There is an underlying order to our health. Getting sick isn’t random. We get sick because our genes didn’t get what they were expecting, one too many times.
This week I’ve been at PrimalCon in Tulum Mexico, a five day retreat run by Mark Sisson and his Primal Blueprint team. The retreat is designed for people with an interest in primal living, to extend their knowledge and challenge conventional thinking.
Earlier this week at PrimalCon, I listened to a fascinating talk by Dr Cate Shanahan entitled “Fulfilling your genetic expectations” where she spoke about what happens when our genes don’t get what they are expecting.
As Dr Cate pointed out, the difference between health and sickness isn’t something that happens randomly. Natural selection, or survival of the fittest, is still something that is very real today. Those who choose to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle thrive, and those who choose a sedentary and excessive lifestyle become sick.
Our environment can also play a role in the choices we make.
John Durant, author of The Paleo Manifesto, spoke yesterday at PrimalCon about the importance of our natural habitat (or more in most situations, the habitat we choose) and how this can ultimately affect our health. He argued that:
“An organism is likely to thrive in a habitat that resembles its ancestral habitat”.
We are products of our past as well as our habitat. Factors such as the DNA passed down to us from our ancestors, the environment we live in and our diet all predetermine our future and our ability to survive.
When genes don’t get what they were expecting – when we make poor choices that don’t resemble the lifestyle that humans were designed to lead – they change, adapt or even mutate. They are having to deal with a situation that is completely unknown and unfamiliar to them. And they won’t necessarily respond in a way that leads to a positive outcome for our health.
Similarly when we choose an environment that is vastly different to the habitat’s where we once thrived – such as urban settings where we are forever tempted by convenient, indulgent unhealthy food choices – it makes it very difficult for us to make the right choices.
So why am I writing about genetics on a food blog?
Because all of this is at the very heart of the paleo lifestyle. The foundation of eating a paleo diet is about living in harmony with our national environment and our evolution. The more we mess with the natural order of things, the more health issues we will create.
Eating paleo is as much about enjoying good quality, real food as it is about enjoying a long and healthy life. It’s a choice. The advances we make in understanding the human body will be the future of nutrition. However, the lifestyle choices we make will be the future of our health.
We can improve our health if we are willing to put in the work. This means assessing our habitat or environment, and making necessarily changes to put us on the right path to good health. Along our journey, this also means making the right choices to sustain our healthy lifestyle.
It’s easy to choose delicious food at the expense of what our bodies expect. However, our food choices should be intuitive based on what our bodies really need.