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Research of the Week

Potential mechanisms behind the links between full-fat dairy and health.

Religious belief predicts compassionate love.

A close relative of ketamine treats the most resistant type of depression.

CBD helps schizophrenics.

High-dose vitamin D reduces PMS in teen girls. Indirect benefits for teen boys.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 211: Joel Jamieson: Host Brad Kearns chats with Joel Jamieson about what most people get wrong about training, recovery, rest, and energy.

Each week, select Mark’s Daily Apple blog posts are prepared as Primal Blueprint Podcasts. Need to catch up on reading, but don’t have the time? Prefer to listen to articles while on the go? Check out the new blog post podcasts below, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast here so you never miss an episode.

Interesting Blog Posts

Swedish tips for outdoor parenting.

Doctors, coaches, and athletes are finally realizing that female athletes who get enough rest, recovery, and calories to avoid the female athlete triad perform better.

Media, Schmedia

The UK now has a Ministry of Loneliness. This isn’t normal.

A nice overview of how fiber benefits health.

Everything Else

Putin shows the health benefits of certain traditions.

Overlooked thanks to its propensity to degrade over...

This is succulent pulled pork with an Indian twist. The pork is swimming in a fragrant coconut sauce rich with spices like garam masala, turmeric, coriander, and cinnamon (plus, lots of onion, garlic, and ginger).

This recipe is made in two parts. First, cook the pork shoulder. Then, simmer the coconut curry sauce. Using one pot, the Instant Pot, for both steps keeps the cooking time and the dirty dishes to a minimum.

Typically, pork shoulder is cut into small stew pieces for curries. On some days though this step can feel like too much time and effort. So, for this recipe, the pork is cooked in large pieces instead and then shredded into the sauce.

Serve Instant Pot Pulled Pork Coconut Curry with sweet potatoes or roasted squash. It’s also great with sautéed greens on the side.

Time in the Kitchen: 1 hour of hands-on cooking time, plus 80 minutes in the pressure cooker

Servings: 6 to 8

Pork Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 4 pieces (1.4 to 1.8 kg)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup/60 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado...
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!

In 2011 I was 80 lbs overweight, I was on 8 medications, I was sick, sad, and scared. As a doctor, I couldn’t understand how I’d ended up there. I “knew” what to do. I just had to eat less and exercise more, right?

I’d done Weight Watchers (which worked for a while, until I gained all the weight, plus more, back), seen a nutritionist, a therapist, and even a hypnotist to control my lack of willpower.

I was eating low-fat meat and dairy, whole grains, and tightly controlling my portions. I ate vegetarian meals frequently and snacked on pretzels and hummus, and chips and salsa. I went to the gym 3 times a week and did 30 minutes of cardio. I was doing everything “right,” and this was me.

One day a friend, who had...

Fitness recovery isn’t only about rest. Certain techniques offer faster, more effective recovery after endurance or high intensity training—a big plus for those who compete or follow more intensive fitness programs like CrossFit. By the way, if you missed this week’s feature, Rest and Recovery: A Whole New Perspective, be sure to check it out.

Now onto those techniques…

Cold therapy can help speed recovery by delivering a refreshing psychological sensation and recalibrating the central nervous system and muscle metabolic activity back to calm, cool resting levels. Full body immersion into water at 50 ºF to 60 ºF (10 ºC to 15 ºC) for five to ten minutes, is believed to be the optimal strategy for post-exercise cold therapy.

The old injury treatment protocol of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is being replaced in the eyes of many experts with ECM (Elevate, Compress, Move). Icing of injuries can retard the natural healing process.

Compression wraps or garments act like pumps to squeeze blood vessels open with force, allowing more blood and oxygen into the area and improving removal of waste and excess fluid. Studies suggest reduced muscle soreness and improved performance using compression garments.

Movement is also an important element of recovery. Athletes should refrain from prolonged stillness periods after workouts, and throughout the day. Over time, efforts to move more will result in improvements in the familiar...

