Weekly Link Love—Edition 7

Thanks to everyone who has already signed up for the Keto Reset Kickoff! If you haven’t heard the news, we’re doing a free 7-day email series that is the perfect intro to keto. If trying a Keto Reset is possibly on your to-do list for 2019, you don’t want to miss it. Everyone who signs up also gets the incredible opportunity to get the Keto Reset Online Mastery Course for FREE (a $147 value) with the purchase of a Primal Kitchen Advanced Keto Kit. Head to primalkitchen.com/ketoreset now to enroll! It all goes down January 7. Okay, now on to today’s post….

Research of the Week

Some human gut bacteria produce GABA, a “relaxation” neurotransmitter. People with depression tend to have less of the GABA-producing bacteria.

The more fruits and vegetables you eat, the more highly you rate your own cognitive function.

Following a Mediterranean diet is linked to less body fat, lower inflammation, improved glucose metabolism, and higher insulin sensitivity.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 298: Ashleigh Vanhouten: Host Elle Russ chats with Primal Health Coach, writer, and Paleo Magazine Radio host Ashleigh Vanhouten.

Episode 299: Keto Q&A: Host Brad Kearns answers your keto questions.

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.

Media, Schmedia

Scientists discover tens of billions of tons of microbes beneath the earth’s crust.

Jimmy Dean sausages, now with extra iron.

Interesting Blog Posts

“Chunking” life experiences speeds up the passage of time.

Relax for a better world.

Social Notes

New BBQ sauces hit the scene.

Malibu’s still got it.

Everything Else

Is this happiness?

The roadblocks on the journey to Mars aren’t just physical or technical.

Who said women shouldn’t lift heavy things?

Imagine the media accolades if this person reduced their insulin requirements by 80% with a vegan diet.

NomNomPaleo’s holiday gift guide.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

I wish him luck: CrossFit’s Greg Glassman is amassing an army of doctors.

Finding I found interesting: Neanderthal admixture changed the brains of some Europeans.

Makes sense: Why psychology research focused on Western populations may not apply to populations from other regions.

This is bad: Johnson & Johnson knowingly sold baby powder containing asbestos for decades.

Well, there goes photographic evidence: AIs generate realistic human faces.

Question I’m Asking

Do you think happiness can be reduced to proteins dragging endorphins along brain filaments?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Dec 8 – Dec 14)

Comment of the Week

“The U.S. Marines require a potential recruit to do 3 chin-ups to sign up. They have to turn down a significant number until they can accomplish this. I stopped by a Marine recruitment center in the mall. I’m almost 72 and as a joke I walked in and asked the recruiter if I could see if I would qualify. He laughed and said, “go ahead”. I did 30. The look on his face was priceless.
I got the hell out of there before he recruited me!”

– Nicely done, Skip.

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Holiday Round-Up: 28 Cookie Recipes

Thanks to PaleoHacks for today’s holiday recipe round-up. Enjoy, everyone!

It’s the holiday season, and that means it’s time to preheat the oven and bake up a batch of cookies! We’re here to start the festivities with this listicle of 28 grain-free cookie recipes.

From bright and zingy lemon and coconut cookies to a Paleo-friendly take on classic chocolate chip cookies, there are so many deliciously gluten-free options to explore in your kitchen.

If you have dietary restrictions, check out the nut-free recipes, AIP-friendly choices, and the keto-friendly cookies. Each cookie is 100 percent Primal and free of gluten, grains and unhealthy processed sugar. No matter your dietary needs, we’ve got a satisfying cookie just for you!

#1 PaleoHacks | Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

All you need is 30 minutes from start to finish to whip up these super-easy chocolate chip cookies.

#2 Jay’s Baking Me Crazy | The Best Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

These almond flour beauties studded with chocolate chunks are just begging for a dip in creamy almond milk.

# 3 PaleoHacks | Coconut Flour Shortbread Cookies

Buttery shortbread cookies get drizzled artfully with melted chocolate, which cools to form a delicate shell.

#4 Tastes Lovely | Paleo Almond Butter Cookies

With just a handful of ingredients, these buttery, almond butter cookies are even easier to whip up than most peanut butter cookies.

#5 One Lovely Life | Paleo Ginger Cookies

Crisp-edged, soft-centered ginger cookies are a must this time of year. Skip the optional sugar roll at the end, or use a Paleo-friendly substitute like coconut sugar.

#6 Joy Food Sunshine | Paleo Zucchini Breakfast Cookies

Zucchini – in cookies?! It helps make the final product extra moist – we promise you won’t even know they’re in there if you blend them into the batter just right.

#7 The Big Man’s World | No-Bake, 3-Ingredient Coconut Cookies

It doesn’t get much easier than a no-bake, three-ingredient recipe. Simply mix shredded coconut, coconut oil, and your sweetener of choice in a bowl, form into cookies, refrigerate, and enjoy!

#8 Food Faith Fitness | Crockpot Paleo Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Did you know you can make cookies in a crockpot? These square cookie bars spend a few hours “baking” up low and slow, leaving you plenty of time to complete your to-do list, run errands, or nap.

#9 Nom Nom Paleo | The World’s Easiest Cookies

Everyone needs a foolproof, super simple cookie recipe in their back pocket. Made with just a handful of ingredients, these cookies taste like chocolate-covered shortbread.

#10 Evolving Table | Super Soft Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans

Pecans add seasonal warmth to these ultra-soft cookies. Tip: You can easily make these vegan by subbing in coconut oil for butter and flax eggs for the eggs!

#11 Golden Barrel | Paleo Nutter Butter Cookies

Crunchy almond butter cookies sandwich a sweet and creamy almond butter filling – what could be better?

#12 Almost Supermom | Ultimate Double Chocolate Chip Paleo Cookies

These cookies double up on the chocolate, featuring both cocoa powder (opt for raw cacao powder for even more nutrition) and chocolate chips.

