For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering several questions from the comment section of a previous post about my training supplementation. There were some fantastic ones.

I explain my favorite dinners and the latest I’ll eat it. After that, I give a couple ways to test (or not) the effects of these supposedly beneficial foods, nutrients, and supplements we all like discussing. I also tell how often I eat oysters, liver, and seaweed. Finally, I discuss collagen dosage and supplementation for IBS and Crohn’s.

What’s some of your favorite dinner menu items? What’s the latest you like to eat dinner?

My dinners are straightforward.

Favorites include:

  • Medium rare ribeye cooked in cast iron with sautéd spinach.
  • Steamed giant shrimp with melted butter (for dipping), broccoli, and asparagus.

I’ve been eating those for years, and they haven’t gotten old.

Latest I like to eat is 7:30. That changes if it’s a special occasion as when I’m out with friends or I’m on vacation.

If I’m not that hungry, I might end my eating window well before evening. I’m doing some light experimenting with “early time restricted feeding” (eat breakfast, skip dinner) and “sleep low” (don’t fully replenish carbs or calories after a tough workout; sleep on it and let fat burning maximize).

Mark,

What is the best way to test and experiment with different foods, nutrients, and supplements on an individual basis? I read a lot about different things that work, but how can I test that for my body to determine if it makes a significant difference? Thanks.

One way is to just trust the stats. If—based on research, nutrition data, and evolutionary perspectives—a particular food just seems really, really healthy, you can integrate it into your diet and rest assured that it’s doing good things for you. Foods that fall into this category include red meat, leafy greens, colorful berries and veggies, pastured eggs, wild caught fish, and cruciferous vegetables, where the totality of evidence that they contain very helpful nutrients is overwhelming.

Another way is to determine what biomarker or health outcome the particular food, nutrient, or supplement purports to influence, and then track that biomarker before, during, and after you take the food, nutrient, or supplement. This gives you a baseline value (before) and allows you to observe the trend.

I’d love to know how often you eat particular supplementary foods, such as oysters, liver, & seaweeds

Oysters: I like the smoked oysters in olive oil from Crown Prince. I’ll do a can every week or so. If I’m out at a restaurant that has oysters (and it’s reasonably reputable), I’ll usually order a half dozen as appetizers. Sometimes I’ll get a hankering for oysters and have the fish guy at Whole Foods or wherever I am shuck a few behind the counter and slurp ’em down in the store.

Liver: I try to eat some form of liver once a week. Maybe a quarter to a half pound, usually closer to a quarter.

Seaweed: I throw dried kombu into broths and soups. If I’m out for sushi, I’ll get seaweed salad. I snack on nori once or twice a week.

Does collagen supplementation halt, or even potentially reverse hair loss? Also, what are your thoughts on the appropriate dosage? Is a larger dosage more appropriate when recovering from an injury?

Though it’s an important factor in hair strength and durability, I don’t know about collagen helping with hair loss. Perhaps it could by balancing out our methionine (from muscle meat) intake to promote a more anti-inflammatory, homeostatic internal environment.

A good dosage depends on what you’re looking for.

To get the amount of glycine (3 grams) used in studies to improve sleep quality, you’d need about 13 grams of collagen protein, or a scoop and change of my Collagen Peptides.

For basic maintenance in a healthy body, we need 10 grams of glycine each day. Our bodies make roughly 3 grams each day, on average, so we need to get at least 7 grams from our diets. If you aren’t getting any collagen through your food (an unrealistic scenario, especially for a Primal eater), that means taking around 30 grams of collagen protein, or 3 scoops of my collagen.

1-2 scoops, or 10-20 grams of collagen is a good safe range for most people.

When you’re recovering from an injury, you’re rebuilding tissue. That means your baseline requirements discussed earlier go up, and it’d be a good idea to push supplementary collagen toward the 20-30 gram range.

I’d love your suggestions for the best supplements to help ease the pain & inflammation associated with chronic IBS & Crohn’s disease.

Dealing with IBs or Crohn’s isn’t quick or easy. There are no magic solutions or pills.

That said:

Curcumin (from turmeric) shows promise, inducing remission of ulcerative colitis combined with medication (mesalamine) and helping patients in remission maintain remission. Smaller doses (450 mg), however, don’t seem to work as well as larger doses (3 grams).

Dairy, particularly yogurt and milk, shows promise. Yogurt reduces inflammatory markers in inflammatory bowel disease patients and prevents intestinal inflammation in mice injected with an agent designed to inflame the intestines. And in a recent observational study among Europeans, those who ate the most dairy and drank the most milk had a lower risk of inflammatory bowel diseases.

The best bet, again, is a full shift away from the standard way of eating. The Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which greatly reduces fibrous foods and eliminates grains, sugar, dairy, and processed food, performed well in a recent study of kids with Crohn’s. Ketogenic and even carnivorous diets get a lot of anecdotal support online as well. The key appears to be the initial removal of fermentable and other types of fiber, if only until things heal and you’re able to incorporate more and more.

And of course, stress, sleep, and all that other good stuff play big roles in the severity of and our susceptibility to these digestive disorders. You have to address all areas of your life.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care, be well, and leave a comment, ask or answer a question, and have a great rest of the week.

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