Does Red Meat Give You Colon Cancer?

Have you heard? There’s a new “red meat will kill you” study. This time, it’s colorectal cancer.

Here’s the press release.

Here’s the full study.

I covered this a couple Sundays ago in “Sunday with Sisson.” If you haven’t signed up for that, I’d recommend it. SWS is where I delve into my habits, practices, and observations, health-related and health-unrelated—stuff you won’t find on the blog. Anyway, I thought I’d expand on my response to that study here today.

How the Study Was Conducted

It’s the basic story you see with most of these observational studies. Around 175,000 or so people were asked to recall what they ate on a regular basis—a food frequency questionnaire. This is the exact questionnaire, in fact. The research team took the answers, measured some baseline characteristics of all the subjects—socioeconomic status, exercise levels, whether they smoked, education level, occupation, family history of colorectal cancer, and a few others—and then followed up with participants an average of 5.7 years later to see how many had developed colorectal cancer.

What the Study “Showed”

Those who had moderate amounts of red meat had a 20% higher chance of getting cancer.

And in the end, the increased risk was a relative risk. It wasn’t a 20% absolute increase in risk. It was a relative increase in risk. The subjects started with a 0.5% risk of getting bowel cancer. In those who ate the most processed meat and red meat, that risk increased 20%—to 0.6%!

From 0.5 to 0.6%. Sure, that’s an increase, but is it something to overhaul your entire diet for? To give up the best sources of zinc, iron, B vitamins, protein, carnosine, creatine? All that for a measly 0.1% that hasn’t even been established as causal?

Study Findings Most News Outlets Won’t Include

One head scratcher that leaps out: the link between unprocessed red meat and colon cancer was not actually statistically significant. Only processed meat was significantly linked to colon cancer.

Another head scratcher: red meat, whether processed or unprocessed, had no significant association with colorectal cancer in women. Why didn’t they highlight the fact that in women, eating red meat was completely unrelated? That’s half the world’s population. That’s you or your mom, your daughter, your grandmother, your girlfriend. And unless they were to look at the full study and read the fine print, they’d never know that red meat actually had the opposite relationship. You’d think the authors would want to mention that in the abstract or see that the press releases and media treatments highlighted that fact.

It’s probably because mentioning that red meat was neutral in women and had no statistically significant link to colon cancer in men and women would have destroyed their case for red meat as an independent carcinogen. See, carcinogens are supposed to be carcinogens. There are many meaningful differences between men and women, but a poison is a poison.

What’s the proposed mechanism for red meat triggering colon cancer in men but not in women? If they didn’t have one (and I imagine they wouldn’t have mentioned it if they did), then there’s probably something else going on.

Besides, the literature is far from unequivocal.

What Other Research Says About Red Meat and Bowel Cancer

In analyses that include consideration of cooking methods and other mitigating factors, red meat has no relationship with colon cancer.

Or what about this study, where colon cancer patients were more likely to eat red meat, but less likely to have type 2 diabetes? Should people avoid red meat and work toward getting diagnosed with type 2 diabetes?

Or how about this study, which found no difference in colorectal cancer rates between people who ate red meat-free diets and people who ate diets containing red meat? Shouldn’t the diet without any red meat at all have some effect?

Or this classic study, where rats on a bacon-based diet had the lowest rates of colon cancer. In fact, bacon protected them from colon cancer after they were dosed with a colon cancer promoter, while rats on normal “healthy” chow were not.

The Blind Spot In Red Meat Research

I don’t need to go into all the confounding factors that might predispose conventional red meat lovers to bowel cancer. Nor will I mention that it’s impossible to fully control for variables like the buns and bread and fries you eat the red meat with and the industrial seed oils it’s cooked in.

That last bit is crucial: the seed oils. It’s what nearly every cancer researcher misses. It’s not just a minor variable; it’s quite possibly the most important determinant of whether meat is carcinogenic in the colon or not. Heme iron—the compound unique to red meat that usually gets the blame for any increase in cancer—is most carcinogenic in the presence of the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid.

In one study, feeding heme iron to rats promoted colon cancer only when fed alongside high-linoleic acid safflower oil. Feeding MUFA-rich and far more oxidatively-stable olive oil alongside the heme prevented the colon carcinogenesis.

Another study had similar results, finding that meats containing medium to high amounts of heme—beef and beef blood sausage—promoted carcinogenic conditions in the colon when the fat sources were linoleic acid-rich corn and soybean oil.

