I’m not even sure where to begin in my review of this book except by saying two things:
This is the best health book I’ve ever read
I wish I had read this sooner
I’m a frequent visitor of Mark Sisson’s site, Mark’s Daily Apple. In fact I’ve read every post starting from December 2012 when I first discovered his site, around the same time I started my own blog.
Frequently when I’ve looked to the internet to find out more about nutrition, a novel fitness concept, or esoteric supplement, one of the first links that comes up is invariably from Marks Daily Apple.
He writes in a very conversational and easy to read manner and I found that even though I’m normally a slow reader, I had finished the book in the span of a few days (which for me is really fast).
You can really get a sense for how he writes by reading his blog posts, and his book is written in the same style.
Along with Robb Wolf’s – The Paleo Solution, this was one of the first paleo-ish books out on the mass market available through Amazon, published circa 2010. Despite being published over 3 years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of the information he presents is still considered cutting edge and ‘hot’ right now including subjects such as: ketosis, fasting, cold exposure, and the fallacy of only using cholesterol as a health marker.
His goal is to promote a change in lifestyle, of which nutrition is only one component. He acknowledges that the most important aspect of any aspired change in lifestyle is sustainability. In fact, even before the introduction he writes about one of the central tenets of this book; which is the “80 Percent Rule.” Attempting to adhere to this lifestyle just 80 percent of the time allows some built in flexibility and removes much of the stress and anxiety that would come with striving for perfection.
I’ve definitely been in this situation before when striving to achieve perfection, I’d allow one mistake to derail my entire plan just because I was too rigid, and felt like a failure for making that one mistake.
The premise of this book are Mark’s “Ten Primal Blueprint Laws,” how these laws are aligned with the way our bodies have evolved, and how the majority of our modern day health problems arose due to deviation from these laws. Of course he also prescribes easy to follow methods to adhere to these laws to reap the maximum benefits.
He does a fantastic job of describing the basic biochemistry and physiology of our bodies in a simple way, easy enough for anyone to understand. While the science doesn’t go as in depth as The Paleo Solution, I felt that it was presented more clearly.
He also uses an imaginary caveman named ‘Grok’ and his cave-family to contrast how differently a modern day equivalent person, ‘Ken Korg’ and his family now lives, and how these differences cause most of Ken Korg’s health problems including poor sleep, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, etc. as a result of deviating from the Ten Laws. This comparison really helped to illustrate his points for me.
I can’t say enough about his writing. His easy to read and easy to understand style of writing is perhaps the greatest attribute of this book.
Some other points that I’m glad he went over:
- The role of epigenetics
- Why it’s so easy to over-exercise and why this can be extremely counterproductive.
- The benefits of occasional cold exposure
- How excessive insulin is a central catalyst in developing atherosclerosis
- Great section on cholesterol, almost, if not as good as Jimmy Moore’s Cholesterol Clarity Book
- The importance of Omega 3 fats and a good Omega 3 : Omega 6 balance
- Why grains and legumes are considered ‘poisonous’
- The important role of ‘organ reserve’ in longevity
He also provides a great list of references at the end of each chapter.
In summary, this book tackles a lot of complex issues and filters it through Mark’s conversational and very easy to comprehend style of writing so that anyone can walk away with a strong grasp of his primal blueprint laws. It definitely passes the would-my-very-unsciencey-parents-understand-it test, and I’ve put my money where my mouth is by picking up an additional 4 copies for various members of my family!
You can pick it up here if interested.