“To find yourself, think for yourself. ”
Another fine, fine, n=1 quote.
A few things from this past week. First off, a couple of observations from the world of track and field —
If you haven’t yet seen this clip, check it out. I’m left grasping for something to compare Usain Bolt to. One tends to forget that this kid is walking away from world class athletes. Astonishing, is all that I can say…
Bolt is the “perfect storm” of sprinting; off-the-charts power-to-bodyweight ratio, aerodynamically put together, extremely long stride at top-end speed (with the ability to both maintain the speed and stride length for the duration of the race, i.e., anaerobic stamina) and the ability to transfer that high power development to the ground, both from a dead-start (piston action) and at full stride (spring action). A perfect sprinting combination of fortunate genetics and fabulous, first-class training methods. The Jamaicans know how to train sprinters, and they have a wealth of talent to choose from.
And speaking of genetics, genetic expression, and the powerful effects of hormones on the phenotype, how about the controversy surrounding the women’s 800 meter phenom, Caster Semenya? Now, I’m certainly not trying to imply that following a Paleo lifestyle will impart an extra Y chromosome “advantage” to the Paleo ladies out there, or unleash an unlimited fountain of testosterone in the guys, only that the Paleo “push” that we do provide via positive genetic expression (and, hence, hormonal expression) does account for a good portion of our overall health and bodily composition benefits.
According to the NPR news story cited above:
Gender testing used to be mandatory for female athletes at the Olympics, but the screenings were dropped in 1999. One reason for the change was not all women have standard female chromosomes (i.e., an xxy make-up — my insertion for clarification). In addition, there are cases of people who have ambiguous genitalia or other congenital conditions.
The most common cause of sexual ambiguity is congenital adrenal hyperplasia, an endocrine disorder where the adrenal glands produce abnormally high levels of hormones.
Health of the modern-day, semi-hunter-gatherers
What’s interesting here is that the people being studied (the Tsimane tribe, of Amazonian Bolivia) exhibit high C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, and yet show no signs, even in far advanced years, of heart disease or other markers of “metabolic syndrome”. The high CRP levels — a marker of inflammation — are surely attributed to the high instance of parasitic infestation among these peoples. What keeps them from developing good ol’ western style metabolic syndrome? Well, my guess is that the Tsimane maintain low insulin levels due to a lack of simple carbohydrate ingestion. Again, insulin is the main player, with other factors (in this case, inflammation) playing the part of “tools of convenience”; aiding and abetting, so to speak. Very, very interesting, to say the least. Check out the NPR story (podcast), here, and the University of Southern California news story, here. We as modern Paleos can learn much from research like this. The most practical take-home message here being that the intelligent Paleo practitioner will marry the best of the past (diet, movement patterns) with the best of modernity (sanitary practices) in what should be an ever-evolving, progressive and intelligent union.
On “Evangelizing” the good news…
Yes, it’s tricky business, to be sure, the practice of offering unsolicited advice; and I avoid it myself, as if were the plague (…attempting to teach a pig to sing will only frustrate you and annoy the pig). But when the government is involved, though — in other words, someone with the power to force their will upon me — I feel it’s imperative to speak up. Here’s an interesting bit of commentary on the on-going (American) healthcare debate. The link is to a Super Human Radio podcast interview with Dr. Ronald Klatz. Dr. Klatz is one of the Founders of A4M (The American Academe of Anti-Aging Medicine) and has presented a Healthcare plan that can not only (purportedly) save the country Trillions of dollars, but will also extend the lives of most Americans. Also, check out A4M’s article on the 12 Point Action Plan for effective healthcare reform ( here is the 12-point plan itself). My only problem with the proposal is that is conspicuously deficient of any mention of the positive health markers elicited by the adoption of a Paleo-like lifestyle. One small step at a time, I suppose. Even with that deficiency, this is still the best set of action points that I’ve seen floated by any group with any sibilance of influence (little as A4M may have) in Washington. Kinda tough to compete with folks like this, ya know.
…and of having the good news evangelized to you
Again my good friend Carl Lanore, at Super Human Radio comes through with an informative and timely interview. This time out, he’s got John Wood, of US Wellness Meats on the line. John has been raising beef cows in the traditional, grass-fed way for decades. Listen as the discussion turns to the health benefits of eating grass fed, hormone free, antibiotic free beef, over the conventional beef-look-alike that lines your grocery food store shelves. When it comes to grass-fed beef, John knows his stuff. Want to know why the Argentinians are so adept at producing a fantastic steak? John will fill you in. Now I’m lucky in that I live in a relatively rural area, so I have ready access to grass-fed/free-range meat. If you don’t have ready access to these products, though, check out the folks at US Wellness Meats. Really, their prices aren’t that much higher than what I pay for my locally raised products. That’s a good deal for everyone — you and the producer of these quality products; not to mention the animals themselves who get to live out their lives naturally, and free of cruelty.
What I’m reading now…
Want to try your hand at subsistence farming and ranching? You say you’d love to, but live smack-dab in the city, and that, of course, ends that little dream. Well, think again. Novella Carpenter has written a gem of a book entitled Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. I could gush on and on about this book — it’s just fantastic. The juxtaposition of farming and animal husbandry struggles against life in the “hood” is nothing less than fascinating. Even if you have no desire whatsoever with delving into raising your own food, I’d still highly recommend this book. Really, it’s the sleeper of the summer, and I’m so very glad that I stumbled upon it. If anyone will make you want to chuck the ol’ 9-to-5 (7-to-6 is more like it nowadays), and try your hand at eeking it out on your own little plot, Novella will. And before you think that Novella is some kind of militant Berkeley vegetarian, think again — she raises her own chickens, turkeys, rabbits, goats and pigs for consumption, and does her own slaughtering. My kinda girl. Anyway, pick up her book and check out her blog (cited above); you’ll be so glad you did.
And one final tidbit…
Psychological barriers: we all know what it’s like when we can’t seem to bust past certain plateaus in our workouts. Maybe it’s a certain amount of pull-up reps, or a certain number of 100 meter repeats. We feel like we ought to be able to pull it of physically, but for some reason our psyche is holding us back. Well, Kevin Purdy of Lifehacker.com has a great idea to help overcome that overactive (and self protective) mind: using a camcorder; check it out. Of course, in time you can train your brain to somewhat squelch that overly-protective-mom-like feature, but this camcorder idea looks to me like a perfect bridge to help get one to that point a little quicker. Try it out and let me know what you think.