Home » Context » Recent Articles:

Strength versus Fitness – A Critical Distinction

From Chris Highcock’s wonderful short PDF book which you can buy here.

Chris’s book opens with the best context for Fitness and its link to health and how we grow old that I have yet seen.

This site has talked a lot about the false claims for diet – “Eating Healthy Grains” etc. The real diet is to give up the modern foods!

Chris shows how our modern obsession with “Exercise” has taken us down an unhelpful alley too. The real issue is “Strength”.

Our  ancestors did not “Take Exercise”. They led active lives and they carried a lot of stuff and they moved around a lot. They did not need a gym not expensive kit.  Chris shows us how we can do this again. And he shows a focus on strength this will help our health in a way that “Exercise” does not. This approach also then deals with the issue of time. For to get strength the requirement is intensity and not time. In fact as we get stronger we need to use less time and increase the intensity. We don’t have to spend hours a day.

Oh and don’t forget that we are designed to walk – a lot!

Parenting – Fitting the Child into the World vs Fitting the World to the Child

What is the historic way of parenting? The late Jean Liedloff made the study of Traditional Child rearing (The Continuum Concept) her life’s work.

Here is the central difference between what we do – make the child the centre but also disconnect physically – and the traditional – attach physically but fit the child into the larger adult world. Snip here:

How do they do it? What do the Yequana know about human nature that we do not? What can we do to attain non-adversarial relationships with our children in toddlerhood, or later if they have got off to a bad start?

The “Civilized” Experience

In my private practice, people consult me to overcome the deleterious effects of beliefs about themselves formed in childhood.1  Many of these people are parents keen not to subject their offspring to the kind of alienation they suffered at the hands of their own usually well-meaning parents. They would like to know how they can rear their children happily and painlessly.

Most of these parents have taken my advice and, following the Yequana example, kept their babies in physical contact all day and night until they began to crawl.2  Some, however, are surprised and dismayed to find their tots becoming “demanding” or angry — often toward their most caretaking parent. No amount of dedication or self-sacrifice improves the babies’ disposition. Increased efforts to placate them do nothing but augment frustration in both parent and child. Why, then, do the Yequana not have the same experience?

The crucial difference is that the Yequana are not child-centered. They may occasionally nuzzle their babies affectionately, play peek-a-boo, or sing to them, yet the great majority of the caretaker’s time is spent paying attention to something else…not the baby! Children taking care of babies also regard baby care as a non-activity and, although they carry them everywhere, rarely give them direct attention. Thus, Yequana babies find themselves in the midst of activities they will later join as they proceed through the stages of creeping, crawling, walking, and talking. The panoramic view of their future life’s experiences, behavior, pace, and language provides a rich basis for their developing participation.

Being played with, talked to, or admired all day deprives the babe of this in-arms spectator phase that would feel right to him. Unable to say what he needs, he will act out his discontentment. He is trying to get his caretaker’s attention, yet — and here is the cause of the understandable confusion — his purpose is to get the caretaker to change his unsatisfactory experience, to go about her own business with confidence and without seeming to ask his permission. Once the situation is corrected, the attention-getting behavior we mistake for a permanent impulse can subside. The same principle applies in the stages following the in-arms phase.

One devoted mother on the East Coast, when beginning sessions with me on the telephone, was near the end of her tether. She was at war with her beloved three-year-old son, who was often barging into her, sometimes hitting her, and shouting, “Shut up!” among other distressing expressions of anger and disrespect. She had tried reasoning with him, asking him what he wanted her to do, bribing him, and speaking sweetly as long as she could before losing her patience and shouting at him. Afterward, she would be consumed with guilt and try to “make it up to him” with apologies, explanations, hugs, or special treats to prove her love — whereupon her precious little boy would respond by issuing new ill-tempered demands.

Sometimes she would stop trying to please him and go tight-lipped about her own activities, despite his howls and protestations. If she finally managed to hold out long enough for him to give up trying to control her and calm down, he might gaze up at her out of his meltingly beautiful eyes and say, “I love you, Mommy!” and she, almost abject in her gratitude for this momentary reprieve from the leaden guilt in her bosom, would soon be eating out of his dimpled, jam-stained little hand again. He would become bossy, then angry and rude, and the whole heartbreaking scenario would be replayed, whereupon my client’s despair would deepen.

I hear many similar stories from clients in the United States, Canada, Germany, and England, so I believe it is fair to say that this trouble is prevalent among the most well-educated, well-meaning parents in Western societies. They are struggling with children who seem to want to keep their adults under their control and obedient to their every whim. To make matters worse, many people believe that this phenomenon bears witness to the widely held notion that our species, alone among all creatures, is by nature antisocial and requires years of opposition (“discipline,” “socializing”) to become viable, or “good.” As the Yequana, the Balinese, and numerous other peoples outside our cultural orbit reveal, however, such a notion is utterly erroneous. Members of one society respond to the conditioning of their culture like the members of any other.

The Way to Harmony

What, then, is causing this unhappiness? What have we misunderstood about our human nature? And what can we do to approach the harmony the Yequana enjoy with their children?

It appears that many parents of toddlers, in their anxiety to be neither negligent nor disrespectful, have gone overboard in what may seem to be the other direction. Like the thankless martyrs of the in-arms stage, they have become centered upon their children instead of being occupied by adult activities that the children can watch, follow, imitate, and assist in as is their natural tendency. In other words, because a toddler wants to learn what his people do, he expects to be able to center his attention on an adult who is centered on her own business. An adult who stops whatever she is doing and tries to ascertain what her child wants her to do is short-circuiting this expectation. Just as significantly, she appears to the tot not to know how to behave, to be lacking in confidence and, even more alarmingly, looking for guidance from him, a two or three year old who is relying on her to be calm, competent, and sure of herself.

A toddler’s fairly predictable reaction to parental uncertainty is to push his parents even further off-balance, testing for a place where they will stand firm and thus allay his anxiety about who is in charge. He may continue to draw pictures on the wall after his mother has pleaded with him to desist, in an apologetic voice that lets him know she does not believe he will obey. When she then takes away his markers, all the while showing fear of his wrath, he — as surely as he is a social creature — meets her expectations and flies into a screaming rage.

If misreading his anger, she tries even harder to ascertain what he wants, pleads, explains, and appears ever more desperate to placate him, the child will be impelled to make more outrageous, more unacceptable demands. This he must continue to do until at last she does take over leadership and he can feel that order is restored. He may still not have a calm, confident, reliable authority figure to learn from, as his mother is now moving from the point of losing her temper to the point at which guilt and doubts about her competence are again rearing their wobbly heads. Nevertheless, he will have the meager reassurance of seeing that when the chips were down, she did relieve him of command and of his panicky feeling that he should somehow know what she should do.

Put simply, when a child is impelled to try to control the behavior of an adult, it is not because the child wants to succeed, but because the child needs to be certain that the adult knows what he or she is doing. Furthermore, the child cannot resist such testing until the adult stands firm and the child can have that certainty. No child would dream of trying to take over the initiative from an adult unless that child receives a clear message that such action is expected — not wanted, but expected! Moreover, once the child feels he has attained control, he becomes confused and frightened and must go to any extreme to compel the adult to take the leadership back where it belongs.

When this is understood, the parents’ fear of imposing upon their child is allayed, and they see that there is no call for adversariality. By maintaining control, they are fulfilling their beloved child’s needs, rather than acting in opposition to them.

It took my East Coast client a week or two to see the first results of this new understanding. After that, generations of misunderstanding and the force of old habits rendered the family’s transition to non-adversarial ways somewhat uneven. Today, she and her husband, as well as many of my other clients similarly afflicted, are happily convinced by their own experience that children, far from being contrary, are by nature profoundly social.

