Welcome to the second ever post on Reconnected.me! If you haven’t read my first post “What does being reconnected mean to me“, I recommend beginning there, before proceeding with this one as it will give you some background and perspective on what you can expect from this site as a whole, and will perhaps give you some insight into the workings of my psyche!
The word “paleo” has quickly become well known around the world, especially in the last few years, thanks to people like Pete Evans here in Australia, but also largely in the US due to many health and wellness professionals advocating and bringing awareness to this eating and living approach.
Depending on who you speak to or what you read, there are many different shades of paleo. Largely it seems the point of it is greatly misunderstood, has become very commercial and is associated with being almost cartoon-ish or trendy. To me, paleo is not a fad diet, eating like a caveman or feasting on meat all day. It most certainly can be perceived in this way, but in my experience, all these things are so far from the essence of it.
For me, what started out as just a “diet” in 2011, has evolved into a life philosophy. The paleo way can be seen as nature’s way. It is a compass to help guide me on my path to live the best and most reconnected life I possibly can. It also turned into a way for me to understand what wild humans would have required to be healthy, but applying it in a modern context today, since we aren’t physically living in the wild any more.
Lesson #1: Humans evolved to eat certain types of foods that suited the environment that we lived in. This means food that our bodies recognise, are able to properly digest, process and assimilate nutrients from, for survival and to thrive. These foods included those that were naturally found growing in the wild, swimming in bodies of water or walking around on the land. Food from the earth.
The concept of paleo in a modern context is not about eating what our wild hunter-gatherer paleolithic ancestors ate, because there aren’t any foods available to us now that existed back then. Instead, the point is to closely emulate the kinds of foods that gave us proper nutrition and life, before modern, western disease became a common part of our human existence. This includes no processed foods and an abundance of seafood, meat, offal, chicken, eggs, vegetables and starchy plants/roots/tubers, fruits, seeds and nuts.
It is said that on a scale of evolution, modern humans have not been on this earth for long enough to positively adapt to the drastically altered environment and food landscape of today’s world (analogy – about 2 seconds in an hour). This means that our DNA and innate metabolic machinery is still that of a hunter gatherer, and we now live within an extreme environmental mismatch than what our genes expect and were equipped for.
The sheer simplicity of all of this, as well as the absolute sense it made to me, peaked my interest and before I knew it, I was “eating paleo.” Within a week or so, the asthma I had to deal with since I was a child for 28 years was gone… and it has not been seen since! This blew my mind because I thought it was something that I was just born with and had to accept treating the symptoms with medication for as long as necessary, or for life.
Lesson #2: The power of food as medicine. What you put into your body has an affect on how you feel, look, and perform, and can be responsible for all sorts of ailments, symptoms, physical and emotional complaints that many of us think are “normal” or just put down to a part of being them. For me, I believe and realised it was probably a combination of processed carbohydrates/sugars, processed dairy and gluten that were causing inflammation in my body, manifesting as symptoms of asthma. I am hyper aware of how food makes me feel and if I am ever exposed to these types of food products again, my body/mind really feel it.
Not only did my asthma clear up, but my energy levels became consistent throughout the day, my body started feeling satisfied with the nutrient dense foods I was giving it, I lost the need for constant snacking, and if necessary, I can go long periods without eating and not feel shaky, moody or low energy.
Plus, I have only been sick once in the last 7 years, which was only really some nose and throat symptoms for a few days. Previously, I got sick at least 4 or 5 times a year, sometimes for weeks at a time. What I believe has happened over time is my immune system has strengthened and is capable to protect me by using food (and other lifestyle factors, plus emotional awareness) as my nourishing, life giving defence mechanism towards the challenges of life.
Lesson #3: The quality of your food matters. Where does it come from? How was it grown or raised? What does it eat? How was it transported? What is the energy of the food? Is it alive?
Plants: There is a big difference between locally and organically grown fruit and vegetables that have been recently picked, as opposed to interstate or internationally and conventionally grown, transported long distances and put in storage for months; the former comes without a side of poison and more nutrients!
Animals: There is a big difference between eating happy, healthy animals that eat their natural diet, live mostly outside with plenty of sunlight and movement, grazing on grass and raised free to roam on pasture; versus a factory farmed animal, given unnatural feed, unable to see the light of day (whether in a shed or a tiny space), unable to move as much as it should be able to move, pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. Obviously I would rather eat a healthy animal that has lived a happy, low stress, natural life than a sick one. As expected, the nutritional profiles of these animals is greatly different.
I understand and respect the vegetarian/vegan points of view about not taking the life of an animal, however plants are also living beings of this ecosystem. They are highly intelligent and essential life forms of this planet. Plus they have their own plant chemicals and compounds as a defence mechanism from being eaten, so is one really more ethical than the other??
From a health standpoint, there are nutrients in animal foods that we physiologically require and are simply not present in their active or complete forms in plant foods. This includes Vitamin B12, vitamin A, iron, complete amino acid profiles, etc. Taking nutritional supplements of these compounds is not the same as getting them from wholefoods, because nature’s intelligence has put all the necessary nutrients together in an intricately formed bundle that work in synergy and give our bodies life. Most supplements do not come from nature, so this is a good reason to question them.
