Why variety is the spice of life


     As someone studying to become a Naturopathic Doctor I get asked health questions on a regular basis.  Most of the time these questions are asked in a way that expect a simple answer, a 'secret' perhaps to health and wellness.  For example, "What's the best anti-oxidant food to eat to avoid cancer?" or "What supplement should I take to lose weight?" or "What's the one thing I should do to stay healthy?" Often people want that quick fix--they want to know which one food or supplement to take to allow them to achieve ultimate health. 

It's my job as a naturopathic doctor to get people to think about their health in a different way. To empower people to take their health into their own hands and not rely on the latest and greatest buzz word to make them feel healthy. True health is achieved through the synergistic effect of maintaining a balanced and clean diet while also getting enough exercise.  It really can be as simple as that...

     Have you ever wondered why that is? Why is a diet balanced with many different kinds of healthy foods the best for us? Why is getting exercise so important?  One explanation is in how our bodies adapted to survive thousands of years ago.  Human bodies are genetically designed to be hunter and gatherers. We are designed to be in a state of optimal health when we spend our days looking for and gathering food from the wild. This assures that we are eating a variety of mostly plant based materials because we eat what we can find and vegetables are one of the easiest things to gather. This also assures that we get daily exercise because we are forced to spend the day walking and scavenging for food.  Fat and meat is meant to taste better to us so that we crave it and seek it out by hunting wild animals. 

     As you can see it makes sense why people may get sick or obese when we break this hunter/gatherer cycle. Fat is meant to be something that we crave because we aren't supposed to be able to get it very often. Today fat is readily available for people to eat as much as they want and farming and growing a lot of the same food at once eliminates the wide variety in our diet. Cheese for example was only popularized because it was an easy way to store high protein and calorie rich food during the winter. Today it has become so ingrained in our diet that most people couldn't picture their life without it. The truth is we aren't meant to eat cheese as human beings, or any other form of dairy for that matter.

     The way our bodies are genetically programed to be healthy won't be changing anytime soon. The passe at which our society has modernized from hunter/gatherer times has happened much to quickly for our bodies to properly adapt to the new environment. This is like expecting a wild African lion to thrive in the freezing arctic--can you see the issue here? Who knows, maybe one day our bodies will learn to thrive on smog and pesticides but until then let's stick to trying to achieve what our hunter/gatherer ancestors did.

For more info on the paleolithic (cave man) diet, check out Kate's recent post!

Jamie

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