#13 Perchance to Cook | Paleo “Sugar” Cookies

Fluffy, vanilla-flavored cookies get their sweetness from honey and maple syrup for a simple, chewy indulgence.

#14 Downshiftology | Mint Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Would you like a peppermint mocha in cookie form? Reach for these mint double chocolate chip cookies, the perfect holiday-inspired flavor profile.

#15 What Great Grandma Ate | Nut-Free Cassava Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s tricky to find a nut-free Paleo cookie, but these tasty cassava flour-based chocolate chip cookies fit the bill!

#16 Lexi’s Clean Kitchen | Maple Meringue Cookies

We can’t get these lightly sweet, crunchy yet light-as-air meringue cookies out of our minds.

#17 Physical Kitchness | Paleo Maple Walnut Cookies

Loaded with warm flavors from walnuts, maple, cloves and cinnamon, these cookies are autumn personified.

#18 The Endless Meal | Chunky Monkey Paleo Banana Cookies

These nutty, chocolatey cookies are topped with banana slices – an ideal sweet breakfast on the go.

#19 Nesting with Grace | Paleo Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

You just might want to set these Christmas-inspired cranberry cookies out for Santa this year.

#20 Unbound Wellness | AIP Chocolate Chip Cookies

Carob chips replace chocolate in this AIP-friendly cookie recipe.

#21 A Saucy Kitchen | Paleo Pumpkin Cookies with Molasses

Pumpkin is the ideal cookie ingredient – it adds tons of flavor, acts as a binder, and adds moisture. This recipe proves it.

#22 Traditional Cooking School | Paleo Sugar Cookies with Pumpkin Glaze

These sweet and fluffy cookies are glazed with a pumpkin icing for a treat you’ll crave all year long.

#23 Paleo Cupboard | Paleo Coconut Vanilla Iced Cookies

Nutty almond flour cookies are finished with a smooth iced top for an irresistible treat.

#24 Real Food with Dana | Paleo N’Oatmeal Cookies

There are no actual oats to be found in these batch, but coconut, flaxseed, and raisins do a pretty good job of mimicking the texture and flavors of a real oatmeal cookie.

#25 Not Enough Cinnamon | Lemon and Coconut Soft Cookies

These zesty and fragrant lemon cookies will melt in your mouth – what more could you ask for?

#26 The Big Man’s World | Flourless Keto Chocolate Cookies

No added sweetener is necessary in these keto-friendly cookies made with chocolate chips and nut butter.

#27 Chocolate Covered Katie | Low Carb Chocolate Chip Keto Cookies

Finally, there’s a way to enjoy classic chocolate chip cookies on the keto diet. Opt for stevia and a Paleo-friendly milk to keep this recipe Paleo, too.

#28 Wholesome Yum | Low Carb Keto Shortbread Cookies

Buttery shortbread cookies are best paired with a warm cup of coffee, hot cocoa or tea.

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Why Grip Strength Matters—and 10 Ways to Build It

The scientific literature is awash in correlations between a person’s health status and various biomarkers, personal characteristics, and measurements. As we hoard more and more data and develop increasingly sophisticated autonomous tools to analyze it, we’ll stumble across new connections between seemingly disparate variables. Some will be spurious, where the correlations are real but the variables don’t affect each other. Others will be useful, where the correlations indicate real causality, or at least a real relationship.

One of my favorite health markers—one that is both modifiable and a good barometer for the conditions it appears to predict—is grip strength.

The Benefits of Grip Strength

In middle-aged and elderly people, grip strength consistently predicts mortality risk from all causes, doing an even better job than blood pressure. In older disabled women, grip strength predicts all-cause mortality, even when controlling for disease status, inflammatory load, depression, nutritional status, and inactivity.

Poor grip strength is also an independent risk factor for type 2 diabetes across all ethnicities, and it can predict the presence of osteoarthritis in the knee. Among Korean adults, those with lower grip strength have a greater risk of clinical depression.

Even when hand grip strength fails to predict a disease, it still predicts the quality of life in people with the disease. The relative rate of grip strength reduction in healthy people is a good marker for the progression of general aging. Faster decline, faster aging. Slower (or no) decline, slower aging. Stronger people—as indicated by their grip strength—are simply better at navigating the physical world and maintaining independence on into old age.

Health and longevity aside, there are other real benefits to a stronger grip.

You command more respect. I don’t care how bad it sounds, because I agree. Historically, a person’s personal worth and legitimacy was judged by the quality of their handshake. Right or wrong, that’s how we’re wired. If you think you feel differently, let me know how you feel the next time you shake hands and the other person has a limp, moist hand. Who are you more likely to respect? To hire? To deem more capable? To befriend? To approach romantically? I’m not saying it’s right. I’m saying it’s simply how it is. We can’t avoid our guttural reaction to a strong—or weak—handshake. To me, that suggests we have a built-in sensitivity to grip for a very good reason.

So, how does one build grip?

10 Exercises To Build Grip Strength

Most people will get a strong-enough grip as long as they’re lifting heavy things on a consistent-enough basis.

1. Deadlifts

Deadlifts are proven grip builders. Wide grip deadlifts are also good and stress your grip across slightly different angles.

2. Pullups and 3. Chinups

Both require a good grip on the bar.

Any exercise where your grip supports either your weight or an external weight (like a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell) is going to improve your grip strength. But there are other, more targeted movements you can try to really turn your hand into a vise. Such as:

4. Bar Hangs

This is pretty simple. Just hang from a bar (or branch, or traffic light fixture) with both hands. It’s probably the purest expression of grip strength. As it happens, it’s also a great stretch for your lats, chest, shoulders, and thoracic spine.

Aim to hit one minute. Progress to one-hand hangs if two-handers get too easy. You can use a lower bar and keep one foot on the ground for support as you transition toward a full one-handed hang.

5. Sledgehammer Work

Grab the heaviest sledgehammer you can handle and use it in a variety of ways.

