Biologists refer to our species as Homo sapiens. We are the most highly evolved of primates. We rule our planet, our brains are huge relative to our body size. As a species, we are masters of our domain, of all that we survey, yet most of us as individuals are not masters of our body and our health. We are victims of our poor choices in diet and lifestyle, something that geneticists characterize as an evolutionary mismatch. We are basically pigeons eating french fries, lions eating candy bars, sleeping at odd hours, stressing over artificial stimuli.
Disconnected from Nature, we are suffering from maladies brought on by an evolutionary mismatch between what our DNA expects of us versus what we subject our genes to on a daily basis. We seem to think that we are exempt from the laws of Nature that govern the health and longevity of other species. Our higher intelligence has become our own worst enemy when it comes to our health. We are living an unnatural unsustainable lifestyle.
We are suffering from “diseases of affluence”. We have re-engineered our food supply to be convenient and hyper-palatable, we have reinvented our lifestyle to be artificially comfortable and sedentary. We pursue pleasure over happiness, distractions over focused efforts, we have become mentally and physically lazy, we are swimming upstream against our genetic heritage. This fundamental truth is the underlying cause of almost all chronic health problems in Western society today.
So how does Diabesity fit into this evolutionary mismatch?
It’s a simple equation that when any modern human does anything or consumes anything that is not compatible with what we had been doing and eating for 99.9% of the time that our species has been on Earth, it is inevitable that we will suffer unpleasant consequences to our mental, emotional and physical health.
Diabesity and Human Evolution
Here is a short list of evolutionary mismatches with health consequences:
- Eating processed foods with artificial additives
- Consuming unnatural amounts of sugar in all its incarnations
- Not consuming enough healthy fats and protein
- Eating inflammatory foods that devastate our healthy gut biome
- Taking pharmaceuticals that have side effects
- Excess alcohol and caffeine intake
- Ingestion of toxins
- Insufficient physical activity
- Insufficient sleep
- Digital stimuli
- Cell phones and television
- Microwave ovens
- Too much sitting instead of crouching or standing
- Blue light at night
- Unrelenting stress at our jobs
- Not enough sunlight
- Not enough one-on-one social interaction with other human beings
- Too much Facebook
- Not enough face-to-face
- Walking around in overbuilt shoes with heels
- Not lifting heavy things once in a while
- Not enough sex and affection
- Not enough life-affirming activities
- Too many artificial distractions.
We are living lives that are almost entirely incompatible with our genome. Is it any wonder that we are sick and unhappy?
So what is the solution to solving the problem of our evolutionary mismatches?
Is it to move into a cabin in the woods and kill wild game, subsist on berries, hoist heavy rocks over our head and hike for many hours hunting and gathering? Sure, why not? But hardly a practical course of action for most of us. There is no need to go to extremes to be healthy. Perhaps the best course of action might be to ask ourselves each and every day, is what I am about to put into my mouth a necessity or an indulgence? Is the activity that I am about to do something necessary or an act of hedonism or laziness? Would a healthy human have done whatever I am doing right now ten thousand years ago? Sure, we have many luxuries and diversions now, but have they really made us any happier? Numerous studies have revealed that technologically advanced affluent societies tend to be less happy and healthy than comparatively “primitive” cultures with a simpler diet and lifestyle and value systems that prize the joys of family and community far above egotism and materialism. Societies such as the Masai in Africa and the Aborigines in Australia have their priorities aligned with their genetics, hence they are much happier and healthier than most Americans.
In order to optimize our health, we should make it our long term goal to enjoy the luxuries and conveniences of our modern lifestyle sensibly and with moderation, without allowing ourselves to become slaves to technology and victims of the processed food industry. We should seek out wholesome foods and activities that enrich our lives and our genome, thus ending the evolutionary mismatches that have compromised our quality of life.