Last year I was talking with Brad Kearns and Dave Dolle when Dave said something really interesting: he was using neurotransmitter analysis to build personalized training programs for his athletes. By giving a short written T/F test called the Braverman test, he could determine whether a client was dominant in dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA, or serotonin—and then use the results to determine their ideal training regimen. It was one of those instances where you hear something you know you’ll be chewing on for the next few months.

These neurotransmitters exist. They each have different effects on our personality and our physiology, which can alter our response to different types of training. Though we’re most familiar with the effects of neurotransmitters on brain function, they also have peripheral effects throughout the rest of the body.

Dopamine is the motivating chemical, promoting drive and ambition and a winning attitude. It’s also the moving chemical, interacting with the areas of the brain responsible for conscious movement. Parkinson’s disease, whose sufferers have great difficulty making basic movements, is characterized by low dopamine levels and activity.

Acetylcholine promotes focus, memory, and cognitive prowess. It’s also necessary for motor neurons to fire and make muscles move.

GABA relaxes us, calms us, and counters excitibility in the brain. Without it, we’re tense. Our muscles tense up with low GABA levels, too, as the neurotransmitter is responsible for muscle...

Habit #2 of Highly Successful Hunter-Gatherers: Be Selfish

In our ancestors’ day, there was certainly a sense of obligation to the group, an expectation of contribution to the joint welfare. That said, in an economy of ample free time, a social network of extended kin, a culture nearly devoid of material ambition, no one was likely required or motivated to drive themselves to exhaustion.

I believe the “pack mule” mentality is a thoroughly modern neurosis. Why would any single person in a band ever accept grossly inordinate proportions of responsibility in our Primal ancestors’ time? With all members free to leave at any time in the natural ebb and flow of band to band interchange, why would any of them lived a wretched life of literal or approximated servitude? If you ran yourself into the ground healthwise in evolutionary times, you put yourself at risk. You were a liability to the group. What was the possible benefit?

 Yet, here we are in modern times making excuses for neglecting our health, giving away the chance (and true responsibility) for reasonable self-care and personal fulfillment. Part of the logic is the modern focus on the future. We’re planners, sacrificers for the sake of a presumed future security. It’s amazing what we’ll give up in the interest of a vision twenty...

If you’re a type-A, hard-driving peak performer, my hope is that this post will stop you in your tracks.

Today I want you to completely rethink your basic philosophy about how you manage both your fitness activities and the assorted stresses of hectic, modern life. This post was inspired by a great article from training expert Joel Jamieson of titled, “All Pain, No Gain: Why The High Intensity Training Obsession Has Failed Us All.” Joel’s message set off a firestorm of internal dialog among members of the Primal Blueprint team. (Catch Brad Kearns’ recent interview with him for the Primal Blueprint Podcast.) After much back and forth and additional research, I’m eager to get you reflecting and commenting on the genuine nature of recovery from an entirely new angle.

We only have a certain amount of energy we’re able to expend each day. No matter how hard you try to burn additional calories through crazy training, or express your type-A, workaholic tendencies to get more done across the board, you’re ultimately constrained by your own personal daily maximum caloric expenditure.

This assertion is supported by a well-publicized study of the Hadza, modern-day hunter-gatherers in Tanzania. The study revealed the shocking insight that we modern slackers burn a similar number of calories (pound for pound, of course) as our seemingly...

Soup doesn’t have to simmer for hours to be delicious. This seaweed soup is ready in 10 minutes, making it a super-easy lunch or dinner. It’s light and nourishing, for those days when your system craves more greens and vegetables. It’s also versatile, so if you want to throw in cooked meat or salmon, go for it.

This seaweed soup is so simple, it doesn’t even need a recipe. Just follow this basic technique….

For one serving, in a medium bowl, combine approximately 1/3 cup dried wakame seaweed, a small handful of thinly sliced baby spinach or kale, plus 1 grated carrot. Pour about 2 cups, or more, boiling chicken broth or beef bone broth on top. Let sit 5 minutes.

That’s it! Seaweed soup can be jazzed up with hot sauce, sesame oil, or tamari. Grated fresh ginger, turmeric and garlic also had more flavor. But this soup isn’t about tons of complex flavors. It’s more about simple, healthful comfort food that doesn’t take any time or energy to prepare.