If you had to pick just one sledgehammer movement to target your grip, do the bottoms up. Hold the hammer hanging down pointing toward the ground in your hand, swing it up and catch it with the head of the hammer pointing upward, and hold it there. Handle parallel to your torso, wrist straight, don’t let it fall. The lower you grip the handle, the harder your forearms (and grip) will have to work.

6. Fingertip Pushups

Most people who try fingertip pushups do them one way. They do them with straight fingers, with the palm dipping toward the ground. Like this. Those are great, but there’s another technique as well: the claw.  For the claw, make a claw with your hand, like this, as if you’re trying to grab the ground. In fact, do try to grab the ground. This keeps your fingers more active, builds more strength and resilience, and prevents you from resting on your connective tissue.

These are hard for most people. They’re quite hard on the connective tissue, which often goes underutilized in the hands and forearms. Don’t just leap into full fingertip pushups—unless you know you’re able. Start on your knees, gradually pushing your knees further back to add resistance. Once they’re all the way back and you’re comfortable, then progress to full pushups.

7. Active Hands Pushups

These are similar to claw pushups, only with the palm down on the floor. Flat palm, active “claw” fingers. They are easier than fingertip pushups.

8. Farmer’s Walks

The average person these days is not carrying water pails and hay bales and feed bags back and forth across uneven ground like they did when over 30% of the population lived on farms, but the average person can quickly graduate past average by doing farmer’s walks a couple times each week. What is a farmer’s walk?

Grab two heavy weights, stand up, and walk around. They can be dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, or trap bars. You can walk up hill, down hill, or around in circles. You can throw in some shrugs, or bookend your walks with deadlifts or swings. The point is to use your grip to carry something heavy in both hands.

9. Pinch Grips

Grasp and hold weight plates between your thumb and each finger.

10. Hammer Curls

Next time you do some curls, throw in a few sets of hammer curls. These are identical to normal bicep curls, except you hold the weights in a hammer grip, with palms facing toward each other—like how you hold and swing a hammer. Make sure to keep those wrists as straight as possible.

The thing about grip is it’s hard to work your grip without getting stronger, healthier, and faster all over. Deadlifting builds grip strength, and it also builds back, hip, glute, and torso strength. Fingertip pushups make your hands and forearms strong, but they also work your chest, triceps, abs, and shoulders. That’s why I suspect grip strength is such a good barometer for overall health, wellness, and longevity. Almost every meaningful piece of physical activity requires that you use your hands to manipulate significant amounts of weight and undergo significant amounts of stress.

For that reason, the best way to train your grip is with normal movements. Heavy deadlifts and farmer’s walks are probably more effective than spending half an hour pinch gripping with every possible thumb/finger permutation, because they offer more full-body benefits. But if you have a few extra minutes throughout your workout, throw in some of the dedicated grip training.

Your grip can handle it. The grip muscles in the hands and forearm are mostly slow-twitch fiber dominant, meaning they’re designed to go for long periods of exertion. They’re also gross movers, meaning you use them all the time for all sorts of tasks, and have been doing so for decades. To make them adapt, you need to stress the heck out of them with high weight. Train grip with high reps, heavy weights, and long durations. This is why deadlifts and farmer’s walks are so good for your grip—they force you to maintain that grip on a heavy bar or dumbbell for the entire duration of the set with little to no rest.

Oh, and pick up some Fat Gripz. These attach to dumbbells and barbells and increase the diameter of the bar, giving you less leverage when grabbing and forcing you to adapt to the new grip conditions by getting stronger.

Now, will all this grip training actually protect you from aging, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, and early all-cause mortality? Maybe, maybe not.

But it—and the muscle and fitness you gain doing all these exercises—certainly doesn’t hurt.

How’s your grip? How’s your handshake? How long can you hang from a bar without letting go?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care, be well, and go pick up and hold some heavy stuff.

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References:

Sasaki H, Kasagi F, Yamada M, Fujita S. Grip strength predicts cause-specific mortality in middle-aged and elderly persons. Am J Med. 2007;120(4):337-42.

Leong DP, Teo KK, Rangarajan S, et al. Prognostic value of grip strength: findings from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study. Lancet. 2015;386(9990):266-73.

Rantanen T, Volpato S, Ferrucci L, Heikkinen E, Fried LP, Guralnik JM. Handgrip strength and cause-specific and total mortality in older disabled women: exploring the mechanism. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2003;51(5):636-41.

Van der kooi AL, Snijder MB, Peters RJ, Van valkengoed IG. The Association of Handgrip Strength and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Six Ethnic Groups: An Analysis of the HELIUS Study. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(9):e0137739.

Wen L, Shin MH, Kang JH, et al. Association between grip strength and hand and knee radiographic osteoarthritis in Korean adults: Data from the Dong-gu study. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(11):e0185343.

Lee MR, Jung SM, Bang H, Kim HS, Kim YB. The association between muscular strength and depression in Korean adults: a cross-sectional analysis of the sixth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES VI) 2014. BMC Public Health. 2018;18(1):1123.

Lee SH, Kim SJ, Han Y, Ryu YJ, Lee JH, Chang JH. Hand grip strength and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Korea: an analysis in KNHANES VI. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2017;12:2313-2321.

Iconaru EI, Ciucurel MM, Georgescu L, Ciucurel C. Hand grip strength as a physical biomarker of aging from the perspective of a Fibonacci mathematical modeling. BMC Geriatr. 2018;18(1):296.

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Join Us For the FREE 2019 Keto Kickoff! (Plus, A Keto Deal You Won’t Believe…)

It’s that time of year again. People are starting to think about the new year ahead, which always goes hand in hand with resolutions aimed at improving health and fitness. I have an idea: Why not make metabolic flexibility your goal for 2019?