And most recently is this paper. Mice were split into three groups. One group got heme iron plus omega-6 PUFA (from safflower oil). One group got heme iron plus omega-3 PUFA (from fish oil). The third group got heme iron plus saturated fat (from fully hydrogenated coconut oil, which contains zero PUFA). To determine the carcinogenicity of each feeding regimen, the researchers analyzed the effect the animals’ fecal water (which is exactly what it sounds like) had on colon cells. The fecal water of both PUFA groups was full of carcinogenic indicators and lipid oxidation byproducts, and exposing colonic epithelial cells to fecal water from PUFA-fed mice was toxic. The coconut oil-derived fecal water had no markers of toxicity or lipid oxidation.

I never see these (animal) studies cited in observational studies of meat and colon cancer. I think that’s a huge blindspot, and it’s one of the reasons I rarely put any stock in these scary-sounding studies.

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading. Now go enjoy a steak.

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References:

Bylsma LC, Alexander DD. A review and meta-analysis of prospective studies of red and processed meat, meat cooking methods, heme iron, heterocyclic amines and prostate cancer. Nutr J. 2015;14:125.

Alsheridah N, Akhtar S. Diet, obesity and colorectal carcinoma risk: results from a national cancer registry-based middle-eastern study. BMC Cancer. 2018;18(1):1227.

Rada-fernandez de jauregui D, Evans CEL, Jones P, Greenwood DC, Hancock N, Cade JE. Common dietary patterns and risk of cancers of the colon and rectum: Analysis from the United Kingdom Women’s Cohort Study (UKWCS). Int J Cancer. 2018;143(4):773-781.

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Weekly Link Love — Edition 26


Research of the Week

Scientists generate speech from brain recordings.

In the U.S., sedentary behavior has remained stable or gotten more prevalent.

Visualizing coffee might be enough (not buying this one).

Pigs who eat chicken generate more lipid oxidation products than pigs who eat beef.

When we sleep, our brain distinguishes between important and unimportant sounds.

Thinking of your future self as similar to your present self produces better outcomes.

20 minutes of nature is enough.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 330: Gary E. Foresman, MD: Host Elle Russ chats with Dr. Foresman about heart disease, statins, and more.

Episode 331: Brad Kearns and Brian McAndrew Talk Carnivore and Balance: Host Brad Kearns chats with Primal video whiz Brian McAndrew about carnivory and balancing being strict with being happy.

Health Coach Radio Episode 9: Lauren Schwab: Lauren has mastered the art of the wellness retreat, not an easy task.

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

First they came for the hot dogs and bologna, and I was silent….

Salt limits get even lower.

Interesting Blog Posts

How a knee bone that almost disappeared is coming back.

A novel tactic for getting teens to spurn junk food.

Lowering cholesterol with psyllium at every meal: one experience.

Hilarious.

Social Notes

If you’ve had success with the Primal Blueprint, Keto Reset, or any of the advice offered on this site, send in your success story. All submissions will receive a discount code for use on Primal Blueprint or Primal Kitchen.

Got named one of Healthline’s “Best Men’s Health Blogs.”

I hope this guy follows me.

Everything Else

If you’re not eating whole rattlesnakes, you can’t call yourself paleo.

Human composting up for a vote in Washington state.

A man’s beer-only fast for Lent ends up working out.

“The sudden passionate happiness which the natural world can occasionally trigger in us,” Michael McCarthy writes, “may well be the most serious business of all.”

“So I had a piece of salmon and my brain felt like a computer rebooting.”

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

This is awkward: Using CRISPR to edit DNA also causes off-target RNA alterations.

Article I found interesting: Neuronal life after death.

Video I enjoyed: 3 pro soccer players vs 100 kids.

I’m not surprised: Wildlife-friendly agriculture increases yield.

Why everyone needs to lift: Having muscle protects against progression from healthy to metabolically unhealthy.

Question I’m Asking

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?

Another Question I’m Curious About

What would you do with a bunch of extra arugula?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Apr 21– Apr 27)

Comment of the Week

“I don’t think we should be drinking teas grown in ‘Shady Conditions’…
all kidding aside, magnesium works well for me until about after 5pm, and then it wires me up and I can’t sleep.”

– You haven’t had tea grown in places with gunshots going off, discarded syringes littering the ground, and human fecal matter smeared everywhere? It’s the best, nocona!

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Giveaway: Cuisinart AirFryer + $300 in Primal Kitchen Products

I’ve got a success story coming up this morning, but first this….

We’ve teamed up with Cuisinart to offer an amazing giveaway…to two lucky winners.

Yup, two lucky winners will receive: 1 Cuisinart AirFryer, $200 of Primal Kitchen products, and a $100 gift card to Primalkitchen.com. All you have to do is enter by submitting your email address on this entry page.

The giveaway is open from April 15, 2019 to April 29, 2019.