Expecting them to be so is what allows them to be so. As the parents’ expectation of sociality in the child is perceived by the child, she or he meets that expectation; likewise, the parents’ experience of sociality in the child reinforces their expectation of it. That is how it works. In a gracious letter to me, the husband of my East Coast client wrote, of his wife, their son, and himself: “[We] have grown and learned and loved together in a miraculous way. Our relationships continue to evolve in a totally positive and loving direction.”

The very best video on the choices before us

Dr Wahls is an inspiration – all the context – the practical steps – the pull of her success in curing her MS and the choice

Stress – Everything you want to know

Here are a series of videos that will show you how stress works to affect your health and what you can do to reduce its impact.

Here is the best introduction that I know of to the mechanism of stress as it affects humans. Our stress is social.

Here are 3 videos made of Dr Gabor Mate where he shows us how we humans in particular manifest it.


We tell ourselves stories. It is the meaning of events and not the vents in our lives that affects us. Change the meaning and the stress can go away. His second point is that many of the events that shape our stress patterns take place in early childhood. Mate shows us how many are rooted in events that happen before we are able to recall the memory.

I find his videos compelling – I could see how my own issues worked on me and I cous see what I coud do to reduce their impact. I think you will find the same.

What would a new food system be based on? A better fit with nature surely!

I doubt that the early users of the plough could predict what their new approach to food production would bring. They were simply addressing a problem. How could they get more output of grain along the fertile banks of the Nile?

They were also building on all sorts of other connected innovation that had taken place before. Grass had been bred to have a higher yield. Oxen had been domesticated. Pot making had enabled more storage. The plough was a capstone element that brought all of this together and made it into a system.

It is likely that most of the parts of the new system exist today. They just need to be brought together. Maybe a crisis will do that? The crisis may be driven by an oil crisis.

With expensive oil, we will not longer have the inputs that drive our system such as fertiliser and pesticides. We will not have the equipment such as tractors. We will not be able to use concentration and corn fed confinement as the basis of meat production. We will have much reduced refrigeration. We will not have the fuel to transport food and goods so cheaply.

It may also be a health crisis. For we can no longer tolerate the costs of the illnesses that stem from our making grain and corn in particular the key component in all our food and in what our animals eat.

These are the problems that we will have to solve soon. So what can we see that is going this way.

Meat – New Old/Models – We have bred animals that are designed to be confined, live in barns and eat corn. We have “Poodleized” them and made them weak. But there have always been grazers that can tolerate being outside for most of the year.

Buffalosnow
The Buffalo herd was 60 million in 1800. We slaughtered them to kill off the plains Indians and the clear the land for cattle. In 1900 there were less than 1,000 left. But in the last 20 years there has been a renaissance. In 2005 the North American Herd was about 500,000 and in Canada 2000 ranchers have a herd of about 250,000. It is even larger today and the issue that confronts the folks in the buffalo world is how to expand the herd.

Why the success and what does this teach is as an element? It is that there are animals that “Fit” our environment. Buffalo are the natural herbivore in North America. They can cope with the worst weather. They build up the grassland. They certainly don’t need a barn.

There are two reasons why the herd is booming and that more people are getting involved. Most importantly, there is demand for the meat. Meat from a true grass grazer is on the top of the health lists now for those that can afford it. On the rancher side, the costs of keeping buffalo are much less that for cattle. 

They are not easy to keep. They are to cows as wolves are to dogs. They are a wild animal. So they cannot be confined. They need large areas and really strong fencing.

BUT they offer us a clue I think to the future of meat. Today we set up an entirely artificial environment for the animals that we depend on. What if instead we selected animals like the Highland cattle seen below that fit and thrived where we live instead?

250px-Cow_on_Pupers
I am NOT saying we have to all be buffalo ranchers – though out west this could be vast. I am saying that our new paradigm might be to favor animals that fit well with local conditions and so need very few inputs and capital to ensure that they thrive.

If we can breed a Holstein to have more milk than could be imagined, we could breed more adapted animals like this Highland Cow that can tolerate cold very well.

250px-Sheep_on_the_isle_of_Lewis (1)
In the UK the Blackface Sheep is the Gold Standard meat sheep who can tolerate extreme cold and poor pasture. Their wool is also highly esteemed making it a multipurpose sheep.

Berksow
The Berkshire pig does well outdoors even in Atlantic Canada.

There are breeds of all our basic domestic animals that can be rescued from history and offer us a low input low cost alternative to the “poodle” breeds we have now.

You do not have to wait years for Organic certification to beging this way of raising animals. You can start next year. There is also a large and fast growing market for this kind of meat now. Maybe not here on PEI yet but there is an export market that will enable us to get up to scale for when we all have to eat locally like this anyway.

If you start small with other your risk is low.

Grass – the opposite of the plough – The plough is all about getting rid of the existing natural system and replacing it with an artificial one. At Polyface Farm, the system is all about keeping and building on grass. Each animal has part of a rotation that uses different parts of the grass and that fits into a larger system.

220px-Pigs_at_Polyface_Farm
Pigs have their job at the edge of the system.

220px-Eggmobile_and_flock_of_chickens_at_Polyface_Farm
Chickens come in after the larger animals. All add more back so over time the grass improves and so can carry more load. The opposite of our current system As the years go by the ROI on the farm goes up. the opposite of our current system.

As well as producing meat and eggs that rely on very few extra inputs, this system produces the very healthiest of product. Why? Because the animal fits its environment. Chickens and pigs were designed to live like this and to eat like this. If we go down this road we work WITH nature.

This can all be done locally.

Imagine if we made grass our focus? We have such ingenuity. Polyface Farm is to the future what the crudest early plough is to our modern system.

So what then about crops – what about veggies, fruits and nuts? How might we tie into a grass system a system for this?

I think that the answer is in Permaculture.

Permaculture
This is what Permaculture looks like. Looks chaotic but it is not. Again the principle is “Fit”. We plant to mimic nature and to enhance nature. Most are perennials. As the system ages, it gets more productive. For the parts all reinforce each other as the animals do on a grass farm. Too many slugs = not enough ducks!

This is the DNA of the structure.

Permastructure
Ponds and woods are key to the design.

The Salatins at Polyface have discovered the importance of linking their woodland to the grass land. Both feed the other.

Both get stronger over time. Both end up needing almost no inputs. Both have an ever increasing ROI and offer the farmer more and more margin and so independence.

This is what working with nature looks like. It’s early days now. But I think that these two related ideas have great potential. Could they not work for you? If they did what would happen to you?

In the next and last post of this series, I will play with what this might do for society. For how we get our food shapes our culture and power. I will play with how this might work in small place like PEI.

I have no idea as of today how this imagining will work out – please join me in speculating.

How big a deal was it to develop agriculture? It changed Everything – So if we change our food system – it too will change everything

So if we shift to a new system – then all will change again.

What might the new system be like? Grains are the centre piece of Ag as we know it. If we returned to a more Paleo diet of meat and veggies, then we could lose the plough and go to a pasture system for meat and a permaculture system for veggies. What might this look like? Like this!

Can we live a Hunter Gatherer Life today? Part 1 – yes – Here is mine as a model

What is the modern version of this – our Hunter Gatherer past – our ideal Work/Life social setting?

For we know that how we work today is  a major driver of stress and poor relationships. Can we live and work as they did?

This short series will explore how we can do this now. Let me start with some features of my life and we can then see if I am really a hunter gatherer. Then in Post 2 we can look out and see how new organizations are emerging that will give people like me and maybe you much more power than when we are just on our own – outside the mainstream. Then in the 3rd and last post, we can look ahead and see what we can do to give this movement of empowering the very small even more power.

