Primal+Keto Cooking Made Easy: Sesame Ginger Broccoli

Anyone who knows me well has seen how much broccoli I eat. It’s one of my go-to sides with chicken or steak at dinnertime. But that doesn’t mean I eat it the same way every day. While roasting is my favorite prep method for broccoli’s flavor, it’s all about the sauces and seasonings, too. One of my favorite ways to punch up broccoli: a sesame ginger flavor. Check it out.


Sesame Ginger Broccoli

Servings: 2

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 ºF.

Place broccoli on a sheet pan. Toss with avocado oil and Sesame Ginger Dressing. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information (per serving):

  • Calories: 275
  • Carbs: 6 grams
  • Net Carbs: 4 grams
  • Fat: 27 grams
  • Protein: 2.5 grams

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Summer Ratatouille

As we head into midsummer, we’re already enjoying the first early harvests. This summer ratatouille is the perfect choice for showcasing and enjoying the very best of the summer season’s produce.

Whether you’re serving it as a savory vegan and vegetarian main course or as a generous side dish for some backyard barbecue, this dish is sure to impress all your guests.

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 80 minutes

Notes: The ingredients are broken down by type of vegetable for easy arranging later on, but you can cut down on bowls and prep by combining the zucchini and squash/bell pepper ingredients together. Allowing the eggplant to marinate separately ensures the slices stay moist and flavorful while cooking. You can also experiment with different herbs and herb blends with this dish, including basil, rosemary, herbs de provence, etc. Your options are endless! The vegetables are arranged in an oven-safe dish and covered with aluminum foil prior to baking. If you’d like to avoid foil, make this dish in a lightly greased dutch oven and cover it with a lid instead.

Ingredients:

Eggplant mix:

Zucchini mix:

Squash mix:

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced yellow squash
  • ½ cup sliced and halved red bell pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Tomato and shallot mix:

Garnish: parsley and thyme

Instructions:

Combine the eggplant ingredients in a bowl and toss until all of the slices are well coated. Set aside and marinate for 30 minutes.

Combine the shallot ingredients in another bowl and allow the tomatoes and shallots to marinate for 30 minutes.

Toss the sliced zucchini ingredients in a bowl.

Toss the squash and pepper ingredients in another bowl.

Preheat your oven to 350 ºF. Grease a square or round baking dish or small dutch oven with a little olive or avocado oil.

Carefully arrange the eggplant, zucchini, and squash rounds and red pepper slices in an alternating pattern around the dish, being sure to arrange them so the rounds are perpendicular to the bottom of the dish. Continue arranging the slices; you can work from the inside out or the outside in depending on what’s easiest to you. Continue until the dish is either very full or you run out of vegetables. If you have some slices left over, you can push some slices aside to make room for the remaining slices.

Top the dish with the shallot and tomato mixture, drizzling all of the liquid from the bowl around the dish. Tightly cover the dish with foil or pop the lid on if you are using a dutch oven. Place the ratatouille in the oven for 45-50 minutes.

Remove the foil/lid to check to see if the vegetables are just tender. If the vegetables aren’t tender, you can place the dish back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Uncover the dish and place it back in the oven for an additional 20 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and garnish with extra thyme and parsley.

Nutrition Information (¼ of ratatouille):

  • Calories: 242
  • Total Carbs: 12 grams
  • Net Carbs: 8 grams
  • Fat: 22 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams

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Weekly Link Love — Edition 36

Research of the Week

Agriculture (and increased availability of carbohydrates) increased the frequency of genes controlling blood sugar. People with the ancestral version of the gene have an easier time maintaining blood sugar while fasting but tend to have more trouble controlling blood sugar after carb consumption.

For the first time ever, scientists directly observe the transfer of RNA from an animal’s brain to its sperm and onto its offspring. Is this the mechanism for transgenerational inheritance?

Trigger warnings don’t actually help students reduce stress or learn any better but they make students believe in their efficacy.

Pesticide exposure linked to increased depression in teens.

We once walked with (or ran from…or ate) birds as big as elephants.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 353: Endurance: Brock Armstrong: Host Brad Kearns talks with frequent guest Brock Armstrong about synching endurance training and goals with quality of life and losing fat the healthy way.

Episode 354: Oren Jay Sofer: Host Elle Russ chats with Oren Jay Sofer about nonviolent, mindful communication.

Primal Health Coach Radio, Episode 17: Laura and Erin talk with Rachel Bell about building your empire.

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

How has legal cannabis gone in Colorado (NY Times link)?

Obesity takes the lead.

Interesting Blog Posts

Debunking top keto myths is a lot easier (and more convincing) when you have 150,000 days of patient care to draw upon.

Is Dean Ornish’s lifestyle program actually proven to reverse heart disease?

Social Notes

My constant companion.

Talked about some stuff.

Everything Else

Primal Jellyfish Collagen coming Spring of 2020.

There’s really no good metaphor for the human microbiome.

The Pentagon has a laser that can identify people by their heartbeat.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

I’m not sure what to think about this: The Water Bar opens in DC, featuring a $25 bottle of water, among others.

Article I found interesting: How a man’s biology changes after becoming a father (NY Times).

I feel like I read a similar story every few months: There’s a new tick in the US.

Some cool concepts here (gluten warning): What you can learn from Norwegian packed lunches.