Enter HERE FIRST and then get BONUS points/entries when you follow: @primalkitchenfoods, @marksdailyapple and @cuisinart on Instagram. Open to those who reside in the U.S. only. We’ll announce the winners April 30th!

And be sure to check out these Primal AirFryer recipes also on the giveaway page:

Good luck, everybody, and have a great week!

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Weekly Link Love — Edition 25

Research of the Week

Statins linked to diabetes, again.

A ketogenic diet helps relapsing MS patients lower fatigue, reduce depression, and lose weight.

Indigenous Australians traded pottery with Papua New Guineans for thousands of years.

A fatty liver epidemic in young people is bad news and simply shouldn’t be happening (but is).

Narcissists make better citizens.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 328: Dr. Loren Cordain: Host Elle Russ chats with the creator of the original Paleo Diet, Dr. Loren Cordain PhD.

Episode 329: Dr. Lindsay Taylor: Host Brad Kearns chats with Dr. Lindsay Taylor, PhD and co-author of the Keto Passport.

Health Coach Radio Episode 8: Kama Trudgen: Kama Trudgen runs health retreats for the indigenous Yolngu people of Northeast Arnhem Land, Australia, helping them reclaim health using traditional diets and lifestyle practices.

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

Not grazing on junk all day long is “starving,” apparently.

Irish soil contains microbes that fight drug-resistant bacteria.

Interesting Blog Posts

Ancient animal urine could reveal the history of animal agriculture.

A sandwich with pickles instead of bread? Sure, why not.

Social Notes

Enter now to win a Cuisinart Airfryer, $200 in Primal Kitchen loot, and a $100 gift card to PrimalKitchen.com.

My quick, effective road workout when I’m traveling light without gym access.

Everything Else

This seems like a good use of GMO technology: blight-resistant American chestnut.

Google pulls the plug on its glucose-monitoring “smart lens” they’d been working on since 2014.

Raw eggs in milk, carrots, steak, lamb chops, liver, and the odd ice cream sundae: Marilyn Monroe’s diet.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

Virtual health summit you should attend: Habits to Thrive, a 7-day summit hosted by Deanna Wilcox, Anya Perry, and 17 other Primal Health Coaches.

Study I found interesting: Drug and alcohol use and life satisfaction.

Positive side effect I’m hoping develops: Scientists are mad that T-rex bones are going for millions on eBay rather than remain in the public trust. But what if high prices and private sales spur more finds and more discoveries?

I think there are better ways to lose weight: Than swallowing 3-dimensional cellulose matrix tabs that expand in your stomach and take up space.

I can’t think of a better way to gain weight: “…eating behaviors of modern consumers may be guided by a predominant goal to attain the subjective experience of complete fullness.”

Question I’m Asking

Some high-end coffee places are banning milk, sugar, and cream, arguing that the extra additions detract from the true coffee experience. What do you think of food establishments with draconian policies like that—snobs or real artisans?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Apr 14– Apr 20)

Comment of the Week

“What about a half scoop of metagenics thermaphaseprotein detox powder in water? Will this break my fast?”

– Depends which ThermaPhase tier you’ve reached. Tier 2 and below you’d better go a quarter scoop if you want to maintain the fast. Tier 3 ThermaPhase or higher actually extracts calories from you.

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Weekly Link Love — Edition 24

Research of the Week

The common food additive TBHQ, a synthetic antioxidant used to preserve freshness, appears to impair the immune response to influenza.

Maori people have a greater insulin response to fructose than BMI-matched Europeans.

There’s a new DNA editing tool in town.

Good dog.

Dog owners tend to be more happy than cat owners.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 325: Gary John Bishop: Host Elle Russ chats with Gary John Bishop, personal development coach and author of Unf*ck Yourself and Stop Doing That Sh*t.

Episode 326: Dr. Lindsay Taylor: Host Brad Kearns chats with Dr. Lindsay Taylor about silly six-packs and going by how you feel rather than how you look.

Health Coach Radio Episode 7: Michael Rutherford: Michael Rutherford is a veteran health coach who focuses on an underserved population—truck drivers.

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

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sounds like he’s been reading this blog.

Researchers find a new human species, a tree-climber with curved toes who lived in the Philippines 60 thousand years ago.

Interesting Blog Posts

Ancient methods for preserving olives.

Icing may not work, may hurt.

Social Notes

I had a good time on the Taste Radio podcast, talking about my history as a serial entrepreneur and how it made growing the blog and brand into what they are today possible.

I also had a blast with Aubrey Marcus on his podcast, talking about our shared vision for changing how the world eats and the importance of learning from failure.