Metabolic flexibility refers to the ability to efficiently use different substrates for energy. Once you free yourself from carbohydrate dependency, you can enjoy sustained energy throughout the day. You can skip a meal or two—or even engage in longer fasts—comfortably. Add to this the ability to supercharge your fitness and sports performance, plus burn excess body fat without the deprivation of a traditional diet mentality.

Sounds great, right? “But Mark,” I hear you asking, “If I’ve already been following the Primal Blueprint for a while, am I not metabolically flexible already?” Yes, you are undoubtedly better at burning fat than the average person nowadays…. BUT (and this is a big but) unless you’ve embarked on a period of dedicated very low carb ketogenic eating, there is still another level of metabolic flexibility waiting to be unleashed. This is the whole reason I wrote The Keto Reset Diet last year—to help people reach the pinnacle of metabolic flexibility, where they can harness the power of fat and ketones for energy (along with glucose as needed, of course).

I strongly believe that it’s in most people’s best interest to periodically dip into ketosis and do a Keto Reset at least once or twice per year. Of course, as so many of you can attest, it’s possible to achieve tremendous gains to health, body composition, fitness, cognition, and general wellness by following a traditional Primal eating pattern (which puts most people in the range of 50 to 150 grams per day of carbs, give or take). Nevertheless, research and anecdotal evidence continues to shed light on the unique benefits that come from being in a state of ketosis at least some of the time.

These days, I move seamlessly between a slightly higher carb Primal profile and ketogenic macros without thinking too much about it. I’m able to do so specifically because I’ve built the metabolic machinery that allows me to use fat and ketones and, yes, carbs for energy. Truly, this is the best I’ve ever felt (and I was feeling pretty darn good before my keto experiment). I want the same flexibility and freedom for all of you.

That’s why I invite you to join me this January for my Keto Reset Kickoff, a FREE one-week introduction to the keto diet—done the Primal way. Maybe you’re curious about keto, or perhaps you already attempted keto without success, or you tried to learn about it on your own but got mired down trying to wade through all the information online. In any case, the Keto Reset Kickoff is for you! I’ll cut through the noise and give you the real skinny on going keto, as well as how to avoid common pitfalls and maximize your success.

Simply sign up now at primalkitchen.com/ketoreset. Starting January 7, I’ll send one easy lesson per day to your inbox for seven days. By the end of the week you’ll understand the basics of keto and why I designed the Keto Reset the way I did. Then if you decide to go for it, my colleague Lindsay Taylor will be leading a full Keto Reset in our Facebook community starting right after the Keto Reset Kickoff. (Join the community now to get all your questions answered and hit the ground running in 2019 in a supportive environment.)

When you sign up for the Keto Reset Kickoff, I’ll also send you the Keto Reset Kickoff Pregame package that includes:

  • The Pregame ebook that will help you set the stage for success by getting on track with your Primal eating
  • A journal to help you plan for success during a Keto Reset

But wait, there’s more! (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.) I’m giving everyone who enrolls a chance to get the Keto Reset Online Mastery Course for FREE (that a $147 value) with the purchase of a Primal Kitchen Advanced Keto Kit. You get my absolute favorite keto-friendly products, plus the most comprehensive multimedia educational experience around, designed for anyone interested in the ketogenic diet. It’s an unbelievable deal.

Even if you’re still on the fence about keto, I encourage you to sign up for the Keto Reset Kickoff and learn more about it. I’m eager to share the Keto Reset approach with you so you can decide for yourself if you’re ready to dip into that lower end of my Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve and go keto in 2019. 

Thanks for being here, everybody. Lindsay and I look forward to you joining us in January!

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The post Join Us For the FREE 2019 Keto Kickoff! (Plus, A Keto Deal You Won’t Believe…) appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

Life Is Full of Adventure and Possibility

It’s Monday, 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 Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

My first MDA Success Story was published in June 2016. Towards the end I said “My story isn’t over. It is just beginning.”

Those words couldn’t be more true.

That success story was about overcoming decades of chronic cystic acne, along with digestive issues and anxiety.

And the Primal lifestyle truly helped me to accomplish all of that. After decades as a vegetarian, pescetarian, and sometimes raw vegan, making a gradual transition to a Primal diet really changed my life.

The big thing for me was the acne. It’s painful enough to grow up with it, but for me it never really went away, despite every prescription drug in the book. There were even three rounds of Accutane along with some horrible side effects. Removing grains and dairy and adding animal protein and fat back into my diet reduced the inflammation very quickly, and within about a month my skin looked dramatically different.

At the same time my skin was miraculously clearing up, my sometimes debilitating digestive issues and anxiety quietly left the room.

And if my story ended there, it would have been a happy ending.

But things just keep getting better.

At the age of 51, my energy levels have increased and I have better body composition than ever. But it’s so much more than that. I’m more adventurous, confident, creative and intuitive.

Since my last success story was published, I’ve gradually transitioned to a keto lifestyle. I refer to it as “borderline keto” since I do not track or measure anything. I know that works great for some people, I just don’t care for it. But by increasing the healthy fats and moderating the protein I feel even more focused and energetic. Even though I had already made the switch, reading The Keto Reset Diet was helpful, and I’ve recommended it to so many people.

I’ve also completed my Primal Health Coach certification (even though I had another health coaching certification under my belt already.) I believe so strongly in the value of this lifestyle and want to learn everything I can, so I continue to educate myself by attending events like Paleo f(x) and reading everything I can get my hands on. I’m also taking my first digital cooking class, Paleo Cooking Bootcamp, and loving it.

When my last success story was published I had been writing a blog called “happy, healthy and hot” for about six months. It was mostly recipes and natural beauty tips presented in a playful, sassy style.

As I wanted to share my message with more people, I started posting on Instagram as well (@happyhealthyandhot_elizabeth), and eventually started sharing more of my lifestyle, including travel, fashion, personal development, and short videos showing easy workouts that I do at home (many times with a cameo appearance by my dog). I used to be a very private person, but I know that sharing these snapshots of my day to day life can show how easy it to live a healthy lifestyle.

