How To Eat Like Your Ancestors
Whether you’re a Paleo diet fan or not, there’s certainly common ground between those who follow the diet and everyone else. And this is all thanks to our ancestors who had to work to get their own food way before agriculture was discovered. Obviously, our ancestors were doing something right when it came to eating and exercise. If they weren’t, humanity would be quite a lot different that it is today, I imagine.
Millions of years ago, when earth was still overflowing with natural resources and teeming with all kinds of creatures, you might think that food was meant to be served or picked by our ancestors who were blessed with abundant vegetation. You might think that our ancestors picked off their food from a silver platter just because food was everywhere. No, this wasn’t the case at all. The environment long ago was harsh. Food was hunted, killed, prepared and cooked. Take note that our ancestors weren’t the only ones living on this planet and they had wild animals as rivals for food. Our ancestors didn’t simply grab their food off a shelf, toss it into a cart and drive them to their homes. It was a struggle and a matter of hard work just to fill their bellies with food.
Nowadays, with just a few clicks on the screen, food can be served right at our doorstep in just a span of minutes. Others would prefer going out of the house and into convenience stores that serve microwaved packed lunches. With this advancement in food technology, there comes a greater risk for our health and well-being. The more processed the food, the more harmful it is for our body. Nowadays, health-related diseases are rampant in society and our lifespans are shortening as lifestyle choices create epidemics far out of our collective control. We encounter small children and toddlers who are already suffering from obesity and twenty-some year olds who are suffering from high blood pressure and heart attacks. So where exactly did we go wrong, and is there a way to fix it?
If we take a look at countries that still practice subsistence farming that must grow their own crops and hunt the food they consume, some things haven’t changed with time. The disease presence in these countries fall more closely along the lines of malnutrition compared to the issues we have in first world countries that are a result of over-consumption. But there is clearly an issue in industrialized countries wherein we grow food to live off of and yet we also mass-produce and process a much larger amount than what each human being actually need.
It wasn’t until 10,000 years ago when our diets shifted from the hunt-gather scheme towards the state we’re in today. Over the years, the hunting-gathering method has lost its effectiveness and so our ancestors went on to develop more sustainable ways of living. Because the amount of hunter-gatherers left in the world are so slim, researchers are trying to learn about their way of life before it’s too late. While the development of agriculture seemed to be a step in the right direction, it’s up for debate when we assess the current health state of the majority of the world’s population.
In an article in National Geographic, titled “The Evolution of Diet,” studies were done on the Mayan population that may be indicative of what exactly happened to our health as a result of a shift in the foods we consumed and the methods in which food was obtained. Until the 1950’s, diabetes was unheard of amongst the Maya. However, when they shifted their diets towards a more Western one which is heavy on sugar, diabetes occurrences among its population went through the roof.
There may be some tie, too, between the methods that we prepare food nowadays compared to how we used to. With advanced cooking methods, we serve and consume meat in a very digestible form, whereas our ancestors were eating raw or minimally cooked meats in particular. The energy required by our bodies to break down the meats we consume is pale in comparison to the amount of work our bodies used to have to do. The physical state and condition of the human body during the Paleolithic era are considered to be more lean, fit, and ideal compared to our collective state today. Consuming raw meat in our current world today would even be considered barbaric and absurd but a long time ago, this was the norm. The human body has evolved so drastically that even consuming raw uncooked meat is deemed unhealthy and may even bring some life-threatening diseases in digestive system. And this is all brought about by humanity’s advancement towards the modern society.
Whatever way you look at it, it’s quite obvious that whatever happened between then and now wouldn’t be considered a shift in the right direction. Sometimes, moving forward from the traditional way may bring along some greater risks and compromises. Instead of dying from sicknesses that went untreated due to lack of medical care and resources, we’re dying off from lifestyle diseases we’ve brought onto ourselves amidst the most impeccable medical technology. Perhaps the best we can do is to ensure that we are doing our part to eat and stay healthy in a fashion that is as close to our ancestors as possible. We should be able to balance out the amount of food and calories we consume to the amount of energy and fats we also burn. This is why diet and exercise should come hand in hand. You may eat at your heart’s content but at the same time, try to shed off the same amount of calorie and sugar to maintain balance and fitness.