Everything Else

Chinese scientists insert human brain genes into monkeys.

It’s possible to get too much vitamin D.

Norway hospitals offer forest therapy.

Cashews come with a price.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

New study: Dietary saturated fat unrelated to heart disease risk.

Topic I found interesting: How Alzheimer’s patients usually have more going wrong in the brain than “just” Alzheimer’s, and what it means for treatments.

As someone who has experience with both, I can agree: Exercise makes you happier than money.

I hadn’t thought of this angle: Is work more fun than not working?

Seems likely: Will space colonization be fully automated?

Question I’m Asking

What’s your opinion on the “money vs. exercise for happiness” question?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Apr 7 – Apr 13)

Comment of the Week

“Now that you mention it in your Sunday with Sisson, I think I’ve always thought of the pushup more as a toe-as-fulcrum rotation rather than an up-and-down activity. I mean, this perspective naturally follows if you are already doing pushups with a ridged plank from head to toes and focus on only moving your arms to raise your body up and lower it back down slowly, as if you were a plank of wood a single person was lifting up and down from the floor while standing at one end of the plank. Visualization and imagery can provide key insights into form and technique.”

– Great description and apt point, Aaron.

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Weekly Link Love — Edition 23

Last call to enter the Mark’s Daily Apple Ultimate Coffee Giveaway. This one closes Monday (4/8/19) at midnight PDT.

Research of the Week

Testosterone-induced aggression may be mediated by dopamine.

Cognitive reappraisal can make a workout seem easier.

In alcoholics, brain damage progresses even after they stop drinking.

Scientists may have debunked the existence of “depression genes.”

Sugar crash, not sugar rush.

Was fat more important for human brain development than meat?

Omega-3s tied to less asthma in children.

Both low and too-high intakes of sodium are linked to increased mortality. Around 4.5 grams per day seems to be optimal.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 323: Ste Lane: Host Elle Russ chats with Primal Health coach Ste Lane.

Episode 324: Keto: Discipline, Structure, Accountability, and Social Influences: Host Brad Kearns gets into social contagions.

Health Coach Radio Episode 6: Dr. Bo Neichoy: Dr. Bo Neichoy is a bariatric doctor whose clinic is staffed almost entirely by health coaches.

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

Unhealthy diets are bigger killers than cigarettes and hypertension, experts say. Gotta love how they lump red meat in with “processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, and trans fats.”

The VA is set to partner with VirtaHealth to help vets with type 2 diabetes try low-carb.

Interesting Blog Posts

How blind people think about color.

How to use embodied movement practice to improve your squat.

Social Notes

Taking Dear Mark queries.

Everything Else

Another disease of civilization: “slowness rage.”

The Fall of the Vegan Prince.

A lot of incredible news came out on April 1st, but cloned mammoth meat has really got me interested.

Intermittent chemo.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

I was surprised to see “April 2”: Snorting sugar could help fight respiratory illness.

I laughed: Morning routines normal people swear by.

Concept I found interesting: ADHD as the entrepreneurial trait.

I’m not holding my breath: “…followers of low-carb eating are hoping for a nod of approval in the upcoming U.S. dietary guidelines that advise Americans on what to eat.”

Another April 1st near miss: Oral sex associated with less miscarriage.

Question I’m Asking

Are you hoping for an official embrace of low-carb/Primal/keto eating by the authorities/experts/medical community?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Mar 31 – Apr 6)

Comment of the Week

“About to have my first child (Wife is in early labor now) I think i am going to need some coffee.”

– You don’t know how right you are, Brett.

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The Definitive Guide To What Breaks a Fast

One of the most common questions I get is “Does [x] break a fast?”

What they’re really inquiring about is: “Does this interfere with, negate, or nullify the benefits of fasting?”

These benefits include:

Ketosis: Fasting is the quickest way to get into ketosis, an metabolic state characterized by increasing fat burning, fat adaptation, and—in some people—improved cognitive function.

Fat Loss: When you’re fasting, you’re not eating, and not eating is the best way to force your body to burn the fat it already possesses. Fasting also means no additional calories are coming in, and many people find that fasting is a great way to control their calorie intake.

Autophagy: Autophagy, or “self-eating,” is the process by which our cells prune damaged components, maintain proper function, and keep aging at bay. Fasting triggers autophagy. Breaking the fast will stop autophagy.

Let’s go through the most popular queries one by one and figure out how each one affects an intermittent fast.

Common Drinks

Coffee

Depends on who you ask. Some say the fact that coffee triggers a metabolic response means it breaks the fast. I say that coffee increases fat mobilization and burning, independently triggers autophagy (something we’re looking for when we fast), and makes it easier to stave off hunger. For my full treatment, check out this post on coffee and fasting.