So I am what is now known as a Free Lancer. I have worked for myself since 1994. I used to be a very corporate person before that and had never worked for myself then.

Then it was odd to not go back to getting a job – but I wanted freedom more. I am not alone look at what is happening:

In 1980 most of us – about 80% had jobs. But now only 60% do. 40% do not. Something is happening. The age of the Job is surely dying and a new age of the Freelancer is re-emerging. The trick I think is to stop worry about the job and to find your place in this very old way of living.

This is my Freelance – Hunter Gatherer Life today – how does it compare to a job? How does it compare to the classic HG life?

Time – I have huge control over my time. Only in dire circumstances do I not control my calendar. I get up when I want to and my commute is to the room next door. Now I work a lot and long hours but all on my terms. I get paid to deliver outcomes. I have deadlines but how I get there is up to me. So I can mow the lawn when I want. I can go shopping. I can take days off and go and see my kids. Because I don’t have a commute, because I don’t go to all those meetings, I have so much more time than those with jobs. I have to slow down to keep pace with conventional clients. Sometimes I am pressed, but those times are rare. We all have a crisis now and then. But the pace of my life is leisurely – as it was with Hunter Gatherers. Above all I have time for others. Time for my wife and family and time for a network of friends. Not “networking” but hanging time. Being with them. I have time also for me and for reflection. I have time to absorb and wrestle with ideas. I have time to do manual things such as stack wood, mow for hours etc that keeps me grounded and active. I sleep well as I rarely have to get up. Now I am up at dawn but that is my own internal clock and not the alarm.

I have high status – I am seen as an artisan who has been hired because I am an expert in my field.  Who does not want to be considered useful?  I get paid to be useful. I do very difficult things, so the validation is even more satisfying. My status does not come from my car – I drive a base Hyundai. It does not come from my clothes – my wife thinks I look like a tramp. I don’t earn a lot of money – I earn what I need – so it does not come because I am rich. It comes from me inside. What I know and what I share – for 75% of what I do I do for free. My greatest joy is to be of help to younger men and women. I have a tribe too. A group of dear friends that I share my ideas with and who do the same with me. We teach each other and we go on hunting trips with each other. For we each have skills that the other cannot have and we have learned from “hunting” how much we need each other. More on Hunting later. This is where status came in the Hunter Gatherer society. It comes from the value that each of us has inside. When we are young we have a strong body and lots of energy. It is value that grows as we age. For we become ever more skilled. Later when the body and our energy weaken, it is wisdom. I have a name – I am known as “Rob”.

I live in a  small community where I am known. I live on Prince Edward island. A province of Canada that has the population of a small town – 140,000 people. In a sense we all know each other. Of course we don’t but it feels like we do. Being so small, we are all known. No secrets here – NONE. For better or worse, we have a reputation. Such was life in a Hunter Gatherer society. Our social world was small. Your name often represented your character. Now this can be stifling. But I assure you that having a place is better than not. We are designed to feel best when we are known and we have such a place. Now you can find this in a  real neighbourhood in a big city but it gets more and more difficult as a regular person to be a somebody in a big city. The smaller the place the less social stress too. In a big city the moment you go out into the streets you have to switch off your social radar. If you don’t the crowds will overwhelm you. The more you switch it off – on the subway, in an elevator, on the sidewalk, the more you keep it off until you may lose your ability to inhabit a place or be with people – even your own family!

Grooming – I also inhabit a small place on the web. I do not have thousands of “Friends” and nor do you. In reality, we have a small tribe online as we do in real life. It is helpful not to forget that – for this small tribe needs your attention. Set your limits too wide, and you have nothing. For this group is your Grooming Buddies. They don’t exist in the conventional workplace where it is everyman for himself. You can have office “friends” but how often do you keep up with them over time. These you take real risks with – do work in dangerous situations when you don’t know much about how it is all going to turn out. They have faith in you and don’t mind the ride if the final prize is not there. These are the pals that you can tell all to. They share your values and they have a great ear. They know you like a long term, lover and accept you for all your foibles. They don’t have all the baggage that your family shares with you. They are vital to your health. They are your hunting partners.

I go hunting – Work in a Job is like farming – it’s all about routines and hard grinding. Getting a contract out of thin air is hunting. Like real hunting, it helps to have a team. There are risks. Sometimes you fail. But there is no feeling like bringing home the mammoth. Or actually even the small deer. We are hunters at heart. The companionship of the hunt is special too. As is sharing the “kill” at the end. For that is what real hunters do – they share. It’s not about domination. Now there are patches where there is no game and some fear about that. But I have designed my life, like a hunter, not to need much. I have set up my life so that we can be quite comfy with very little money. The Hunter Gatherer is no possessed by his possessions – the modern worker is one pay check away from the street. I can have very long stretches of no game.

We do gathering – We don’t rely on my bringing home the bacon. We also gather. My wife has her own areas where she brings in what we need too. And we share how we maintain our other gathering business – we run a small rental business. I am the grounds man and she the inside person. We have a diverse range of small livings that accumulate to give us enough. Takes soem of the pressure off the hunting!

Livings and Life – When I was young and foolish, I wanted to be rich. I made getting rich – I was an investment banker – the sole aim. But when my dad died aged 55, I began to think about what I really wanted to have. And that was a good life. It took a long time to get there, but I have made the switch. I now make a living so that I can have a life. For this is the only one I am sure that I have. Our hunter gatherer ancestors felt the same. Things meant very little to them. But living is important. What you do every day is your life – not your vacation or your retirement. The pay off of a real life is to have made a difference. To have kids and set them up well or to help set up other kids well. To prepare the best future and to have had fun while.l doing this. Life is so short, there is no time to be wasted.

When I was young and foolish, I lost sight of this. Now I think of my kids and all kids. In this very uncertain time what is our legacy? We have mortgaged their future in so many ways. Time to do the work to give them a chance I think. For what will they think of us if we don’t try? What we will think of when we die if we have not tried?

In the next post, I will talk about how many HG’s today are finding networks and tribes that offer more assurance financially that us early pioneers had. I will show you how this way of life is moving from an aberration to a norm for many. Where the hunting is much better!

 

Hospital in the US – One of the most dangerous places you can go to

September 1, 2011 Context, Infection, Resources No Comments

This data reminds us that Hospital is not a safe place and that going to Hospital in the US is positively dangerous. I take all of this into consideration when I think of the choices ahead of me. Will the conditions in Hospital get better or worse in the next 30 years as I get very old? What do you think?

The Hazards of Hospitals
Created by: MedicalBillingAndCodingCertification.net

Measles – Is Vaccination the key?

Fears about the safety of vaccination are causing concerns that measles may be on the way back

“In the September Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Gregory Poland, M.D. writes that ‘More than 150 cases of measles have been reported in the United States already this year and there have been similar outbreaks in Europe, a sign the disease is making an alarming comeback (abstract). The reappearance of the potentially deadly virus is the result of unfounded fears about a link between the measles shot and autism that have turned some parents against childhood vaccination.'”

The use of statistics with this kind of time scale highlight the “Risk”.

In this context it looks like vaccination is great and is behind the almost eradication of the disease. So have a look at this stats that follow Measles further back.

Oh – so using this length of time we see a different picture. This is true for all infectious disease. More here and source.

So what is really going on? First of all recall that infection is rooted in environment. If it is easy for feces to get into the water, you have cholera and no cure will help you. If there are lots of rats and fleas, the chances of bubonic plague is high. Lots of mosquitoes, and you live in Panama, you will likely get yellow fever. Poor living conditions, poor food and you are likely to get TB. If you are weak, you are vulnerable and so on.