I’ve also been featured on other health related websites and have been interviewed for podcasts, including the Primal Blueprint Podcast. Love sharing the happy, healthy and hot message with as many people as I can.

I truly believe that everyone deserves to look and feel amazing, and the Primal lifestyle is a great way to start. Living this way should be fun and easy…if it feels like a chore you’re not doing it right!

What started out as a little health blog is organically growing into a lifestyle brand with followers from all over the world.

Is my life perfect? Absolutely not. During this time I’ve dealt with some major personal challenges just like everyone else. But I’ve come out of them stronger than ever.

People are always asking me what I eat. Here’s a typical day… I start with lemon water and coffee. I always blend Collagen Peptides or Collagen Fuel (vanilla is my fave) into the coffee. There’s usually a blended green drink too…typically something like spinach or baby kale and fresh lemon.

A few hours later I get hungry for some real food, and might make eggs with leftover veggies, or just eat leftovers from the night before.

A second meal will be another form of protein…fish and beef are my favorites and a bunch of non starchy veggies. For example, today I had salmon, roasted brussels sprouts and avocado as a late lunch. Salmon or sardines make an appearance a few times a week…love what they do for my skin.

I’ve tried intermittent fasting but don’t do it on a regular basis. Instead, I just try to listen to my body and eat when I’m truly hungry. Lately I find myself eating two meals rather than three, and maybe having some small snacks.

Most days I’ll have a few squares of super dark chocolate or some type of Paleo “treat,” especially if I’m trying out a new recipe for happy, healthy and hot. Totally enjoy dry red wine from time to time too.

I’m not really into supplements, with the exception of using Collagen Peptides in some form every single day of my life. I’ve been doing this for years, and my skin is firmer now at the age of 51 than it was ten years ago. I also think the collagen keeps me from getting sore when I work out. Some nights I take a magnesium supplement before bed, and the only multi I will take is Primal Master Formula.

I don’t belong to a gym, although I have in the past. For now, I feel great doing some simple workouts at home (love my boss ball) and my dog forces me to get out and walk every single day. Working part time as a bartender is pretty physical too.

There are two things I plan to add this year to increase my fitness: sprinting and pull-ups. I learned so much about the value of sprinting in the Primal Health Coach course, but still haven’t made it part of my fitness routine. So this is the year! And right now I can’t do a pull up to save my life, but that’s going to change in 2018.

I’ve attached some pics from a recent trip to the Bahamas with my daughter, and one from a recipe I posted on my blog.

So I’ll say it again…my story is just beginning. Life is full of adventure and possibility. Can’t wait to see where the next few years take me. Thanks for reading!

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

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Weekly Link Love—Edition 6

Research of the Week

In the healthy elderly, daily aspirin use failed to improve disability-free survival while increasing the risk of bleeding.

Prenatal exposure to PFCS, found in teflon cooking surfaces and plastics used in food packaging, may reduce penis size and fertility.

Adding powdered mustard seed to your cooked broccoli increases the amount of sulforaphane you absorb.

Whether healthy adults eat high- or low-protein diets has no effect on their kidney function.

Just 12% of American adults are metabolically healthy.

Every McDonald’s touchscreen researchers tested had feces on it.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 296: Maureen Vincenty: Host Elle Russ chats with health coach Maureen Vincenty.

Episode 297: Brad’s Keto Tips, Health Mindset, and Reaching Your Goals: Host Brad Kearns talks about his most recent keto happenings and personal developments.

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.

Media, Schmedia

The Chinese scientist who edited human embryos appears to be missing.

Harvard plans to start gene-editing sperm.

Sorry, PETA. On behalf of the gluten-intolerant community, the only acceptable replacement for “bringing home the bacon” is “bringing home the bagels made with a blend of millet, rice flour, and xanthan gum.”

Reader Question

Mark, thoughts on the new study “Hunter-gatherers as models in public health.”

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/obr.12785#.XAfqBQCuJzc.twitter

Very interesting. I’ll discuss it briefly today, and maybe later on go into it more in depth.

It hits most of the points I’ve been discussing for years.

Daily activity level is high (over 100 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity), energy expenditure is no higher than modern people. So they’re moving around a lot at a slow/moderate pace, but they aren’t chasing “calorie burn.” It’s the daily, frequent movement you do that matters most, not the number of calories you burn in order to “earn” that trove of mongongo nuts or slab of honeycomb.

Calorie density low, micronutrient density high. This is the opposite of the modern Western diet, which is high in calories and low in micronutrients.

Carbohydrate content varies, but is always accompanied by high fiber intake. These guys are eating over 100 grams of fiber, much of it prebiotic substrate for their gut bacteria, a day on the regular.

Normal lifespan (60-70+ years), assuming they survive childhood and young adulthood. They’re not “dropping dead at 30” en masse. Most deaths caused by infection or trauma—two things modern medicine is great at treating.

There’s much more, but that’s a good overview for now.

Interesting Blog Posts

Deleted from Wikipedia for questioning the narrative.

Everything Else

Blood-delivering drone service expands across Africa.

Modeling the harms, risks, and benefits of various statins for different populations.

About food, from food.

One season of football changes the brain scans of young players.

British doctors will soon be prescribing singing, dance, music, and art lessons.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

Podcast I enjoyed doing: The Primal Example Podcast, where I chatted with Joe about the Kraft acquisition.

Study I found interesting: How hunger (for food) and curiosity (for knowledge) occur in the same brain region.

Question to ponder: Does DNA make us who we are?

Not a bad idea: Restaurant where kids eat free if parents don’t use their phones.

I’m impressed: Type 1 diabetic completes 1008 km non-stop bike race.

Question I’m Asking

Does DNA indeed make us who we are? Where does free will fit into it all?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Dec 1– Dec 7)

Comment of the Week

“It has a well-deserved nickname of ‘MetFartin’.”