I’m going to say “no.”

Tea

Tea contains no calories, improves metabolic health, and can aid fat burning. All signs point to it being great during a fast. Of course, if you had a tablespoon of sugar and a half cup of milk, you’re breaking the fast. But tea itself is a great addition.

I’m going to say “no.”

Yerba Mate

Yerba mate is essentially non-caloric, like tea or black coffee. It also has beneficial effects on glucose tolerance, which is a big plus.

I’m going to say “no.”

Bone Broth

I covered this in full a few months ago. Go read that post. In short, a bit is probably okay. Just keep in mind that the more gelatinous your broth is, the more collagen protein it will contain and the greater its potential to inhibit autophagy. This isn’t established in humans yet (see the collagen section below), but it’s worth considering. A nice salty broth has gotten many a faster through a tough fast, especially if they’re still learning the ropes and need some electrolytes.

I’m going to say “technically yes” but “realistically no.”

Lemon Water

A tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice has a couple calories and a decent amount of potassium. Combined with salt, lemon water is actually a nice way to hydrate during a fast without breaking it.

I’m going to say “no.”

Diet Soda

Diet soda may mess with your gut. It’s linked to weight issues, though not conclusively and certainly not in a causative manner; it’s just as likely that the relationship can be explained by overweight and unhealthy people using diet sodas in a bid to lose weight. I don’t like them myself, and I’ve witnessed people fail to ever kick the sweet tooth as long as they drank diet sodas. But many people find they do improve dietary adherence and do improve fasting tolerance. If that’s the case, they are very pro-fasting.

I’m going to say “no.”

Juice

A juice fast isn’t really a fast. You’re consuming fewer calories than you might eating normal food, but you’re still consuming a good number of calories—most of them carbohydrate, no less.

I’m going to say “yes” unless you’re specifically engaging in “juice fasting,” in which case it’s still not fasting despite what you call it.

Common Drink Additions/Condiments

Cream (Unsweetened)

Technically, as a source of calories, cream breaks a fast. But it doesn’t provoke an insulin response when consumed in isolation, it doesn’t impact ketosis, and many people find it makes sticking to the fast easier.

I’m going to say “technically yes, but realistically no—just keep it to a couple teaspoons or less.”

Almond Milk

It depends on the almond milk. A full cup of the standard sugar-free almond milk has just 36 calories, about a gram of carbs, 2 grams of fat, and a gram of protein. That’s almost nothing. You could probably get away with a quarter or third cup and have minimal impact on your fast, but why not just drink some water or coffee?

I’m going to say “technically yes,” but you can get away with a little bit.

Butter

Like cream, butter doesn’t provoke an insulin response in isolation. It’s more calorically dense than cream, though, so watch how much you eat.

I’m going to say “technically yes, but realistically no as long as you’re not using more than a teaspoon.”

MCT Oil/Coconut Oil

MCT oil is pure fat and thus calorically dense, but it has three benefits going for it. First, it doesn’t provoke an insulin response in isolation. Two, it increases energy expenditure. Three, it converts directly to ketones. People new to fasting can often speed up the fat adaptation process by incorporating a little MCT oil. Coconut oil is the main source of MCT oil, so it’ll have similar effects, though not as pronounced.

I’m going to say “technically yes, but realistically no—and it may even enhance your fasting experience when consumed in moderation.”

Cinnamon

I don’t advise eating cinnamon alone, dry, and isolated. It’s a terrible and potentially deadly idea. But in some coffee or tea during a fast? Sure. It can even improve insulin sensitivity.

I’m going to say “no.”

Salt

Salt does not break a fast. Actually, adding a pinch or two of salt to your water during a fast can increase your tolerance of the fasting process and improve hydration status.

I’m going to say “no.”

Non-caloric Sweeteners—First Natural, Then Artificial

Stevia

Stevia contains no calories and has no effect on insulin secretion (if anything, it increases insulin sensitivity). However, it’s often used to sweeten foods that do contain calories, so be mindful of how you’re using it.

I’m going to say “no.”

Monk Fruit

For a good overview of monk fruit, read this. Suffice it to say, monk fruit is similar to stevia in that it’s a non-caloric, naturally-occurring sweetener with unique health effects. It will not break your fast.

I’m going to say “no.”

Swerve

Swerve is a sweetener that blends erythritol (a sugar alcohol) and oligosaccharides (a prebiotic fiber that tastes kinda sweet) with natural flavors. Erythritol has no effect on insulin or blood glucose (you just pee it out mostly). I couldn’t find any studies on oligosaccharides during a fast, but as humans cannot by definition digest them, they shouldn’t affect the course of a fast.

