The purpose of this site is to help you turn the vision you have up in your head of your desired health condition into reality. It doesn’t matter whether you’re unfit and overweight, highly trained and lean, or sick and unable to exercise, all that matters is where you want to go…
4 steps to get started
1. Read a 1-minute introduction that explains what this site is all about
To learn about health, one must study health, but we must begin now, because soon there won’t be any recollection of what good health really is.
– Albert Einstein
It could be argued that we’ve now reached this point where good health is virtually nonexistent. Chronic health problems such as acne vulgaris, overweight, irritable bowel syndrome, myopia, and cardiovascular disease are so prevalent that they are sometimes considered a natural part of human life. However, it hasn’t always been this way.
Electricity, private transportation, fast food, and internet are now an essential part of most people’s daily life, and it’s often forgotten that for 99,5% of the evolutionary history of our genus, Homo, a hunter-gatherer lifestyle was the norm (1). Our genome was shaped over millions of years in ancestral, natural environments.
Although our milieu has changed dramatically since the Paleolithic era, our ancient physiology and biology are – to a significant extent – still with us (1, 2, 3). Our stone age bodies haven’t been able to keep up with the rapid changes that have occurred over the last ~10.000 years – and especially the last couple of centuries – and as a result, mismatch diseases now run rampant in the modern world (1, 2, 4).
Animals that live in their natural habitat and eat the food they are well adapted to eat, stay healthy and lean, while domesticated and caged animals, which are given grain feed and rounds of antibiotics, become sick. The same principles apply to humans; a statement that is supported by the fact that most of the degenerative diseases we see in today’s society are rare or nonexistent among hunter-gatherers and non-westernized, traditional people (1, 5).
Mainstream medicine has helped us combat many infectious diseases, treat acute – often life-threatening – health problems, and decrease infant mortality, but it usually fails when it comes to preventing and properly treating chronic mismatch diseases. In order to combat these diseases and achieve good health, we have to realign our diet and lifestyle with our genetic identity.
On this site you’ll find information about nutrition, exercise, and medicine that is based on evolutionary biology and modern scientific research. The overall goal is to find ways to achieve a healthy body and fullfilling life by applying the best from both the modern world and the evolutionary past.
2. Learn more
If you want to learn more about what this blog is all about, a good start is to check out the page on Darwinian medicine. You can then move on to read more about the premise underlying the information found on this site, as well as the pages on hunter-gatherers and traditional people, the human genome, and the human microbiome. If all of this peaks your interest, you can dig into the hundreds of posts here on the site to explore further, or if you feel you are ready to get on board at once, just continue directly to the next steps.
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4. Take steps to improve your health
Principles of evolutionary biology can be applied to a wide range of problems in medicine and public health. On this site, the main focus is on preventing and treating chronic mismatch diseases and achieving good health by applying the insights gained from an evolutionary perspective on nutrition, exercise, and health to our own lifestyle.
As you’ll quickly gather if you read this blog, the overarching recommendation is to follow a Paleo-inspired lifestyle. That said, it’s important to bear in mind that there is no one size fits all; things have to be adjusted to meet the specific goals, needs, etc. of each person. This is particularly true for people who suffer from chronic health problems and/or have specific health & fitness goals they’re trying to reach.
Diet, microbial exposure, exposure to harmful substances, stress, sleep, physical activity, and sun exposure are lifestyle factors that have a particularly potent impact on our health, and they are therefore given the most attention on this site. Each of these topics are discussed in numerous articles here on the blog, and they also each have their own page where the main concepts are outlined. Below are links to these pages, as well as a summary of practical applications.
- Use the Paleo template (meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, healthy fats, fruit, roots, and nuts) as your starting point for designing a healthy diet.
- Add in some low-glycemic index legumes (e.g., lentils) and/or whole grains (e.g., oats) if you feel you require more starch (some athletes need more carbohydrate than the Paleo diet provides) and/or fiber.
- Include plenty of fermentable fibers (e.g., leeks, onions) in your diet.
- Regularly eat fatty fish, organ meats, and/or other foods high in omega-3.
- Choose wild, organic, and/or grass-fed food when possible.
- Intermittent fasting comes with several possible health benefits and is a viable nutritional strategy for those who find it fits their lifestyle.
- Don’t look at it as a “diet”, but rather as a lifelong way of eating.
- Each person’s goals, activity level, and health condition have to be considered when food choices, macronutrient ratio, etc. are to be determined.
Possible strategies you can use to rewild your body:
- Eat fresh, minimally washed plant foods (e.g., vegetables with some clinging soil) from a trusted source (e.g., backyard garden).
- Eat homemade fermented foods, preferably organic. Sauerkraut, kimchi, and other lacto-fermented foods are a rich source of bacteria, some of which could help boost your gut microbiome.