Vast improvements in the environments helped bring down the rate of infection. Secondly, true immunity comes from having survived the disease. When Europeans arrived in the New World, millions of indigenous people died of measles and our urban western diseases that we had largely become adapted too. Over time, we adapt and our real and systemic immunity builds.

So why the outcry about vaccination? History belies the claim that vaccination is the main defense. Secondly, the immunity that you get from a vaccine is not the same as the immunity that you get from the disease or from the antibodies you inherit from parents who have had the disease. No need for a second shot or any repeats if you are truly immune.

Are there risks from vaccinations? Let’s just accept for now that there is no know link to autism. And look at risks more broadly. How well developed is an infants immune system? Not much is the answer. How does an infant build an immune system? By inheritance and from its mother’s milk. And by testing it by putting everything in its mouth. When would a child’s immune system be robust enough to be tested in a hard way? 3 – 4? When we do we vaccinate them now? From birth to 15 months!

Might there be risk in testing the infant’s immune system at this early age?

Might building a real immunity be better?

We turn to medicine first – should we? Follow the money!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s stop the nit picking re Ancestral/Paleo and Focus on the Big Context

I have to admit being guilty of nit picking and loving a good fight and spent a lot of this weekend involved in such little fights – but my wife and best friend Robin reminded me that this was not the best approach. And then I read this – a comment on the Ancestral Health Conference and I am convinced. If this movement is like a church – the broader the gates the better – best we stay at the context level rather than fight about the details of what is in or out – like how many angels could stand on the head of a pin – a major debate back in the early years of Christianity! Here is the link (Stumptuous.com Krista Scott Dixon)

Why is studying ancestral health and primal diets important? And what do we plan to do with that knowledge?

Well, let’s back up.

Here are a couple of fundamental concepts behind the notion of “ancestral” or “primal” health.

Concept 1: Hominids evolved to eat a particular range of foods, in a particular context.

There is no ONE “ancestral” or “primal” diet. Humans do just fine on many diets that vary by region and seasonal availability. That can mean anything from all-tubers-all-the-time (as in Staffan Lindberg’s research on the Kitavans) or the blubberiffic no-veggies-no-problem diet of indigenous northern peoples.

Humans did not dominate the globe by being picky eaters.

We did, however, get very used to eating stuff that we could hunt, gather, and/or dig up. We got used to working for our dinners. We somehow forgot to invent TV right away, so we ended up getting riptshizzled by climbing trees, running from tigers, hauling logs, playing (more than you’d think) and trying not to die.

Concept 2: We lived for millions of years with this primal diet and lifestyle. High-fructose corn syrup was introduced in the mid-20th century. Hilarity ensued.

The mismatch between 99.99% of our genetic history and our currently 21st reality causes most “diseases of civilization”.

Now, most folks focus on the content of the diet. Which makes sense. You are what you eat.

Thus, many presenters covered things like the conversion of fructose to craptabolism and why that matters; how vitamin D will make you immortal; why inadequate fat will make you insane; or the importance of understanding the specific molecular structure of lectins (giant geek boner for Mat Lalonde!! *making “call me for o-chem study sessions” thumb-and-finger gesture*).

Other presenters added context by focusing on specific health effects.

Frinstance, is your GI tract healthy and are bacteria our overlords? Did you know that some people have juicy white plaque sausages in their arteries? Why are Westerners such diabetic lazy bastards? and so forth.

All of this was entirely awesome. You know that feeling (any of you born earlier than 1980) of eating Pop Rocks fizzy candy? Well that was my brain.

Still, despite the often crudely drawn nerd-porn of molecular structures and chemical conversion pathways, the overall vibe, at times, lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. Actually we do sais quoi, and it came from Frank Forencich. Which is this.

It’s great — crucial, even — to focus on what we ate, and eat. This knowledge alone, if put into practice, could save millions of lives.

But humans did not live by bread organ meats alone. It is also essential to understand:

  • how we ate — with others, in a structure of mutual interdependence
  • how we got what we ate — hunting and gathering communally, reading the signs of the land and the animals, moving in all kinds of ways
  • that we played as well as worked
  • that we were intimately connected to our group, tribe, community, ancestors, stories, land, and other organisms; and our sense of self was derived from a deep relationship with all these things
  • that we lived in and through our bodies as well as in and through our perceptions and foci — our realities were comprised of what we paid attention to (think about that as you’re diddling with your Blackberry)
  • that we lived in a physical and geographic context with changing seasons, temperatures, physical sensations, light levels, vegetation, and animal populations

By the way, although hat tip to Boyd Eaton for the discussion of egalitarianism and gendered divisions of labour, next year I’d like a little less on “Man the Hunter” and a little more on “Woman the Gatherer”. Hello, did women even exist in the Paleo period? We know from studies of modern foraging societies that even top-notch hunters strike out more often than not, and women’s foraging labour typically sustains the group more consistently.

Anyway, you see where I’m going, I hope.

Don’t get hung up too much on the “what”. Ask also about the “how” and the “why”. Don’t miss the ancestral forest for the carb-and-protein trees. Human history offers us a tremendous, rich, diverse, nuanced narrative. Dig in to this conceptual buffet.

Think big. Bigger.

This primal/ancestral stuff is huge. Let us not constrain ourselves to amino acids and carbon groups (as delicious as the debates may be). Let’s not focus on whether coconut flour is “Paleo”. Let’s get contextual all up in that shit. Let’s dive into the exuberance of the big, big, BIG picture.

Let us get over ourselves and find out what our ancestors have to say. Let us shut up and listen to their histories, their stories, their bones, their insights, their genes, their movements, their social and physical geography, the undulating rhythms of their seasons and lives, and their dancing bacterial overlords.

Oh, but the grass-fed beef jerky can stay.

A broad view of much of the best thinking on Ancestral Health

Earlier this month, the Ancestry Foundation hosted the first of what will be many conferences on Health as seen through the perspective of Evolution.

FRIDAY

“Dimensional Mastery: How understanding where we’ve come from gives us valuable insights into where we’re headed” by Matt Wallden

“How to Triple Your HDL” by Jonathan Carey

“Bone Broths: The Missing Link in the Evolution of the Modern Superathlete” by Catherine Shanahan

“The Multifactorial Influence of Chronic Sleep Reduction on Body Weight” by Dan Pardi

“What Does the USDA Really Represent?” by Adele Hite

“Paleo Made Simple: A Template for Avoiding Common Errors When Adopting an Evolution-Based Diet” by Melissa and Dallas Urban

“Does physical activity impact dietary choice in a modern Western population to correspond to hunter-gatherer macronutrient profiles?” by Stephanie Schnorr

SATURDAY

“Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, Healthier Dog Food the ABC Way” by Steve Brown

“Declining Age at Menarche: An Indicator of Declining Public Health” by Meghan Gillette

“How psychological dysfunction arises from disparities between hunter-gatherer and modern lifestyles: A new theoretical and therapeutic model” by John Montgomery

“The Ancestral Classroom” by Steven Platek

“Neuroregulation of Appetite:  Paleo Nutrition Supports Homeostasis of Macronutrients and Energy Balance” by David Pendergras

“Grass Based Health: The Big Picture” by Peter Ballerstedt

“Ancestry: A Re-imagined Approach to Education” by Brian Geremia & Justin Park

“Game Over: Comparing the Childhood Play Style of Modern Western Societies with Hunter-Gatherer Societies” by Anna Floyd

“Foods from Our Past: Reclaiming the Paleo Diet Experience in Latino Communities.” by Armida Ayala, PhD, MHA

Health Costs and Why you cannot afford them

August 4, 2011 Context No Comments

Why health care will ruin you and you employer and the state – The red line are health care costs. The black line are the guys at Goldman Sachs. And you are in the basement.

