5 reasons we're de-evolving.
The human race has been evolving as one of the most successful species on the planet for approximately 6 million years. Our form today as Homo Sapiens has been around for only 200,000 years.
Research is showing that over the last 10,000 - 20,000 years our brains and our frames are shrinking. Brain size is usually relative to body size. While our European ancestors may have been smaller around 500 years ago, go back further and we were taller.
Evolution is 'the gradual development of something'. If our brains are shrinking in size, they are not developing.
As a human species are we de-evolving?
How we ate and lived (lifestyle factors) had a major impact on developing our very large brains and our strong structures.
What's happened in the past 10 - 20,000 years that could be changing our evolution?
- The 'domestication' of our species e.g. animals that are domesticated have smaller brains than their species found in the wild. Possibly because they don't require 'the extra brainpower that could help them evade predators or hunt for food'. Similarly, humans have become 'domesticated'.
- 'Brains are energetically expensive'. They require a lot of fuel to be maintained. If they aren't being used or the larger size isn't necessary, they will begin to shrink. With the use of books, computers, automation of tasks, convenience culture, there isn't the need for this expensive real estate.
- 'The way we live is less physically demanding which drives down body weight'.
- The way we eat is vastly different to the way we ate 200,000 years ago. The agricultural industry kicked off around 10,000 years ago. Without the evolutionary need to hunt and gather food it allowed families to establish homes, with the ability to grow and barter / sell their produce. Fast forward to today and compared to the previous 100 or so thousand years, there is an abundance of a new food that's been introduced into our native diet - domestic grains. At the same time we are eating far less good-quality nutrients, importantly the essential macro nutrient, fat. We need fats in large amounts to nourish every cell in our body, including our immune and hormonal systems and our energy hungry brains.
- Our microbiome. Our wardrobe of bugs are also vastly different to what they were all those years ago. A diverse diet and low tox living is key. Our ancestors apparently consumed up to 100 different types of leaves and plant foods in one day! Feeding an extremely diverse population of health giving bacteria.
With all these significant changes in the past 10,000 years in a very short period of time in our long evolution, have our physical and emotional bodies been able to keep up or adapt with the same relatively rapid pace? Perhaps not.
Each point above shares either an emotional or physical change to our environment, supporting the relatively new evolutionary theory of epigenetics. For anyone unfamiliar with this term, briefly, Epigenetics literally means "above" or "on top of" genetics. It refers to external modifications to our DNA that turns genes "on" or "off." e.g. lifestyle factors, including physical and emotional. These factors do not change the DNA sequence, but instead, they affect how cells "read" genes. A theory that disrupts the popular Darwinian theory of evolution and that our genes are our destiny. We have more control over our wellbeing than we've been led to believe.
So here are a few simple suggestions to reconnect with our bodies evolutionary wisdom, nourish our bodies deeply and be well;
- Re-wild ourselves. Enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. Tune in to Mother Nature, the moon and her cycles the seasons and what they deliver to us. Embrace the weather, whatever she gives us. Leave doors and windows open, even in Winter. Eat native fresh produce. Go camping.
- Use it or lose it. Keep using our brains at every chance we possibly can. Learning new skills, travelling and personal challenges, un-google.
- Keep moving. This IS a biggie. A healthy lymphatic system leads to a healthy immune system and a well-being. Movement is key to a healthy lymph. Our ancestors were great at it. We are designed to move, not sit. Move every day.
- Eat real food i.e. food in its most natural and whole form, unprocessed and refined. It's food that our bodies recognise, that comes packaged up with a perfect parcel of nutrients that our bodies need and can absorb.
- Grains. Consider how much we're consuming and enjoy them in their whole form properly prepared i.e soaked overnight and/or fermented or sprouted as our ancestors would have done when grains were first introduced. For example, when our family eats porridge we use the whole oat groat (seed) unrefined or processed, our other favourite grains are quinoa or buckwheat (not technically a grain, but a relative of rhubarb).
- Wheat today is a vastly different grain to the wheat first introduced to our diets 10,000 years ago. It is a grain we choose not to consume for many reasons.To learn more about why we chose to go gluten free and to get lots of recipes and practical and simple steps for gluten free living join me at my morning tea and workshop or online webinar and workshop next week.
- Build a strong microbiome and enjoy a rich diversity of plants and flavours e.g. herbs, flowers and spices and start building up a health loving population of bacteria.
What small step or big step will you take to reconnect with your bodies inner wisdom and continue your most natural evolution?
note: the image above was found here.