It’s our nature to be healthy as we age

My question is – How will I live out my last decades? Will I be getting progressively more frail or will I be healthy, active and a contributor until my end? What about you?

The Missing Human Manual – Our Purpose

I have learned something new that I did not know before. We can prevent the modern illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, strokes, type 2 diabetes and dementia. I used to think that these were Normal. That it was my and your destiny to get them as we aged. I now know that this …

You are designed to stay fit

Our biology has been shaped by evolution to enable us to stay fit and active all our lives. Raising human children to full adulthood is such a lengthy process that we have to be like this.

Your Ideal Diet – A great resource

Here is the best site I have found so far that talks in depth about the ideal diet and the science behind it all. It opens like this – This article is geared towards people who want to try out the Paleo diet and who just want to quickly know what …

Recent Articles:

Raw or Cooked Food? #Wrangham

Many advocate eating raw food. Is this a good thing or not?

Dr Richard Wrangham thinks not. His work suggests that humans have been cooking for a very long time. For well over a million years. There is no fossil record of fires but there is a physiological record. Homo Erectus lost that big veggie processing gut and those big veggie grinding teeth and jaws. And HE’s brain increased by 20%. I find this pretty convincing. (A good intro to his ideas is here)

Australopithecus-Erectus

(picture source here)

It would take a massive change in environment to create this change to the body plan.

Here is a short video where Wrangham speaks to his findings

He also looked at a large modern study to see how well people do on a veggie diet. (source)

There are only three studies conducted on the body weight of raw foodists, according to Wrangham’s book. The most comprehensive of them was the Geissen study, which questioned and examined 513 raw foodists. This isn’t quite as legit as confining people to a zoo for 30 years, but what was shown was that the higher the percentage of raw food in the diet, irrespective of whether or not they consumed meat, the lower their BMI. One third of those who ate purely raw had body weights that categorized them as being in a state of chronic energy deficiency. The Geissen study also found that 82% of long term raw foodists included some cooked food in their diets. The study also showed that the more raw food women ate, the less likely they were to have regular periods, many of whom had completely ceased to menstruate. This equates to being infertile and losing bone mass. Some raw foodists (and I did hear this one at a raw food guru talk I attended once upon a time in Boulder) claim that menstruation and ejaculation are just a body’s way of eliminating toxins and once you become truly clean, ejaculating and menstruating is no longer necessary. Facepalm! Seriously, I remember the promises of menstrual cycles practically becoming “unnecessary”, provided you really stuck to it. While this does sound like an upshot, it’s kind of like promoting the loss of your legs by saying you’ll never have to run 400m repeats. Locomotion: just for the overachievers!

The last sort-of nail in the coffin for the theory that raw foods are our evolved diet, is that they would never work in the wild. Wrangham found no reports of long term survival in the wild on a raw diet. Most commonly, rapid starvation is the biggest threat to survival in the wild on raw foods, even with intimate knowledge of edible forage, just ask Robb and the I Cavemen cast. What makes a modern raw foods diet livable is that we now have unlimited access to food processing, making nutrients a little more available. Blenders, dehydrators, grinders, sprouting, and grocery stores that can provide year-round access to produce and nut butter that clearly would be hard to scrounge up in the wild. Also keep in mind that these domesticates are a wee bit more energy dense than they were in the wild. The German team also found that 30% of the raw foodists’ calories came from lipids that would have been inaccessible to any hunter gatherer.

So without these modern conveniences, how well do you think they would do? Anybody really wanna try? And judging by the fact that many of them cease to be reproductively functional, how well do you think we’d do if this was our evolutionary strategy?

 It looks to me that a diet that makes nearly half the sample infertile is unlikely to be a sound one and to have any basis in our own past. And imagine eating only raw food in a northern winter without the modern food system.

The best introduction to why Gut Flora is the key to your health

intestinal-microflora-4101

Sebastien Noel is one of my favourite resources. He makes the science easy to understand and he deals with the practical aspects very well. 

It is becoming clear that the central issue for health is the health of our gut flora. Here is Sebastien’e excellent review of all that you need to know.

The goal of this article is to tackle gut and gut flora problems and what to do about it. Granted, following a Paleo diet will often provide great relief and maybe even cure whatever ailment you’re dealing with. Also, other than being very strict with the diet, complete elimination of dairy, egg whites, nightshade vegetables, nuts and seeds and limiting fruit intake should be a priority, as discussed in my articles about dealing with autoimmune diseases and about the benefits of egg yolks.