With two weeks of healthy eating and Primal adaptation under our belts in this post-New Year month, it’s a good week to talk fitness.

(By the way, if you need a good primer covering the basics of Primal Blueprint fitness, this is a good place to begin. The New Primal Blueprint book offers an in-depth treatment, and you can learn more as well by browsing our hundreds of free fitness articles on MDA.)

Today, my long-time friend, fellow competitor, and writing partner, Brad Kearns, is showing you his morning movement routine. And it’s different than what you’d expect, I’d venture.

This is no sweaty hour in the gym. Much of it, a series of dynamic stretches, you can do before you even get out of bed. Who’s willing to rethink their morning now?

No, this won’t count as an intense workout, but it’s part of the low-level daily movement I suggest we should all be getting more of—the fundamental base of true Primal fitness.

If you’re looking to operate from a higher baseline for a regular morning workout, or you’re looking to enhance your mobility and flexibility with a low threshold routine, I think you’ll like what Brad has to share. Enjoy!

Does this shake up your morning plan? What are you taking away from these ideas? Share your questions and thoughts, and thanks...

Anybody having a Super Bowl (or playoffs) party? There’s still plenty of time before the big event(s) to plan an awesome Primal spread.

I have a few suggestions from the MDA recipe archives and our Primal Kitchen® blog. By the way, if you haven’t checked that out, you’ll find lots of great recipes there (as well as other news and deals). Here are four of my favorites game day dishes….

Share your menu plans below (I’m always looking for new ideas)—and who you’re rooting for. Enjoy, everybody!

Bacon Guacamole with Cheddar Chips

Jicama Beef Tacos

(From Roxann Lewis, author of Eat Pretty Food and a certified Primal Health Coach!)

Ancho Chile Shredded Beef Tacos

Buffalo Ranch Chicken Stuffed Jalapeños with Bacon

(From George Bryant of

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering 5 questions from readers. First, I give my desert island cookware material—the type of pan I’d choose if I could only have one. Next, I explain whether carnosine, creatine, and taurine supplements are suitable for vegetarians. After that, I give a good option for bulk frying oil that’s safe and won’t break the bank. Fourth, I explain how you can get enough B12 on a keto vegetarian diet (and it’s not that difficult at all). And finally, I explain how a small change can have huge effects on the quality of one’s life.

Let’s go:

I’d like advice on what types of cookware are safest/most functional, if you’re only going to have one type

That’s tough.

Aluminum is out. There’s controversy over whether it leaches into the food, but I’d rather not take the chance. It’s flimsy and doesn’t retain heat very well. Hard pass.

Cast iron is fantastic. There’s nothing better for searing steaks, they retain heat incredibly well (they’ll still burn you a half hour off the heat), and if you season them well they are virtually non-stick. I have a couple cast iron pans that are so well-seasoned I can scramble eggs in them without sticking. But it took me a long time and a lot of bacon to get them to...

Exercise isn’t about calories burned, but about movement. It’s imperative now to discover ways to simply move around more—even if only for brief periods—throughout your day. Make it official personal policy to take stairs instead of elevators, park at the furthest spot in parking lots instead of always angling for a closer one, and generally prioritize pedestrian movement over sedentary options. Here are several tips to add more movement to your daily routine:

Wake-Up Stroll: Grab the dog and take a lap around the block to gradually build energy and prepare for a busy day. Even if you only have 5-10 minutes to spare in the morning, it’s well worth the effort.

Brief Work Breaks: Mounting evidence suggests that work productivity, mental health, and stress management can improve significantly when you moderate digital stimulation and take frequent breaks away from focused, sedentary tasks to engage with fresh air, sunlight, open space and physical movement. Get outside and stroll around the office courtyard, up and down the building stairwell, or otherwise make do with whatever your surroundings. When you sit back down at your desk, you will have a perceptible improvement in energy and focus.

Research of the Week

Triglycerides can cross the blood-brain barrier and induce central resistance in both insulin and leptin receptors.

Poor sleep promotes negative thinking.

A paleo diet beats a typical “healthy” diet.

Some Vikings were buried with board games.

