THE DEVOLUTION OF MAN

Ten thousand years ago the world changed in was that are still not understood or internalized. The Paleolithic period ended and the Neolithic period began. Man went from hunter-gatherer to farmer, cultivator, and herder. It was population density that was the impetus for this. Man had, to a great degree, tamed the environment. He was no longer at the mercy of predators, the elements. He had learned rudimentary medicine where the great majority of babies who once died in childbirth no longer did. The population exploded and it was no longer possible for the hunters in the clan to feed all of the tribe. And so, when the knowledge of growing grain came to pass, that ability came to man.

The Paleolithic people were the strongest, healthiest people that ever lived. They had the lowest fat to total body weight ratio of any people on earth. Paleo-anthropologists studying the remains of our early ancestors have found that they did not suffer from any of the modern illnesses such as arthritis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, chronic tooth decay, or the autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Weston Price, author of Nutrition and Physical Disease,
concluded that there was almost a complete absence of degenerative disease in pre-agrarian cultures.

Paleolithic man was 6’2” tall, the women 5’10”. There was no autoimmune disease, no dietary cancer, no heart disease. Their brains were 30% larger than ours. Less than 4,000 years later, man was 5’8” and women 5’6”. Their brains shrank and the first signs of heart disease, dietary cancer and auto-autoimmune disease came to pass.

Through examining forensic evidence of our ancestors, and comparing their life style to that of modern day hunter-gathers in South America, like the Ache in Paraguay, or the !Kung San of Africa and, we know what they ate and we know how they ate.

They derived most of their energy from foods rich in protein and fats and got most of their carbohydrates from vegetables and fruits, not grains. They ate from over 300 different species of plants, insects, and animals. For tens of thousands of years, our forbearers grazed and snacked on small meals throughout the day; only occasionally feasting. Evidence from teeth remains, campsite residue, animal bones, and fossilized
pollen have all confirmed that these ancient people ate a diet consisting of 35% of calories from animal sources and 65% of calories from plants, seeds, nuts, and fruit.

People eating a high protein, low carb diet – even one with high fat – lost more body fat while actually gaining muscle mass than those consuming a high carbohydrate
diet (greater than 65% carbs).

A British study reported that those who ate higher amounts of protein and fat have higher insulin growth factor-1 (IGF) levels. Those who ate more carbs have lower IGF-i. This growth factor is very similar to insulin and a close cousin of growth hormone. As such it helps initiate a number of anabolic processes, specifically muscle growth and fat burning.

For 99% of the time man has been on earth, he not only survived, but also evolved on a diet provided by nature, not an unnatural one devised by people. They lived free of
the major diseases that affect so many of us today, such as osteoporosis, diabetes heart disease, cancer, and hypertension. They were fittest, strongest people to ever roam the planet.

In the course of a few thousand years, the Agricultural and the Industrial Revolutions converted us from hunter-gathers to farmers, then to people totally dependent upon technology. We may now consume large quantities of simple carbohydrates and fried foods, but our bodies are programmed by evolution to thrive on
a diet of nuts, seeds, wild game and carbohydrates from plants and fruits. All we need to do is replicate (or at least try to the best of our abilities) the diet of our ancestors to regain our health and continue the evolutionary process

Guiding our words and actions is a central reward system. And that reward system is measured by endorphin release. Endorphins can bring on a sense of euphoria, relieve pain, balance our moods, boost our immune system, and protect us from disease. Some endorphins are hundreds of times more powerful than heroin or opium.

Experiments have shown that when given the choice, people, mice, and chimps will choose endorphins over food or sex.

Research has confirmed that there are five behaviors that trigger endorphin release. These are:

1 – Eating
2 – Exercise
3 – Love, Sharing, And Commonality
4 – Adaptation to New Situations
5 – Interaction with Enriched Environments

For 6 ½ million years, from the time man separated from the apes, our ancestors engaged in these behaviors every single day.

1) They constantly moved to new environments, following the herds of animals and good weather.
2) They had to learn new behaviors to form alliances with other tribes.
3) Their daily activities burned as many calories as they consumed.
4) They shared love, supported one-another, and raised their young communally.
5) They ate modest amounts of endorphin-releasing foods.

Over those 6 ½ million years we developed an endorphin set point: where we had no cravings, a strong functional immune system, no depression and even maintained a euphoric state.

As we evolved, we took with us our endorphin set point, but left behind the inter-connectedness, extended family, daily adventure, interaction with nature and enriched environments, and regular physical activity. We went from diversity and socialization to specialization and separation. Today, for those dependent solely upon food for this euphoric feeling, the need for endorphin release begins anew not only each day, but with each meal. After all, the lifespan of enkephalins (short-lived endorphins triggered by the foods we eat) is measured in only hours or minutes, depending on our food selection.

If one chooses to reach that set point solely through eating, all one needs to do is continually ingest large amounts of endorphin-releasing foods. We can vividly see the results of relying on food as our sole source of endorphins. We are a country where eighty percent of us are overweight.

Why can’t people can’t get their endorphins the way our ancestors? Since 1950, polestar changes in our society have led to dramatic changes in our interaction with friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers:

• The completion of an interstate highway system that spawned suburbia, separating neighbors with lawns and garages and forty-foot wide streets.
• The evolution of inexpensive air travel, along with jobs spreading far beyond the city limits, that has influenced people’s decision and ability to move more frequently. This has led to circumstances where people live for an average of 5 years in one place, making long-lasting relationship as fleeting as the next job offer or flight out of town.
• A changing economic climate that requires two working parents, leaving children to fend for themselves and succumb to the influences of the media, malls, and mass marketers.
• Technology that begat computers, faxes, e-mails, and video-conferencing, which have distanced workers and friends and have made face-to-face communication more rare.
• A rapid-paced culture, with twenty percent less free time than in the 1960’s, that has generated the need for fast food establishments and, along with them, an ever increasing proliferation of fats, processed foods, and sugar in our diet.
• A lack of participation in and appreciation for the role of exercise in our evolution.
• Separation from nature due to ever expanding cities.
• Television, which has stolen the motivation to pursue goals, engage in new pursuits, and, with forty-four percent of commercials advertising snack foods, entices viewers to eat incessantly.

While we cannot return to the Paleolithic periods, we do have multiple opportunities in today’s world to pick the choicest morsels of beneficial life and integrate those into our daily realm. It just take an awareness and hopefully a close circle of supporting others to be consISentient and successful.

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