“Blogging is not writing. It’s just graffiti with punctuation.”
— Dr. Ian Sussman to Alan, in the movie Contagion
I started writing this blog with few expectations other than with a broad objective to provide useful content for anyone interested in understanding:
- how to take steps—whether large or small—toward living a healthier lifestyle, and
- how the scientific, research, and public policymaking processes both facilitate and impede our attempts to do just that.
Most readers of this blog will learn that for practical purposes, lifestyle changes occur via a series of small decisions made day after day. It’s an unsexy framework, to say the least, but that’s where I fall. Clearly, my background is not in marketing. However, if anything I write inspires a 180-degree transformation for the better in any reader, I’m all for it.
I first published to this blog on January 24th of this year. About eight months and 17 posts later, there is one pitfall I want be especially vigilant of: creating just another wall of graffiti.
In my view, one strategy for avoiding skirting on the edge of Internet vandalism involves giving credit where credit is due. That is, pointing readers to bloggers, authors, peer-reviewed articles (and the researchers/academicians who publish those articles), and other sources of information that may prove valuable in one way or another. As an example, many bloggers do this in the form of a “news-of-the-week” post, where they link to recent news articles they find interesting.
I’d like to take this one step further. How I develop and research ideas for this blog sometimes involves exploring the rabbit holes of the Internet. That is, my process is sometimes planned, but sometimes spontaneous. The concept of rabbit holes has a negative connotation, but I’ve found that getting lost in a research paper, an essay, or digging up information on ideas discussed in podcasts is fertile ground for discovering hidden gems—that is, truly evergreen content that’s useful and informative.
So, this post is a small experiment to find out if providing a window into my process also can be useful to readers. All constructive feedback is welcome.
- If lower impact cardio is more your speed than sprinting on the pavement or treadmill, consider wearing a weighted vest to increase the workload of walking or hiking. [Lauren’s note: A cheaper alternative may be to fill a backpack with books—the downside to this approach is that the extra weight won’t be distributed as evenly across your torso.]
- A recent study (2013) sponsored by the American Council on Exercise found that women who walk on a treadmill at 2.5 mph at a 5 or 10 percent incline while wearing a vest of 10 percent body mass burn about 13 percent more calories per session compared to no incline and no vest. Note that it’s the combination of walking at an incline and wearing a weighted vest that increases the exercise intensity. This was a small sample (n=13), but the results are promising.
- A few small studies suggest that wearing a weighted vest while walking may improve bone mineral density and balance.
- Ever thought about having your microbiome analyzed? Two options are uBiome and the crowd-sourced American Gut Project by the Human Food Project.
- What happens when you quit a comfortable life to spend a year off the grid in a wilderness survival program out in the bush of Australia? Angelo Coppola speaks with author, Claire Dunn, about her book, My Year Without Matches: Escaping the City In Search of the Wild, and explores the concept of “rewilding.”
- Clark Danger interviews Loren Cordain, PhD—author of The Paleo Diet and The Paleo Answer—on the basics of the paleo diet and Dr. Cordain’s major research findings on the relationship between diet and health in humans. Those in the paleo community often refer to Dr. Cordain as the founder of the paleo diet, and his peer-reviewed research record on the topic supports this characterization. The fact that Dr. Cordain emphasizes during this podcast that his colleague, S. Boyd Eaton, MD is the “godfather” of the paleo movement suggests both scholars’ peer-reviewed articles are obvious starting points for accessing the empirical science on paleo.
- A few resources:
- Most (if not all) of Dr. Cordain’s peer-reviewed, published research articles are available on his web site here. This is a treasure trove of science on human health from an evolutionary/ancestral perspective. Suggested articles for getting started:
Paleolithic nutrition: A consideration of its nature and current implications
New England Journal of Medicine (1985)
Origins and evolution of the Western diet: Health implications for the 21st century
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2005)
Exercise like a hunter-gatherer: A prescription for organic physical fitness
Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases (2011)
Cereal grains: Humanity’s double-edged sword
World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics (1999)
Evolutionary health promotion: A consideration of common counterarguments
Preventive Medicine (2002)
- Long-term paleo: What happens if you follow the ancestral health protocol for 30 years?
In this video lecture, S. Boyd Eaton, MD, compares and contrasts “weak paleo” and “strong paleo,” and provides the stats on his own health outcomes and biomarkers.
BOOKS I’M READING
The book: Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (I know, I’m late to this party—but better late than never.) For each section of the book, Pollan provides a list of sources he used while researching and writing.
- A few gems I’ve encountered so far:
- Food is fundamental, fun, frightening, and far-reaching
by Paul Rozin in Social Research (1999)
- Fat land: How Americans became the fattest people in the world
by Greg Critser
- Modern Meat
a documentary by Frontline
- Naturally (an essay on the organic food industry)
by Michael Pollan in the New York Times Magazine (2001)
- The futures of food (an essay exploring the sustainability of the industrial food system)
by Michael Pollan in the New York Times Magazine (2003)
- The (agri)cultural contradictions of obesity
by Michael Pollan in the New York Times Magazine (2003)
- If you’re interested in reading the works of the original “agtivist,” Joan Gussow, access her written works via her web site here. You’ll notice in her writings that she doesn’t hold back. One of her essay’s (originally prepared as a keynote address), entitled “Eating Responsibly,” is illustrative that she heeds her own advice: “[…] you ought always to say what you are thinking, since you never know what will make people mad.”
The book: Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics by Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim
- Gems I’ve encountered so far:
- A short history of nutritional science: Part 1 (1785 – 1885)
- A short history of nutritional science: Part 2 (1885 – 1912)
- A short history of nutritional science: Part 3 (1912 – 1944)
- A short history of nutritional science: Part 4 (1945 – 1985)
by Kenneth J. Carpenter in the Journal of Nutrition (2003)
- The foreign policy of the calorie
by Nick Cullather in The American Historical Review (2007)