7 Ways We’ve Failed Miserably at Trying to Outsmart NatureOctober 21st, 2009
With our high level of intelligence and the vast amount of technological innovation that we enjoy today, it’s ironic that excellent health is so elusive to so many people. Without any of the modern technology that we rely on today, our primitive ancestors were able to enjoy exceptional health and rarely encountered the many chronic and debilitating conditions that are so common today. These people had an intimate knowledge of nature and a tremendous appreciation for it which is something that we’ve lost without reliance on technology.
While our primitive ancestors were forced to live in agreement with nature, we seem to do everything we can to outsmart it, and we almost always fail. The following are some of the more notable and devastating mistakes that we’re still making.
1. We’ve Lost Our Inherent Ability to Choose Healthy Food
Even the planet’s most simplistic and unintelligent creatures are able to select appropriate foods to support their health. Despite being the most intelligent form of life on earth, many of us have lost this inherent ability and are literally killing ourselves with our food choices. Perhaps we’re too smart for our own good.
Healthy eating really doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply choose the whole foods provided to us by nature. Sure, there’s more to a healthy diet than simply eating whole foods, but this principle alone is in my opinion more important than any other and will resolve many of the diet related health issues that are so prevalent today.
2. We’ve Forgotten How to Sustainably Grow Food and Raise Livestock
For more than 99% of our history, we didn’t farm our food. We hunted animals and gathered fruits and vegetables. Although farming isn’t purely natural, it’s become a necessity with the drastic growth of the human population and is a tremendous convenience that allows us to settle down and establish communities instead of having to follow herds of animals. We’ve become reliant on farming, and unfortunately, modern practices have greatly deviated from the laws of nature. They’re contributing to our many prevailing health issues and are destroying the planet. If the current trend continues, we’ll eventually run out of productive land to farm.
Nearly all forms of life are supported by an amazingly efficient cycle in which the earth’s nutrients are continuously reused. The many organisms that exist in the soil feed on decaying matter such as fallen leaves, dead plants and animals, and animal excrement. The resulting byproducts feed the plants that eventually become food for animals and humans. Some of these animals then become food for other animals as well as humans. The cycle is completed when excrement and other organic matter decomposes and replenishes the soil with the nutrients that once again become food for the organisms living in it. This natural, effective, and robust cycle has been broken by modern farming in favor of increased efficiency and profit.
Without a way to naturally replenish the soil with nutrients, it becomes depleted, produces less nutritious food, and increases the need for pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, livestock are being raised in unsanitary conditions which leads to poor food quality, promotes the development and spread of disease, and contaminates the environment with highly concentrated lagoons of toxic excrement. To learn more about the flaws of modern farming and what good farming is really about, watch the Food, Inc. documentary and Fresh the movie.
3. We Intentionally Avoid the Essential Benefits of Sun Exposure
We wouldn’t survive very long without the sun, but despite this, many of us avoid it like the plague. Our primitive ancestors spent most of their time in the sun, and as a result, we’ve evolved to depend on it for more than just heat. The primary reason why sun exposure is essential to our health is because it provokes our skin to produce vitamin D. This important vitamin, which is really a prehormone, regulates the expression of more than 10% of our genes and plays a critical role in our immunity, particularly in regard to cancer prevention.
Despite the importance of sunlight, we’ve been advised to minimize our exposure and use sunscreen which blocks the production of vitamin D. This advice is mostly based on the high incidence of skin cancer and the fear of melanoma which is it’s most dangerous form. However, melanoma is most frequently found on areas of the body that are rarely exposed to the sun and has a notable prevalence among people who spend most of their time indoors. While frequent sunburn can certainly cause cancer, the significant amount of stress, chemical exposure, electromagnetic radiation, and unhealthy foods that we encounter on a daily basis are arguably more of a concern.
Instead of completely avoiding a natural resource that we’ve depended on for millions of years, a healthier and more practical approach would be to get sun exposure on a regular basis without getting burnt.
4. We Make Ourselves Sick By Polluting Our Environment
One of the major aspects of technological advancement is the invention of synthetic chemicals. We’ve polluted the earth so terribly that every single body of water on the planet is contaminated. Even the breast milk of Inuit women from the Arctic has been found to contain toxic chemicals. During our millions of years of existence, the human body has never before encountered these chemicals, but is now exposed to hundreds or even thousands of them on a daily basis. The body is often unable to process these chemicals properly, and even if this isn’t the case, the volume of exposure is still likely to be overwhelming, especially among the many people who aren’t optimally healthy.
