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In our last post, Exercise: Is Less Better Than More?, I quoted four studies showing that light aerobic exercise, of the intensity of jogging at 10 or 11 minutes per mile, improved health up to a volume of about 30 minutes per day, but then the health benefits plateau. Today I’ll continue looking at low-level activity to try to clarify where the health benefits come from, so that we can better design a health-maximizing exercise program. There seem to be negative health effects from even short periods – a few hours – of inactivity: sitting or lying down.
A recent systematic review, first-authored by TJ Saunders of Obesity Panacea, found that a single day of bed rest is sufficient to raise triglycerides, and that 2 hours of sitting increases insulin resistance and impairs glucose tolerance – moving the body closer to a diabetic phenotype. Research by Marc Hamilton found that sitting shuts down expression of lipoprotein lipase (LPL) in skeletal muscle, preventing muscle cells from importing fat. One way to interpret this: Inactivity during the day is unequivocally bad, but inactivity at night may be a good thing. This may be an indication that the benefits of activity come not through fitness, but through entrainment of circadian rhythms. If activity and exercise at work are good, it might seem a good thing to have an active job. In women, no relationship was found between occupational physical activity and heart disease risk.
In the HUNT 2 study, people with metabolic syndrome were more likely to die of cardiovascular disease if their work included physical activity than if it was sedentary.
In the Copenhagen City Heart Study, high occupational physical activity was associated with higher all-cause mortality.
I suggested in my last post that we don’t have an innate “activity reward” system in the brain because our hunter-gatherer ancestors got more exercise than they needed.
It’s been estimated that hunter-gatherers typically walk 5 miles a day, run 1 mile a day, and do various resistance-style carrying and lifting activities.
So the Ache walked about 6 miles per day, ran about 1 mile; other groups did less, but all of them traversed more difficult terrain than modern walkers and runners.
In a comment, Jason gave us a link to a Runner’s World article that contained figures from a recent paper [15]. Above about 30 MET-hours per week of activity, corresponding to 2 hours per week (20 minutes per day) of running at 7 minutes per mile or 4 hours per week (40 minutes per day) of jogging at 10 minutes per mile, there are no health benefits to additional activity.
In other words, the benefits of exercise run out after running 3 miles or jogging 4 miles per day – not far from the hunter-gatherer activity level.
The shape of this curve is supportive of the idea that circadian rhythm enhancement, not fitness, is the cause of the health benefits of exercise. And, based on my readings of centenarian obituaries, it seems true that the longest-lived often don’t do a lot of exercise. It really didn’t occur to me until we worked on the new edition of the book that circadian rhythms might be the reason for the health benefits of exercise. Those who have bought the book know that the world’s oldest man, Walter Breuning of Great Falls, Montana, figures prominently, as he did in this post. If at 114 I’m still here and my neighbors don’t mind having me around, I’ll consider that quite an accomplishment! There are an estimated 600 supercentenarians in the world, whereas the number of centenarians probably exceeds 600,000. As I mentioned yesterday, I have a Google Alert for centenarian stories and have been reading about them for some time. Jeanne Calment “ascribed her longevity and relatively youthful appearance for her age to olive oil, which she said she poured on all her food and rubbed onto her skin” [2].
Gertrude Baines, who lived to be the world’s oldest person on a steady diet of crispy bacon, fried chicken and ice cream, died Friday at a nursing home. Finding himself near death at the age of forty, Cornaro modified his eating habits on the advice of his doctors and began to adhere on a calorie restriction diet. His first treatise was written when he was eighty-three, and its English translation, often referred to today under the title The Sure and Certain Method of Attaining a Long and Healthful Life, went through numerous editions.
Walter Breuning, who turned 113 on Monday, eats just two meals a day and has done so for the past 35 years.
Officials grew suspicious earlier this year when they attempted to visit [Sogen] Kato, who was to turn 111 last month.
Eventually returning with police, the welfare officials discovered a mummified corpse, believed to be Kato, lying on a bed in his underwear and pajamas. The family, however, has an alibi: they claim Kato had “confined himself in his room more than 30 years ago and became a living Buddha,” according to a report by Jiji Press.