This is a powerful story: A boy had a rare genetic lymphatic disorder. Doctors inserted the relevant genetic mutation into 10 sets of zebrafish, tested different drugs in each set, and gave the one that worked to the boy. It worked in him too.

Question I’m Asking

Read the Norwegian packed lunch article from above. Can you come up with a similar concept for no-frills, easy-prep, near zero-cleanup Primal or keto lunches?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Jun 30– Jul 6)

Comment of the Week

“Like most of us, I sometimes procrastinate for what seems to be no good reason. However, I’ve found two categories of procrastination that actually make me more productive.

With the first type of deliberate procrastination, I will put something off to allow for ‘subconscious fermentation.’ I find this very useful for certain tasks that involve problem solving that I am highly motivated to get done right away, but backing off for a day or two improves my effectiveness at tackling the task. For example, I had very large limb from a tree on my property break in a wind storm and get hung up in another tree with both ends suspended ten-plus feet off the ground. My first instinct was to deal with it right away. That meant either calling a professional and paying several hundred dollars or climbing up a tall ladder and wielding a chainsaw at a height that seemed precarious—neither of these options was particularly attractive to me, but something had to be done. I so badly wanted to get moving on this the day it happened, but I forced myself to procrastinate to allow my mind to work on the problem in the background. Two days later inspiration struck: I threw a rope over the limb, tied a large trash can to the rope and hoisted it several feet in the air, tied it off, put a garden hose in the trash can, turned it on, stepped back, and let the gradually increasing weight of the water-filled can safely pull the limb out of the trees and to the ground. Thank you, procrastination!

The second type of planned procrastination I use is for completing simple tasks I don’t care for that I have a tendency to do inefficiently and/or lament over if I give myself plenty of time. Put another way, some tasks become less unpleasant when I use procrastination to force a sense of urgency. For me, packing for a trip is a good example. I find if I decide to wait almost until the last minute (critical to this is giving myself a reasonable window of time), I’m forced to be highly focused in getting all my stuff together and the work becomes much more enjoyable and I spend my time more effectively.

With both of the above types of procrastination, I find I need to make a deliberate decision to delay. For the first type, it allows for more effective solutions to complex tasks. For the second type, it helps me to be more efficient and avoid the unease of anticipating doing a task I otherwise find monotonous or distasteful.”

– I love “subconscious fermentation,” Jim.

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Dear Mark: Why No Soy in PK Teriyaki, What Slackline to Buy, and Type 2 Diabetics and Keto

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions.

First, why did I leave out soy sauce from the Primal Kitchen® No Soy Teriyaki Sauce? Second, what slackline do I recommend beginners buy? And third, is keto safe for people with type 2 diabetes?

Let’s find out:

Hey Mark,

How come you didn’t use soy sauce in the new teriyaki?

The response to our new Primal Kitchen No Soy Teriyaki sauce has been overwhelmingly positive. I can’t blame them. The stuff is delicious. But, like you, a few have wondered why we decided to omit the soy. After all, the soy in traditional teriyaki sauce is soy sauce—a fermented product—and I’ve spoken positively about fermented soy in the past. I support the consumption of natto, a fermented soybean product with the highest vitamin K2 density of any food out there. Miso’s pretty good. Even tempeh is better than un-fermented soy. And traditional soy sauce fermentation is so thorough that several different gluten assays are unable to detect any gluten present in the finished product, despite wheat being a vital ingredient. Why not include actual soy sauce, or at least tamari (wheat-free soy sauce), in the PK teriyaki?

First of all, I make this stuff for you guys. For the people who’ve been there from the beginning. For the people who got into this Primal/paleo stuff because they had unexplained rashes, weird weight gain, gut issues, even though they were eating the conventionally “healthy” diet. And many of you (as many of you have told me over the years) have figured out that you have intolerance issues with soy—even if it’s fermented to high heaven. The last thing I want to do is exacerbate an autoimmune issue, especially if the ingredient in question isn’t actually necessary.

And two, I knew I could make something delicious and unique without soy. I didn’t need it. Maybe it’s not exactly like teriyaki sauce you’ve known and loved. For one thing, it has far less sugar. But it’s really, really good. It serves the same purpose as teriyaki sauce. It even manages to give the appearance of sweetness (at least, if your taste buds haven’t been deadened by decades of sugar baths) without actually having any added sugar—just balsamic vinegar. Soy simply wasn’t necessary.

Believe me: we tried different formulas that included soy sauce. They were fine, sure, but they weren’t necessary to get the result we wanted. And so we left it out. Why not leave out a potential allergen, one that a disproportionate number of our customers seem sensitive to? It was a no-brainer.

There are plenty of decent teriyaki sauces out there (although you might have to whip it up yourself to limit the sugar). Ours is just unique.

I definitely feel that procrastination is a mechanism of self-defense. After a long day of “mental work”, when I come home it’s not that “I’m tired” is more “I need to decompress”. One of my go-to phrases: “I’ll do it in the morning”. I still haven’t gotten myself one of those slacklines… is there a particular one you recommend?

I’ve always loved the Gibbon slacklines. The basic one is more than enough for most people.

A few beginner tips I always give to newcomers:

  • Focus on standing on one leg. Get comfortable there. Then spend even more time on one leg before trying to take steps.
  • Use trekking or ski poles to get comfortable. If you aren’t making any progress at all, there’s no shame in using a little assistance.
  • Know that the line won’t swing out from under you when you take a step. It feels like it will, but it won’t. Trust and have faith (kinda like life).
  • Let your arms swing where they may. Keep them fluid (like a gibbon), not rigid.

Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged. The first couple hours on a slackline is really humbling for almost everyone. I have a long history of board and “balance” sports (snowboarding, standup paddling, etc), and my first time on the slackline I could barely stand up. Your leg will wiggle more than you ever thought possible. Keep going. Even though it won’t feel like you’re making progress, you are. Your brain is taking notes, drawing new paths between neurons. It’s learning. Giving up gives your brain the message that this task is too difficult for you, and it’ll stop learning.

Is Keto dieting ok for us type II diabetics?

Most signs point to “yes.”

Type 2 diabetes has been described as a disease of carbohydrate intolerance. If that’s true, then removing or severely restricting the thing you’re intolerant of seems logical. What happens when you do that?

Very recently, a large study came out that supports the use of keto in this population. Two groups of type 2 diabetics were placed either on a very low carb ketogenic diet or a standard diet for two years. The ketogenic group:

  • Lowered their HbA1c.
  • Reduced their diabetes medication usage.
  • Lost visceral body fat.

The control group experienced none of these benefits.

Furthermore, 55% of the keto group reversed their diabetes and 18% went into remission.

I’ve heard some people make the point that because keto doesn’t necessarily give a type 2 diabetic the ability to eat a big baked potato and have normal blood glucose, it’s not actually a “cure.” Maybe. But would you say the same thing to an alcoholic who no longer drinks? Is sobriety not a viable treatment for alcoholism because if the alcoholic took a drink he’d fall off the wagon? No. That’s ridiculous.

That’s it for today, folks. Happy 4th to all my U.S. readers out there. Enjoy a safe and healthy holiday weekend.

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References:

Cao W, Watson D, Bakke M, et al. Detection of Gluten during the Fermentation Process To Produce Soy Sauce. J Food Prot. 2017;:799-808.

Athinarayanan SJ, Adams RN, Hallberg SJ, et al. Long-Term Effects of a Novel Continuous Remote Care Intervention Including Nutritional Ketosis for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes: A 2-Year Non-randomized Clinical Trial. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2019;10:348.

The post Dear Mark: Why No Soy in PK Teriyaki, What Slackline to Buy, and Type 2 Diabetics and Keto appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

7 Foods Keto Eaters Shouldn’t Fear

I don’t like being told what to do. That’s why I’m not a fan of hard and fast food rules, as I’ve written before. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I believe all foods are created equal. There are foods that aren’t health-promoting in any context. (I’m looking at you, processed chemical nacho cheese-like sauce.) Nevertheless, I’m incredulous when people suggest that they’re not “allowed” to eat certain foods on a Primal or keto diet.

Sure, we Primal folks choose to center our diets around the foods in the Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid. And once you go keto, higher-carb foods—even nutrient-dense ones—are harder to fit into your daily macros if staying in ketosis is important to you. However, I’ve found that keto people are overly prone to policing one another’s food choices based on their notions of keto.

Context is important. As a metabolically healthy person, I recognize that I have the luxury of eating more carbs than someone who’s insulin resistant and who struggles to regulate blood glucose. I also have the freedom to move in and out of ketosis in a way that someone doing a therapeutic keto diet might not. 

Depending on your circumstances, the “rules” of keto might be different for you than they are for me. My beef is with people who insist that everyone adhere to the strictest possible version of keto no matter the context or who villainize “carbs” as if that’s a discrete food group. Different foods provide different benefits, so I prefer to incorporate as many types of food as I can within reason. Plus, variety helps me enjoy my diet more. 

I don’t want to exclude foods just because they don’t work for someone else—or because of some arbitrary notion that they “aren’t keto.” In fact, here’s a list of foods that people have genuinely told me I’m not allowed to eat on keto, presumably because they’re too high-carb. (And, yes, I eat all these foods even when I’m keto.)

Disclaimer: Of course, I’m not suggesting that you have to eat these just because I do. This is simply a reminder that you don’t have to listen to the keto police. You can and should find a way of eating that suits you personally.

(Note: the carb counts are from Cron-o-meter and reflect the servings I’m used to eating while keto.) 

1) Beets

I love beets, so the blame and shame around beets while keto makes me shake my head. Sure, as a root they’re higher in carbs than above-ground veggies. The ½ cup of cubed cooked beets I add to my Big-Ass Salad comes in at 8 grams of carbs. 

To me, that’s not bad, especially weighed against the health benefits of beets. They happen to be a fantastic source of folate, manganese, potassium, and other nutrients. The betalain found in beets has been studied extensively as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compound with a variety of potential medical applications. Beets are also rich in nitrates, which can be cardioprotective, improve blood flow to the brain, and—of particular interest to me—improve cardiorespiratory endurance in athletes. (Although research focuses mostly on beetroot juice or concentrate, eating whole beets appears to work, too.)

I’ll keeping my beets, along with the greens.

2) Berries

You’ll see a lot of soapbox rants on keto boards decrying berries, which is surprising because berries are GRAOKFK (generally regarded as O.K. for keto). Nonetheless, there are plenty of people out there proclaiming that blueberries are too high-carb for keto. I’ve also seen people argue that only blueberries are allowed (presumably because they’re a “superfood”—more on that in a moment). 