With all these tactics implemented though, some diseases or conditions related to the gut still persist and can prove to be a real challenge to deal with. This article will dig deeper into the subject and I will recommend a general strategy to cope with most gut and gut flora ailments. Note that each condition usually also requires a special approach, but the general ideas discussed here usually applies to all of them.

Here is a summary of the subjects discussed here:

Note that in case of a hard to treat condition, I would tackle the problem with a shotgun approach. This basically means that I would eliminate any possible offending foods at the same time as I would try and maximize my immune system strength, gut healing and good flora rebuilding. Forgetting a step or doing things only partially often leads to poor results unfortunately. I’ve been dealing with tough problems myself and it sometimes seems that even the stars have to be aligned to start seeing progress, so hang in there and make anything possible to regain health as soon as possible so you can laugh about it afterwards.

Here is the link to the full piece

 

Constipation – The Truth

man-straining-on-loo

Apparently 63 million people in the US suffer from constipation. That’s about 1 in 4 people. At one time or another I bet we all suffer from this. We are told to add more fibre, but in the long term we do this and this does not help. In extremes, we take laxatives. But over time, we become dependent on these too and we lose the ability to have a natural poo.

So what to do? For the medical system has no answers other than the ones we have learned do not work.

Kris Cleary is a pioneer in the non medicine approach to constipation. Here is our online interview. You will see why fibre and laxatives don’t work and you will see the pathway to being well – Having Healthy Gut Flora

The intro goes to the fold and the full interview follows. Read and get well!

So what did you learn from these people who had cured their own constipation?

There were dozens of key lessons I learnt.
However, some of the most important things I’ve learnt in curing constipation are:

  • The essential importance of overall gut health, especially gut flora
  • Reducing stress (especially the stress one is not even aware they have)
  • Eliminating toxins and eating real food for proper nutrition
  • Eating normal amounts of fiber rather than the ‘high fiber’ diet that is widely preached in our modern world
  • Including plenty of natural fats which is a core part of true health

All that I learnt from these people started me on the path of self-discovery in relation to my bowel health and my health overall.

I started to experiment with the various ideas and approaches I received from them and I was able to finally start joining the dots. The more I experimented, the better I was able to figure out what was actually triggering my symptoms and, on the flip side, what was allowing my bowels to work how they should naturally. It was a really exciting time to be honest. I was making so much progress quickly that I started to feel I was cracking the constipation code, so to speak.

I started to look into health and nutrition from an evolutionary view-point which was another game-changer for me. The more I researched and experimented, the more crucial information I was able to obtain. ‘Seek and you shall find’, I guess. I started to get in touch with research by guys like Loren Cordain and Staffan Lindeberg that really opened my eyes and had me jumping down the rabbit hole so-to-speak.

… Continue Reading

Are we helping our kids by over controlling them?

When I was a boy in the 1950’s, I was pushed out the door to play all day with the other kids in the neighbourhood. There was no TV either. We played as kids have done for millions of years. But that is not what happens now is it?

Here is Peter Gray talking about what our Hunter Gatherer ancestors did instead of programming their kids. This ties into the work of the late Jean Liedloff.

Peter Gray, PhD-The Role of Play in the Development of Social and Emotional Competence: Hunter-Gatherers, 1950s America and Now from Ancestral Health Society on Vimeo.

Humans are carnivores – get over it – and get well

Wise Traditions London 2010 – Barry Groves from Wise Traditions London on Vimeo.

An outstanding review. Everything you need to know about what we are meant to eat and why in half an hour.

Barry Groves shows how we adapted to a mainly meat diet – millions of years of ice age when there were few plants that we could have eaten – and the result. A large brain and a small gut.

Since the dawn of agriculture we have been shifting away from the food that we are best suited. Since 1980, and the advent of industrial food. we have made a dramatic shift away from fat and meat. And so have set up the epidemic that confronts us.

Meditation – Looking after our mental health

Jon Kabat Zinn is master in meditation – here is a wonderful video recorded at Google where he offers the basics for all of us

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.”

