Monday, July 17, 2017

My Energy is Back, My Brain Isn’t Foggy, and All of My Health Markers Have Improved.

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

From the time I was fourteen, I remember being fascinated by the impact food seems to have on a person’s health. I think it started when my best friend and I were watching a news program while we waited for our favorite show to start, and we heard the newest research suggesting that we should limit certain foods in our diet. My friend and I wondered if we could live without pepperoni pizza, and it became a challenge. I often find myself wondering if she ever began eating red meat again.

As I went through the early years of college, I followed the low-fat/high-carb life of the time, and I exercised aerobically. I cannot fathom how much cereal l consumed. In spite of really trying to apply the prevailing health advice, I had gained the dreaded freshman fifteen then expanded from there as the years passed.

I vividly remember the day, toward the completion of my undergraduate degree, that my mother told me she had been diagnosed with cancer. We were all afraid. Her prognosis was very positive, but nothing had prepared me for facing this kind of reality, or to help her face that reality. I dove into research for alternative medicine, and again found myself drawn to nutrition. I wasn’t an athlete, but I was active, and I knew movement needed to be a part of my lifestyle. I’ve always believed one must lead by example, so I made changes, started taking supplements and really committed to become as healthy as I possibly could.

My mother’s cancer went into remission, and I finished my undergraduate degree, began teaching tai chi and Kung fu, and worked two other jobs. I went to graduate school and ultimately became a school psychologist. As I navigated the politics of teaching, two jobs and eventually graduate school, feeding myself well became more and more important. I was strong, I was doing everything right, and I felt helpless to change my health.

beforeI finished my internship in the Alaskan bush, moved to Oregon, got my first real job, and got married all in the same year. My mother’s cancer returned the following year but her outcome, this time, threw me into a new chapter of my life. One which required that I forge ahead without her.

I began gaining weight, again, but this time when I attempted to take the weight off, low-carbohydrate diets had become big news. I switched to whole grains. I started eating meat again. In fact, I ate lots of protein and religiously counted every single carb. Finally, I experienced success.

I maintained my healthy weight for the better part of the next decade before something mysteriously began to change. I started gaining weight, and lots of it, but my diet hadn’t changed. Everything was suspected and thoroughly tested, and while some symptoms were eased, answers were never really found.

About a year and a half ago, I met Audrey when I hired her as a personal trainer at the local fitness club. She’s a twenty-something, and I’m not, but in spite of an age difference, I respected that she could tailor my workouts to how I was feeling that day. I couldn’t predict when I would be exhausted, or congested… or exactly the opposite of that and could knock out a really great workout. Hard as I worked, and as carefully as I ate, I found that once again, I couldn’t lose the weight.

After some routine tests, my doctor required that I begin to check my blood sugars, as I had become pre-diabetic… and she told me to stop eating grain. I was surprised and began researching why I had been given this advice. I started to notice that my glucose tested the highest levels after eating wheat. I’m a bit more tenacious than many, and during an appointment with an allergist, we decided to test for Celiac Disease. The doctor resisted at first, but eventually marked the boxes on the form. Two weeks later, to the surprise of both of us, I had a diagnosis of Celiac Disease.

Game on!

Some people make changes in increments. Others make big changes quickly once the information is there, and I am definitely one of them. My kitchen was gluten and grain free within days. My desire for more information has been matched only by my desire to feel better… and I do. Somewhere along the way, I read The Primal Blueprint. In the land of Primal/paleo, the Blueprint presented an approach that seemed to fit into my life very naturally. I began losing weight. In the past year, I’ve lost all of the thirty pounds I had gained. More importantly, my energy is back. My brain isn’t foggy. I sleep more soundly and feel rested most mornings. I am no longer pre-diabetic, and all of my health markers have improved.