Take a look at the carbohydrates in these common berries:

  • Blueberries (1/3 cup ): 7 grams 
  • Blackberries (1/3 cup): 5 grams
  • Raspberries (1/3 cup): 5 grams
  • Strawberries (1/3 cup): 4 grams

As you can see, blueberries actually deliver the most carbs among these options, but their carb count is still pretty modest. Anyway, berries are healthy and delicious. All berries score well on the antioxidant charts, but blackberries and raspberries actually have slightly higher ORAC values than “superfood” blueberries (the blueberry industry must have a better marketing team). Berries also score low on glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL), although blueberries push the middle range of GI. 

The bottom line is: if your carb budget is tight, sure, go for strawberries instead of blueberries, but blueberries are hardly a “non-keto” food.

3) Carrots

There’s a running joke in our Keto Reset Facebook group about carrots. Along with beets, carrots tend to be metaphorically slapped out of your hand if you admit to eating them in some of the other online keto groups. 

I’ve known keto folks who’ll pick the shredded carrot out of packaged broccoli slaw or restaurant salad mix. The thing is, if you manage to painstakingly pick ¼ cup of shredded carrot from your salad, all the painstaking effort saves you less than 3 grams of carbs. (Not worth it if you ask me.) Even a large whole carrot contains only 7 grams of carbs—and low-GL carbs, at that.

I don’t know where this fear-mongering came from. Perhaps it’s because carrots are a root vegetable, and one of the keto police rules is that root veggies are not keto. While it makes sense that most of your vegetable intake should be in the form of above-ground vegetables, that doesn’t necessitate avoiding every shred (literally) of healthy root vegetables. 

4) Cashews

Truth be told, I don’t eat cashews all that often. At 10 grams of carbs in ¼ cup, they are higher carb than any other nuts I eat regularly, and for no special health benefits. Check out my Definitive Guide to Nuts for the lowdown on how different varieties compare. 

One application I do appreciate is cashew cream for dairy-free and egg-free recipes such as this one. Personally, I have no problem with dairy, but for people with food sensitivities, this can be a nice option. 

5) Grapefruit

I used to have a grapefruit tree in my backyard, and I’ve enjoyed incorporating fresh grapefruit into summer salads now and then. Arugula, shaved fennel, avocado, and grapefruit is a tasty combo.

Caveat: this one is probably the biggest stretch for people who are still struggling with insulin and glucose regulation. Half a small grapefruit—enough for two servings of the aforementioned arugula salad—packs 11 grams of carbs. That said, grapefruit are among the lowest GI and GL fruits, on par with raspberries. If you’re at a place with keto where you’re ready to test your metabolic flexibility and see how you respond to introducing some fruits in moderate quantities, grapefruit might be one to try. 

6) Pumpkin

One-quarter cup of homemade cooked pumpkin has 3 grams of carbs (canned unsweetened pumpkin has 5 grams). 

So, go ahead and whip up a homemade PSL sweetened with stevia. There’s a recipe in The Keto Reset Diet Cookbook. In fact, you’ll find several pumpkin recipes in thereincluding directions for making your own puree.

7) Tomatoes

Tomatoes are another one of those “they taste kind of sweet, so they must be bad for keto” foods. Nah. It’s tomato season right now, and I’m enjoying a Caprese salad with cherry tomatoes every single day. The ten cherry tomatoes in my salad have fewer than 7 grams of carbs. A thick slice of tomato on your lettuce-wrapped burger comes in at a whopping 1 gram of carbs. 

Keto folks do need to be mindful of the carbs in sugary store-bought ketchup (which is why I created Primal Kitchen® Unsweetened Ketchup). The carbs in a huge plate of zoodles with marinara can definitely add up. As with all the foods on this list, the quantity matters.

Finally, Did I Mention That Context Is Important?

If you’re looking at this list, going, “There’s no way I could allot XX grams of carbs to ____!”, is it because you’re limiting yourself to 20 or 30 grams of carbs per day? If yes, is there a specific reason? The Keto Reset Diet recommends that most people aim for 50 grams of carbs per day, not counting non-starchy vegetables and avocados. (If you’re doing a therapeutic keto diet, or if you’re highly insulin resistant, you might do better starting at 30 grams per day.) 

With any of these foods, if you aren’t sure if they work for you, consider experimenting. I’m not a huge proponent of measuring and assessing everything, but in this case it might offer helpful info. Eat the food you want to include, then test your blood glucose and ketones two hours later. For example, if you want to add a handful of blueberries to your Big-Ass Salad, try it and see how your body responds. Of course, this only works if you know your baseline blood glucose and ketones—and if you also know how your body responds to the salad without the blueberries. 

Or you don’t have to be that systematic about it. Barring a medical need to be in ketosis all the time, you can go by subjective evaluations of how you feel when you include certain foods. 

Finally, if you are working with a limited carb budget and want to expand your vegetable (and even fruit) repertoire, considering targeting your intake of these foods around exercise to blunt the effect. 

There you go, folks. Surprises? Additions? Responses? Share your thoughts below, and have a great rest of the week.

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Diastasis Recti: What To Know

Today’s post is part two of a postpartum series inspired by a reader question. You can read part one here.

