For the last 50 years or so, we have been seeing “epidemics” of non-communicable diseases such back pain, obesity, diabetes, allergies & intolerances etc. These can be seen as diseases of dysevolution (AKA evolutionary maladaptation) – which is to say that we are subjecting our bodies to environmental factors which we are simply not evolved to cope with.
We evolved as a species with a complete absence of chairs and desks; computer screens and electric lights; shoes and processed foods. We were constantly mobile – hunting, gathering, playing; and later weeding and cultivating. Our lives were ruled by the natural rhythms of the seasons, the sun and the moon; with a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts and fresh meats – with a huge variety.
Essentially, the Homo genus of ape has existed for circa 125,000 generations; with 7,500 generations of Homo Sapiens. The advent of farming came about 500 generations ago, bringing with it a contraction of dietary variety (but an addition of grains and milk), and the first possibility for sedentary individuals (chiefs).
It has been 20 generations since Copernicus ushered in modern science, only 5 since the invention of the light bulb, and the advent of highly processed foods.
It has only been about 2 generations since the TV/tablet screens were commonplace in the bedroom, or the majority of the British workforce became sedentary.
If we move more (both habitually, and in terms of moderate level exercise), improve our sleep hygiene (take 30-40 minutes of decreasing light levels, especially screens), and improve our diet (more variety, less inflammatory / highly processed foods). This will make a huge difference – use our bodies the way they’re “designed” to be used. Unfortunately these are lifestyle solutions to lifestyle problems; and human nature prefers quick fixes, making someone else responsible, and prioritising short-term comfort over long-term health / comfort.
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