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Popular science authors often claim that hunter-gatherers were more warlike than modern humans and that our propensity for large-scale violence in the name of resource acquisition is an evolutionary adaptation – “mankind’s hereditary curse.” A new study of 21 “forager” societies – hunter-gatherers, in other words – undermines that popular view, finding that of 148 catalogued kills, just two were over “resources.” The vast majority were caused by “miscellaneous personal disputes” between individuals, not bands, tribes, or groups.
Have you ever wondered just what’s in all those products you slather, spray, spritz, apply, and rub onto your body? I mean, who hasn’t tried to kill time in the shower by hunkering down with a good shampoo bottle ingredient list? It’s a laundry list of unpronounceable words separated by dozens of hyphens. In short, it all appears to be a big bottle of chemicals. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a “chemical.” Most everything can be called a chemical; ever heard of dihydrogen monoxide? But not all chemicals are benign, particularly the manmade, industrial ones created to fulfill a specific purpose in a product. They likely do their intended job very, very well, but it’s difficult to impossible to account for any other effects a chemical might have on an organism.
Access to treadmill desks (even with infrequent usage) help obese workers lose body fat without affecting performance.
Why the anxious should exercise regularly.
Folks who are depressed tend to pursue more “generalized goals,” as opposed to more specific goals.
Being infected with parasitic worms may protect you from heart disease.
As corn pests wise up to our feeble attempts to genetically engineer pest resistance into corn seeds, farmers are having to pump even more pesticides onto their crops. Or, you know, they could do some old-fashioned and time-tested crop rotation and limit the resistance in the first place, but that wouldn’t be better living through chemistry.
I realized recently I’ve never written this kind of open letter. I figure if kids and Taco Bell got the benefit, maybe primary care physicians could as well. Kidding aside, there’s a genuine mismatch these days between standard medical advice and effective lifestyle practices. I think we can all do better. I’m not letting patients off the hook here either. (Maybe that’s fodder for another letter.) However, we naturally look to our physicians as our healers, as the experts, as our guides. Unfortunately, we’re not always well served by that kind of faith. I’m of course not talking about any one doctor or set of doctors. I happen to know a great many primary care doctors and other medical practitioners who are incredibly forward and critical thinking professionals. They balance their perspectives with the likes of medical logic, broad based study of existing research and close attention to real life results. While I think I’m not the only one who would have much to say to many specialists out there as well, let me specifically address primary care physicians here. They’re on the front lines – for all the good and ugly that goes with it. More than any specialist, they have the whole picture of our health (and a fair amount of our life stories to boot). It’s more their job (and billing categorization) to provide general health and lifestyle counseling to their patients. It’s with great respect that I offer these thoughts. As my readers can guess, this could easily be a tale of ninety-nine theses, but let me focus on a few central points.
We can’t return to the paleolithic. We’re not cavemen. This isn’t about reenactment, and it never has been. We’re all here because we recognize the value in viewing our health, our food, our exercise, and our everyday behaviors through an evolutionary lens. The evolutionary angle is simply a helpful way to generate hypotheses, hypotheses that can then be tested and, if successful, integrated. At the very least, it’s interesting to think about what might be the “right” or “biologically appropriate” way to do something. We have the luxury of trying these things out to see if they improve our lives, so I think we probably should try them.
I’ve been thinking of some easy ways to Primalize everyday life. Basically, I think we can “get more” out of our days without really making any monumental changes to what we do or taking much more time to do it, simply by getting Primal with it. With a few subtle tweaks toward the ancestral, we can enhance everyday activities, foods, and drinks that we take for granted. Mundane stuff might suddenly become enriched. Let’s get to the list so you can learn my 12 easy ways to Primalize your everyday life:
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