MetFartin‘ is what my buddies and I would do back in high school on weekend trips down to NYC. Hit the museums, find a particularly stuffy group of art enthusiasts, and, well….

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4 Low-Carb (& Keto-Friendly) Cocktails

It’s holiday party season, and no one wants to be left out of the celebration. Whether you’re eating Primal, paleo, general low-carb or even keto, there’s no reason to relegate yourself to club soda when you’d rather be enjoying something more… festive. Today we’ve got four delicious takes on classic cocktail recipes for your holiday.

With natural, no-sugar wine (we use Dry Farm Wines), you can enjoy lighter, low-carb versions of your favorite drinks. So, raise a glass—and be sure to make enough to go around.

Low-Carb Holiday Sangria

Sangria is a versatile drink that takes on the character of whatever fruits you put in it. Citrus, apples, even peaches are often used for traditional summer versions of both the “red” and “white” recipes. We happen to think this holiday version is the best yet.

Light, fruity and festive, white wine and seltzer are brightened up by cheery pomegranate seeds and cranberries for a tart taste and fresh finish—all with a beautiful presentation that will add wow-factor to your cocktail serving or dinner table.

Low-Carb White Mint Julep

While mint juleps are certainly a cooling drink for the intense summer heat, winter’s quintessential flavors also claim mint among for their own. With a bright taste and fresh bite, mint juleps are traditionally made with bourbon and syrup. That’s a little heavy (and sweet), however, for those on a lower-carb protocol like Primal or keto.

Here’s a lighter, less potent version of a julep with just as much classic flavor. Mix up a garnished pitcher for your guests at your next party.

Low-Carb Ginger Bliss

Ginger Bliss brings together the classic combination of ginger and lemon, but this recipe pairs the combo with dry white wine rather than heavy liquor for a lighter, brighter taste.  All the flavor with fewer carbs and none of the regret…. Consider it a fizzy and festive option for any cocktail party year round.

Low-Carb Mulled Wine

This time of year nothing rings in the festivities like traditional mulled wine. Warm, spicy and rich, it’s the perfect drink for both comfort and celebration.

Regular mulled wine recipes include a hefty dose of sugar, but that’s unnecessary when you take advantage of the many incredible varieties of natural low-carb sweeteners out there. All the flavor, none of the added sugar. Tradition is back on the table.

Which of the above is on your holiday list now? Share your favorite low-carb cocktail recipes below.

Enjoy This Holiday Partner Promotion!

And be sure to check out Dry Farm Wines promotional offer this week—get a PENNY bottle of wine (yup, 1 penny) with your holiday order. With a special selection of holiday wines, including no-sugar sparkling varieties, there’s no better choice for your Primal or keto holiday table. 

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Does Bone Broth Break a Fast?

This is a surprisingly common question.

To get it out of the way: Yes, it does. Bone broth contains calories, and true fasts do not allow calorie consumption. You eat calories, you break the fast.

However, most people aren’t fasting to be able to brag about eating no calories for X number of days. They fast for shorter (often intermittent) periods of time for specific health benefits. It’s entirely possible that bone broth “breaks a fast” but allows many of the benefits we associate with fasting to occur.

As is the problem with so many of these specific requests, there aren’t any studies addressing the specific question. The scientific community hasn’t caught up to the current trends sweeping the alternative health community. But we can isolate the most common benefits of fasting and see how bone broth—and the components therein—interact.

Common Benefits of Fasting: Does Bone Broth Help or Hinder?

Ketosis

Fasting is a quick and easy (or simple) way to get into ketosis. You have little choice in the matter. Since you’re not eating anything, and your body requires energy, you break down body fat for energy. And because you’ve only got fat “coming in,” you’ll quickly start generating ketone bodies. If bone broth stops ketosis, it’s probably breaking the fast.

Bone broth doesn’t contain any digestible carbohydrates. Common additions like tomato paste and carrots might add a few tenths of a gram of carbohydrate to your cup of broth, but not enough to throw you out of ketosis.

Bone broth is quite high in protein, especially if you make it right or buy the right kind, but if it’s the only thing you’re consuming during your fast, the overall caloric load won’t be enough for the protein in broth to stop ketosis.

I can’t point to a paper. I know for a fact that I’ve consumed bone broth without affecting my ketones.

Fat Burning

Fat-burning is another important aspect of fasting. Since bone broth contains calories, you’ll probably burn slightly less fat drinking broth during a fast. But the calories come from protein, the macronutrient least associated with fat gain and most supportive of lean mass retention. And at any rate, your total calorie intake on a fasting+broth day will be under 100 calories—plenty low enough to promote fat loss.

Insulin Sensitivity

Over the long term, fasting is an effective way to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Most things that make you better at burning fat and expending, rather than storing, energy—like exercise, low-carb diets, weight loss in general—tend to improve insulin sensitivity over time. But the sometimes counterintuitive piece to all this is that in the short term, fasting can reduce insulin sensitivity. This is a physiological measure the body takes to preserve what little glucose remains for the brain. All the other tissues become insulin resistant so that the parts of the brain that can’t run on ketones and require glucose get enough of the latter to function.

There’s also the matter of sleep, fasting, and insulin sensitivity to consider. Some people report sleep disturbances during fasts, especially longer fasts. This is common. If the body perceives the fast as stressful, or if you aren’t quite adapted to burning fat, you may interpret the depleted liver glycogen as dangerous and be woken up to refuel in the middle of the night. Some people just have trouble sleeping on low-calorie intakes in general, and a fast is about as low as you can get. If that’s you, and your fasting is hurting your sleep, it’s most likely also impairing your insulin sensitivity because a bad night’s sleep is one of the most reliable ways to induce a state of insulin resistance. There’s some indication that total sleep deprivation creates transient type 2 diabetes.

