What does it mean to live a primal lifestyle? Some of you who know me have heard me discuss living this sort of way (which is the way I try and live). The ancestral health or primal lifestyle has really taken off over the past few years. Basically, our genes are programmed to live a certain way and be exposed to certain things to in order to be optimally expressed and to be healthy. We are designed to move. We are designed to hunt, gather, sleep, socialize, be in nature and be exposed to natural sunlight. We are designed to be exposed to brief bouts of stress (hunting, fighting, fleeing a dangerous animal etc). The agricultural revolution some 10,000 years ago started the downward trend of our health once grains were introduced into our diet and a focus on producing large quantities of food with less and less effort. This sorta worked for a time but has evolved into our current state of mass produced artificial food with ingredients we cannot pronounce and causes chemical and hormonal reactions in our body that not only makes us crave these fake foods but leaves without any sense of satiety. So we eat. And sit. And eat. And sit. And we have stressful jobs, stressful marriages, stressful kids, endless activities, lack of sleep, and adrenal glands screaming for mercy as we are in constant “fight or flight” mode and fueling our fatigue with caffeine, nicotine, energy drinks or whatever else to keep us going. What does this do? This causes sub-optimal expression of our genes and other physical manifestations such as depression, anxiety, obesity, hypothyroidism, type 2 diabetes, fatigue, heart disease, dermatological issues, allergies, increased risk for infections, etc. Due to our modern way of living we are a sick and unhealthy nation and world.
Living a primal lifestyle means living the way we were designed to live as much as possible in this modern world.
4 Key Elements to Healthy Living:
- Nutrition: Eat real food. Eat food that promotes optimal gene expression. Food that heals instead of kills. I will go into more detail on this at a later time
- Physical activity: Be generally active. This means being up and moving most of the day. Avoid prolonged sitting. Go for walks. Do gardening. Park your car further out. Take the stairs. Go for a hike. You don’t have to run marathons or do Crossfit in order to be healthy. Just be active most of the day every day as much as possible. I do recommend some degree of strength training and occasional high intensity exercise for optimal gene expression but this isn’t absolutely necessary for good health (although it is highly beneficial).
- Sleep: The exact amount of sleep varies from person to person but in general shoot for 7-8 hours/night. Sleep quality is huge. If you are medicating yourself to sleep, either with over the counter or prescription drugs, alcohol or any other substance you aren’t going to have restful, deep sleep and will rob yourself of the real benefits of sleep. Sleep is restorative and important hormones are released during deep sleep. More on this at a later time.
- Stress: We need to live balanced lives and learn to manage our stress. Take time to put your smart phone down, shut the TV off and just sit outside and be still. Go for a walk or a hike. Spending time in nature has calming effects. Try and leave your work AT work as much as possible and when you are home you dedicate yourself to your family and loved ones. Learn to say “no” so you don’t over commit to various activities. Don’t let good things overshadow the better things in life. Pray. Meditate. Show gratitude and thankfulness. Take an actual lunch break–even if it’s for 10 or 15 minutes–away from your work. Sit down with a friend or colleague and talk about non-work stuff.
If these 4 things are done pretty well most of the time, then good health will follow.
That’s it for today. Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll try and respond