I’m going to say “no.”

Xylitol

See the gum section above. Stick to reasonable amounts.

I’m going to say “no.”

Sucralose (a.k.a. Splenda)

Sucralose does not provoke an insulin response or increase blood glucose—great news for fasters who want to use it—but it does seem to impair whole body insulin sensitivity. That’s bad for everyone.

I’m going to say “no,” but there are other downsides.

Aspartame

Those same studies on monk fruit and stevia also tested aspartame, finding similar results. Aspartame does not provoke an insulin or glucose response. I’m no fan of the stuff, but I don’t see any evidence that it will break a fast.

I’m going to say “no.”

Supplementary Powders, Oils, Etc.

CBD Oil

Assuming you’re doing the kind of hemp oil that comes in droppers and not the kind that you pour from a culinary oil bottle, the caloric content can’t possibly impact your fast. There are no studies examining the metabolic effects of CBD in the fasted state, but I don’t see any reason why it would impact ketosis, autophagy, or fat-burning—and without psychoactive THC involved, you won’t be getting the munchies.

I’m going to say “no.”

Protein Powder

Protein powder provokes an insulin response, which opposes autophagy, which means you’re breaking your fast. Plus, protein powder contains calories.

I’m going to say “yes.”

Collagen

If you’re strict and technical, then yes, collagen breaks a fast. There’s evidence that glycine—the most prominent amino acid in collagen—can inhibit autophagy, but it was a convoluted animal study where inhibiting autophagy with large doses of glycine after brain injury actually improved outcomes. It probably doesn’t apply to someone adding a scoop of collagen to their coffee. Besides, even if it slightly reduces autophagy, a little collagen won’t negatively impact ketosis, fat-burning, or energy intake.

I’m going to say “technically yes,” but “realistically no.” Avoid if your main focus is autophagy, though.

Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

BCAAs trigger an insulin response and thus stop autophagy and the fast. That said, many proponents of fasted training recommend using BCAAs before a workout to help preserve muscle and improve the post-workout anabolic response.

I’m going to say “yes.”

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is made by double fermenting the sugars present in apple juice. First, yeast convert the sugars to alcohol. Next, the alcohol converts to acetic acid. The result is a liquid that’s virtually calorie-free. Studies showing that consuming vinegar lowers the blood glucose response to a subsequent meal aren’t really relevant if you’re fasting, but they don’t hurt.

I’m going to say “no.”

Electrolyte Powder/Tabs

Electrolyte powders/tabs used to come festooned with sucrose, making them decidedly anti-fasting. These days, most of them are sweetened with stevia or some other natural non-caloric sweetener. Even the ones that have a little bit of sugar (1-2 g) are probably okay to consume without much negative effect. Best of all, electrolytes can really help you tolerate a fast.

I’m going to say “no.”

Breath-Freshening Items

Gum

If we’re talking sugar-rich gum, the answer is yes. Those definitely break a fast. If we’re talking xylitol gum, the answer is more mixed. In healthy individuals, 30 grams of pure xylitol triggers a small but significant rise in glucose and insulin. That might sound scary to a prospective IFer, but most people aren’t chewing gum made with 30 grams of xylitol. The average piece of xylitol gum barely weighs a gram.

I’m going to say “no,” unless you’re chewing gum made with real sugar or you’re throwing back 30 pieces of xylitol gum in a sitting.

Toothpaste

I always consume my toothpaste (around a tablespoon of the good stuff per brushing) and I’ve never had it knock me out of ketosis, autophagy, or in any way shape or form break my fast. I’m kidding. I don’t consume my toothpaste, but brushing your teeth doesn’t break a fast.

I’m going to say “no.” Don’t eat it though.

Mouthwash

Pretty much the same as toothpaste. Look for a brand that doesn’t contain sugar or one of the artificial sweeteners above that trips insulin. As the instructions (and common sense) suggest, don’t drink it.

That’s it, folks. If you have additional questions about what does or doesn’t break a fast, leave them down below. Thanks for reading, and I hope you found the post helpful. Forward it on if you did.

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References:

Hansson P, Holven KB, Øyri LKL, et al. Meals with Similar Fat Content from Different Dairy Products Induce Different Postprandial Triglyceride Responses in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Cross-Over Trial. J Nutr. 2019;149(3):422-431.

Anton SD, Martin CK, Han H, et al. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite. 2010;55(1):37-43.

Ili? V, Vukmirovi? S, Stilinovi? N, ?apo I, Arsenovi? M, Milijaševi? B. Insight into anti-diabetic effect of low dose of stevioside. Biomed Pharmacother. 2017;90:216-221.