Diastasis recti (DR) is usually described shorthand as a separation of the ab muscles. More accurately, it’s a deformation of the linea alba, the line of connective tissue that runs down the front of your torso from your ribcage to your pelvis. The linea alba is basically where all the abdominal muscles meet in the middle; I think of it like the spine of a book. When the linea alba becomes deformed for reasons I’ll discuss in a moment, the rectus abdominis muscles, aka your “six-pack” muscles, pull apart. This is the (often visible) sign of DR.

More than a cosmetic issue, this compromises the integrity of your core and can be associated with a whole host of other problems if not corrected. Although it’s difficult to establish clear causal relationships, DR is often related to pelvic floor issues and incontinence, back pain, hernias and prolapses, and difficulty exercising. While some DR resolve on their own, often they require intervention—targeted exercises to bring the muscles back together or, in some extreme cases, surgery.

What Causes Diastasis Recti?

To understand DR, you have to understand that the abdominal cavity is always under pressure. Wedged as it is between the thoracic (chest) cavity and the pelvic cavity, the pressure in your abdomen is always shifting based on your breathing, movement, digestion, and so on. If the pressure isn’t too great, it’s no problem. However, when the pressure increases—say perhaps because you have a growing baby taking up more and more space in there—one of the ways that pressure can manifest is by pushing outward on the front of the belly. The linea alba stretches and weakens, and the rectus abdominis ends up abnormally separated.

I say “abnormally” because some separation can be classified as normal, especially during pregnancy, and can simply reflect individual structural differences. Estimates of the prevalence of DR among pregnant women range from 66%-100% of women experiencing some degree of DR by the end of pregnancy. Abdominal separation that does not resolve on its own soon after pregnancy, or DR not associated with pregnancy, needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

That’s right—men, children, and women who have never been pregnant can all have DR. Any conditions that increase intra-abdominal pressure and stretch and weaken the linea alba can lead to DR. These include things like overdoing traditional ab exercises like sit-ups, chronic coughing, and chronic constipation leading to straining. Injury to the linea alba, including from abdominal surgery, is another risk factor.

Renowned biomechanist Katy Bowman believes that alignment (how we hold our bodies throughout the day), movement, and even breathing all play a key role in preventing or developing DR. This isn’t to say that breathing incorrectly will make your abs split apart. Rather, the types of loads we place ourselves under can make us more or less susceptible to developing DR. On the flip side, by fostering proper alignment and movement patterns, you might be able to avoid DR even during and after pregnancy. More on this later.

How Do I Know If I Have Diastasis Recti?

Unfortunately, DR is often overlooked even in the antenatal and postpartum periods. However, it’s easy to test for yourself whether you have DR. The most obvious sign is if your stomach bulges when you do a traditional crunch (don’t do crunches if you think you have DR, or ever really—they aren’t a particularly safe or effective ab exercise), cough, or otherwise load your abs. This might look like a small football in your tummy, a loaf of bread, or just a mound. It is most likely to appear right around your navel, but it can also happen above or below your navel, or all of the above.

Even if it’s not visible, if you have pelvic floor weakness (no ladies, we shouldn’t be peeing when we run or jump rope), chronic back pain, hernias, or even digestive issues like constipation or bloating, you should check yourself for DR. Likewise if you feel like your abs are weak or aren’t holding you in, for lack of a better term, perform a self-test.

To do this, lower yourself carefully onto your back and lie flat with your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Lift up your shirt and slide your waistband down so you can feel your abs from your pubic bone to your sternum. Take two or three fingers and with your palm facing you, press down firmly at the top of your navel while you slowly lift your head off the floor like you’re beginning a crunch. You should feel your rectus abdominis muscles tense on either side of your fingers. Relax your head back to the floor. Repeat this test below your navel and above your navel up to your sternum. (Check out the video here if you need more guidance.)

You are feeling for two things:

  1. What is the gap between the ridges of your muscles? Anything greater than about two finger-widths is considered positive for DR. (The generally accepted medical standard is a gap of 2.7 centimeters.)
  2. How “squishy” is the linea alba? In other words, how far down do your fingers sink when you press? Ideally your linea alba would feel firm and resist being pressed down.

Don’t freak out if your fingers sink down in there! Now you know and can do something about it.

I Have a Diastasis… Now What?

If you believe that you have DR, it’s a good idea to get it checked by a doctor so you can get a referral to a physical therapist if needed. Look for a PT who specializes in DR and, if applicable, postpartum fitness. While surgery is sometimes recommended for serious cases of DR, it’s not to be taken lightly and might be avoidable with the help of a knowledgeable PT. Of course this is a decision that you must make with your doctor. Mild-to-moderate cases are often correctable with simple at-home techniques, but especially if you’re pregnant or have recently delivered your baby, I am still going to advise checking in with your doctor first.

Even if your doctor determines that you don’t meet the medical criteria for diagnosis, the exercises suggested to resolve DR will be helpful for anyone wishing to improve alignment and increase core strength and stability. That’s to say, even if you don’t have significant DR, you’ll likely still benefit from what I call the ABCDs of fixing DR. They are generally regarded as safe during pregnancy to help mitigate the damage of DR, but always talk to your doctor or midwife to be sure.

Alignment

Katy Bowman reminds us that we can’t look at any one body part in isolation. While we might think of DR as a problem in the abdominals, in fact the pelvis, abdominal muscles, and ribs are all connected. Moving any other body part that also moves the pelvis or the ribs will therefore affect the abdominal muscles and connective tissue.

