After nearly two decades in practice, you start to notice some common themes and, among them, certain questions that are shared by large portions of the population. One, in particular, is a broad sweeping question that I’m asked quite a lot: What do I need to do to stay healthy?
Sounds simple right? Well maybe not so much. We live in the Information Age with nearly limitless amounts of good and bad advice from nearly limitless sources. One person will stay do this and you’ll be healthy but then another article will completely contradict it. And it’s not just relegated to opinions on health. There are even plentiful examples of research that contradicts other research, studies that are completely contradictory. So, who’s right?
A person could spend an entire lifetime trying to sort through all the good, bad, and misleading information out there and still be confused. Consequently, I try to keep health easy to understand for my patients and this is what I ask them: How did our ancestors live?
I mean, think about it. Were we really designed to sit at a computer all day, munching on processed bags of food? Were we built to endure near constant stress in an artificial environment? If you really consider today’s lifestyle, it’s no wonder chronic illness is on the rise. We don’t exercise like we should, we eat a lot of garbage, our stress is ridiculous, we’re too busy, and we’re literally bathed in toxins every day.
Now, every day patients will ask me, do I do this or that? Do I eat this or that? Is this good for me? Is that bad for me? And, so on. My response will generally be, what would a caveman do? After all, that’s what we are. We’re hunter gatherers, designed to roam the land hunting for food, water and shelter. We’re designed to get 12-16 hours of exercise every day. We’re built to eat real whole foods. We’re meant to live free of the human zoo we’ve created for ourselves.
Look at tribal cultures around the world. Do they suffer from cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity like we do in more developed countries? No way! Granted, in many of those places, infectious disease and traumatic death is much higher, but if you’re lucky enough to make it to old age, you’ll live a fuller healthier life. Accordingly, how can we, as members of a highly developed country without the threat of environmentally caused death, ignore the huge potential we have for a longer, healthier, more satisfying life? Why do so many take our health for granted and just accept illness as the inevitability of aging? The answer is simple. We’ve set up too many barriers between us and our genetically programmed, natural lifestyle requirements and our herd mentality falls for the lie that illness is normal.
Here’s a news flash. Your body’s not designed to be sick. It’s designed to be healthy. In fact, it fights with every molecule of your being to be healthy and resist disease…if you’ll help it along. Go out and get some fresh air. Stop eating your food out of a bag. Break away from your desk and get on your feet. Take on the world like the alpha predator you were destined to be, not the lapdog that chains your seat. Being healthy isn’t magical and becoming sick isn’t a mystery. If you make better choices, you get better results.
So, the next time you wonder about which choice about your health is best, ask yourself: What would a caveman do?