It gets worse. Health outcomes in the US are really poor.

So you are spending money you don’t have on treatment that does not work

Time to think about taking charge of your own health? Oh while you are depressed by this – the kicker – Education costs are worse!

We believe that only drugs can make us well and only a university degree can get us a job. Neither are true. Both will bankrupt you.

 

 

Your Lifespan – Part 5 – What we must do

As we all worry about the current fiscal situation – this is the time bomb. As so many of us age AND as so many of us who are not that old, get sick from the diseases of Modern Civilization, the costs of healthcare rise beyond the capacity of any nation to fund.

When the Boomers at in their 80’s, Medicare will cost the entire tax capacity of the US.  Of course it won’t, for we will be bust before then.

Many will demand that we get more efficient.

But this trend is unstoppable. And of course it’s not just aging.

42% of us are likely to get cancer. With 30% with Type 2 Diabetes, what will this be like in 20 years time. There are problems at the other end of the the population too. 20 years ago the Autism rate was 1 in 10,000. Now it is 1 in 160. Nearly one percent of the American Population will be unable to cope. And there is no reason to think that this trend will slow down.

So what to do? I think that our first step is to do all that we can to take care of our own health. Reduce the risk of illness and bankruptcy from our own lives. I am finding that my own example, is helping some of my friends take the same action. I have not been able to argue a single person into this. You my dear readers are the choir – it is our friends and family and colleagues that will not act if all we do is make the case.

I am finding that being the change is the best way. Once enough of us exist, then I think we will have enough power to persuade. What about at work. Health costs are killing your employer as well. What about at the state level? If some key workplaces, move then the power will build further. Then some states can move.

Then we will change the system. Then we will have the power to defend ourselves from those who make billions from making us ill and by treating our illness.

So this is very personal. By saving yourself and those that you love, you set in motion the forces that might make this apocalyptic future a lot better.

Good luck

 

 

 

Your Lifespan – Part 4 – Why Medicine is part of the Problem and what you can do to change this

You are reading this post because you believe in a new understanding of how our health works. You know that you can take charge of your health. So why, if you know this to be true, is it so hard to persuade others? What is in the way? The quick answer is the medical profession and the vast majority of the people who believe that their health depends on the healthcare system are in the way. The good news is that you can also act to change this – even though you are only you and not the establishment.

Why should this be? And why can you have the hope that you can make a difference?

After all don’t THEY know best? Well as I am about to show you, they don’t and “They” have often stood in the way of real change. The medical profession tried their best to stop the last revolution. But in the science won.

Let me show you a few examples.

Back in 1850, EVERYONE believed that disease was spread by smells. This was called the Miasma Theory. It had a logic to it. Corruption does smell. This well-established belief was of course held not only by the public but by the establishment. All the top doctors knew this to be true. Miasma was the foundation of the medical system at the time.

So when Dr John Snow discovered that cholera was spread directly in water and could prove that one pump was the source and showed how the pump had been contaminated – the establishment shut the pump but dismissed his findings. If you have a look at the map above you can see what Snow and everyone could see. The black marks are deaths by location. All Snow could measure was deaths. He did not know what he was looking for.

Can you see it? Can you see what he had the openess to see?

The deaths cluster around one pump. (The Broad Street Pump)

The establishment could see this too. They closed the pump. BUT they would not allow themselves to go the next step and see this link as a link. They could not accept that cholera was spread by direct contact with the water and some unknown thing in it. They held to the theory that it was smell.

When Ignatz Semmelweis discovered that if doctors washed their hands after autopsies and then helped women give birth, they did not die of fever, he was hounded out of his position.

Neither Snow or Semmelweis knew of germs. But they both were real scientists. They saw what was there and what was real. The establishment was captured by a theory. Worse, their careers and reputation all depended on the theory. So they had to deny and punish the people who could challenge them.

One last story about Florence Nightingale. She arrives in the Crimea with her nurses, an alien idea on its own, and finds the hospital at Scutari a scene of desolation. What you may not know about her was that she was one of the first ever to use statistics. Argument with the senior medical staff failed. After all who was she? Only a woman! What did she know compared to them – the male doctors? So she fell back on statistics.

In this chart, the areas in red are deaths are from wounds. The area in blue from disease. She was able to show that in time, the entire British force would die from disease. This was what she used to persuade the people above her that she could try a few novel things – like clean the place up!

She too knew nothing about germs. But she could see something what we have lost today in hospitals that making them immaculately clean was a good thing.

These stories tell me that the real pioneers in health always start out as rebels. They have to be this to be pioneers. That the real pioneers use the power of observation. Galileo did too!

That the establishment don’t. They hold onto the dogma. And they punish observation when it contradicts the theory. The Dogma has to prevail to help them keep their status, their power and their income.

These stories show us where we are today in the new Health Revolution. What we have now are results that don’t fit the theory. Paleo and Crossfit deliver results. Better, the science id there too. Taubes, Lustig are showing the fallacies in the Fat makes you fat Dogma. Lindeberg showing the population effects if diet. Marmot and Sapolsky showing the social drivers and Michael Rose, like Pasteur, has the big overarching umbrella – that all disease is environmental (as of course is infection) and that if we live in the right environments we will be healthy. That this is not a mad idea but a product of the process of Evolution.

This idea changes the foundation of how we see health today. The Miasma of today is that each disease is separate and has a pathway. So your heart is one area and you lungs are another. That heart disease is different from dementai. That each problem can be cured by a specific treatment. That medicine is transactional – each problem is a stand alone. And all of this mechanistic thinking has created a vast system based on this wrong view of how nature works. Made worse by how confusing this approach is. For it has no context.

Here is what we are up against:

Why is it that doctors are so fiercely resistant to change? Particularly at the cost of so many lives lost. Particularly when any honest physician must see they don’t have the answers when it comes to healing chronic disease.  What is it about the medical profession and the way it is structured that makes it such a depressing and bankrupt picture for the future? Yes there are villains. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for in the way it has co-opted and co-erced doctors. Yes, there are always those physicians who care a lot more about maintaining their authority and standing than about healing people, but the great majority of doctors are concerned and try their best. So why isn’t it working?

I believe the answer is twofold.

First there is simply so much scientific information out there that it is very hard to keep up with it all.

Second, the major pharmaceuticals have taken advantage of this fact. They make drugs. Drugs don’t cure people, but they can and often do relieve the symptoms. The drug companies bombard doctors with the information which says “this” drug for “that” disease. All the doctor now has to do is select which drug from the competing drug makers who duke it out amongst themselves to divide the spoils. The doctor is not in the business of healing any more, he has become a glorified pharmacist. When the drugs don’t hack it, he passes his unfortunate patient on up the medical food chain, to a specialist, a surgeon and finally a hospital.

A Legal Solution…..?
I’m not overfond of lawyers, but if you’ve got the money a reputable legal firm will go a long way to win your case for you and earn their share of the winnings. The medical profession ain’t like that. They don’t get paid any more or less if you live or die. What they get paid for is the number of people they see in a day. Even if you’ve got the money and you’ve got a life-threatening cancer, do you reckon your doctors would pull out all the stops to get a winning result in the way a team of attorneys would? I don’t think so.

So this is the Miasma Theory of our time.

So how can I be so hopeful that you and I can take this on and change it?

