The Mammoth Lifestyle
Humans lived for thousands of years in a very different environment than the one we live in today. The Paleolithic: a time when our DNA adapted to our survival needs.
Our genomes have been shaped over many thousands of years. Everything from what we ate, the amount of sunlight we got, the type of physical activity we did just to survive have shaped our genome.
Evolution is slow…but industrialization is not.
While the world changed dramatically in just a few decades, our physical adaptations haven’t quite caught up.
Our genetics are more similar to those that helped us survive in the Paleolithic era.
This means a few things for how we can best live healthy lives and take care of ourselves these days. This is the philosophy our training and nutrition plans are based on.
Science behind the Paleo Movement
- Archaeological and anthropological data indicates that our pre-farming ancestors didn’t suffer from the diseases that are big killers today like obesity, cancer and cardiovascular and autoimmune illnesses.
- Molecular biology, immunology and endocrinology have identified molecular mechanisms that explain the biological adaptations for the life of a hunter-gatherer. These adaptations still exist in us today, as we sit reading at the computer.
- The clinical experience of experts in recent years has demonstrated the effectiveness of the Paleo diet together with functional training. The combo has been the cure of several illnesses and the source of both subjective and objective improvements of health (so, people are measurably healthier when following the combination, and also simply feel like they are better).
What we can learn from the Paleo movement
Eat foods and nutrients your body is best adapted to handle
Eat natural, unprocessed foods whenever possible. Things like natural meats,
Avoid ingredients that may seem innocent, but are actually not things we’ve evolved to eat. Ingredients like cereals (wheat, grains, oats), legumes (beans) and dairy products. Added sugar and alcohol, of course, are big no-no.
Do more varied exercise on an empty stomach
We’ve always evolved for movement: to run, to pivot, to crawl. We need these motions to survive, and that’s why our body needs it to feel good.
Moving regularly and varying the types of movement we do balances the metabolism.
Our organs work together, and better, during optimal movement. The central nervous system supports the process by giving us a “high” of endorphins to reward our efforts. It’s win-win.
Get some sun and produce Vitamin D
For most of our evolutionary history, we spent many hours in the sun, and it’s an indispensable component of our health.
We need sunlight to regulate our circadian rhythm by synthesizing vitamin D.
We use vitamin D to:
- Repair bones and work with calcium
- Prevent colds, autoimmune disease and asthma
- Protect the heart
- Promote the function of the liver and intestines
- Influence hunger, thirst, and sleep satiety
- Support adolescent muscle development
- Support healthy cholesterol production
- Support the nervous and immune systems, attention span, and learning functions in the brain
Few single factors are as widely touted as important among health experts as quality sleep and rest.
We need them for processing and regeneration, and to give important bodily systems a break. The problem occurs when “rest” means watching TV, browsing the internet or playing games on electronic devices.
These stimuli are anything but relaxing for the brain and body. It seems that sometimes we’ve forgotten the value of rest and HOW to rest as well. The body is actually unable to adapt to a lack of sleep. Sleep is absolutely essential for the maintenance and repair systems of the body:
With normal circadian rhythms, melatonin (a hormone, like Vitamin D, but serving the “opposite” function) naturally releases at dusk and during the night. It stimulates the immune system and protects us from infections.
This is why we sometimes catch cold after not sleeping well for several nights.
Sleep, in fact, is so critical to survival that its absence can be fatal. Laboratory animals subjected to sleep deprivation die within two or three weeks.
Among other things, a full, restful night’s’ sleep improves:
- Memory and mental clarity
- Sports performance
- Mood and overall energy
- Immune function
- Stress Tolerance
Live within a Tribe
Close human contact is important to our well being. Friends, relatives and loved ones have an important role in our health, and our relationships we have with them be it support, listening, sharing joyful activities or more. Several studies have linked good social networks to:
- Motor skill retention
- Cancer survival
- Overall improved immune function
- Preserved memory function
- Overall longevity
Conversely, social isolation or a lack of a good, close support network has been linked to increased risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Evolution encouraged social interaction as a strategy for survival of the species. A life within a society grants you:
- Better protection against predators
- Greater chance of success in hunting
- A better chance at survival in the wild
Humans who chose to live in a tribe were more likely to make it and reproduce.
The ability and desire to share life with others, without a doubt, was an evolutionary selection. Over time, it’s become instinctive and indispensable to our well being.
Contact with nature
Some evidence suggests that living in or near natural environments (including gardens and agricultural land) has long term health benefits. These benefits are caused, in part, by the psychological need to live in the environment we evolved in as a species.
Along with factors like exercise, sunlight, and social interaction, humans have a default need to expose ourselves to nature.
Enjoy doing nothing
Evolutionarily speaking, we’ve always dedicated some time to doing, well, nothing.
Even spending an entire day hunting or gathering, or later, planting. We had down time when the sun retreated or our basic needs were met. Now, we’re asked to work longer hours for less money, to retire later, to avoid getting sick.
Our nervous system isn’t adapted for this chaotic rhythm of life, and it suffers. Imagine lions frolicking in the shade, enjoying doing nothing until it’s time to go hunting at dusk. We, too, need our moments of daily rest.
The Paleo Movement is about respecting yourself and your needs as a human being. It’s simple: eat healthfully, get outdoors, spent time with your friends and relax.