The birthday girl said she used to enjoy cooking, knitting, sewing and gardening when she was younger. Her other son, Anthony Monaco of Denver, Colo., said his mother was feisty, a great cook and a hard worker. In her spare time, she liked to play cards, crochet, knit, cook, garden, walk, go to the casinos, dance and listen to Italian music. Sociability does not always imply marriage: a surprisingly large number of centenarian women have never married. Her husband Mohd Noor Musa, who is seven decades her junior, was rearrested for a drug-related offence on Sunday…. Come to the Perfect Health RetreatCome join us for a week at the beach learning how to achieve a lifetime of great health! Buy our bookPerfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat is a great way to understand the dietary and nutritional practices that lead to optimal health. AOBiome Skin ProbioticsWe recommend AOBiome's AO+ Mist skin probiotics, which help convert odorous ammonia to beneficial nitrates, and microbiome-friendly cleansing products.
Increasing chicken consumption followed the development of cheaper chickens in the 1940s, which led to greater use of chicken into prepared and fast foods. Factory farmed chickens are also fed arsenic, antibiotics, antihistamines, and, in China, antidepressants. Chicken have a moderately high omega-6 content; a whole chicken provides about 13% of all calories (about 20% of fat calories) as omega-6 fats. Omega-6 fats promote cancer growth and metastasis, and so we might expect that chicken consumption will also promote cancer. Our results suggest that the postdiagnostic consumption of processed or unprocessed red meat, fish, or skinless poultry is not associated with prostate cancer recurrence or progression, whereas consumption of eggs and poultry with skin may increase the risk. We recommend three egg yolks per day for their nutrition, but the poor quality of industrial chickens is a real concern. Much chicken is bought in industrially produced forms or as fried chicken cooked in vegetable oils at high temperatures. Potential mechanisms include the formation of potentially carcinogenic agents such as aldehydes, acrolein, heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and acrylamide.
I think most of the health problems with chicken are probably attributable to its omega-6 content, and in the context of a low omega-6 diet there is probably little harm to consuming gently cooked chicken or eggs. However, because eggs are such a significant part of our micronutrient recommendations, I think it is desirable to find an egg producer who lets the hens roam and eat insects and other natural chicken foods.
I think given that we eat eggs daily or almost daily, one or two days a week for chicken meat should be sufficient.
What would you recommend to someone who, due to food intolerances, is limited to consuming mostly poultry for her protein? I hear a lot of talk about Omega-6 and how bad they are for our diets, but I’m not sure if we are looking at it the right way. At least with high Omega-6 tree nuts, they appear to be anti-inflammatory as a whole (if the inflammatory index is any good).
It’s certain that omega-6 fats interact with other aspects of the diet, eg high-carb and high-fructose diets are worse for omega-6 than low-carb low-fructose diets. On the other hand, we have evidence like that in this post that omega-6 in chicken may be producing the same harmful effects as omega-6 in vegetable oils. Do you think it’s possible the arachidonic acid content of eggs could be responsible for harm rather than their overall omega-6 content which is insignificant in the context of average diets? I looked at this a while back, and mongongos are seasonal and I think roasted to make them last.
Since I read in your book that chicken often contains Benadryl and Tylenol ?? I significantly cut back on my chicken consumption. So while I agree that chicken companies can’t afford to feed their chickens Tylenol, the fact remains that it was detected in their feathers.

All in all this makes me weary of eating commercially raised chicken without knowing more about the producer and their methods. This comment also suggests a very plausible source for the contamination of the feather meal – municipal water.
Basically it sounds like the experimental design for the study was completely flawed as it did not account for outlying variables nor were the samples representative of the whole population or even enough samples taken to project the findings to the industry as a whole.
Also, if you are going to cite research as your basis for a claim you should make sure you have access to the full article and not just the abstract.
Based on what I can infer from the article abstract, position title of author(s), and the article comments the author did not have a complete understanding of commercial poultry operations, geographic location of poultry operations, vertical integration, rendering methodology of feed ingredients (feather meal)or inclusion of various feed ingredients into traditional poultry rations. One of the responses from the author to one of the comments openly admits that their access to feather meal was much more limited than that of the industry.
