Updated: Sep 7, 2019
All living organisms including human beings evolved in a specific environment, and our genes and biology have adapted over millions of years to allow us to to survive and thrive in that environment. When the environment changes faster than our genes can adapt, mismatch occurs. This is the case of our society, which is currently the unhealthiest it has ever been in history with chronic disease, obesity, and musculoskeletal conditions at at its highest point ever.
Throughout human evolution, environmental changes were gradual and slow, allowing genes to adapt over time. A good example is how environment pressures transformed our specie from being tree dwellers to standing walking on 2 legs, a feature which is now part of our genetic code. Around 10,000 years ago another huge shift took us from hunter gatherers to farmers which completely changed our diet and lifestyle. Although this may seem like a lot of time, it is just a tiny fraction of human evolution, and research shows that only about 10% of our genes have changed since the dawn of agriculture, while 90% remain the same as our hunter gatherers. More recently, since our leap into the industrial revolution just over a century ago, our diet and lifestyle has changed more than in the previous millions. The health of our society has come as a result. We need to understand that all living organisms abide by a set of rules imposed by nature, and our health, our performance and even our happiness depend on whether we follow these rules. Although ts impossible to avoid our modern environment, we can definitely better align our diet and lifestyle with our genes and biology.
The 4 pillars of Health:
Until the recent industrial era, life was a constant physical challenge. Instead of driving to the supermarket, we ran into the bush with a weapon or went out to gather fruit and vegetables when available. Its estimated we walked an average of 10,000 steps a day, and that walking was combined with periods of intense exercise like chasing a prey. Survival was a constant struggle and although there were many drawbacks of this mode of existence, our health is dependant on movement, which pumps water, blood and oxygen through our bodies, delivering nutrients and eliminating waste. The comfort that we now experience has made us sedentary, spending most of the day sitting down whether it’s at work, in the car or on the sofa. The lack of movement combined with the bad postures we are in during our daily routine are one of the major causes of today’s health issues. And these issues are not solved by going to a normal gym and doing bicep curls and machine exercises, or walking for 30 minutes on the treadmill with the earphones on. The training should rather be aimed at addressing our postural dysfunctions and performing movement patterns which we evolved to do. It's also essential to remain active the entire day, not just during our workout time. Some practical strategies we can all implement in our lives include walking to work or parking the car far away forcing us walk, using a standing desk, taking regular movement breaks, training aimed at posture enhancement, and regularly engaging in short periods of intense exercise.
We evolved by eating natural food provided by the Earth. Although the nutritional intake in the population varied according to variables like climate and geography, its cleat that for the entire evolutionary lineage we have relied of whole foods which are nutrient dense, packed with micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and they are relatively low in calories. Today, we have left our nutritional needs dependant on money making institutions consuming pressed food and medical drugs. On average, the foods we eat have a nutritional value 10 times lesser than what our ancestors ate, while at the same time, they are high in calories and pro inflammatory. This discrepancy has brought serous consequences to our health. Although their is no 1 diet that fits all, the first step we can all take is to start eating NATURAL food!
We evolved in tune with the natural cycle of light and dark. When the sun came up, our cortisol levels rose to prepare us for the day, and when the sun went down, our malatonin levels rose to prepare us for bed. We are now bombarded by artificial light, go to bed late, and on average sleep 2 to 3 hours less than our ancestors. Lack of good quality sleep disrupts every aspect of our physiology and is associated with all kids of disease! Although its hardly impossible to avoid artificial light, there several practical strategies we can all implement in our lives to help mitigate the effects. Some of these include spending time in the sun, engaging in parasympathetic breathing exercises before bed to calm ourselves down, staying away from electronic devices and artificial light 1-2 hours before bed, or wearing blue light blocking glasses while doing so. (BUY NOW)
Stress was an essential part to our evolution. Like all living organisms, over millions of years we needed to adapt to situational stressors imposed on us by the environment, if not we would of gone instinct. We created neurological patterns do deal with these stresses, and over time they became encoded in our genetic sequence. Stress is what shaped our biology. A good example of this is how we have created our “fight to flight” mechanism in order to help us during quick periods of stress we faced in the past like when running away from a lion. This built in mechanism releases certain hormones like adrenalin and cortisol, speeds the heart rate, slows digestion, and sends blood flow to major muscle groups giving the body a burst of energy and strength. Once the stress is gone, our bodies would return to normal. The problem today is that we are chronically stressed, a state that we simply weren't designed for. Long periods of stress affect our ability to digest nutrients, eliminate toxins, weakens our immune system and decreases the quality of our sleep affecting our rest and repair functions. Stress is the root cause for many of todays diseases and must be managed correctly. Studies on hunter gatherer societies determined that they only “worked” for 3-4 hours a day. This included hunting, gathering, building a shelter or other work required for survival. The rest of the time was spent with leisure activities including time with family, playing games, ceremonies, and relaxing. Today its impossible for most humans to afford working less than 4 hours a day, but there are some ancestral stress management strategies we can all implement to mitigate the effects of long hours of work and stress. It is proven that social support is a bigger predictor of early death than body was index, blood pressure and even smoking. So getting necessary breaks from work and spending time with family and friends is the essential in order to remain healthy. Other strategies to manage and prevent stress involve mediation and sympathetic breathing techniques, creating a favourable work environment and aligning our choices and actions with our core values.
In the past, our health was an obsession as we knew it was necessary to continue the existence of the tribe. We now prioritise material possessions above anything and seek instant pleasures which most of the time lead to us destroying our bodies. We need to understand that our physical appearance, our happiness, and our physical and mental performance are all dependant on our health. If we want to live a fulfilling life their is no way around managing these 4 pillars and reconnecting with nature. At FPL, we are here to guide you towards your ultimate health and performance. Our online shop provides natural solutions to enhance our nutritional intake, avoid toxins, and narrow the gap with our natural environment. (click). We provide personalised nutrition and lifestyle online programs, combining the latest science with ancestry wisdom and a holistic approach to guide you toward your goals. (click) Finally, we provide individualised training protocols designed to train our bodies according to our genetic blueprint. From a functional baseline, the training is then directed towards any fitness or sporting goal. (click)