Homemakers are generally happier than full-time workers.”

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 209: Dr. Joseph Mercola: I chat with Dr. Joseph Mercola, who needs no introduction. We chat about keto, fasting, mitochondrial dysfunction, EMF exposure, and much much more.

Each week, select Mark’s Daily Apple blog posts are prepared as Primal Blueprint Podcasts. Need to catch up on reading, but don’t have the time? Prefer to listen to articles while on the go? Check out the new blog post podcasts below, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast here so you never miss an episode.

Interesting Blog Posts

Sure, let’s just bring back the dead as cyborgs.

Media, Schmedia

Lp(a), the underappreciated risk for heart disease.

The benefits of saunas continue to unfold.

Everything Else

It’s a double-edged sword.

A 15 year-old Irish teen discovered an antibiotic in blackberry leaf that kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Pfizer stops looking for drugs to treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. There’s no magic bullet, folks.

When I...

This thick and hearty chili is slightly smoky and sweet, with a spice level that can be tailored to your taste. Borrowing a genius trick from our sweet potato pasta sauce recipe, thin strips of sweet potato are peeled into the chili. This is an easy way to add sweet potato to all sorts of dishes, as thin strips of sweet potato cook quickly and easily blend in with other ingredients.

With a simple list of ingredients and short simmering time, this chili is meant to be a convenient weeknight dinner. But do yourself a favor by cooking this recipe on the weekend, with plans to eat the chili for dinner later in the week. Chili is a meal that’s meant to be eaten as leftovers. It usually tastes better the second or third day, thickening up and becoming more flavorful.

If you’re feeding this chili to little kids or heat-averse adults, use bell peppers and omit the jalapeno. To crank up the spice level, use poblanos and 1 or more jalapeños (plus a jar of hot sauce on the table).

Servings: 6 to 8

Time in the Kitchen: 35 minutes, plus 30 minutes to simmer


This is one of the most common queries I receive: How do I go keto as a vegetarian?

One way to go keto as a vegetarian is to stop being vegetarian. You begin as a vegetarian, make the conscious decision to go keto, and then cease vegetarianism. Seriously, just try it out. A little animal won’t hurt you. Promise.

Okay, jokes aside: How do you go keto while remaining vegetarian?

Once you let the dust settle and consider the proposition with a calm, clear mind, going keto as a vegetarian isn’t all that outlandish.

Most low-carb diets are hard to do as a vegetarian because protein is a big component, and quality protein is harder to obtain without meat in your diet. The focus of keto is carbs and fat—less of the former, more of the latter—and not so much the protein. There are plenty of ways to reduce carbs and increase fat while remaining vegetarian, and if you keep a few things in mind, you actually have a lot of freedom. More than you’d think.

Here’s what you should keep in mind when constructing your diet. After this, everything else is gravy.

Eat Eggs

This is pretty non-negotiable, at least if you’re trying to optimize your keto vegetarian diet.

Eggs provide long chain omega-3 fatty acids. You have to choose the right eggs, of course. Your average battery-farmed corn-and-soy-fed chickens...

With much of the country feeling like an icebox the last two weeks, I figured it’s a good time for some more rich, hearty meals. There’s something here for everyone—different meats, textures, and preparations, but they’re all Primal. A couple can easily be considered kid-friendly, and a couple could conveniently be adapted to fit a vegetarian diet. (I’ve got more for our vegetarian readers coming up this morning, so stay tuned.)

While none are “quick” dishes (I’ll have more on that theme though), all these recipes lend themselves to batch cooking, which means your prep time will be well spent.

Dig in, everyone….

Polish Hunter’s Stew

Garlic Soup

Rogan Josh Lamb Stew

Rich and Hearty Hungarian Goulash

Almost everyone has at least one dietary restriction. Maybe your religion or cultural traditions prohibit specific foods or food pairings. Maybe your physiological response to certain foods—an allergy or intolerance—prevent you from eating them. Or perhaps your immediate goals preclude a food’s inclusion in your diet.

Like every other diet, keto is already circumscribed by basic principles, which can make further limitations difficult to accommodate. But the benefits of going keto, at least for part of the time, are well-established and worth the effort. You want to do it. How can you go keto while honoring your own dietary bounds?