Katy’s book, Diastasis Recti: The Whole-Body Solution to Abdominal Weakness and Separation, is a great resource. She focuses on proper alignment as both a preventative and restorative practice, and then she walks readers through a series of whole-body exercises, starting small and progressing to larger movements, that can improve DR. Her alignment checklist is as follows:

  • Straighten your feet
  • Back your hips up
  • Align your knee pits
  • Adjust your pelvis
  • Drop your ribs
  • Relax your diaphragm

For help understanding what this looks like in practice, I recommend starting with this video. It’s designed for runners, but it demonstrates the same principles that are important here. Katy also provides tons of information and resources on her website, Nutritious Movement. (Start with her Under Pressure post.)

You can’t have proper alignment if you’re walking around in heels all day, unfortunately, so it’s time to embrace going barefoot and wearing minimalist shoes as often as possible. If you’re used to wearing heels or even just traditional shoes (which often have a heel lift that we don’t even notice), make sure you take care to transition to a minimalist/barefoot lifestyle safely.

Breathing

The goal here is diaphragmatic breathing that engages the transverse abdominis (TA) muscles. Quick anatomy lesson: What we call “the abs” are not just the rectus abdominis muscles that make the six-pack. There are actually layers of muscles and connective tissue criss-crossing around in there. The TA are the innermost layer. They wrap all the way around the torso from the spine to the linea alba, and they are often described as looking like a corset.

In order to close a DR, we need to be able to recruit the TA, which means connecting to it and learning to activate it in the first place. This is where diaphragmatic breathing comes in. I find it easiest to feel my TA and understand what diaphragmatic breathing is supposed to feel like when lying on my back, but you can also do this kneeling. Place a hand on your belly and try to breathe into your hand, meaning you should feel a slight expansion of the belly as you breath. You aren’t forcing your belly out, but you want the motion as you inhale to be under your hand, not in your chest.

Next, place your fingers just above your hip bones on either side. Inhale through your belly, then exhale with some force, making a hissing noise. As you exhale, imagine tightening your core so your fingers move toward each other ever so slightly. This is not sucking in your belly, this is engaging that TA that wraps around from your back. Your belly should neither suck in nor pooch out, it should feel like it’s flattening (even if you can’t see it). Another cue my trainer sometimes uses is imagining zipping up the “corset” from the pelvis to the sternum.

Feeling the flexion underneath your fingers can be helpful for knowing you’re doing it right. If you’re having trouble understanding the technique, check out this video for a demonstration. Once you feel really connected to the TA, you can proceed to other strengthening exercises.

Core Exercises—but Only the Right Ones

I’m going to reiterate here that it’s important to consult with your doctor if you are concerned that you have limitations that might make any kind of exercise unsafe or inadvisable for you. In the case of DR, it’s a good idea to find a physical therapist and/or someone trained in DR or postpartum fitness who can help check that you’re doing the alignment and TA activation pieces correctly, and who can advise you on proper core exercises.

That said, there is widespread agreement about what not to do if you have DR, and that is any core exercise that increases intra-abdominal pressure. These include traditional crunches and sit-ups and, yes, planks. I know planks are one of the Primal Essential Movements, but they aren’t for you right now. Likewise experts advise avoiding twisting motions such as Russian twists and even certain yoga poses; high-impact exercises such running; and full-body exercises that require core activation like burpees, push-ups, and pullups (two more Essential Movements bite the dust) and heavy lifting.

Yes, that’s a lot, and it’s a bummer. That means you shouldn’t sign up for a 5k or get back to CrossFit until you take the time to address the DR. Bear in mind, though, that if you can’t properly engage your core during exercise, you’re at significant risk for injury and additional problems down the road. Although you likely have to back-burner some of your favorite activities in the short term, long term it is worth it to fix the DR first.

In order to do so, you need to work on gentle, appropriate exercises to strengthen the entire core. I’m not a PT or personal trainer, so I’m not going to give you specific exercises here. As I mentioned, Katy Bowman’s excellent Diastasis Recti book includes a whole series of progression exercises, and there are many resources and programs available online. You can also check out the movements here, here, and here for examples of the types of exercises that are generally regarded as safe and beneficial for DR. Did I mention you should check with your doctor first and consult a PT if you can? Good. I will also put some additional resources at the bottom of the post.

Diet

Because DR can be thought of as an injury to the connective tissue, you can support recovery by eating a nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory diet that includes a variety of vegetables, sufficient protein, and essential fatty acids to promote healing. Since this just so happens to describe the Primal way of eating, hopefully you already have this box checked.

Also include plenty of collagen-rich bone broth. Use it in cooking or simply sit on a mug of broth during the day. You can jazz it up by blending in different herbs and spices. My favorite is using my immersion blender to blend 2 teaspoons butter or ghee, ¼ teaspoon turmeric (an anti-inflammatory powerhouse), and a pinch of black pepper into a mug of ghee to make a frothy golden “latte.”

To Splint or Not To Splint?

Experts disagree about whether it’s advisable to wear a splint or brace to support the abdominals while you work on closing your DR. Since there’s no consensus, this is another area where you should consult your doctor or PT about your specific needs.

But When Can I Start the Real Exercise?

If you’ve recently had a baby, you probably miss the physical activities you couldn’t do later in your pregnancy. It’s hard to be patient and do breathing exercises when you really want to be going for a run and hoisting a barbell over your head.