That’s where bone broth comes in. A big mug of broth is one of my favorite ways to ensure a good night’s sleep. It’s a great source of glycine, an amino acid that has been shown in several studies to improve sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. It may “break” the fast by introducing calories, but a broken fast is preferable to bad sleep and the hit to insulin sensitivity that results from it.

Autophagy

Things fall apart. Cars, tools, buildings, toy trucks, civilizations. That’s entropy, which dictates that all things are constantly heading toward disorder. And people aren’t exempt. Our cells and tissues are subject to entropy, too, only we can resist it. One of the ways our bodies resist entropy is through a process of cellular pruning and cleanup called autophagy.  There’s always a bit of back and forth between autophagy and our cellular detritus, but it occurs most powerfully in periods of caloric restriction. Fasting enhances autophagy like nothing else because it’s a period of total caloric restriction.  If bone broth destroys autophagy, that’d be a big mark against drinking it during a fast.

Amino acids tend to be anti-autophagy signaling agents. When we eat protein, or even consume certain isolated amino acids, autophagy slows. Bone broth is pure protein. It’s almost nothing but amino acids. The key is: Which amino acids are in bone broth, and have they been shown to impede autophagy?

The primary amino acids that make up the gelatin in bone broth are alanine, glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and glutamine.

Let’s say you’re drinking a mug of strong, really gelatinous bone broth with 15 grams of gelatin protein. How do those amino acids break down?

So it’s a mixed bag. The most prominent amino acid in bone broth—glycine—seems to allow autophagy, but the less proinent amino acids may not. It’s unclear just how much of each amino acid it takes to affect autophagy either way. The absolute amounts found in bone broth are low enough that I’m not too concerned.

What Else To Know…

Okay, so while bone broth technically “breaks” the fast, it may preserve some of the most important benefits. Is there anything else related to bone broth and fasting that deserve mention?

If you’re the type to train in a fasted state and eat right after, you might consider incorporating some bone broth right before the workout. Just like my pre-workout collagen smoothie does, bone broth (plus a little vitamin C to aid the effect) right before a workout improves the adaptations of our connective tissue to the training by increasing collagen deposition in the tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. You’ve already done most of the fast honestly. What’s shaving off a half hour of fasting time by drinking some broth or collagen, especially if you stand to improve your connective tissue in the process? Ask any older athlete and they’ll say they wish they could.

Some spices and herbs that are often added to bone broth can have effects similar to fasting. Take curcumin, found in turmeric. Research shows that it’s an independent activator of mTOR, which in turn can activate autophagy. Ginger and green tea (what, you haven’t tried steeping green tea in bone broth?) are other ones to try. Bone broth with turmeric, green tea, and ginger might actually combine to form a decent autophagy-preserving drink during a fast. Only one way to find out!

That’s about it for bone broth and fasting. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask down below.

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References:

Xu X, Wang X, Wu H, et al. Glycine Relieves Intestinal Injury by Maintaining mTOR Signaling and Suppressing AMPK, TLR4, and NOD Signaling in Weaned Piglets after Lipopolysaccharide Challenge. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(7)

De urbina JJO, San-miguel B, Vidal-casariego A, et al. Effects Of Oral Glutamine on Inflammatory and Autophagy Responses in Cancer Patients Treated With Abdominal Radiotherapy: A Pilot Randomized Trial. Int J Med Sci. 2017;14(11):1065-1071.

Shaw G, Lee-barthel A, Ross ML, Wang B, Baar K. Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;105(1):136-143.

Zhao G, Han X, Zheng S, et al. Curcumin induces autophagy, inhibits proliferation and invasion by downregulating AKT/mTOR signaling pathway in human melanoma cells. Oncol Rep. 2016;35(2):1065-74.

Hung JY, Hsu YL, Li CT, et al. 6-Shogaol, an active constituent of dietary ginger, induces autophagy by inhibiting the AKT/mTOR pathway in human non-small cell lung cancer A549 cells. J Agric Food Chem. 2009;57(20):9809-16.

Zhou J, Farah BL, Sinha RA, et al. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a green tea polyphenol, stimulates hepatic autophagy and lipid clearance. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(1):e87161.

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Instant Pot Un-Stuffed Bell Peppers With Meat Sauce

This recipe takes the ingredients from stuffed peppers (rice, ground meat, bell peppers) and turns them into a meal that’s easier and faster to make. (And if you made and saved part of the delicious bolognese from last week’s Bolognese Sauce With Spaghetti Squash recipe, you’re more than halfway done with dinner!

After tasting this flavorful one-pot meal you’ll probably never bother to stuff peppers again.

Servings: 4

Time in the Kitchen: 20

Ingredients:

  • Leftover Bolognese Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil (30 ml)
  • 3 bell peppers, seeded and cut into 2-inch strips or 8 ounces frozen, chopped bell peppers
  • 4 cups raw cauliflower rice (12 ounces/340 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (5 ml)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, chopped

Instructions:

Select the sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the oil. Add bell peppers and sauté about 5 minutes, until soft.

Add the cauliflower rice and sauté about 5 minutes more, until just tender. Season the cauliflower rice and bell peppers with salt and smoked paprika.

Add the leftover Bolognese sauce to the pot. Mix in well and cook until the Bolognese is completely heated.

Garnish the dish with sliced jalapenos and scallions.

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Dear Mark: Metformin Side Effects, Kraft Heinz Deal Questions

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering a few questions from readers. First, the diabetes drug metformin looks like a “wonder” drug, even (or especially) for non-diabetics. Are there any known side effects? Is there anything we should watch out for?

Second, I address some of the concerns and criticisms shared in response to the Kraft Heinz announcement post.

Are there any adverse side effects to Metformin? It was mentioned in the fasting study.

Metformin is a diabetes drug that’s garnered a lot of attention from longevity seekers, health nuts, and low-carbers. I can see why. It appears to improve gut health (possibly because it impedes carbohydrate absorption, thereby increasing the amount of fuel available to our colonic bacteria), reduce cancer risk, lower blood glucose, improve insulin sensitivity, and increase fat loss. As far back as 2012, people I respect like Robb Wolf were suggesting metformin as a general all-purpose health enhancer.