Beef bone broths definitely taste much better from grass-fed animals, and given what Eugenia tells us about the differences in chickens, I would suspect the same would be true of chicken bone broths. From experience, I can tell you that making chicken broth with chickens will lead to a lot of fluoride in your broth. I have been telling Paleo people to not make bone broth out of the US chickens, since most of these chickens are unhealthy and have never walked in their lives, but nobody listens. This is a great time for this question, since Halloween candy will be running out soon, and those on tight budgets may be tempted to skimp on their chocolate. Chocolate has not yet been recognized by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies as an essential nutrient. The review authors report that every study accounted for chocolate intake in a different way, so they could only compare the groups with highest and lowest chocolate consumption in each study, not specific doses of chocolate.
Bret was concerned about the sugar in chocolate, but if this is a problem, it’s outweighed by the benefits of chocolate.
Several studies [3, 4] have found that chocolate consumption reduces risk of dementia and enhances performance on tests of cognitive function. Most authors attribute the benefits of chocolate to their flavanols, which are thought to improve endothelial function and increase blood flow to the brain, among other effects. However, there are other active compounds in chocolate, include peptides that interact with the opioid receptor. Based on chocolate’s support for cognitive function, he decided to see if chocolate consumption was related to another measure of cognition – Nobel Prize awards per capita. Given its per capita chocolate consumption of 6.4 kg per year, we would predict that Sweden should have produced a total of about 14 Nobel laureates, yet we observe 32.
In regard to your last question, Bret – can you eat less chocolate, or none at all – the answer is clear. Not the most rigorous study, but it allows me to rationalize my recently-formed habit of eating 100 grams of Lindt’s 90% chocolate every day. I’m curious whether you tried eating your chocolate towards the early hours of the day, and whether that made any difference. Now, after a few weeks of giving them up i had started doing the occasional sugarfree caffeine&guarana energy drink again. I had no issues with GERD, but gave up chocolate and coffee because they worsened my hypothyroid symptoms. Equal quantities of cacao butter,coconut oil and cacao powder (more or less cacao powder to taste) plus vanilla. Chocolate addiction aside, we must remeber that correlations like the one above, does not mean causation. I understand the benefits of Cacao and I consume a small amount of raw cacao powder each day in a smoothie, however I’ve recently read information (Weston Price) which claims that cacao is high in phytic acid, and therefore stops our body from absorbing the essential nutrients that the cacao contains, not to mention any other nutrients in my smoothie too! I’m currently pregnant and following your diet and like the idea of having a low phytic acid diet.
Naturally occurring phytate is usually already bound to minerals and so it doesn’t tend to chelate much else. I found a chocolate on amazon called palmil which is a dark mint chocolate DAIRY AND SUGAR FREE. The implication would be that Scdndinavians are more intelligent than, say, Mediteranneans and that this is down to chocolate consumption! I’d bet that the Japanese win fewer Nobels because they think very well inside the box. In comparisons of sedentary work with active work, usually the sedentary workers come out pretty well.
If that’s true, then we can look to hunter-gatherers to see what constitutes enough activity.
Recent GPS data I collected with them suggests that about 10 km (kilometers) per day is probably closer to their average distance covered during search. So it seems that 5 miles of walking and 1 mile of running per day on easy terrain might be a reasonable estimate for the optimal daily activity level.
A review of the evidence suggested that 7,000 to 11,000 steps per day achieves all the health benefits of walking. Levels of activity beyond running 20 minutes per day do increase fitness – every cross country or track team in the country trains at a higher level than this – but do not improve health; so health does not depend on fitness.
A half hour of such activity per day may be optimal for health, an hour or more may do us more harm than good. Acute sedentary behaviour and markers of cardiometabolic risk: a systematic review of intervention studies. Role of low energy expenditure and sitting in obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Sleep-disordered breathing and cancer mortality: results from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study. Sleep duration and sleep quality in relation to 12-year cardiovascular disease incidence: the MORGEN study. Sleep duration and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies.