- Do some gardening.
- Avoid antibacterial products and harsh cleaning products (e.g., body, home, clothes).
- If female, perform vaginal births and breast-feed your child(ren).
- Exchange bacteria with healthy humans and animals.
- Spend more time in natural environments.
- “Open a window to your home”.
- Perform a microbiota transplantation (For those with moderate-severe gut dysbiosis).
Possible strategies you can use to reduce your exposure to harmful substances:
- Avoid taking antibiotics and other damaging drugs unless absolutely necessary.
- Eliminate harsh cleaning products – especially antibacterials – from your daily life.
- Choose “natural” beauty and cleaning products from reputable brands.
- Seek out a high-quality source of drinking water, and avoid plastic bottles if possible.
- Don’t base your diet on foods found in containers that can leach potentially harmful compounds.
- Reduce your use of cosmetic products.
- Use natural oils (e.g., coconut oil) as a substitute for conventional products.
- Choose “safe” cookware.
- Gently cook your food to reduce the production of compounds such as advanced glycation end products.
Possible strategies that can help you take control of your stress levels:
- Don’t let ancient adaptations that are maladaptive in the modern environment control your behaviour. In other words, don’t let your temptations get the best of you, but instead plan your life according to what you know is best for your long-term health and happiness.
- Establish boundaries so that technology does not rule your life.
- Avoid unnecessary “noise”. E.g. constantly checking e-mails and phone messages, spending hours on social media looking at what other people do.
- Include some occasional bursts of acute stress into your life. E.g., cold showers, “facing your fears”.
- Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep are all important for preventing chronic stress.
- Plan your life according to what’s important for you.
- Try to resolve energy-consuming relationships, difficult job situations, etc.
- Seek and nurture meaningful relationships rather than focusing on hundreds of online “friends”.
Possible strategies that can help you sleep more and better:
- From an evolutionary perspective, the notion that 8 straight hours is the normal and/or optimal way to sleep has little support. However, if we look at it from the perspective of getting the best possible sleep within the parameters of our modern lives, a concentrated bulk of 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep is pretty good.
- For those who do have the opportunity and desire to sleep biphasically, there’s no reason not to do it.
- Keep to a routine.
- Reduce or eliminate the use of light-emitting electronics at night.
- Don’t work out right before bed. The short-term burst in cortisol can make it harder to sleep.
- Install f.lux or another similar program on your computer. This program makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.
- Expose yourself to a lot of bright light during the day.
- Use amber goggles that block blue light at night.
- Go to be in a completely dark room.
- Avoid stressful activities before bed.
- Use a dawn simulator alarm clock.
- Listen to sounds of nature before bed.
- Nail down the rest of your healthy lifestyle. E.g., physical activity, stress, sun exposure.
- Learn good exercise technique!
- Perform plenty of light-moderate activities such as walking.
- Do some type of regular strength training where you focus on compound movements such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups, and presses.
- Occasionally sprint and perform intermittent bursts of moderate-to-high level intensity exercise with intervening periods of rest and recovery.
- Avoid excessive high-intensity, prolonged endurance training (“chronic cardio”), and be careful not to take bodybuilding-type training to the extreme. “Not too much and not too little”.
- Preferably use minimalistic footwear or train barefoot.
- Perform some of your exercise outside if possible.
- If your goal is to achieve good health and develop multifaceted fitness, a hunter-gatherer fitness style regimen (as loosely described above) is a good foundation.
- If you have specific goals (e.g., maximize strength and/or muscular development, run a marathon, or sprint as fast as possible), you can still employ many elements of Paleolithic physical activity patterns in your training and use the evolutionary template as a foundation for designing your workout programs, but you should specify your training, focus on progressive overload, and in most instances, keep a training journal.
- Tan gradually, and avoid getting burned!
- Pay attention to latitude, time of day, and season.
- Sunscreens – even the “natural” ones – contain many potentially problematic ingredients. However, if the alternative is to get a sunburn, a high-quality SPF lotion is probably the preferred option.
- The sun is most intense at noon, but this is also when you get the most UVB, and hence the most vitamin D.
- A healthy diet rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene increases your protection against sun damage.
- For those with very light skin, 10 minutes a couple of times a week could be enough. Those with dark skin need a lot more.
- Brief, repeated exposures are more efficient than one concentrated session in terms of vitamin D production.
- Vitamin D supplements don’t provide the same spectrum of benefits that you get from sunlight.
- Cover up (e.g., clothes, hat) to avoid excessive exposure.
- Certain marine foods, such as salmon and mackerel, can lessen the adverse health effects of inadequate sun exposure by providing vitamin D. Wild fish usually have the most of this vitamin.
- Sun tanning is superior to the use of indoor tanning devices.