I implore you to be patient. It will pay off in the long run! And please, please don’t push your body too far too soon because you’re feeling pressure to get back to exercise ASAP so you can “get your pre-baby body back.” With proper care, a DR might start to resolve in a matter of weeks, but realistically it might be several months or longer before it is fully fixed.

Only after you have done the foundational work of the ABCDs should you move on to other exercise. Make sure you’re selecting safer movements that don’t put excess stress on the DR. You should ease slowly into more strenuous or vigorous exercise, paying attention to how your body responds. If you can, work with a qualified trainer or coach who can help you determine a safe progression back into your exercise modality of choice.

What If My Post-baby Belly Isn’t DR?

Even if you don’t pass the two finger test, you can benefit from working on alignment as Katy Bowman describes, as well as working on activating the TA, the foundation of a strong and healthy core and pelvic floor. Everyone should be doing these things, really.

If you’ve done all this and still feel like you look bloated or pregnant despite being well into the postpartum period, you might be experiencing bloating due to food sensitivities or gut issues such as imbalances in the microbiome. Talk to your doctor or find a functional medicine practitioner to help you dig into that more. If your issue is an accumulation of fat in the midsection, that can be related to stress and excess cortisol. You can work with your doctor to diagnose this, and/or start working on your own to manage stress.  

At the end of the day, you might also have to accept that your body isn’t going to look exactly the same as it did before, and that’s ok. If you’re struggling with that, please check out my previous post on postpartum body image for support.

RESOURCES:

Find a professional to help diagnose and treat your DR:

The following offer paid programs designed to fix DR. They are endorsed by a variety of individuals and professional organizations. We at Mark’s Daily Apple do not have personal experience with these programs.

Do you have experience with diastasis recti or resources related to treatment? Share your thoughts and questions below, and thanks for reading today.

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Primal+Keto Cooking Made Easy: Chimichurri

Today Lindsay’s here sharing one of her favorite keto-friendly sauces—chimichurri. One of the best ways to keep your keto eating varied and flavorful is to experiment with great tasting sauces. Chimichurri is one the most versatile choices as well as one of the easiest to adapt to you own personal tastes.

In less than five minutes you can have a double batch ready for the week ahead. Enjoy!

Chimichurri

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: none

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano (discard stems)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup vinegar (red wine, apple cider or coconut vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup Primal Kitchen® Extra Virgin Avocado Oil

Instructions:

Put parsley, oregano and garlic cloves in food processor. Pulse until well chopped. Add rest of ingredients and blend until smooth.

Let stand for 20 minutes before using. Refrigerate in airtight container to store.

Nutritional Information (per serving):

  • Calories: 273
  • Carbs:  2.2 grams
  • Net Carbs: 2.2 grams
  • Fat: 28 grams
  • Protein: 0 grams

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Primal + Keto Pizza

When people say they won’t do keto because they find it too limiting, we shake our heads because it just doesn’t have to be that way. Rich and hearty salads, succulent meats, tender roasted veggies, tempting snacks and desserts—there’s not much you can’t eat on keto if you know how to do it.

This fresh and flavorful pizza is proof positive that you don’t need to give up great food (even comfort food!) to enjoy all the health benefits of keto living. We love this recipe for the substantial crust, the creamy cheese, bright tasting sauce and all the amazing toppings. (Hint: make a couple crusts at a time and freeze one between waxed paper in a sealed freezer bag.) Once you try this pizza, you’ll definitely want to make it again!

Ingredients:

Crust:

Mushrooms:

  • 1 cup sliced Cremini/button mushrooms
  • ¼ cup sliced red onion
  • 2 Campari tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ Tbsp. Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • Pinch of salt

Toppings:

  • 4 oz. cooked Italian sausage, sliced
  • 4 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup Raos Marinara Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil
  • olive oil to brush the crust with

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375º degrees. In a bowl, combine the almond flour, flaxseed, collagen and 1 tablespoon of tapioca starch. Stir in the salt, garlic powder, dried oregano and baking soda. Slowly add in the coconut milk, olive oil and avocado oil. Whisk the egg and add it to the dough. Allow the dough to rest for a few minutes.

Toss the mushrooms, red onion and campari tomatoes with the olive oil, avocado oil, minced garlic, oregano and salt. Lay the vegetables out on a parchment covered sheet pan and roast for 15-20 minutes, flipping once in between.

Slice the fresh mozzarella into thin slices and place them between two pieces of paper. Allow them to dry out like this for 30 minutes.

Dust another parchment covered sheet pan with half a tablespoon of tapioca starch. Pour out the dough onto the parchment and spread it out so it is in a rectangular shape. Sprinkle more tapioca starch on the dough and your hands as you work. The dough will be sticky so you can also use a silicone spatula to help you spread. Sprinkle the last of the tapioca starch over the top of the crust and spread it until it’s a rectangular shape around 10”x6”. Bake the pizza for ~10 minutes or until the crust is just set.

Heat a grill over medium heat. While it is heating, remove the crust from the oven. Spread on the marinara sauce, leaving a small amount of crust around the outside of the pizza. Sprinkle half of the basil all around the sauce. Lightly press the mozzarella slices onto the sauce. Arrange the sausage slices and mushroom mixture on the pizza. Brush a little olive oil on the crust. Carefully move the pizza from the pan to the grill, making sure to place it over indirect heat. Cover the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt slightly and the bottom of the crust is a little browned. Remove the pizza from the grill and garnish with the remaining basil immediately. Cut into 6-8 squares and enjoy!

