*If you are a blogger, we will also talk about why it is such a great opportunity for bloggers too.
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*If you are a blogger, we will also talk about why it is such a great opportunity for bloggers too.
A while back, I developed an interest in the “archetypal postures” of ground-based sitting, squatting, and kneeling. My interest persisted, and I thought a full-on post about the potential benefits and logistics of floor sitting would be fun and helpful.
I’ve found that there aren’t very many studies examining the effects of floor sitting, kneeling, and squatting on health, posture, or pain. You’ve got the “stability ball literature” (long story short: sitting on a stability ball tends to “increase the level of discomfort”), 7but sitting on an inflated unstable sphere is more physiologically novel than a regular chair. I’m not sure there’s much benefit and it looks pretty silly. There’s also a brief study8 that showed sitting in a backless chair improved levels of consciousness in patients with prolonged consciousness disturbance. For the most part, though, it’s a pretty barren landscape of research.
I think that’s okay. I’m not entirely convinced we always need research to confirm what we already (should) implicitly know.
Sometimes hard data isn’t really needed, especially when you consider two unassailable facts about our relationship with the floor. First, individually, we all start out on the floor. As babies, we lie there, essentially kicking things off as eating, pooping sacks of wiggling, basically immobile flesh. Then, we graduate to flipping over onto our stomachs, lolling our heads around (once we develop sufficient neck strength), crawling toward vacant electrical sockets, hesitantly standing, and finally walking. It’s on the floor that we learn to move. We may not be doing terribly complex or impressive stuff down there, but that first year or two is incredibly formative for the rest of our movement lives. We’re building a foundation made primarily of contralateral crawling and “tummy time.” Graduating beyond the floor to full on bipedalism doesn’t mean we should totally ignore where we came from.
Second, chairs only recently became part of our lives. Folks as early as the ancient Egyptians had them, but they were a luxury item reserved for the upper classes. Your average Neolithic human sat on chests or benches until chairs became a mass-produced staple that everyone could afford. Earlier than that, for most of human history, formal-sitting furniture simply didn’t exist. Paleolithic posteriors surely rested upon rocks and logs and stumps when the opportunity arose, but those aren’t the same as having permanent fixtures that allow you to take a load off whenever you want. Human bodies were not designed with chairs in mind. We did do a lot of lounging around – I’m not arguing we never stopped moving or anything – but we did so on the ground, rather than on a bunch of folding chairs.
Sitting down in a chair does funny things to our bodies. It stretches out our glutes, making them inactive, loose, and weak. People by and large no longer know how to activate their butt muscles due to excessive amounts of chair sitting. Sitting in a chair also keeps the hip flexors in a short, tight, contracted position for extended amounts of time, which can inhibit full hip extension and lead to that hunched over position you often see older folks shuffling around with. And that’s not even mentioning the extensive (and growing) literature showing how sitting for too long increases mortality and degenerative disease, which I’ve covered in plenty of posts and Weekend Link Loves. This post isn’t really about that, anyway.
What might be most important, though, is what sitting in a chair doesn’t do. It doesn’t allow us to rest in the full squat position, an ability we’re born with but quickly forget how to do. It doesn’t let us do much of anything. Sitting becomes a totally passive act, where we’re slumped over, shoulders rounded, feet twisted up and resting on the chair legs, totally dependent on the structure of the chair to support our weight – rather than using our musculature and arranging our skeletal system in such a way that we support ourselves. Doesn’t it seem inconceivable that an animal – any animal – would evolve to require furniture in order to rest comfortably without incurring a disability?
That’s partly why it makes some sense to hang out on the floor more.
We need the “stress” of supporting our own body weight and making sure our structures are in alignment. Here are a few positions to try out:
Squats are the default resting position of humans. Kids can do this easily, but once they start going to school and sitting in a chair for six hours a day, they lose it. The goal here is to get your heels on the ground. Resting on the balls of your feet is easier, but it’s harder on your knees and thighs. The heels-down squat, which requires more flexibility but distributes the pressure across your hips, is far more sustainable.
Seiza is the formal way to sit in Japan, resting on the lower legs, butt on heels. Placing a small pillow or rolled up towel under your knees can make the transition easier, especially if you have a bad knee or two.
Like seiza, except one of your feet is on the ground, heel down, in front of you in a squat position. Like these guys.
For many people, this is the most comfortable, natural way to sit on the floor. You can place your feet flat against each other, cross at the ankles, or place your calves against each other. You can even go full lotus.
This is one my favorite ways to sit. From the basic crossed leg position, place one hand flat on the floor and lean on it. Bring the opposite leg up and place the foot flat on the floor. Your opposite leg will be in a squat position. Switch hands and legs if it gets uncomfortable.