We need only have 15% of the population onside and the system will tip. This is at the heart of what is known as Adoption Theory. You may know it as the Tipping Point.

So how do we get to 15% and what is in the way? What is in the way is the system as it is now. I think it is to show our story to others. Be an example of health to you family, friends and colleagues. For now they believe the dogma. But as they see YOU. They will start to question it.

I am finding that I cannot convert by words. Only by example. So my friends “Be the change” and it will happen all around you.

It took the pioneers about 50 years back on the 19th century to tip the system. Look at the growth of Paleo and Crossfit now? We have come from nowhere in 10 years. People are noticing us. The epidemic gets worse every year. Weekly there is more evidence that our system does not work. It does not make us healthy.

The money to fund the Miasma is running out too. My hope is that in 10 years, we will have won. The Miasma will be on the back foot fighting for its life. In 20 years it will be gone.

So, it is up to us. You can truly be a real hero. By being the change, you will have bene part of this movement that will change the world for the better. More on this in my final post in this series.

 

Your Lifespan – Part 3 – What is the one simple but big idea that can help you be healthy?

Every day we read of a new study that says “This is bad for you” and “This is good for you”. No wonder when it comes to taking control of our health, we are confused by science. I read a post today that said that there are “No perfect foods”. This is rubbish. There are – if you have the right perspective.

In this post I will be as clear as I can about the simple idea that can give you this power.

So what then is wrong with the perspective that most science and all of medicine uses that makes it all so confusing and contradictory? Let me tell a few stories and I think you will see.

Imagine that she is you.

You see your GP. She of course sends you to a dermatologist. After all, what is wrong is your skin – right? Well not really.  He will talk in a limited way about diet but he has no deep diet context. He will treat your skin mainly topically and if all fails, he will prescribe Accutane.  A drug that can have very serious side effects. Accutane is like chemo – it is a brutal treatment. But even through you may clear up – you are not cured. Your acne is in abeyance.

You are severely depressed. Your GP sends you to a Psychiatrist who no longer will talk through what has gone on but will prescribe one or more drugs that will interrupt the mechanism of your thoughts. For a while. Over time the risk is that you will get worse and even suicidal. He will raise the dose and add new drugs. You are on a treadmill.

You have cancer. Your GP sends you to the Surgeon who adds in the Oncologist and the Radiologist.

They remove the cancer cells that they can and then give you chemo and radiation. You look and feel like this. (My wife went through all of this and I dare not show you what she looked like)

You may be “cured”. My wife is still here after 9 years. But this is not a CURE. It – like Accutane or Antidepressants has knocked the disease back on its back foot.

So what then is the pattern here and how do we do better than this?

Note how all these stories start the same way. You notice something wrong and then you go to the gatekeeper the GP. There has been no work done before you are ill. For medicine has no answers to WHY you get ill.

You might know this. But what you don’t know maybe, is that NONE of these diseases affect in a major way populations that don’t eat the modern diet.

Note how each of these “specialists” deal with a silo of you and few or none expand this silo to includes the wider you of your entire bodily system – your social world – your ancestry – and how you inhabit your body and the physical world. They only know their bit. This is what I mean:

This is the ignition system of an engine in a car.

This is a broader context – we drive cars on roads with people in them in varying conditions. To understand CAR – you have to work back from this and not up from the ignition system. If all the context you have starts from the parts – you MUST get lost. So it is with medicine and cell biology. They fuss about the working parts and the direct linkages. Worse, becuase they focus on direct linkages, they miss the side effects.

For we are NOT MACHINES. We are complex systems nested in complex systems. Their basic metaphor is wrong.

This is why they miss WHY we get ill as we do. They miss the connection between their areas and all others. They miss the truth that there is one simple big idea as to why we get the diseases of modern civilization. And that is this –

We are designed to be naturally healthy – all living beings are – so long as we live our lives inside the parameters of how our nature has evolved. That means that if we eat what we are designed by our nature (How we have evolved) to eat AND if we live in social systems that suit our nature best (Think of how all our hunter gatherer ancestors lived) and if we inhabit our bodies and the natural world as we have evolved to do ( Be active and outside a lot) The we will be healthy.

This is true because of the systems aspect of our context. Get the optimal systems fit and our system will do fine. We are NOT machines with simple direct causes and effects.

Simple isn’t it? You and I can all use this simple and huge idea.

Just as 150 years ago, we also learned how to combat infection. Also behind that was a huge but simple idea. If we lived in large numbers in a concentrated space, we would set up the ideal systems conditions for infection. Once we learned how germs and vectors like mosquitoes and fleas worked, we could change the systems conditions. At a large scale such as in a big city and on a small scale such as in the OR.

All the mumbo jumbo of pre germ medice was swept away. Only to pop up in how medicine works on chronic disease today.

They will tell you that only if your kid is vaccinated, will you be able to protect her from infection such as measles. But they have missed the history.

We defeated infection not by drugs and not by a speciality in a disease. But by smart use of the knowledge of the systems issues and clever public health.

All these infectious diseases are the product of the modern world. They arise from our living in close contact with animals and other humans. They are novel to all who have not lived a modern (defined as agricultural and urban life). So when they were introduced to people who did not share this life and who therefore had low immunity, they killed millions. Western man killed of most of the natives in the Americas.

All infectious disease is related. It takes hold inside the crucible of close contact between man – animal and man. The plague came from this and so does flu. The breakthrough is not a drug, for the germ or virus will adapt. It is to work in a systems way to break the cycle.

So it is with chronic disease.

All are related. All stem at first from a mismatch in diet and then are amplified by a mismatch in our social and natural environments.

So if you have bad acne, depression and cancer – or arthritis – or IBS or crohns – or worry about alzheimers – or have heart disease – or have their marker and best pathway type 2 diabetes – then know that all are related.

On PEI, the average man becomes disabled by 65 and lives on in this state for 9.7 years. The main cause for this is Type 2 Diabetes.  It is estimated that by 2030 1/3 of the population will have it. So, as more people hit their 60’s and more suffer from Type 2 Diabetes, the need to respond rises exponentially. We live in a time of epidemic and medicine as it is practised today cannot help you.

Diabetes drives many other conditions including cardiovascular disease. PEI adults in 2006 with diabetes had to be hospitalized much more often than those without it. 16 times more often for lower limb amputations. 6 times more often with kidney disease. They had 5 times more heart attacks. 4 times more heart failure. 3 times more strokes. They stayed 3 times longer in hospital. Had 2 times more visits to physicians and 2 times more to specialists

Most diabetics don’t just take one medication, but several. A typical regimen for an adult diabetic after a couple of years of treatment and following the dietary advice of the American Diabetes Association includes Metformin, Januvia, and Actos, a triple-drug treatment that costs around $420 per month. Two forms of insulin (slow- and fast-acting), along with two or three oral medications, is not at all uncommon

You can help yourself by understanding the ideas on this site and on our sister site The 55 Theses

Now how you apply this knowledge is not simple. Changing your diet in a system that pushes the wrong choices on you is hard. You don’t just “Buck Up” when depressed. You don’t just get cured with cancer either.

But knowing what we do now – gives us the kind of start that we all had back in 1880 when the pioneers took on infection and rolled it back in a generation.

Michael and I are working to provide you and policy makers the best context so that you can make the best choices.

 

 

Your Lifespan – Part 2 – How you and I get ill

You get ill when you look like this – this is how I looked aged 59 – I weighed 205 lbs. How I look here has all the signs that you have not lived your life according to the rules.

This is how I looked aged 18 just as I was going out to celebrate my sister’s 16th birthday. I weighed 140 lbs. I was just about to go to South Africa to work as a diamond prospector.  I would walk 11 miles a day in the Kalahari desert and think nothing of it. I was at my peak of fitness.