Our obsession with profit encourages the production of a tremendous amount of material goods that we really don’t need. Unfortunately, the manufacturing of these products creates a considerable amount of pollution. We make matters worse by intentionally using chemicals to grow our food, and we’ve adapted a medical system that promotes the excessive use of chemical medications. Each of these sources contribute to our chemical exposure and the pollution that exists in our air, land, and water.
Chemical toxins can impair cell function and lead to a variety of serious problems including the dysfunction of important organs and glands, particularly the brain. Some of the best ways to avoid exposure to toxins are to drink filtered water, use natural personal care products, and eat organic produce, pasture raised meat, and minimally contaminated fish.
5. We Run Our Bodies Into the Ground and Call it Exercise
Most people tend to associate exercise with many laborious, intense, painful, and boring hours spent on a cardio machine. Some people even become fanatical about endurance exercise and run multiple marathons or participate in other types of long distance events. It’s unlikely that many of our ancestors ran the long distances that most enthusiastic runners do, and even those who did weren’t exposed to the persistent stress, poor nutrition, and inadequate rest that are such common characteristics of the modern lifestyle. As such, many of us don’t have the capacity for the volume and intensity of exercise that we’re doing, and over time, it’s very possible for this much physiological burden to cause issues like adrenal fatigue.
Our ancestors were more likely to get their exercise from activities such as hunting, fleeing from danger, walking, gathering food and supplies, building shelter, and carrying heavy objects. Activities such as light aerobics, high intensity interval training, and strength training resemble these activities much more closely than exhausting yourself on a cardio machine.
Another common problem is that many modern exercise trends encourage people to sacrifice their health for appearance. The popular P90X program is a great example of this. Instead of being overly concerned with weight loss, it’s easier, more effective, and much more satisfying to exercise for good health and let weight loss be a natural result of a truly healthy lifestyle.
6. We Avoid Saturated Fat Thinking that it Promotes Disease
Saturated fat has been part of our diet for millions of years, but just within the past century, we’ve decided that it’s unhealthy and causes heart disease. This is despite evidence that indicates otherwise such as the work of Weston A. Price which clearly shows that saturated fat supports excellent health. As is shown by the Fat Head documentary and The Cholesterol Myths by Uffe Ravnskov, the idea that saturated fat causes heart disease is based on manipulated research and is completely unsupported.
In an effort to replace saturated fat with something more healthy, we’ve invented a highly processed and unnatural form of fat called trans fat which has proven to be extremely unhealthy. We’ve also decided that it’s healthier to consume polyunsaturated vegetable oils which are very unstable and can easily produce free radicals and cause cell damage. Ironically, these fats have been associated with an increase in the prevalence of heart disease and are also linked to a number of other worrisome health issues.
7. We’ve Disregarded Our Natural Sleeping Rhythm
It’s only since the last century that artificial light has truly given us the ability to live according to our own schedule rather than the rising and setting of the sun. Through our millions of years of evolution, we’ve developed a circadian rhythm based on the sun and the earth’s magnetic field. Regardless of how we plan our day, our body’s preference is to operate according to this natural rhythm which would mean going to bed reasonably close to sunset and waking up at sunrise. In contrast, most of us follow a chaotic sleep schedule that differs significantly from this, and to make matters worse, we sleep much less than our ancestors did. Compounded with the significant amount of stress that’s characteristic of modern life, this can have considerable health implications.
Following healthy sleep habits is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve your energy, moods, and overall health. Instead of improving our lives with such a simple adjustment, most of us choose to rely on coffee to compensate for missed sleep and struggle through the day as a result. For more information on how artificial light has altered our lives in a negative way, I highly recommend reading Lights Out by T.S. Wiley.
Embrace Nature and Live Better
Many people unfortunately regard a healthy lifestyle as something that’s complicated and difficult to follow. However, if you let nature be your guide and use some common sense in applying the wisdom we’ve gained from our multimillion year history, it’s really not as hard as it may seem. For more information on how to live a healthy lifestyle based on natural principles, sign up for my free course, 7 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Happier, and Healthier You!