Human limbs are funny, bendy things. We can contort ourselves into lots of positions, and as long as you’re on the floor, supporting your own weight and feel comfortable doing it, it’s difficult to hurt yourself. Our bodies are good at giving feedback before things go really wrong. If your arm starts to go numb or your toes get tingly, switch it up! Try coming up with some of your own variations for sitting on the ground and report back.
Spend at least an hour a day sitting on the ground and another fifteen minutes practicing different ways to move between positions and another fifteen practicing how to stand up and sit back down. Shoot for ten minutes of crawling, too. You can do most of these things while doing other things, like watching TV or reading or talking, so it’s not like you’re wasting time. My guess is that you’ll take to this like a fish to water.
The way we sit, and where we do it, changes the function of our bodies. It even alters the length of musculature.9 In countries where squatting and other forms of floor living are seamlessly weaved into everyday life, people still retain the mobility to do all that stuff into old age. I’ve got a buddy from Thailand who moved over to Hollywood as a teenager in the late sixties and still retains the ability to sit in a full squat, painlessly and effortlessly. This guy is an avid user of chairs and everything Western. He’s not a gymgoer at all, and he’s never even heard of a foam roller or Mobility WOD, but because he got the right floor living experience during the formative years, he can still squat and move around on the floor. Unfortunately, for many of us in Western countries who stopped floor living right around age four or five, we may never quite get there – but we can certainly do a lot better than we are now.
Now that you have some idea of what to do when you’re on the ground, I’d like you to spend the next week doing as much floor living as possible. I don’t expect you to ditch the office chair and roll around the ground while at work, but I do expect you to get in some quality floor time when you’re at home.
Let’s hear from you guys. How do you handle yourselves on the floor? What’s your favorite go-to position?
The post Floor Sitting: Do You Spend Enough Time on the Ground? appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.
If you’re on a high-fat ketogenic diet and running on a fat-based metabolism, you need access to fat. Some of it comes from your own body, but not all. A good portion of your body’s fuel will come from dietary fat, or the fat you eat. Especially if you are eating more fat than you’re accustomed to, you need to be able to absorb and then digest the fat you eat and turn it into useable energy. If you aren’t digesting fats, you may be in for some discomfort.
What are the signs and symptoms of poor fat digestion?
Running a fat-based metabolism just doesn’t work if you can’t digest fats. Here’s what it looks and feels like:
What happens to fat—or anything, really—that goes down the “wrong pipe”? When you consume fat but aren’t able to effectively digest it, that fat has to go somewhere. That fat goes where it isn’t supposed to be, and sometimes that causes pain and pressure.
Some misbegotten fat loss plans involve the active inhibition of fat digestion, either by consuming artificial fat-like substances that feel and taste like fat without providing any calories or taking lipase inhibitors which deactivate the intestinal enzymes that digest and absorb dietary fat. In both cases, the fat or “fat” is excreted when you go to the bathroom. Yeah. That’s not a good look, but it is a sure sign that you aren’t digesting fats.
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Fat is buoyant. If your poop is festooned with the fat you ate but didn’t digest, it will float more readily.
Passive leakage into your underwear is another common sign you aren’t digesting your fat. One of the most infamous processed “food” disasters was a line of “WOW” branded snacks that contained an indigestible fat substitute, which caused people to leak stool without warning. Same mechanism.
Apologies for the visual, but there’s no easy way to say it. People with poor fat digestion will often produce tangible, lasting results when they fart.
Not absorbing or digesting dietary fat will reduce your calorie absorption, and it may very well cause weight loss. But if you don’t have weight to lose, or if the weight loss comes with unwanted side effects (one study found that Orlistat users indeed lost weight, but they also lost more lean mass), you may want to pay attention.
Trying to run on fat without actually being able to access dietary fat is a miserable exercise in futility. The boundless energy, the steady even keel, the ability to go for hours without eating or crashing—all the promises of fat-adaptation will elude you if you can’t digest the fat you eat.
Orlistat users are at an increased risk of oxalate-induced kidney damage.1 Normally, oxalates bind to calcium to form calcium oxalate, which we excrete in the stool. With impaired fat digestion, the undigested fat binds with calcium, leaving oxalate adrift and more readily absorbed and accumulated. Less lipase, less fat digestion, more oxalate accumulation, more kidney danger.