**This pizza has a dense crust that’s a perfect vehicle for all sorts of topping goodness. The pizza crust is pre-baked and then grilled with the toppings. If you don’t have a grill, you can bake the pizza from start to finish in the oven – prebake the crust as directed and then finish baking at 400 ºF for about 5-7 minutes after you’ve added the toppings. This recipe uses fresh mozzarella which is dried out before baking, but it will get watery on your pizza if you grill it for too long. If you want more of a melted and browned cheese, swap out fresh mozzarella for a block or shredded mozzarella that has moisture already removed.

Nutrition Information (1/6 of pizza):

  • Calories: 367
  • Total Carbs: 9 grams
  • Net Carbs: 5 grams
  • Fat: 29 grams
  • Protein: 17 grams

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The post Primal + Keto Pizza appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

Avocado Egg Burger (Plus a Giveaway!)

There’s just something about an egg burger. The runny yolk and savory taste of beef together feel about as rich and decadent and satisfying as it gets. Add avocado with the typical burger fixings, and you’re looking at the king of keto burgers.

This might not become your everyday burger, but we’d call it one of those must-have burger experiences. The fresh tastes, the creamy textures, the sheer audacity of it—few burgers inspire the way this one does.

Servings: 4 burgers

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of grass-fed beef
  • 4 eggs fried in avocado oil
  • 4 firm avocados
  • 3 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 8 slices of red onion
  • 4 slices of tomato
  • 3 Tbsp. Primal Kitchen® Chipotle Lime Mayo
  • 2/3 cup microgreens
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Form hamburger into 4 patties. Grill for 8-10 minutes on medium heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper on finished burgers as desired.

Fry eggs on high heat for 2 minutes to get crispy edges and a soft, runny, yolk.

Peel avocado and discard pit. Cut beefsteak or vine-on tomatoes into slices. Cut red onion slices. Wash microgreens and dry.

Stack burger with bottom of avocado, then onion, tomato slice, burger, microgreens, egg, and Chipotle Lime Mayo. Then top with other avocado half. Enjoy!

Nutritional Information (per burger):

  • Calories: 398
  • Total Carbs: 3.5 grams
  • Net Carbs: 2.9 grams
  • Fat: 29.4 grams
  • Protein: 27.7 grams

Now For the Giveaway…

Enter to win: $100 in keto staples from Primal Kitchen (including the keto starter kit + collagen + protein bars), a copy of the Keto Reset book and Keto Reset Cookbook, PLUS a month supply of Vital Farms Eggs and Butter (in coupon form) and some Vital Farms swag!

To Enter:
1. FOLLOW @vitalfarms@primalkitchenfoods, @marksdailyapple & @theprimalblueprint

2. TAG a friend below that would love this Avo Burger just as much as you!

3. BONUS entries for signing up for our Keto newsletter: https://www.primalkitchen.com/pages/keto-reset

Open to U.S. only. The giveaway will close on Monday July 1st, 2019, at 11:59 pm (PST), and winners will be announced and contacted via IG direct message on Tuesday, July 2nd.

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Weekly Link Love — Edition 35

Research of the Week

In a study paid for by Impossible Foods, a novel yeast product used in the meat-less Impossible Burger was found to trigger weight gain and raise blood markers related to kidney disease in rats.

Researchers discover DMT-making neurons.

Smoking cigarettes is associated with negative changes in personality.

Antidepressant usage linked to an increase in suicide.

Giving elite runners’ gut microbes to mice made the mice more athletic.

Type 2 diabetics who lower their cholesterol may suffer more diabetic polyneuropathy.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 350: Endurance: Dr. Craig Marker: Host Brad Kearns talks with Dr. Craig Marker about the right way to do high intensity interval training.

Episode 351: Palmer Kippola: Host Elle Russ chats with Palmer Kippola about treating and overcoming autoimmunity.

Episode 352: Keto Q&A: Host Brad Kearns answers listener 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

Bad dog food brands.

Certain anticholinergic drugs linked to dementia.

Interesting Blog Posts

Do LDL particles cross the endothelium?

A look inside the sports fan’s brain.

Social Notes

How I coffee.

Everything Else

First steps for a baby gorilla. Brings me back.

Which creatures do we find scariest and most disgusting?

Everest as mountain of human fecal matter. Sad to see.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

Podcast I enjoyed: Dr. Jason Fung talks fasting on Dr. Peter Attia’s podcast.

Article I found interesting: LDL and the Immune System.

I found another reason to avoid hospitals unless necessary: Hospital flies that carry antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Another good podcast: George Henderson on Human Performance Outliers.

Great point: Why are we subsidizing our own disease burden?

Question I’m Asking

If there’s a problem with GMO, is it something inherent to the “GMO-ness” or is it whatever trait they’re inserting?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Jun 23 – Jun 29)

Comment of the Week

“New, Limited Release from Primal Kitchen: Collagen with Ground Placenta

New Recipe: Collagen Cord Blood Smoothie
Chock full of essential amino acids and stem cells, this tasty smoothie can …”

– Way ahead of you, Paleo Bon Rurgundy.

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