Get your kid back outside! – Vitamin D

We are designed to spend a lot of time outside. I am 61. When I was a kid, I was inside only for class or sleeping. Today few kids spend almost any time outside. Why most don’t have enough Vitamin D.

Here is the low down:

The Do’s and Don’ts for Gut Health

If you are to have good Gut health – then you have to eat a diet that fits what your gut is evolved to eat. Another reason why diet is so important.

Here is an excellent manual for how to avoid what is bad and eat what is good. Snip here:

1.  What is the “gut” anyway?

The gut is the intestinal tract.

2.  Why is gut health so important?

(Quotes below are from the Weston A. Price review of the book, GAPS/Gut and Psychology Syndrome)

Poor bacterial flora and digestion are at the heart of serious health problems. When children are born with intestinal bacterial imbalances or gut dysbiosis, they tend to have a compromised immune system and are prone to illness. Campbell- McBride brings to light the profound statements of Hippocrates that “All diseases begin in the gut.

“Although genetics is often provided as an explanation for brain disorders like autism and ADD/ADHD, as well as for psychiatric illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, genetics cannot explain the exponential increase in these health and developmental problems, says Dr. Campbell-McBride,because genetic changes work much more slowly.

Through studying the health of hundreds of patients with autism, learning disabilities, psychiatric illness and other problems, Campbell- McBride discovered that in virtually all cases these children and adults suffer from digestive problems, often of a severe nature. Through her research, she has determined a distinct correlation between unhealthy intestinal flora, poor digestion and toxicity from chemicals created by undigested foods, which can severely affect brain chemistry. She coins this relationship the Gut and Psychology Syndrome, or GAPS.”

3.  What wreaks havoc on gut health?

  • Sugar, grains – especially empty carbs (white grains/pasta/rice, sugar – even the more natural sugars)   “A child or adult who eats a diet high in difficult-to-digest carbohydrates such as grains and processed foods will continue to encourage the underlying condition of gut dysbiosis. Dr. Campbell-McBride states that people with damaged flora will crave the very foods that support the survival of the unhealthy bacteria, often to the exclusion and refusal of others.”  (Have you seen the post about the proper preparation of grains for optimal nutrition?)
  • Antibiotics: “anti” = against; “biotics” = bacteria – yes they clear out the bad bacteria causing an infection, which is sometimes needed, but they also take the good bacteria with it – only take if absolutely necessary.
  • A diet that is off balance between omega 6’s and omega 3’s. Most of us are too high in the omega 6’s, which are found in unhealthy vegetable oils and processed foods.  Some omega 6’s are needed, but they should be balanced with omega 3’s.  “Recent research has revealed that too much omega-6 in the diet creates an imbalance that can interfere with production of important prostaglandins. This disruption can result in increased tendency to form blood clots, inflammation, high blood pressure, irritation of the digestive tract,depressed immune function, sterility, cell proliferation, cancer and weight gain.” From The Skinny on Fats.
  • Trans fats:  “Altered partially hydrogenated fats made from vegetable oils actually block utilization of essential fatty acids, causing many deleterious effects including sexual dysfunction, increased blood cholesterol and paralysis of the immune system.”  From The Skinny on Fats.
  • Stress. If you feel like you can’t eliminate it, then change how you react to it.
  • Toxins all around us, including those in our food, such as pesticides, preservatives, hormones, fake colorings, etc.  (Read your food labels!  Even better, eat food without labels!)
  • What else did I forget?

4.  What supports gut health? More here at the link

Dirt is mainly good for you – especially for children

Dirt is mainly good for us. Here is a helpful post that explains this. First a Snip:

Bacteria has a bad reputation, as though any and all of it will hurt you. Parents keep immaculate houses in attempt to eliminate the “threat” of bacteria, removing shoes indoors, washing hands with anti-bacterial soap, moping with disinfectants, cleaning the counters with bleach. All of this is not only unnecessary for health but harmful to the immune system. It’s surprising just how many benefits there are to getting (and staying) dirty.

1. Mycobacterium vaccae improves mood
There are all sorts of beneficial bacteria living in the dirt but one that has been well researched is called Mycobacterium vaccae (M. vaccae). This bacteria has been shown toallay depression.

It is not entirely clear why but researchers have found that contact with the bacteria releases cytokines which activate the nerves in our bodies to relay signals to the brain and release serotonin into the prefontal cortex – the part of the brain involved in mood regulation (exercise has been shown to have similar effects).

2. Mycobacterium vaccae is linked to higher IQ
This same release of serotonin that occurs when playing in M. vaccae laced dirt, has also been shown to improve cognitive function. The serotonin that is released whilst playing in the dirt temporarily boosts the IQ so that learning is facilitated.

3. Staphylococci heals wounds
Staphylococci often gets a bad rap but it has it’s benefits as well. Staphylococci can prevent inflammation. After an injury if staphylococci is present on the skin, the redness and swelling which often accompanies cuts and scrapes can be prevented. Forget the ointment, just use a good smearing of dirt before you bandage up!

4. Soil microbes boost the immune system
Playing in the dirt introduces the immune system to bacteria which it can then store in memory. The memory of the immune system is profound and protects a growing body from getting sick later in life. A strong immune system also provides resistance to allergies.

5. Clay improves digestion
Dr. Weston A. Price noted in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (one of my favorite books on earth by the way) that clay was “the treatment used by several primitive races forpreventing and correcting serious disturbances in the digestive tract. This consisted in the use of clay or aluminum silicate which modern science has learned has the important quality of being able to adsorb and thus collect toxic substance and other products…” He also noted a common thread running through all of the primitive cultures he studied was that they carried clay in their backpacks. 

Clay isn’t found in every dirt mound but it always seems that kids are magnets to it. It lays deeper in the soil and is fun to play with.

More here on Primal Parent – an excellent site

You “Fit” with your nature includes your gut flora

Part of the mythology of the modern world is that because some germs are bad ‘ “ALL Bacteria” must be bad. Related to this myth is complete ignorance that our gut depends on an ecosystem of bacteria. There is a growing body of knowledge that is shedding light on the subject. Here is the intro of a great place to start. I will add more soon.

Healthy intestinal flora is vital for forming stools, maintaining immunity, synthesizing essential vitamins, and protecting from colorectal cancers. After bacteria are damaged by antibiotics, laxatives, heavy metals, surgeries, or colonoscopies, fiber is broadly recommended to restore and form stools.

Unlike live bacteria, the dead cells of plants — which is what fiber is — can’t perform bacterial functions, essential for humans. The loss of these functions contributes to impaired immunity, diabetes, obesity, hair loss, eczema, seborrhea, anemia, internal bleedings, ulcers, strokes, cancers, and common gastrointestinal, respiratory, and autoimmune disorders.

Despite all of these well known and thoroughly studied facts, the American medical establishment adamantly refuses to recognize the role of intestinal flora in health and longevity, and does everything possible to obliterate bacteria, starting at birth. Then, it profits enormously from treating the resulting diseases. This guide outlines the role of intestinal flora in human health and explains how to restore it.

Please click here for the post on Gut Sense

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!

If you are in the 99% and have low control, this is how stress affects your health #freedom99%

More and more evidence is available that tells us that what we eat – an industrial diet – is a major cause of the chronic health epidemic. But what is less known is the affect of social inequality and so lack of control. With so much power concentrated in so few hands today, this issue of lack of control is a major driver of stress and so is a major driver of our health epidemic. On this site I have introduced you to the thesis behind Stress and to the 2 giants in the field, Robert Sapolsky and Sir Michael Marmot. Here is a stunning documentary that uses the power of video to tell the story of how all of this works.

This is part 1

Part 2 is here

Part 3 is here

Part 4 is here

Part 5 is here

Part 6 is here

Michael Rose is clear – we are designed to be healthy and to age well. So long as we abide by our evolved design and heritage. In the modern world most of us have lost control over all aspects of our life. We rely on people who we don’t know and who cannot care for us for food, shelter and energy. We rely on them for our income and for our health. The more we take back control of these areas of life, the more we reduce our stress and the more healthy we become.

One of the first areas that we can work on is how we eat and where then we get our food. If we choose to eat real food and we choose to eat food provided by local people, people we can know and people who do care, then this is a start for how we take more power back.

In my own case, this alone has transformed my own life and the effects of this choice has removed my worries about being ill and disabled as I get older. I have found at least control over my health – no small thing. It’s a start. I also re-allocate my spending from the 1% to the 99% who live near me. Mini farmers and food distributors get more income. More money stays in my community – we all benefit.

We don’t have to remain helpless.

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

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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.

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