This story is not all going to be about weight though. It is going to be about knowledge and hope.

This new fat and unfit me was also a new thing. For right up until my late 40’s I was relatively thin and still able to do a lot of things.

Then one day in my 50″s, it seemed as if a switch has been turned on. Each year, I put on a few pounds and became progressively weaker. Then about 58, this process started to accelerate. My knees also were hurting a lot and I was investigating knee replacement! But I thought that all of this was normal.

I thought aged 59, that putting on weight and feeling poorly was my destiny. After all we all get fat and ill as we age – don’t we?

I did try the conventional way – a bit. My wife Robin begged me to lose the tummy. The conventional wisdom meant that I had to take a lot more exercise and I had to eat less. I tried. I signed up and took more exercise but I injured myself and felt awkward and gave up. And I loved my food…. So like so many of us, I was resigned. The “Cure” that all talk about was too hard for me.

Anyway, I told myself that this was my destiny. I would be like all the other people and get ill as I got older. If I had not learned what I know now and if I had done nothing

What had happened to me is surely what has happened to millions – maybe to you too.

When did the “switch” turn on for you and you started to get fat and weak? Do you think that, like me, that this is the new “normal” for you? Do you think that that this is all that is going on?

For what I have learned that this is not all about the weight and the visible?

What is really going on is that inside of you and I is a progression of deterioration that will lead to the chronic diseases that plague us today.

So how and why do we get them? And why do they seem to turn up suddenly as if a switch is thrown? Why is medicine so bad at preventing us from getting them? Why does medicine do such a bad job of “curing” us – for once we get heart disease, we have it. Once we get depression, we have it. Once we get cancer, it can come back. Once we get Type 2 Diabetes, we always have it – NO MATTER what meds we take. The meds do not cure us. They enable us to stay alive in poor health.

Let’s find the answer simply by going back and looking at infection. When we see the model here, we can see the answers to the questions above about chronic disease.

Cholera is always around. But for humans to get it, Cholera has to have an ideal environment to propagate and to spread. Cholera is not spread through the air but through direct contact with human feces. So, if you put a lot of people together and you have no proper sewage disposal system and you allow the sewage to contaminate the water supply, you have the ideal conditions for an epidemic.

Now you can develop a “cure” – (now we know how to treat Cholera – heavy hydration with pure water). But the real cure is to take away the environment that gives cholera the edge. For instance, Cholera is always a threat today when a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane damage sewage or water systems as happened in Haiti. You cannot contain the epidemic by vaccination or treatment. You have to work upstream and fix the sewage system and supply clean water asap.

This chart tells the story. See how most of the scourges of infection were beaten back BEFORE the advent of drugs.

Even TB!

All were “cured” by work on the upstream issue of environment. All these diseases were the product of changes to our social and physical environment caused by Industrialization. It was when millions of us left the small communities that fitted our own nature better. We arrived in the cities knowing nothing of the consequences of overcrowding. We found ourselves in the same predicament as say these animals now!

All these animals will die if they live like this. To prevent this they are given antibiotics as a routine. This is not sustainable and is dangerous as we are breeding super bugs as a result.

The only way that is sustainable is the change the environment. That is what we did for ourselves.

It was John Snow, a Dr, who discovered that Cholera was water born. He was never accepted by the establishment and died before his discovery was accepted. It was Joseph Bazalgette who built the sewers that made it possible for 8 million people to live in London.

We think that medicine “cured” infection. Medical knowledge about the environment for infection was the cure not any vaccine or drug.  But of course Big Pharma and the Medical Profession take the credit and today tell us that the ONLY way to be healthy is to use drugs.

All of this story about how we really conquered infection is true for the Chronic Diseases of our time. They all stem from environmental causes. Which in turn arise because we have not known the consequences of changes we have made to our diet, our work culture and how we live and work.

For just as we can never adapt to living in concentrations of millions without a good sewage system and a secure water supply, we also can never adapt to:

  • Eating a diet that is mainly composed of grains and sugars and other foods such as dairy and legumes
  • Living and working in a culture where we have little or no control or say
  • Losing touch with what our bodies really need in terms of activity, sleep and exposure to the natural world

My getting fat and pre diabetic was all related to not knowing any of this too. I too had no context. I bought the Kool Aid about the fact that I should eat MORE grains and dairy. I had no idea that how much control I had in my life was a key factor in my health. My only thought about my body was that I should “Take more exercise” which is only a fragment of the larger truth and a part of my life where I would have to find the time and pay someone else and do – for me – silly things not connected to what I did every hour of the day.

I also did not know this.

Every animal has evolved to be healthy throughout its life. Evolution would not support a population that had to “carry” a large segment who could not cope.

We humans are no exception. In fact, in all societies where people live according to our design, we remain fit until we die. People who do not eat the modern diet, who have a culture that is more personal and who are active and spend a lot of time outdoors live long and healthy lives. Like this man.

He is from Kitava and he is my age. I hope I can be like him! Don’t you?

Our challenge is time. If you get cholera, you can be well this morning and dead by supper. The impact of Infection is obvious and quick.

But the diseases that we get today are slow building and hidden.

This is the “Switch” I was talking about. You seem fine – and then you have a heart attack. You are thin and in 10 years you are obese. You are fit and then crippled with arthritis. You go off to your routine breast exam and find you have stage 3 cancer.

This moment is different for us also depending on our ancestry. If your ancestry is longer adapted to the modern diet, the switch may not go on until your 50’s. If you are a First Nations person, it may go on right away from birth.

I think this delay and difference has hidden the danger from us all. Not helped by a vast industry – Food and Medicine – that makes a fortune from this and who have captured the media and so public opinion with their message – “Eat more grains and take a pill”.

So in my next post we will explore why we cannot adapt to this any more than we can adapt to drinking water contaminated by feces.

 

 

 

 

 

Your “Lifespan”? – Part 1 – How long have you got before you are really ill?

July 18, 2011 Aging, Context 1 Comment

This is an image that is all about Lifespan. Until the late 1800’s and the discovery of how infection really worked, this was what we all feared. Your child could be well in the morning and dead that night. Entire cities could die in weeks. Most children did die. We have found ways of avoiding this. But actually it was not a drug but public health. It was not medicine but medical knowledge that has extended our Lifespan.

This is our modern equivalent. It shows what is behind the “Healthspan” crisis of our time. When our children are exposed to a number of environments that will cause them to lose their health earlier and earlier and condemn them to a life of illness. They will live but more and more will reach a stage in life where they are so ill that they cannot function as full citizens. Medicine has found no way of preventing this. But it has found a way of keeping us alive – at great cost – when we get these diseases.

You have a greater chance today than 30 years ago in getting – Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, Kidney failure, depression, dementia, arthritis, CFS, IBS, Crohns and many other chronic illnesses. When you get these diseases your ability to work, to look after your self, to be a parent all erode to the point of failure. When you get these diseases the costs to you, your family, your employer and the state are rising so fast that all risk bankruptcy – even the state itself. And the rate of incidence is rising too. More and more of us are going to get these diseases.

“Consider that a National Cancer Institute study projects a 39 percent increase in cancer costs between 2010 and 2020. That figure represents in great part our success in extending the lives of those already afflicted with the disease. Kidney dialysis also has become an economic quagmire. A 150 percent increase in the number of such patients is expected over the next decade. The cost of Alzheimer’s disease is projected to rise from $91 billion in 2005 to $189 billion in 2015 to $1 trillion in 2050 (twice the cost of Medicare expenditures for all diseases now).” (link)

This is a global issue – look at cancer rates in the UK – it is estimated that 42% of Brits will get cancer. (link)

 “There are currently 2 million people living with cancer in the UK and that number is doubling to 4 million over the next 20 years. Yet no one thinks the country can afford to double its spending on cancer,” Devane said.

