Post II: The basics of primal living

Primal living

This part of the discussion is based largely on the works of authors Mark Sisson and Art de Vany, the first of whom penned “The Primal Blueprint”, and the latter “The New Evolution Diet”.

Both books were written based on experience in personal training, as a professional athlete, and, in the case of de Vany, academic work studying statistical anomalies. They are also based fundamentally in evolutionary biology. Their main premise is that humans have evolved in a very particular way over the past 2 million years to eat certain things and perform certain movements. It has only been in the last 10,000 years with the beginning of agriculture that human life has significantly changed (even more so in the last 70 years!), which is a period too small for genetic evolution to take place and for humans to evolve to accommodate our new lifestyles. As a result, people are now subject to a multitude of diseases unknown before the changes in diet and lifestyle, and the books are packed full of ideas and scientific studies to replicate the way our ancestors would have eaten and moved, but adapted to modernity. You can find links to their respective blogs here: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/#axzz3j7xF9esi ; http://www.artdevanyonline.com/arts-blog.html

The basic tenets, as far as I summarise them, are as follows: eat organic, whole foods, sourced locally; eliminate grains and sugar from your diet; compose your daily food intake as roughly 1/3 fresh fruit and vegetables, 1/3 cooked vegetables and 1/3 meat, fish and poultry; exercise briefly with intensity and randomness; supplement these brief and intense workouts with low-level cardio like walking, light swimming, stand-up paddling, or whatever it happens to be. Avoid cardio burnout from endurance sports. This framework is based on how hunter-gatherers would have lived before humans developed agriculture, but developed to modernity: have intense workouts to replicate a hunter’s sprinting, lunging, jumping and carrying in the gym. Grains are eliminated because they would not have made up part of a hunter-gatherer’s diet, and were only introduced as the (primary) source of calories 10,000 years ago. Their low nutritional value and position as a replacement for nutrient-rich vegetables has harmed human health.

Part of this blog will look to whether or not a lot of the assertions made about primal lifestyles are based on scientific act, or whether a lot of it is simply supposed, and whether this would actually have an effect on the ideas put forward by Sisson, de Vany and others.

Another large part will be to do with why I personally started looking into this and what it means to me, the effects it has had.

I also want to discuss, on the one hand, the reasons for switching to agriculture in the first place: there is good reason to believe it was due to intense environmental pressure at the time, but it also brought with it incredible advances. If environmental pressure was the reason for such a momentous shift 10,000 years ago, what could upcoming environmental change have in store in the near future? On the other hand, does the developed agricultural system actually provide for lifestyles proposed by those supporting “primal” living? Grains are after all much cheaper, and fill bellies. This touches on the enormous subject of wealth distribution and whether or not there is enough space in the world to accommodate this number of people and to feed them.

So these are the essentials of “primal” living for this blog. There is of course a great deal more, and I would like from time to time to dive into a lot of the individual topics, but this is the framework required to make the link between it, antifragility, and changing social structures. Some other subjects which are likely to come up in this blog related to this:

  • The realities of hunter-gatherers: is the basis for such thinking based on fact, or supposition and guesswork? Does it matter if the details are not exactly correct?
  • Frameworks and flexibility
  • Does modern life stifle human nature?
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