Noda K, Nakayama K, Oku T. Serum glucose and insulin levels and erythritol balance after oral administration of erythritol in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1994;48(4):286-92.

Müller-hess R, Geser CA, Bonjour JP, Jéquier E, Felber JP. Effects of oral xylitol administration on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in normal subjects. Infusionsther Klin Ernahr. 1975;2(4):247-52.

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Don’t Miss the Ancestral Event Of the Year—Paleo f(x) 2019!

Inline_Mark_SpeakingPaleo f(x), my favorite holistic health and fitness event in the world, returns to Austin, TX, April 26-28th! Yup, that’s right around the corner! In case you missed it the last 7 years, Paleo f(x) is the ultimate Who’s Who gathering of the ancestral health movement—as well as the best Primal party you’ll ever go to, hands down.

I’ll be one of the speakers in several Mastermind Panels, and I’ll be giving a talk on “The Top 5 Most Common Mistakes When Starting a Health Coaching Practice.” Our very own Elle Russ, host of the Primal Blueprint Podcast, will also be speaking as will my friend and co-author, Brad Kearns. You can look for our Primal Health Coach and Primal Kitchen teams, too, among the vendors.

You’ll also be getting deep inside the brains of other world-class speakers including New York Times bestselling authors, physicians, scientists, athletes, health entrepreneurs, fitness professionals, biohackers, and more. Robb Wolf will be joining me, along with Chris Kresser, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, Dr. Michael Ruscio, Ben Greenfield, and dozens upon dozens more. You can register for the event and see a full list of speakers here.

I had such a great time rubbing elbows with thousands of like-minded Primal/Paleo enthusiasts at last year’s Paleo f(x). The Palmer Events Center featured all the biggest companies in the ancestral health sphere along with over 30 expert speakers. Overall, there wasn’t a dull moment, an empty belly, or a lack of enthusiasm among the pop-up community of Primal/Paleo attendees.

2019 promises to be even more of a thrill. The event features:

  • Keynotes: Be empowered and inspired by the thought leaders of the wellness movement at the keynote stage talks. (You’ll find me in this crew.)
  • Workshops: Work live with coaches and fitness experts at the small group expo floor workshops. Master your squat, conquer your kettlebell swing, or have fun at a “Primal Playout.”
  • Cooking Demos: Learn new mouth-watering Paleo recipes, up close and personal with your favorite bestselling cookbook authors and foodie bloggers.
  • Paleo On-Ramp: The special beginner-friendly stage has “Paleo 101” level talks that gently introduce you to real food and optimal living.
  • Health Expo: Discover an array of health-conscious, paleo-friendly companies and sample delicious foods on the expo floor.
  • Book Signings: Meet all your favorite authors and speakers at book signing meet and greets.
  • Networking: Connect with entrepreneurs, creatives, and other passionate “builders” in the Paleo f(x) networking lounge. Includes special guided networking sessions for bloggers, fitness professionals, and health practitioners. If mingling isn’t your thing, Paleo f(x) also offers special guided networking sessions. You’ll be matched with 8-12 other attendees who share your similar interests, so there’s no way you’ll leave without making personal and lasting relationships with your paleo/Primal tribe.
  • Special Events: Celebrate the community and join us for the Saturday Night Charity Festival.

I’ll also be walking the ground floor for the entire event, so it’s a great chance for us to meet. Or catch me at my talk or at one of the Mastermind sessions.

Paleo f(x) takes place at the Palmer Event Center, a premier space in downtown Austin, adjacent to the city’s best food, music, and culture. Last year our Primal presence filled the streets, pervading every corner of Austin for the weekend.

This event is just around the corner (and tickets traditionally sell out), so be sure to register today!

Check out the website to learn more about why you won’t want to miss this opportunity.

I look forward to seeing you there!

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join the largest paleo event in the world

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Weekly Link Love — Edition 22

Research of the Week

GMO soybean oil (made to have less PUFA and more MUFA) causes less obesity than conventional soybean oil

12 weeks of keto improve cognitive function, eating behavior, physical performance, and metabolic health in obese people.

Older adults are still capable of growing new neurons, except if they have Alzheimer’s.

More inflammation, more impulsivity.

Want to bulk up your pet mouse’s colon tumors? Give him American cola, not Mexican.

A combo of EGCG and ferulic acid reverses cognitive deficits in mice with Alzheimer’s.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 322: Dr. Robert Glover: Host Elle Russ chats with Dr. Robert Glover, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy.