Audrey was amazed at how efficiently I could train once I was fat-adapted, and how much more predictable my energy levels were. So much so that she changed her eating for twenty-one days as an experiment. As an athletic, personal trainer and coach of a college women’s soccer team, she was surprised to lose body fat and by how much more energy she had. She was sold.

AfterThe more my body changed the more I wanted to learn, and so I enrolled in the Primal Health Coaching Certification program. Now that I’m a certified coach, Audrey and I have set out on our own. We work with our clients as a team. Each of us building their confidence in their abilities to meet their goals and make life changes. We work toward building a community that focuses on movement, play and enjoying real (Primal) foods. Audrey and I represent a broad range of ages and fitness levels. We have been there. We have done that.

It brings me so much joy to see our clients astonish themselves with what they are capable of doing and how good they are capable of feeling. The beauty of “choosing a lifestyle,” rather than “living with disease” cannot be overstated. After feeling unhealthy for far too long, I feel empowered by the ability to choose health. My goal is to help all of our clients develop this sense of empowerment.

Audrey and I call ourselves GRAX. One of our very first clients saw the silhouette of Grok on some of the Primal Blueprint materials, but she thought that it should be a paleo woman, rather than a man. She named her archetype Grak. There is a sparkle in her eyes, and a playfulness is revealed every time she thinks of herself as becoming the powerful huntress Grak. Audrey and I smile every time we see it. So, we played around with the spelling a bit as we established our name.

We want our clients to define what “optimal health” means to them, and then we stick with them as they create that life. We work through different platforms including virtual or face-to-face and in groups depending on the proximity and needs of our clients. As we continue building our community, we look forward to the opportunity to invite you to a GRAX life, and the best version of you.

Would you like to be coached by Primal Health Coach Andrea Boyer? Email her here to express your interest.


Ready to become one of the world’s most trusted, experienced and knowledgeable health coaches? Get certified as a Primal Health Coach.

Establish clout. Elevate your career. Enrich your knowledge… with the only comprehensive ancestral health certification program in existence.

The post My Energy is Back, My Brain Isn’t Foggy, and All of My Health Markers Have Improved. appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

from Mark's Daily Apple

Clean Eating Cheese

I’d like to take a moment to take a closer look at cheese. Many people are confused by cheese and how it fits into a clean eating meal plan.

While there is processing that goes into making cheese,… Read more →

from The Gracious Pantry

Carrot Chicken Ramen Noodles

Hi, guys! Happy Monday! I hope you had a lovely weekend!

Ok, so this recipe has been on serious REPEAT in our house lately. Holy yum! Introducing: Carrot Chicken Ramen Noodles! Yep, that’s right. This recipe is a healthy twist on traditional packaged Ramen noodles that we all know and love. I don’t know about you, but the chicken flavor was, for sure, a childhood favorite. But, of course, this recipe is a much healthier version and made with carrot noodles and much less scary seasoning ingredients.


And, bonus, this recipe is super EASY to make. It only requires two main ingredients (carrot noodles and chicken breast) + a homemade seasoning. It couldn’t be more simple to make and, my goodness, it’s delicious! Be sure to add it to your must-make recipe list! 🙂



  • 12 ounces carrot noodles (I used a package of frozen carrot spirals from Trader Joe’s)
  • 4 ounces cooked chicken breast (I used leftover crockpot shredded chicken)
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 heaping teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon (or 3 chicken bouillon cubes, crushed into powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions: Cook carrot noodles as directed. Once finished cooking, add seasoning and chicken. Combine well. Serve!

SAM_3995 (1280x1280)

Makes 2 servings

The post Carrot Chicken Ramen Noodles appeared first on Carrots 'N' Cake.

from Carrots 'N' Cake

Dear Mark: Low-Fat Beats “High-Fat”; Prunes for Bone Health

Low Fat StampsFor today’s edition of Dear Mark I’m answering a pair of great questions. First, Vaughn asks me about a recent study where ethnic Chinese participants were placed on several different diets, and those on the “low-carb, high-fat” one actually did worse than those on higher carbs and lower fat. Should you give up your low-carb approach? Then, I explore the bone-strengthening effects of prunes and discuss the Simon and Garfunkel diet.

