats has long-term effects on metabolism. J Endocrinol. 2014;221(2):285-95.
Carrillo E, Jimenez MA, Sanchez C, et al. Protein malnutrition impairs the immune response and influences the severity of infection in a hamster model of chronic visceral leishmaniasis. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(2):e89412.
Castaneda C, Charnley JM, Evans WJ, Crim MC. Elderly women accommodate to a low-protein diet with losses of body cell mass, muscle function, and immune response. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;62(1):30-9.
Gaine PC, Pikosky MA, Martin WF, Bolster DR, Maresh CM, Rodriguez NR. Level of dietary protein impacts whole body protein turnover in trained males at rest. Metab Clin Exp. 2006;55(4):501-7.
Wu C, Odden MC, Fisher GG, Stawski RS. Association of retirement age with mortality: a population-based longitudinal study among older adults in the USA. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2016;70(9):917-23.
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For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering six questions from some of my Twitter followers. Yesterday, I asked the community for questions and got some great ones in return. For instance, how much oily fish should one eat each week? And how does diet and nutrition influence posture and coordination? Third, how should a low-carb diet affect acid reflux? Fourth, is there a good replacement for whey protein? Fifth, does milk with your coffee break a fast? And sixth, how does one stop viewing and using food as an indulgence? I’ll get to the rest next time.
I’m wondering, should the average person limit oily fish per week? Kresser says eat up to a pound. Masterjohn says fish PUFA should be no more than 4-8 ounces per week.
I’ll defer to the Chrises on matters concerning biochemistry, but here’s how I look at fish consumption:
It’s very self-regulating. I’ll go on wild salmon benders where I’m eating it every single day for a week or two, then none for awhile. Back in Malibu, I used to have my fish guy save King salmon heads for me, which I would then roast—the things were huge, fatty, and extremely filling. Between the brains, the cheeks, the collars, and all the skin, I reckon a King salmon head had about 20-30 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Maybe more. Every time I ate one of those I didn’t feel like even looking at fish (or fish oil) for a week or so.
Ancestral background matters here. Your average Inuit is going to have a very high tolerance of (and likely requirement for) dietary long-chained omega-3 fatty acids because that’s the environment his or her ancestors inhabited. As someone of Northern European ancestry, I have a higher baseline tolerance for and requirement of long chained omega-3s; my ancestral food environment was very high in cold fatty fish. Someone with South Asian background is going to be better at converting shorter-chained omega-3s (ALA) into the long chained ones, so they don’t need to eat as much marine fat as a guy like me.
What is the influence of diet and nutrition on posture and coordination?
First and foremost, the micronutrients and macronutrients in the food we eat help program and provide substrate for the hormones, neurotransmitters, proteins, and energy used to coordinate movements and maintain posture. Every physiological process has a physical corollary; a good diet full of vital vitamins and minerals and absent toxic foods is a diet that supports good posture, energy generation, and movement.
One specific example is thiamine, a B-vitamin. Extreme thiamine deficiency is a disease called beri-beri, characterized by nerve tremors, difficulty moving, and extreme fatigue (among other serious symptoms). Almost no one in developed nations gets beri-beri anymore, but low level thiamine deficiency is common enough and can most likely result in deficient neuromuscular coordination.
I know that a diet deficient in collagenous materials (collagen powder, connective tissue, bone broth, skin) will worsen the health and resilience of your bones, tendons, ligaments, and fascia—the connective tissues that support and enable your mobility.
And finally, a diet that results in low energy levels, unwanted weight gain, and bad aesthetics will worsen your mental health and leave you down in the dumps—itself an independent predictor of poor posture.
But this is a difficult question to answer with specific references to individual nutrients or foods because no one I’m aware of is running studies on the connection between diet and posture. Just know that “it matters.”
Perhaps I’ll revisit this in greater depth.
What is a low-carbber to do if he deals with acid reflux? I’m told that a high fat diet aggravates symptoms… and it has for me. Is there any way I can stick to a healthy diet without having to resort to a “conventional wisdom” reflux plan?
That’s pretty strange. Normally, low-carb diets are great for acid reflux. There’s actually a lot of evidence showing that low-carb is the best diet for the condition, even a “cure.”
However, there’s also evidence that high caloric density within meals (in other words, huge meals) can worsen GERD severity and high fat intakes can increase the frequency of acid reflux episodes.
How do we square this evidence away?
In one study, the very low carb (under 20 grams a day) anti-GERD diet that treated obese individuals allowed unlimited meat and eggs with limited portions of hard cheeses and low-carb vegetables. That’s a standard Primal diet, but it doesn’t say anything about the fat content of the diet. If you’re eating ribeyes, that could be a pretty high-fat diet. If you’re eating sirloin, that could be a very high-protein and moderate-fat diet.
I’d stay low carb, but try eating more protein and not overeating. Avoid huge meals; don’t drink melted butter.
I’m allergic to whey protein. What can I use instead?
Does coffee with milk impact fasting effects on keto?
It depends on how much milk you’re using.
Milk itself is rather insulinogenic, owing to its lactose and protein content. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, but anything more than a few tablespoons will effectively “break the fast.” I’d opt for heavy cream over milk. It tastes better in coffee, provokes a much lower insulin response, is mostly just fat, and thus allows the fat-burning metabolism of fasting to continue relatively unabated.
Hello Mark! Thank you for everything! – Question – what can be done to change how food is viewed? As life – not as a indulgent part of our lives?
That’s a good one.
You have to LIVE. You have to stop mulling over the thoughts swirling through your head. You have to go outside and do the things you’ve been considering doing.
I know people who have all the knowledge they’d ever need to know (and some they wouldn’t) about health and human happiness and nutrition and productivity and business, yet they act on very little of it. Instead of taking the lessons to heart and living out the conclusions of the latest study, they just move on to the next bit of research.
Food, like any substance or activity that triggers the reward systems of our brains, can fill a void in a destructive way. Fill that void with meaning, with love, with purpose and direction. The food will still taste good (or even better), but it won’t become an end in itself.
That’s it for today, everyone. Take care. Be well. And write in down below with any further questions or comments!
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Fact: I (Jenn) am not a pregnant vegan. But we know that we have pregnant readers who are (or who like to eat vegan meals regularly), which is exactly why we’re sharing this excerpt from the book Your Complete Vegan Pregnancy. The book shows vegan moms-to-be everything they need to know regarding keeping themselves and their babies strong and healthy through all three trimesters. Read on for how much protein to eat and the best vegan sources to get it when pregnant. Really great info if you are vegan — or just looking to eat more plant-based! How Much Protein…
The post Vegan and Pregnant: How Much Protein You Need & How to Get It appeared first on Fit Bottomed Girls.
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