Daniel Vitalis from Rewild Yourself says… (paraphrasing here). “If the diet you eat is lacking in any nutrients, then it’s not an appropriate diet for your species”…. This makes sense if you look through the lens of nature being perfect, intelligent and would surely give us everything we need to be healthy.
Lesson #4: What is real food? I learned to identify what real food actually is, what the most nutrient dense foods can be, developed an imaginary template for what to include in my own eating approach that nourishes my body, as well as what kind of inflammatory foods to stay away from that do not suit my body.
Once this eating approach became second nature to me, I dove deeper into other lifestyle factors that I could improve upon which involved going back to more natural and wild ways of living in a modern context.
Lesson #5: What else is backwards in our world? This was probably the biggest lesson I received from paleo and rewilding, which really is the essence of what it all means to me. I realised we were disconnected from many other aspects of health and life that have taken us so far away from our human nature.
I began to wonder… If we got the food side of things backwards in our society, then what else is there? What else have we been conditioned to believe or how can we do things more naturally and get back to basics with our wildness?
Modern diseases have become out of control and didn’t exist many years ago, so I continued down the rabbit hole to explore why this was. This is where I learned and realised some of the following things:
Lesson #6: We were designed to move in particular ways that suited the environment we evolved to live in. This didn’t include running for hours on end or isolating muscles on machines. We also evolved to move constantly throughout the day, not live most of our lives sitting down and sedentary, only moving for a couple of hours a day. Up until fairly recently, movement was built into our days, whether through more labour intensive work, tending to gardens and other manual tasks that many of us have outsourced today to labour-saving devices, products and services. This adds up over a lifetime.
Lesson #7: We were designed to live in a certain environment. In particular, mostly outside, in the sun, close to nature and with fresh air, free of environmental toxins and chemicals and electromagnetic pollution from technology that we have to deal with today.
Lesson #8: We were designed to be omnivores (plant and animal eaters). Just look at our digestive tracts, our teeth and what comes from the earth was put here for us to be healthy.
Lesson #9: We are a part of an incredibly intricate ecosystem of nature. We were designed to live symbiotically with other living beings; the plant and animal kingdoms, fungal, viral and bacterial kingdoms, etc. We are not separate from nature and all these beings. We are nature. In addition, the micro-organisms that form our very own ecological gut Microbiome are of incredible importance for the state of our health. It all starts in the gut.
Lesson #10: What we put on our feet everyday disconnects us from the earth. Taking our shoes off and walking barefoot to “ground” to the earth brings about many health benefits.
Lesson #11: Water quality matters. Water from the earth, that is filtered by the earth is what is most natural for us to drink and be healthy. The water flowing through our taps is not real, life giving water. It’s chemically treated and is problematic to our health.
Lesson #12: We were not designed to look at screens all day. This comes with several problems…. Not using our eyes and eye muscles the way they were designed to move. Disconnection from ourselves, others and the world around us. Screens do not replace real human contact, engagement, energy, connection and touch.
Lesson #13: We are electromagnetic beings. The abundance of electromagnetic output and radiation from technology and all our electronic devices is problematic to the human body. The plane analogy is useful here. We get told to switch our devices off at certain times throughout the flight so that we don’t interfere with the operation and functioning of the plane. Well guess what? The same applies to the human body, except we don’t have a limit on our personal use! Mindful and responsible use is essential here.
Lesson #14: We were designed to sleep by nature’s cycles of the sun and the moon. When we live outside our natural sleep cycles this can be problematic to health, especially in a chronic context over time. This may be the most underrated factor of them all, regarded as a nuisance by a culture that values working harder, productivity and staying up late regularly.
Lesson #15: Historically, we were designed to be able to handle acute bouts of stress. This included getting away from a predator, carrying heavy loads from hunting, gathering or building shelter. This is a far cry from our modern society today where our bodies are in a constant state of perceived stress, due to anything from being cut off in traffic, having an argument with a friend, bathing in electromagnetic radiation in an office all day or not sleeping well. We can put the most perfect food in our bodies, but stress in all its forms can negate this.
Lesson #16: The industries and corporations of the world probably don’t have our best interests at heart. Money talks. Enough said.
Over time, all these lessons have slowly formed part of a philosophy in which paleo and rewilding were catalysts. These ideas are deeply grounded foundations of influence on the perspective and outlook I have towards life. They taught me to be aware of and learn from what we used to do, where we came from and what it inherently means to be a living, breathing, wild human being. I was able to unlearn what I thought I knew to be true, to re-educate myself by figuring out what actually makes sense, and to reconnect to what is true to me and my nature…
Thanks for being here!
If you liked (or didn’t like) what you have just read, then feel free to send me some feedback as I’d love to hear from you! You can reach me at email@example.com
DISCLAIMER: All content I share here on my blog is written from my own personal inquiry, experiences, thoughts and opinions and is not intended to replace medical or lifestyle advice from a practising professional.