It's always amazes me - how we live today, compared to our parents or grandparents.
You've heard the stories I'm sure- single room schoolhouses, wood stove heat, walking to school barefoot in the snow, uphill - both ways.
Yeah - those stories.
But seriously - look how far we've come technology-wise. And then look at how much unhealthier we are because of it.
Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer - all raging out of control.
Did you know that in 1900 the mortality rate for Cancer and Heart Disease was only 12%?
Today it's well over 47% .
That's not to say we didn't have disease or death back then - we did - but not from the lifestyle diseases that are so prevalent today. Back then the majority of deaths in the common people were from infectious diseases - like flu, pneumonia, or tuberculosis.
Heart disease and diabetes were rare diseases back then, and usually seen in just the wealthy.
Like the Kings and Queens of Old
As Dr John McDougall is often quoted as saying, "Our biggest problem today is we are eating like the Kings and Queens of old."
After the mid 1800s with the creation of colossal wealth during the industrial revolution and the harnessing of fossil fuels, millions, and then billions, of people were able to eat from a table piled high with meat, fowl, and dairy, once available only to royalty. Look around you—the consequences are obvious—everyday people appear rotund like the kings and queens pictured in old paintings. McDougall Feb 2009 Newsletter
Throughout history it's been the wealthy that suffer from the diseases we see today.
Look at historical figures like King Henry VIII - always represented as obese and crippled with gout or diabetes, compared to the poor, thin, peasants who toiled the fields all day, scraping by with what little they could.
It stands to reason that the more wealthy you became - the less you had to physically work, and the more extravagant the foods you could afford. Meat, dairy, and sugar were now available for every meal, compared to the poor peasants with just their vegetables and bread.
However today, thanks to the industrial revolution, everyone can afford to eat like the kings and queens of old. And by no huge surprise - we are suffering from the exact same diseases they did.
Going Old School for Health
It's time for a change.
If we're going to turn this health crisis around, we simply have to go back to the Old School way of living.
The way our Peasant ancestors lived.
- Regular exercise
- Consistent sleep schedules
- Natural foods
But that sounds like work?
It is. Get used to it.
I'm not saying we need to toil in the fields from sunup to sundown - but we certainly need to get up and move more that we do today. Remember we humans were naturally exercising thousands of years ago - digging in the fields, chasing after game, or outrunning predators.
Our bodies were made to move - not sit behind a desk all day.
If our ancestors wanted food - they had to grow it, till it, weed it, pick it. There was no convenience store on the corner with microwavable pizzas for sale. The whole process of surviving took exercise.
Walk the beach, join a gym, play a sport, garden, whatever - just move.
Consistent Sleep Schedules
And speaking of sitting behind a desk all day - thanks to the global economy - many of us work all hours of the day. 12 hr shifts, swing shifts, graveyard shifts, midnight to noon, 4pm to 2am....and every shift in between.
As a shift worker myself - I can say that it’s vital for people to stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Trying to bounce back and forth from days to night is so very HARD on your body! You natural rhythm is upset, your immune system is weakened, and it can even lead to more serious medical issues.
Studies show there are major health consequences to “shift-work disorder” . That is working during hours your body wants to sleep - and sleeping during the hours your body wants to be awake.
People who work night shifts often have trouble re-acclimating to a day schedule on their days off. Shift work can seriously disrupt a person's circadian rhythm, the normal sleep-wake cycle. As many as 32 percent of night shift workers and 26 percent of people who rotate shift experience shift work disorder, or SWD, lead author Robert Sack, M.D. reported in 2007 in "Sleep."
I realize it's beyond our control what shift we work - if we want to stay employed anyway - but try to stay on a consistent shift, even on your days off.
White noise devices may help you sleep during the day - and new light therapy boxes imitate natural sunlight during the night.
Of course the more natural approach is try to find a job during normal hours.
Bestselling author Michael Pollan is often quoted as saying to only eat foods your grandmother would recognize.
Today, finding 'real' food in a grocery store is a challenge, as there are thousands of processed - ready to eat - products available. And hardly any of them resemble real food.
Poor Michael's grandmother wouldn't know what to do.
Our peasant ancestors had to grow their own food, so eating a peasant diet would include lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Ironically this is the diet that many of today's leading nutritional doctors recommend.
A whole foods, plant-based, diet.
But, just like the Kings and Queens of old - today we can, (and do) eat a diet full of meat, dairy, oils, and sugar to the point we are suffering from many of the same ailments.
Time to go old school and eat like the peasants did. As Mr Pollan says...
Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants
Eat Right and Exercise
In summary - think about how our ancestors lived and try to imitate them.
We have the technology available to get past the infectious diseases of the past. And we can totally control the lifestyle diseases, just like they did by eating right and exercising.
- Eat right
- Rest and get lots of good sleep.
It's not like we haven't heard this before.
There's a reason every doctor on the planet has said this over and over again.
To your health.