Most of the interest in metformin from the general health crowd comes from its potential effect on longevity. It’s quite good at activating AMPK, the same pathway activated by exercise, fasting, and calorie restriction. There’s even some human research that hints at an effect—diabetics who take metformin actually live longer than non-diabetics who don’t take it. That’s a profound correlation.

But metformin does exert some of its effects via the hormetic pathway, which suggests it’s a stressor and may have a dark side. What could it be?

Well, there’s one main adverse side effect.

B12 depletion. Time and time again, studies show that metformin users are more likely to have B12 deficiency, whether they’re PCOS patients, Type 2 diabetes patients or others. Even when you age-match, health-match, and overall lifestyle-match your groups, the long-term metformin users have a higher chance of B12 deficiency. That certainly sounds causal, and even if it’s not, it’s a big risk. B12 plays a huge role in a host of physiological pathways. It protects against dementia, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Its absence from vegan diets is one of the main reasons most vegans eventually flounder and have to turn to supplements or sneak into burger joints when no one’s watching. B12 is that important for overall health.

If you’re going to take metformin, make sure you’re tracking your B12 intake and status.

I’m not saying that’s the definitive answer. There may be more side effects. There probably are more. But on the whole, it’s a promising drug.

Now I’m going to address some of the concerns and questions from last week’s post on the Kraft Heinz acquisition. You guys made some good points and asked tough questions. I have answers.

On Disruption Of the Food Industry Being Hard or Impossible:

Believe me: We have disrupted the food industry. The ancestral movement is quite good at disruption. Take the fitness industry—just look at CrossFit and the thousands of small “functional fitness” gyms popping up everywhere. And the lighting industry—notice all the bulbs with warmer, less-blue lighting. And the tech industry—see the sudden development and adoption of “nightmode” to protect sleep and circadian health. Primal Kitchen disrupted the mayo, condiment, and dressing industry, not by upending or destroying it, but by highlighting the coming shift. That’s exactly why the acquisition occurred. They realized that things are changing and have changed, and that a growing number of people care about the quality of their packaged food and are willing to pay for it.

One thing that I didn’t realize until I got into this business—the packaged food business—is that smaller companies all eventually butt up against a ceiling. At some point, the smaller guys simply don’t have access to the same avenues of distribution as the larger guys. This isn’t negotiable. If you want to expand, you need access. From the beginning I wanted to put high-quality mayo, condiments, and dressings—the “extra” stuff that provides much of the added fat and sugar in the Western diet—in millions of homes. I couldn’t do that without access to those distribution channels, those industry connections, that capital. Now I can.

Some Worried About the Quality Of the Product. Will It Change?

I was adamant about maintaining product quality and integrity from the earliest of discussions with Kraft Heinz, and they were fully aligned with this from the beginning. It’s clear to me that Kraft Heinz sees that increasing numbers of people are flipping mayo jars around and scanning the labels. They know that the folks who buy Primal Kitchen products do so only because the ingredients we use are the best around, the very same ingredients you’d use if you were making mayo or dressing at home. If those ingredients change, you will stop buying. Business 101.

I know that. Kraft Heinz knows that.

On Extreme Skepticism:

We all have choices: do we let life unfold before us and respond accordingly, or do we fall prey to cynicism and assume the worst? I strongly recommend not being a cynic. It keeps many of us from ever fulfilling our potential and achieving our goals and dreams.

When I started Primal Nutrition, I left a well-paid, stable gig and put all my (borrowed) money and energy into the new venture. I had a wife and two small children at home, and the future was uncertain. It could have gone very wrong. But I did it just the same, because on some level I knew it would work. I left security and comfort and a steady paycheck for struggle and nerves and anxiety. My goal of changing how people eat and thrive kept increasing, from a million people, to ten million to a hundred million (I always think big). Now, with the leverage that Kraft Heinz brings, that goal of bringing healthier options to everyone is within reach.

On the Opportunity At Hand:

All across the U.S., in small towns and metropolises, rural communities and suburban sprawl, the vast majority of people are still eating way more seed oil and shifting the fatty acid ratio of their tissues accordingly than humans have ever done.  I think of all the people dousing the salad their doctor said they should start eating in soybean oil-based dressing and buying “olive oil mayo” that was mostly just seed oil, and it frustrates me. Imagine if they switched? Imagine if they all switched? Imagine if we were able to shift the collective omega-6:omega-3 ratio back toward ancestral optimums. Longtime readers know how big a change a person can make in his or her health just by changing the fats you eat. Now imagine a population doing it.

It could be big.

That’s it for today, folks. Take care and share your thoughts below.

As always, thanks for reading.

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References:

Libby G, Donnelly LA, Donnan PT, Alessi DR, Morris AD, Evans JM. New users of metformin are at low risk of incident cancer: a cohort study among people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2009;32(9):1620-5.

Bannister CA, Holden SE, Jenkins-jones S, et al. Can people with type 2 diabetes live longer than those without? A comparison of mortality in people initiated with metformin or sulphonylurea monotherapy and matched, non-diabetic controls. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2014;16(11):1165-73.

De haes W, Frooninckx L, Van assche R, et al. Metformin promotes lifespan through mitohormesis via the peroxiredoxin PRDX-2. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2014;111(24):E2501-9.

Esmaeilzadeh S, Gholinezhad-chari M, Ghadimi R. The Effect of Metformin Treatment on the Serum Levels of Homocysteine, Folic Acid, and Vitamin B12 in Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2017;10(2):95-101.

Pongchaidecha M, Srikusalanukul V, Chattananon A, Tanjariyaporn S. Effect of metformin on plasma homocysteine, vitamin B12 and folic acid: a cross-sectional study in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Med Assoc Thai. 2004;87(7):780-7.

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