Let’s go:

Hi Mark,

What are your thoughts on this study from China where a low-fat diet beat out a high-fat diet in healhy adults?


Interesting paper. Thanks for the tip.

It sounds damning.

Chinese adults were split into three groups, each receiving different diets. One group ate high-carb, low-fat. One ate moderate carb, moderate fat. One ate high-fat, low-carb. Protein was the same across all three groups.

After six months on their respective diets, the high-carb group had the best metabolic outcomes. They lost the most weight, the most inches off their waists, and saw the biggest improvements to their blood markers. The next best was the moderate carb/fat diet. The worst was the high-fat/low-carb diet.

Oh man, Sisson. You mean to tell me that the LCHF group subjects were eating more fat and had the worst results. That’s that. I’m out. This is all a sham.

Hold on a minute. Something in the study design caught my eye.

By replacing a proportion of energy derived from carbohydrates (white rice and wheat flour, the most consumed carbohydrate sources in China contributing to 70% and 17% total carbohydrate respectively) with fats (soybean oil, the most consumed edible oil in China rich in unsaturated fatty acids), we achieved the required distribution of fats and carbohydrates in the three diet groups, which represented macronutrient transition in the past 30 years in China.

They replaced carbs with pure soybean oil. That’s how they modified the macros—taking a little flour away and pouring an isocaloric glug of soybean oil all over everything. Anyone else feeling nauseated?

As stated, however, this intervention does reflect the dietary trends in China. It also reflects the trends in the standard American diet. Americans (and everyone else the world over) are eating far more soybean oil than ever before. From 1909 to 1999, American consumption of soybean oil rose more than 1000-fold. Yes: Those are three zeros.

But it’s not relevant to most of my readers.

Something else jumped out at me. High-fat and low-carb were actually higher-fat and lower—carb. That’s an important distinction. Relative to the other diets, folks in the third group were eat fewer carbs and more fat. Relative to the Primal eating plan, they weren’t. At 40% fat, 46% carb, they weren’t low-carb or high-fat in an absolute sense.

Forty-six percent carb isn’t low-carb by any stretch of the imagination. The results from this study probably don’t apply to someone eating 20% carbs.

All that said, I find it plausible that ethnic Chinese would have genetic adaptations to a higher carb diet. They tend to produce high levels of salivary amylase—an oral version of the digestive enzyme responsible for digesting starch—which is an indication of ancestral exposure to starch. People who make more salivary amylase have better metabolic responses to starch intake. In the context of higher-carb diets, they’re also less likely to be obese.

Maybe not, though. A 2015 paper found positive relationships between starchy carb consumption and metabolic syndrome prevalence among Chinese adults. Carbs from other sources—fruits and veggies—had no such relationshp to metabolic syndrome.

Confusing stuff, eh? There’s always some new wrinkle to explore.

JTB asked:

Mark, if you do a follow up piece, consider looking into the studies on dried plums, and perhaps also the study on the “Scarborough Fair” diet, which also showed positive bone-health results for the group using a specific set of herbs, fruits and vegetables.

You’ve got it, JTB. Everyone overlooks prunes, and I’m a big Simon and Garfunkel fan. I accept your proposal.

What’s the deal with prunes? Most people only think of them as tools to fight constipation. And, boy, do they. Prunes work so well that prune juice has become a joke. C’mon, what’s the first thing you thought of after reading the word “prunes”? Exactly.

Prunes are great for the gut, but they don’t just instigate excellent defecation. They actually promote good gut health by increasing the growth of beneficial microbes and inhibiting the growth of pathogenic microbes. They may help prevent colon cancer by acting as a prebiotic.