So what to do? That is the point of this site and the 55 Theses Sister site.

I thought today it is time to make all of this more personal. For in the end this is not about statistics, it is about you and me. Many of these diseases oppress my family and so affect me directly too. It must be the same for you. Who does not have a friend with heart disease, or cancer or depression? You may have them yourself.

So in this series I will make it all about us.

To start, please think about how do you feel about your Healthspan? Have you lost it already? Has a loved one lost it? Do you see signs, as I did, that you are at risk of losing it? Have you done anything for yourself to prevent you from losing your health?

In this context, I will go back with a personal lens and talk about:

  • How do we get these diseases?
  • Why they are all linked – they are in fact the same
  • What is the role of Medicine?
  • What can you do?

But I would like to hear from you? How much Healthspan do you think you will have?

The Great Return – Part 5 – Why Food is the way Home

I have been trying to see how #Paleo is more than a diet. Taking control of our health will in the end be about changing how we live. For our system today not only restricts our diet to shit but treats us like slaves. Tinkering with the system will not alter this. Taking on the system in protest will not either.

So how do most of us take control of our health? It is by overthrowing the system in the same way that it overthrew the Hunter Gatherer system. By establishing a new system that has more power.

This post is all about how they will happen.

“Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they” J J Rousseau – the opening of the Social Contract

Today we think we are free but we are not. None of us are free.

Even Princes have no real control. For we ALL depend on institutions for all the essentials for life.

We all have no control over our food, over our energy, over our shelter, over access to credit and so to work itself. Our children are expensively taught by strangers. Our health itself is controlled by a vast medical empire.

We are not free. We depend on a system as a slave depends on her master or a cow on the farmer.

So how did this come about? It all comes about as a result of the Food System – how we get our food drives the very essence of our culture.

Cavalier_assur2
Our current modern food system is based on the idea of domination. Domination over nature. Domination over people. Domination is our culture.

How we get our food will be the most powerful process we can use to change all of this.

The revolution will not be as a result of protest but of people coming together to grow food in a new way that does not depend on oil, on credit or the industrial food distribution system. That does not depend on Domination but on Cooperation.

It will be based not on small peasant systems that all still depend on agriculture. But on small networked farms that work instead WITH nature. Where we use our new understanding of how nature works to mimic her and to use her forces to help us.

There will be NO PLOUGH. And FEW grains. There will be no CONFINEMENT. Scale will come from aggregation not concentration.

The protein will rotate on grass. The vegetables will be part of that system and also use the principles ofPermaculture. The system will have a positive reinforcement. Each part will help the others and over time, most of the work will be done by nature herself.

Assyrianmap
We will get here not as a result of any Utopian dream but in the same way that the Assyrians pushed out the local Hunter Gatherers. This was not adoption but evolution – the system that could field the armies won.

The shift to a new food system will be finally achieved when enough of us live in the new that the old will have to die.

At first some of us will adapt to this because we will have no choice. With no jobs, no money, expensive oil, no credit – we die or evolve. We evolve by growing a new system that does not need the old system.

As more and more of us find a place here, the old system loses it power. More and more people will be attracted to it because it gives them what they cannot find in the old system.

The old system demands vast amounts of capital and energy. To pay for this, it has to rely on us slaves to pay. Well soon we will not be able to pay. So the old will be defeated by its own inability to fund itself and to find the energy that it needs.

What would it take? It is so vulnerable now that it 15% of us left it forever, I think it would fall. For that is the Tipping Point moment.

So how would this shift start? I think like all new systems. It will take a few pioneers who can see the choices. So in closing – here are some pictures of the old followed by the new. Do you see what I see?

Here is what the 2 systems look like side by side.

This cannot survive a system failure

6a00d83451db7969e201156fc96bd0970c-800wi
This can

6a00d83451db7969e201156fc96c6d970c-800wi
This cannot survive a system failure

Feedlot.jpeg

This can

6a00d83451db7969e20147e1ad2623970b-800wi
This cannot survive a system failure

Mexcity
This can

Ctown

So here is the choice. Which system do you want to bet on? Do you have kids or grand children? Now ask again which system do you want to bet on?

Here is your next choice. Will you wait and see how this develops? Or will you work to help this change come?

Will you fight this or embrace it? If fight, how will your kids benefit?

Getting home may be a hard struggle. What immigrant ever had it easy. But the New World we make, could be a much better one that the one we have. And surely our kids will thank us.

This is also not about “Them” versus “Us” – for as JJR said We are all in Chains, even the overseers. For we are prisoners of an idea.

Contact Form

Subscribe by Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Facebook

Comments

  • robpatrob: Many things that are bad for are are not illegal and are eve...
  • August: This article brings up some health concerns i would like to ...
  • Susan: I wish I had known this information years ago. I am a second...
  • robpatrob: The link in in the post http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work...
  • Thibault: Very interesting blog, especially the link between disabilit...
  • Emma Johnson: Needed this to lighten the mood at the end of the day. Give...
  • RJ Jamieson: The mammary tissue was consumed repleat with raw milk drippi...
  • Anonymous: Your claim about wild fruit isn't 100% true. Read this artic...
  • Art: Staffan has recently passed away. We shall all miss him. Jan...
  • Jackie: This sounds great. But I was hoping that this article might ...
  • Phantom The God: Don't forget Coke damages your teeth and make your bones bri...
  • moon: Wow so many veganazis here... there was a study on 2 men who...
  • Christian DiMaria: This article seems to be exclusively focusing on sugar and c...
  • john: nital your a nitwit plain and simple how you have deluded...
  • Dane: But doesn't fructose take longer to process, thus allowing m...

What is the Missing Human Manual All About?

Do you want to age well? Most of us do. If you are my age, 60, this is more important a question that if you are 30. But most of us would not wish to have heart disease, cancer, dementia when we get old.

Most of us think it is normal that we will get ill like this.

But science today tells us that this is not "Normal". Our evolutionary past designed us to be active and fit until we drop dead. Why? Because raising human children takes so long. Mature adults had to do most of the hard work enable us to invest up to 25 years in our kids.

We are designed by our evolution to reach a plateau of fitness in mid life. So why do most of us not live like this?

We don't because, we have strayed away from the best way of living that fits our evolution best. Our culture has got too far ahead of our biology. We eat foods that make us ill. We have lost our social identity and power and that makes us ill. And we have lost touch with the circadian rhythms of the Natural World, and that has made us ill too.

We have lost our fit with our true nature.

This site will be a Manual. It will show you what the best fit is. It will show you the science behind this. It will share with you some methods for getting your fit back with your true human nature.

So welcome to the "Missing Human Manual" . I hope that we can help you and I hope that you can help others as a result.

Featured Posts

Are humans carnivores?

For decades we have been told that grains and oils from seeds are the healthiest food we can eat. This has proved to be wrong. For decades we have been told to drink fruit juice as a healthy alternative. Now we know that it is as bad for us as …

Dr Jason Fung – On the Science of how we use food and so why fasting works

This is the clearest explanation I have yet found

Terminal Illness – Should we fight to the bitter end? If not what to do?

100 years ago, most deaths were quick. A person was well and then sick and then dead. Medicine could do very little. But today, most of us die long protracted deaths. Treatment is piled upon treatment. The dying person and their families endure increasing pain and humiliation and disappointment. Often …

%d bloggers like this: