Death by Food Pyramid by Denise Minger

Conventional nutrition guidance has taken a battering in recent years. Many of the ideas  that have been drummed into our psyches; the notion that saturated fat is bad, cholesterol is bad, vegetable oils and whole grains are healthy have been turned on their heads. Not though you would notice, as it seems to business as usual at many of the institutions the public look to for information.

The United States Department of Agriculture is one such institution that finds itself in the position of both promoting U.S. agriculture whilst providing advice about what constitutes a healthy diet. If those two things seem contradictory to you, it’s because you possess a functional brain, and what better way to engage that grey matter of yours than to read Death by Food Pyramid?

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Starting Strength 3rd Edition by Mark Rippetoe

Having seen only a few YouTube videos and maybe an article or two by him on the bodybuilding site T-Nation I know little of the man outside of seeing his name often bandied about the internet but his first chapter would certainly look at home in any number of paleo/primal exercise books. We are animals, products of evolution and our bodies are poorly adapted for modern life. Just as dogs need to walk, horses run and monkeys climb, we need…. Well, at least according to Rippetoe we need to stimulate our bodies sufficiently the way they expect to be after countless millennia of evolution.

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GoPro: a new eye on conservation?

If you’ve heard of GoPro at all you’ll most likely think of extreme sports, base jumping, sky diving, motor cross etc. For me, I first became aware of the name through friends who spend the winter snowboarding in northern Japan. For the uninitiated, GoPro is variously described as a sports action camera, a high-definition personal camera or simply a wearable camera, and wearable they certainly are, as they are tiny, but more about that later.

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The Stomach – A Quick Primer

The closest most people come to learning about the stomach and what it does is probably a hazy memory of school biology class and the idea that it breaks down food. Whilst that’s certainly true, there’s a whole lot more to it than that. Contrary to popular belief the stomach is not the be-all and end-all of digestion. As we have already seen, digestion begins in the mouth and later we’ll see how digestion is ‘completed’ in the small intestine. So, what exactly goes on in the stomach?

In the first instance, it acts as a temporary storage container or a kind of buffering chamber that holds food until it can be passed on for further processing, meaning that a large meal can be consumed fairly quickly and then held until it is ready to be digested. The food doesn’t just sit there, though, it undergoes both physical processing, as the stomach churns up the food through muscle contraction, and enzymatic breakdown, primarily denaturing and cleaving proteins.

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Digestion Digested

The human digestive system is a massively complex system that can fall afoul of any number of diseases and conditions. As if that wasn’t bad enough it also suffers from many misconceptions, false beliefs and myths. We rely on it every day of our lives and take great interest in what goes in one end, and sometimes what comes out the other, but what do we know about what goes on in between?

We all know that the main function of the digestive system is to break down food into its constituent nutrients; sugars, amino acids, fats etc so that they can be absorbed and used by our bodies as either energy or building materials, but how exactly does it go about doing this?

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Hormesis: Nature Steel Thyself

Ever wondered exactly why is exercise good for you? What does it do? How about green tea or garlic? Just why are they good for our health? Well, the answer may just turn out to be something called hormesis. Never heard of it? Don’t worry, you are not alone, but if the work being carried out by pioneers like Prof Ed Calabrese and his team bears out then everything from textbooks, to the practice of medicine, toxicology and the way we think about health may have to be rewritten. So, what exactly is hormesis?

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The Paleo Manifesto by John Durant

Paleo Manifesto book cover
Paleo Manifesto book cover

Increasingly, the Paleo movement seems to be diverging into its own little cliques and tribes (which may be kind of fitting for a movement that harkens back to our nomadic hunter-gatherer ancestry). Here John sets out not so much as to tell you how to live a Paleo life in modern times, but to argue why. Interestingly, for a book with the word paleo in the title, Durant spends much of his time talking about the other ages of man, too.

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Terra Incognita

It’s difficult to imagine what our distant ancestors might have thought when they first set foot on some new landmass. Did they stop and take in what had never before been seen by human eyes or was it simply just another day, another nameless, forgettable place along their lifelong journey? Perhaps they were just thankful for seeing another after the hardships they must have endured.

The rationalist in me knows that they had no way of truly understanding their situation or what their achievement would one day bring about. For the world is truly vast and still holds even the most modern and well travelled minds in awe, let alone those ancient people who could only comprehend and know this world by putting one foot in front of the other.

The romanticist in me would hope that whilst the needs and motivations of those long ago peoples were most likely more urgent and concerned with day to day survival, they at least, in some small way marked events that they might have seen as significant.

We will never know.

But one thing I’m certain of is that they would have seen the potential, the possibility. For our ancient forbears were nothing if not resourceful. They had to be; their very existence often depended on it. Resourcefulness, some might say, stems from necessity, and necessity requires creativity……

I have yet to set foot on a new (and undiscovered) landmass and though I have a yearning to see distant places, I am happy enough where I am right now, physically. And yet here I am about to take my first steps in a new and unknown place.

Writing is hard, for like the nomadic hunter gatherers of long ago, who could only get where they wanted to go by placing one foot in front of the other, so must the writer reach for his conclusion by placing one word after the other. And like those ancient people who traversed new and unknown territories, unsure of what they would encounter, often equipped with little else other than their hunger, their ingenuity and perhaps a touch of curiosity, so too must the writer strike out in a new and unknown direction.

Equipped with little more than a hunger, a curiosity, a smidgen of creativity and near unlimited access to the collective knowledge of the human race, I am about to start a journey of discovery with only the vaguest idea of where I’m headed.

 

 

Learn. Think. Change.