Health Coach Radio Episode 5: Ste Lane: Hosts Laura Rupsis and Erin Power chat with Ste Lane, a Primal health coach highlighting the importance and vitality of mindset in the pursuit of health and fitness.

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 plaintiffs in an ongoing trial against Monsanto allege that the agrochemical company planted a mole in an independent lab to fake safety data for Roundup.

Primatologist Frans de Waal on human exceptionalism.

Interesting Blog Posts

How the timing of your training affects circadian rhythm.

These forest monks have it figured out.

Social Notes

Another “vegan” Youtuber got caught eating animal foods. You’ll never guess what happened next.

In last week’s SWS, I mentioned a product Kickstarter for Thin Ice, a wearable cold vest that claims to trigger thermogenesis. I want to make clear that I wasn’t recommending it, just expressing interest in the concept. I have no connection to the brand and no clue if the product actually does what it claims.

Everything Else

Look for a coffee-related giveaway this coming Monday on the blog. Has nothing to do with April Fool’s. (I never joke about coffee.)

Why are we “still waiting” for a male birth control pill? Maybe because the only viable one they’re trying to push lowers (an already historically low) testosterone.

Workism isn’t working.

Shmita, the ancient Jewish practice of agriculture.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

We can do epidemiology, too: A new study on carb consumption and heart disease finds that “strong and probably causal” links between coronary heart disease and glycemic load/index “exist within populations.”

Concept I found interesting: Sex differences in pain sensations.

This is worrisome: A “sex recession.”

I’m intrigued: “In order to reveal how ‘peculiar a creature we are,’ Stewart-Williams offers an alien scientist’s perspective on modern human civilization, studying us as we would study animals in the wild.”

I’d send my kids here (if I had anymore of the right age): The first USDA-certified organic high school where learning to farm is a graduation requirement.

Question I’m Asking

Men: Would you take a birth control pill that lowers testosterone? Women: Would you want your men to take a birth control that lowers testosterone? And I guess this follows, too…how do you feel about women’s birth control pills’ effect on your own hormonal picture?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Mar 24– Mar 30)

Comment of the Week

“‘Physiological Functions and Metabolism of Endogenous Ethanol and Acetaldehyde in the Reindeer’ is a bit of light reading that pairs well with a smokey single malt from Islay on a cold winter night.”

– I’m waiting for someone to bottle endogenous reindeer moonshine, Aaron.

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Weekly Link Love — Edition 21

Research of the Week

“Thermally-abused” (great term) soybean oil promotes breast cancer progression.

Big moralizing gods came after the rise of civilizations.

Strong weed linked to psychosis.

Reindeer brew alcohol in their bodies to deal with cold winters.

The link between statins and type 2 diabetes is even stronger than we thought.

“Ancient monkey bone tools.” That is all.

Case study: ketogenic diet (plus exercise and time restricted eating) rescues cognition in patient with Alzheimer’s disease.

Paleo ketogenic diets for cancer: more case studies.

Military personnel who maintained strict adherence to a ketogenic diet lost weight, lost visceral fat, and improved body composition without compromising physical performance.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 321: Maria Emmerich: Host Elle Russ chats with keto nutritionist Maria Emmerich.

Health Coach Radio Episode 4: Laura Rupsis: Erin Power interviews her co-host, Laura Rupsis.

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

Amazon removes some anti-vaccine books. Other tech companies are following suit. Maybe that’s a pretty safe target, but what about when they start targeting “dietary misinformation”?

The BMJ stops carrying infant formula advertisements.

Interesting Blog Posts

Why nutritional psychiatry is the future of mental health treatment.

How we’ll know AI is conscious.

The liver is not a filter.

Social Notes

How I train my abs.

Everything Else

Bhang, a traditional cannabis-infused drink popular during the Indian festival of Holi.

Some doctors are saying you should wean yourself off antidepressants very slowly—over months or years rather than weeks.

The fascinating effect soft foods had on human language.

Tucker Goodrich responds to Gary Taubes on seed oils.

Who were the Neanderthals?

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

Always glad to be included in “hot health trends.”

I’m glad to hear: Scientists come out against the abuse of statistical significance.

Concept I found interesting: A futurist’s dim view of the future smart home.

Guide I’m reading: The EWG’s 2019 guide to pesticides on produce.

I agree: We need to re-assess the impact of intensive grazing on carbon balance.

I’m flabbergasted: You mean I shouldn’t be injecting fruit smoothies into my veins?

Question I’m Asking

What’s your vision of the future—optimistic or dystopian?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Mar 17 – Mar 23)

Comment of the Week

“Oh, man. Thanks for the bonus ab workout from the hilarious gummy bear link.”

– Just be careful of overtraining, whitedaisy.

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