It depends on the restriction.


This is a tough one. Dairy is one of the most reliably healthy sources of fat available, repeatedly showing strong and consistent links to good cardiovascular and overall health. Many keto adherents rely heavily upon it. We cook our eggs and veggies in butter. We treat ourselves with Greek yogurt. We take our stevia with coffee and cream. Dairy is just a great way to get calcium, healthy fat, and probiotics. What to do without it?

Make sure you know what part of dairy you can’t handle.

If you can’t handle lactose, you can probably do hard cheeses (like pecorino romano), well-fermented yogurt or kefir (the lacto bacteria consume the majority of the lactose), butter, cream, ghee, and pretty much...

Contrary to popular belief, strength training doesn’t require heavy weights and expensive machines. That’s certainly one way for people to get an effective workout, but you can get quite strong and fit using just compound bodyweight movements. And even if you want more, you can always add weights later.

It’s a great start for those beginning (or reigniting) a fitness routine, but I’ve also known plenty of experienced folks who benefit from putting aside more elaborate routines and practicing the basics now and then.

As a mini-challenge, work on one per week.

The Primal Essential Movements Are As Follows: Pushups

From a plank position (straight, rigid line from feet to head), hands flat on the ground and shoulder width apart, arms extended, fingers pointed forward, lower your body until your chest (or nose) touches the ground. Keep your core and glutes tight and a neutral spine and neck.

Simplified Progression (consecutive reps needed to progress)

1. Knee pushups (male, 50; female, 30)

2. Incline pushups (male, 50; female, 25)

Movement Mastery – male, 50 pushups; female, 20 pushups


Keep your elbows tight, tuck your chin (try to make a double chin), retract your shoulder blades (to protect your shoulders). Without flailing or using your lower body, lead with your chest and pull your body up using an overhand grip until your chin passes the...

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a pair of questions. First, a new study comes out and claims that branched chain amino acids increase the risk of insulin resistance and, eventually, diabetes. The study is legit, but the test subjects were mice. Is the research relevant to humans? Then I explain just why the interesting weightlifting article with all the exclamation points from last week’s Weekend Link Love got me thinking.

Let’s go:


I’m a little worried. I’ve been taking BCAAs for the past few months, mainly to reduce hunger and increase muscle retention during fasts. then this study hits claiming that low BCAA diets improve metabolic health. Should I stop?

First off, that was a mouse study.

The authors of the mouse study try to make their results relevant to humans, citing a human study in which elevated BCAAs in serum correlated well with insulin resistance. Other research finds links between elevated serum BCAAs and obesity and, at least in whites and Hispanics (but not blacks), elevated BCAAs and diabetes.

It turns out that serum amino acids are in constant flux, and many medical issues can determine which amino acids show up in the serum. Serum levels of BCAAs may not even necessarily reflect dietary intake. In obese women, for example, taking BCAA-rich whey had no effect on serum...

It’s fascinating, I think, to see what the human body is capable of—not a “perfect,” standardized, conventionally “ideal” physique but a real body with individual uniqueness and stunning utility. 

Many people unfortunately assume they aren’t “athlete material” because they don’t believe they have the body for it—or so they’ve been told (directly or indirectly). Your body, however, is so much more than your build—or your years—or your current condition.

Sure, most of us will never be professional athletes, but the fact remains: if you have a body, you’re an athlete. The identity and intention dwell in your genes themselves. Whether you’re a 5 foot tall rhythmic gymnast waiting to happen or a lanky dude who’s built for covering long distances quickly, there’s a niche for you. You embody, in some way, the athletic mission of our species.

Maybe you haven’t figured out what that embodiment is yet. Let me say point blank: find your athletic embodiment in your lifetime. You won’t be sorry you did and will likely always wonder if you don’t.

Primal exercise is a flexible set of general principles that mirror the basic patterns of our ancestors’ exertion—period. How you fulfill these in your modern life is entirely your choice. Be whatever Primal athlete makes sense to you and you alone. By all means, make it as fun as possible. Your fitness should enhance more than your physical...