Occupational physical activity and risk of coronary heart disease among active and non-active working-women of North Dakota: a Go Red North Dakota Study.
Occupational physical activity, metabolic syndrome and risk of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease in the HUNT 2 cohort study. Occupational and leisure time physical activity: risk of all-cause mortality and myocardial infarction in the Copenhagen City Heart Study. Vigorous-intensity leisure-time physical activity and risk of major chronic disease in men. We’d like to offer him our best wishes for a happy day!  May his liver and onions be most tasty!
There are about 100,000 centenarians in the US, 40,000 in Japan, and 8,500 in England and Wales. Among the pioneers was Luigi Cornaro, a medieval Venetian nobleman who lived to 98, maybe over 100. Twelve ounces of solid food and fourteen ounces of wine was the daily allowance he allowed for himself initially. His family refused to let anyone in to see him, and repeatedly chased welfare officials away.
If you do decide to become a living Buddha, ask for some bacon, eggs, liver, wine, and chocolate with your Zen. The point of it was that almost any food – including cookies, ice cream, and potato chips – can be healthy if the ingredients are good, and any food will be unhealthy if the ingredients are toxic. The couple lived in Tangerine and Nix worked for more than 40 years as a domestic housekeeper.
It was further encouraged in the 1970s by the widely promulgated idea that red meat might be unhealthful and that chickens were comparatively healthful. Chickens were bred for rapid growth, but the modern Cornish Rock hens develop arthritis around age ten weeks, are often infertile, and prefer not to walk. Because omega-6 toxicity begins at about 4% of energy (see chapter 11 of the book), replacing low-omega-6 foods like beef and seafood with chicken can help generate toxic levels of omega-6 in the body. In my recent Q&A with Latest in Paleo readers, I gave six reasons why omega-6 fats promote weight gain. If you can find a place in your budget for only one naturally raised food, make it your eggs.

High temperatures and peroxidizable vegetable oils are not a good way to treat any meat; as we note in the book (Chap 23), harsh cooking methods increase the toxicity of foods.
Another cancer study found that fried chicken consumption was associated with higher prostate cancer risk. So I think most of the known concerns with chicken consumption should not frighten Perfect Health Dieters. Feather meal: a previously unrecognized route for reentry into the food supply of multiple pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs). The health concerns are mitigated for pasture raised chicken, but they still have a bit more omega-6 than we would like in an every day food.
Basically, it says that by adding more chicken to the diet which is high in omega-6 we take away from beef and sea-food which are much lower in omega-6. Some beef and bison is ok but she tolerates no seafood or lamb, very little egg, and mostly eats chicken or turkey. So, not sure if taking extra would be doing anything to “balance” chicken PUFAs? It may be that consuming lots of omega 6 seasonally, then using up any stored lipids in between, is consistent with health in ways that constant exposure isn’t.
The study is not free though, and the abstract doesn’t mention the levels found, so exactly how the acetaminophen got in the feathers, or if it is even problematic, is unknown. My understanding is that the chicken breasts are tested for fluoride, but not the skin, bones, or fatty parts.
Look at the link below how red the meat is (looks like duck meat), how yellow the fat is (as it’s supposed to be). Notice how white the bone is because of the high amounts of calcium in it, and how red the meat is (consider that the meat is plainly boiled at that point). We haven’t either: Our food plate lists it among “pleasure foods,” which are healthful but optional. In the new edition of our book, we list chocolate among our “supplemental foods” which we recommend consuming regularly.
A Japanese study found that the rate of diabetes was reduced by 30% in those who consume the most chocolate.
The opioid receptor has a role in circadian rhythms, which is one reason low-dose naltrexone (which blocks opioid function at night) works.
For me, the decisive evidence comes from a recent study by Franz Messerli published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
He counted Nobel Prizes and compared them to the recipient’s country’s chocolate consumption.
Considering that in this instance the observed number exceeds the expected number by a factor of more than 2, one cannot quite escape the notion that either the Nobel Committee in Stockholm has some inherent patriotic bias when assessing the candidates for these awards or, perhaps, that the Swedes are particularly sensitive to chocolate, and even minuscule amounts greatly enhance their cognition.
