By now, you’re undoubtedly aware of BPA, or bisphenol A, and its ubiquitous presence in can liners, plastics, and even receipts. I wrote about its status as a xenoestrogen with the ability to interact with hormonal receptors in animal bodies, as well as its potentially deleterious effects on humans – especially tiny growing humans – and the general takeaway is that avoiding BPA as much as possible is in all our best interests. We can’t avoid everything, but we can do a fairly good job of it. Luckily, the consumers (that’s you) have spoken up loud enough to get companies to pay attention to the way they line their cans so that while BPA remains a pervasive issue, more and more BPA-free products are being introduced. This is good, but which ones are BPA-free isn’t always evident. Grocery stores don’t generally have a BPA-free section (how awesome would that be?) and some (like Trader Joe’s) don’t even put the label on their products.
Humans enjoy being entertained. We like watching funny, engrossing, exciting shows, movies, and plays. We love good tunes. And we enjoy watching a great stand-up comedian at work, the kind that makes your abs sore from laughter. But why? Well, it boils down to our need for sensation. Simply put, we need to laugh, cry, tense up from excitement, experience emotional highs and lows, and we enjoy the activation of our adrenal systems – whether it’s due to something happening to us in real life or to an imaginary character on a screen somewhere – because we have the equipment necessary to experience all those things, and we need to use it. Feeling sensations, emotions, excitement, then, is a prerequisite for being a healthy, happy human. An ancestral expectation.
For a guy that people don’t usually reference when talking about the ancestral health community, Tucker Max gave a fantastic talk on the importance of violence a couple weeks ago at the symposium. It was on the importance of violence in human evolution, and it centered on what he’d learned about himself since joining a mixed martial arts (MMA) gym several years back. His slides are now available, so I’d recommend taking a quick glance at them. The real meat was in the talk itself, though. Check out the video (and stick around for Seth’s talk, too). Hat tip to Tucker for stoking my thoughts on this topic.
Last week a friend of Carrie’s was over for a visit, and I overheard a bit of their conversation while I was in the kitchen. She’s a new mother with all the stresses and string of obligations that come with it. On Saturday she’d gone for a massage – a gift Carrie had given her some months ago at her baby shower. She’s normally a very relaxed, low-key kind of person, but she was surprised at how much she had changed in the course of a few months. “It took me half way through the massage,” she said, “just to stop all the mind chatter – the list making, the reminders, the planning, the questions that never seem to stop running through my head these days.” She was finally able to let go after the therapist worked out some of the shoulder knots. “By the time she started on the legs,” she said, “I was a wet noodle.” Her experience got me thinking about the tension we all carry around with us and the tendency we have to get bound up in it – mentally and physically. A lot of Carrie’s friend’s angst revolved around doing all the right things for her child’s health and well-being. Even our efforts toward living a healthy life can give us grief. What set it right, in this case, was a massage – a luxurious, indulgent, sanity-restoring massage. I think we neglect this appeal to our detriment: the pleasure principle has something to teach us about health.
As promised in last week’s Hunter-Gatherer Fitness post, I’m stirring up the (apparently much awaited) subject of sex – specifically the benefits for physical and mental well-being. Uh, you mean coitus? Yup. Thanks to everyone who responded to the announcement with rousing enthusiasm as well as comments and questions.
What could be more Primal than sex, many of you have suggested. Absolutely right. It was probably one of Grok’s most valued pleasures. (Are people today much different?) For our part, however, we have new freedoms in a manner of speaking. Although we might honor the evolutionary imperative behind our primal appetites with eventual procreation, we’re not beholden to the natural odds with every tryst. As I’ve said many a time, I love studying and learning from the example of Grok and his kin. Nonetheless, I’m a happily modern man in this instance as much as any.
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