This isn’t an easy “sign” to watch for. You can’t really “feel” it. But if you were to go to a lab and get tested for vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamin A, having low levels despite a steady intake could indicate a problem with your fat digestion. Orlistat research confirms this.2
But it’s a real issue. You absorb fat-soluble vitamins alongside the dietary fat you eat. If you’re not absorbing the fat, you’re missing out on the nutrients. All those studies which find that eating fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E and vitamin K2 alongside dietary fat improves nutrient bioavailability assumes that you’re able to digest the fat. If you can’t digest the fat very well, you’re missing out on the rest of the stuff you eat.
Not all of these are individual markers of poor fat digestion. It’s normal to have some floaty stool now and again. You aren’t always going to digest every bit of fat you consume. Everyone can name a time they felt bloated and had a stomach ache after eating. There are many other reasons why you could be losing weight without trying. But if they are co-incident, you might be dealing with poor fat digestion.
And you should probably do something about it.
Okay, so any, some, or all of those symptoms are signs of poor fat absorption and digestion. It’s always a good idea to rule out larger health problems with your doctor. Until then, what can you do about it?
Most fat digestion occurs in the GI tract, but it starts in the mouth with something called lingual lipase, the oral form of the major fat-digesting enzyme. To produce lingual lipase, however, you have to chew. The simple presence of fat in the mouth isn’t enough—you have to get those teeth and that tongue going. In one study, eating almonds and coconut triggered the release of lingual lipase, while eating almond butter (the same amount of fat) did not.3 The only difference was chewing. Chew more to give your digestion a head start and improve your fat absorption, even if the food you’re eating doesn’t seem to require chewing. Do your best.
The primary role of the gall bladder is to collect bile from the liver, concentrate it into potent super-bile (my term), and release the concentrated bile to break up incoming dietary fat into smaller molecules that lipase (see above) can attack and digest.
If you gall bladder isn’t working properly, you still have bile—as that’s produced in the liver—but it’s not the concentrated stuff that’s really good at breaking up fat. You have “lesser” bile, bile that isn’t as strong or effective. Your dietary fat tolerance will drop unless you fix the gall bladder issue.
The gut is linked to just about everything in the body, and fat digestion is no exception. If you have an excessive amount of bacteria in your small intestine (remember, the bulk of your bacteria should reside in the colon), bile doesn’t work right. The bacteria start breaking it down, which inhibits the bile’s ability to break down the fats into the micelles that your lipase can digest.
I recently wrote a guide to fixing your gut health. Read that and employ some or all of the recommendations if they apply.
In studies where subjects have trouble digesting fats, they have to take extra fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin D, to avoid deficiency. This is a safe bet for the duration of your problem. I’d even throw in some vitamin K2 just to be safe—it’s really important but doesn’t get enough attention in typical studies.
You can actually take exogenous lipase and bile supplements (like ox bile or bile salts). These aren’t as effective as the real thing (producing your own in-house), but they can give you a little help in that area.
If you have had your gall bladder removed, supplementing may be crucial to digesting fats. Run it by your doctor to see what he or she thinks.
Bitter flavors after a fat-rich meal enhance bile production.4 It doesn’t have to be some arcane bitter herb mix; even an espresso after a meal—that classic Italian custom—can improve fat digestion by increasing gastric acid production.5
Shorter chained fatty acids like MCT oil and coconut oil are literally shorter and easier to disentangle for digestion. They don’t require as much bile to break apart as longer chained fatty acids. They are easily digested, head straight to the liver for oxidation or ketone generation without dealing with the lymphatic system, and can be utilized by cells for energy without the enzymatic processes needed to utilize longer chain fats.
I’m usually a proponent of listening to your body to tell you when you’re thirsty. “Drink when thirst ensures” works pretty well. But, since about 97% of bile is pure, unadulterated water, and one “silent” cause of fat malabsorption and trouble digesting fats is poor hydration status, this is something to consider. If you don’t have enough water, your bile production, texture, and function will suffer. It’ll be thick and sludgy, no good at all.
Taurine is a conditionally-essential amino acid. We make it, just not enough. One of the essential roles it plays is as substrate for bile production. Without adequate taurine levels, bile production—and, thus, fat digestion—suffers.6 Luckily, it’s an easy fix. Take a taurine supplement or eat more meat, especially hearts. Chicken, beef, lamb, turkey hearts are all great sources of taurine.
There you have it, folks. 9 signs and symptoms of poor fat digestion and 9 potential solutions to address the issue.
Do you have any problems digesting fat? Have you tried any of these recommendations? Do you have any recommendations of your own that weren’t listed here?
The post 9 Signs You Aren’t Digesting Fats and What To Do About It appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.
I’ve been doing a rough meal plan for each week and it’s been helpful to organize the fresh meals, frozen meals, ingredients we have on hand to use up, Plenty nights, and plan some takeout nights. All three weeks we have steered off course quite a bit for random reasons. In the above, for example,...