Animal and cell culture studies do indicate benefits to bone turnover. There are different theories as to why. Prune polyphenols are nice but probably not responsible for the effects on bone health. My guess is it’s the prebiotic effect, given that we know from last week’s post that probiotics can improve bone health.

If these effects hold in humans, and I think they will, prunes are an excellent choice. They don’t even spike blood glucose all that much, despite being dried fruit quite high in carbs. 

Now let’s look at the Scarborough Fair Diet. First, open this in a new tab and turn the volume up.

The Scarborough Fair Diet’s quite interesting. Researchers constructed it from all the fruits, vegetables, and herbs that have been shown in animal studies to improve bone health. Most were extremely high in phytochemicals. This diet was pitted against a diet containing basic fruits, vegetables and herbs. Both diets had the same amount of plant foods.

Where the Scarborough Fair Diet had parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and garlic, the regular diet had mint, basil, and oregano.

The SFD had prunes and oranges; the regular diet had apples and bananas.

The SFD gave bok choy, rocket, red cabbage, and lettuce; the regular diet gave spinach, silver beet, and white cabbage.

The SFD gave broccoli, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, green beans, cucumbers, and leeks. The regular diet gave carrot, pumpkin, courgette, peas, and cauliflower.

Both contained very nutritious foods. I’m a big fan of most of them. But only the SFD improved bone turnover markers and calcium retention in postmenopausal women. That’s a very cool effect, and it suggests that the various nutrition-based bone health interventions in animal studies likely carry over into humans, too.

That’s it for me, everyone. Thanks for the great questions. Be sure to help out with your input down below or throw a few more questions my way. Always happy to help.

Take care!

The post Dear Mark: Low-Fat Beats “High-Fat”; Prunes for Bone Health appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

from Mark's Daily Apple

The Great Camp Out

I can’t remember the last time I spent the night in a tent. I think I was in high school! I know that’s a shocker to those of you who love sleeping under the stars, but I am not much of an outdoorsy girl! I love to be outside during the day and go hiking, swimming and beaching, but when the sun sets, please keep me away from the bugs and night creatures! (Also: bathrooms, please.) However, I wanted to test the waters with Mazen a bit because I think camping could be a really fun family activity for him, so we set up a huge tent in Sarah’s back yard and spent the night listening to cicadas.

Instead of a lake or river, we had a pool #glamping : )

And the only creature in sight was this big guy!

After swimming for a bit we got the kids in their jammies and had a nice dinner outside.

Deviled eggs, shrimp skewers, zucchini, and baked potato wedges.

And bug spray!

We set up the Struckmann’s tent, which is epic in size. I think one reason I haven’t loved camping in the past is my old tent was just a little two-person guy, and I am a bit claustrophobic.

But this tent was grand! (I believe this is the one they have. It was also much easier to set up than my old 1995 tent, despite its size!)

After that, John lit up the bonfire, and we enjoyed s’mores for dessert! Couldn’t do it any other way.

Mazen and Sylvia went to sleep at around 10pm, and we followed a bit later. Just Thomas and I stayed in the tent with the littles.

I fell asleep initially, but only lightly, and both Thomas and I barely slept the whole the night. We had insomnia and tossed and turned from 12-3 until we finally dozed off at around 3:30am, I think. I just couldn’t turn my ears off! There were so many noises, and Gus ended up barking at some point. The kids were up at 6am, so I got about three hours of sleep. Not the best report to my first adult camping night! I hate to use white noise when the cicadas are so beautiful, but next time I need to not be able to hear all the bumps in the night. (I always sleep with a fan on at home for the same reason.) The good news is that Sylvia and Mazen slept all night and had a great time!

Despite the rough night, the morning was beautiful. I loved the fresh air and this view:

Sarah made us breakfast  quiche from Mazen’s Supper Camp, bacon, and waffles with Nutella (a kid treat that the grown-ups jumped onto!)

Tell me all of your camping advice!!!

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from Kath Eats Real Food