Consumption of coffee, green tea, oolong tea, black tea, chocolate snacks and the caffeine content in relation to risk of diabetes in Japanese men and women. Intake of flavonoid-rich wine, tea, and chocolate by elderly men and women is associated with better cognitive test performance. Benefits in cognitive function, blood pressure, and insulin resistance through cocoa flavanol consumption in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment: the Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) study. Effects of acute and chronic administration of exorphin C on behavior and learning in white rat pups. Actually lecithin from almost any source is arguably a decent nutritional supplement (for choline etc).
Takes time to heal the esophagus and build muscles back into the LES, as previously mentioned. I’m not sure if it was from disruption of circadian rhythms or more direct, but quitting them also improved my mood. Swiss chocolate might have a lot of sugar, 10kg of sugary or not so sugary chocolate might be consumed, but whether than is (dare I say it) thrown away or added into desserts or shipped abroad, it seems unlikely that that that much dark cholocate is being consumed. Does cacao contain phytic acid and if so does this mean we should comsume it alone without other foods? When it does, it is often beneficial, as when it helps relieve iron excess in men or postmenopausal women. If you have trouble gaining muscle, maybe the problem is too much sitting, and what you need is not more intense workouts, but more frequent standing!
Their travel was not as strenuous as among the Ache (they often canoed to the hunt site), and their pursuits were usually shorter. It looks like we need a certain amount of activity to properly entrain our circadian rhythms – to tell our bodies that it is daytime, the time of activity – but once we’ve achieved that, we don’t need to do more. Thus, occupations that require physical activity throughout the day may be health impairing.
Unfortunately, most prepared foods in supermarkets, and many restaurant foods, are made with toxic ingredients. While there are hundreds of fad diets on the market, promising a quick fix to our weight loss problems, most fail to deliver. Ironically, what makes chicken healthful is consuming red meat or seafood most of the week!
Would you still recommend limiting intake to once or twice a week (assume beef, lamb, and seafood the rest of the week) or are the health concerns mostly mitigated for pasture raised chicken? In fact she might do better eating flaxseed or flaxseed oil and let the omega-3s be lengthened in situ in her cell membranes, that will minimize peroxidation risk. There are also genetic variations in the way different populations process PUFAs, in some areas of Africa quite low ALA omega-3 intakes are adequate to maintain EPA and DHA levels that they would not support in many other populations.
My mom had to use an ax to cut the chicken in portions, because its bones were not easily breakable with a normal meat knife (as with a duck). There’s one seller that has them occasionally, but she told me that the Chinese people are pre-ordering them a long time ago, so she has none to sell at the actual market.
I have been having around 35g a day of 70% but I wondered if less would be ok or not having it at all. It’s possible that eating chocolate during the day may support circadian rhythms via opioid receptor stimulation, especially if the peptides can reach the systemic circulation. I get mild reflux (which I normally don’t get), and some burping and mild stomach bloating. Seems that what goes up must come down, and I came down pretty hard and got cranky then depressed.
When I hunted with Machiguenga, Yora, Yanomamo Indians in the 1980s, my days were much, much easier than with the Ache. It’s a sad commentary on today’s world; but if you want a long life, it’s almost essential to cook your own food.
According to HRF (Health Research Funding): In 2010, 54% of adults said that they were currently on a diet. It seems that a rotation perfect health diet, would give you the most benefits with the least stress on the body, particulary for allergens. Remember the peak health range has a flat top so you have some leeway with no impact on your health. Ache hunters often take an easy day after any particularly difficult day, and rainfall forces them to take a day or two a week with only an hour or two of exercise.
Let’s also be honest, who can afford 30g of quality chocolate a day, except perhaps noble laureats? Basically they do moderate days most of the time, and sometimes really hard days usually followed by a very easy day.
I raised a batch of K-22 broilers and while they did eat grass and catch bugs (as well as run around and act like chickens unlike comatose Cornish crosses) they still eat a lot of grain. 69% of fad diets fail to achieve a target weight because people aren’t exercising appropriately in combination with the diet. 65% of people who successfully complete a fad diet will end up gaining all of their weight back that they lost.

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