Ancestral Wisdom Meets Cutting-Edge Science: The Perfect Mash-up for Vibrant Health
By Dr. Chad Walding, DPT
September 23rd, 2019
Let’s talk about health and well-being, shall we? It seems everywhere you turn there’s a new fad diet or exercise plan that’s supposed to lead you on the path to wellness. But how often does that truly happen and most of all, last?
Most of us know how difficult it is to maintain an extremely restrictive diet or rigorous exercise regimen that leaves you drained and starving. You want it to work so badly, but end up crashing and burning. So many of us have been there and the struggle is very real.
But what if we don’t have to live like this? What if you could get off the hamster wheel of moving from one fad diet to the next and exercising to the point of exhaustion with little to no results?
Just imagine, being able to eat customized meal plans personalized for you that are both easy to follow and leave you feeling full. On top of that, the meal plans would include food that truly nourishes your body from the inside out. And exercise, well just imagine not having to dread the gym. Even being able to workout from the comfort of your own home if you desire.
Well here’s some great news for you. You don’t have to go through life feeling zapped of energy, hungry, irritable, and carrying around extra weight. There is another way. And that way is to follow a scientifically proven, whole-body health plan popularly known as the Native Lifestyle.
What is a Native Lifestyle?
A Native Lifestyle encourages us to eat as our ancestors did. This means you aren’t following an over-generalized diet that’s supposed to work the same for everyone. Because let's face it, while these types of diets work for some people, they don’t work for everyone. A vegan, keto, paleo, or Mediterranean diet might be a perfect fit for your friend, but may not work the same for you.
We all have different genetics and this affects how we process different foods.1 Traditional diets from around the world all vary greatly from culture to culture. Interestingly, most cultures didn’t eat a diet heavy in dairy, grains, or sugar so we lack the gut enzymes necessary to digest them. Hence now it’s hundreds of years later and many of us are still unable to process these types of foods.2
But how do you find out what you should be eating? Take the quiz to find out what foods and exercises will help fuel your specific genetics. You can check out our NativeBody Reset course to get you started on a lifestyle plan that’s customized to you. A Native Lifestyle also encompasses your mental, emotional, and social health – so you can truly feel the full effects of whole-body health. Our reset includes all areas of well-being to ensure optimal results.
What is Ancestral Eating?
When you eat for your specific genetics, you are following an ancestral eating approach to food. Eating this way means you’re not always leaning into the latest fad diet, you’re eating real foods that have been sustaining your ancestors for thousands of years. So maybe that chia seed smoothie, that’s all the rage right now, isn’t the best choice for you.
When we talk about ancestral eating, it’s important to realize why we need to go back to eating as those before us did. You see, our genetics haven’t changed, yet our diets have drastically changed. Our bodies aren’t equipped to process the onslaught of harmful foods that are part of our modern diets.2
Our ancient relatives didn’t eat things like white bread, factory-farmed meat, processed foods, and soda. They hunted and gathered and truly lived off the land. When they were hungry, they didn’t grab a bag of chips, they foraged. Eating fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, free-range organic meat, nuts, and seeds. Of course, exact diets varied by location and culture, but you get the drift.
And you know what? Our ancestors weren’t plagued by chronic diseases like we are now. They were lean and strong. This is because they ate exactly as nature intended for them to eat. Their foods were locally available and without pesticides, GMOs, or preservatives.
Bottom line: We’re adapted to eat the foods our ancestors ate.
Health Benefits of Eating Like Your Ancestors
Ancestral eating isn’t a fad diet. It’s a scientifically proven way of eating that improves both longevity and quality of life. For example, our modern diets are mostly acid-based. Acid-based diets are linked to an increased risk of many diseases, even early death.3 Our ancestors’ high-fiber, vegetable, and fruit diets, along with minimal dairy and grain intake, is what made their diets alkaline-based.4
Some chronic conditions an acid-based diet are linked to include:3,5
- Poor bone health
- Muscle wasting
- High blood pressure
- Back pain
- Decreased growth hormone which causes:
- Poor cardiovascular health
- Decreases memory and cognition
- Decreased magnesium and vitamin D
- These go hand in hand because your body needs magnesium to activate vitamin D – low levels of either leads to poor organ function
- Poorer response to chemotherapy and increased risk of cancer
Foods that are acidic and lead to these negative health outcomes include:5
- Processed meats
- Hard cheese
- Caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and soda
- Most sweeteners
- Most legumes
- Corn and rice
- Pumpkin and sunflower
- Macadamia, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts
- Blueberries, cranberries, and plums
Now, this doesn’t mean these foods are bad and you should never eat them. It means to be mindful of what you’re eating. Don’t base your entire diet on this list of foods. Because our modern diets are full of sugar, processed meats, grains, and packaged foods, we’re seeing a major uptick in chronic disease.
So what’s the secret to an alkaline, non-acidic diet? It’s fruits and vegetables. Of course, it’d be preferred they were grown in mineral-rich soil and organic, but since that’s not accessible to everyone, the takeaway is that you’re eating more of them. It’s extremely rare to be too alkaline or eat too many alkaline foods.
Alkaline foods you should incorporate more into your diet include:5
- Yogurt and milk
- Soy, pea, and lima beans
- Almonds, chestnuts, and pine nuts
- Flax and quinoa
- Sesame and flax
- Most fruits
- Choose cold-pressed, unprocessed oils
- Raw honey
Making the Shift to Eating Like Your Ancestors
We all have different genomes and are descendants of different cultures. This is why it’s so important to know what works for your unique body. After taking the quiz to find out which native body type you have, you’ll be able to know what foods work for you. There are some general rules to keep in mind when eating, no matter what your native body type is.
Some of these general rules include:
- Shop on the outer perimeter of the grocery store where fresh produce, meat, and dairy can be found.
- Our ancestors ate foods that could be hunted (animals), harvested (like quinoa), gathered (like fruit), or caught (like fish).
- Avoid foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce or have more than four ingredients.
- These “foods” are chock-full of preservatives and sketchy ingredients. Just because it’s listed as an ingredient doesn’t make it food. At least, not food worth eating.
- Avoids foods with an expiration date or a ridiculously long shelf life.
- These foods are once again packed with preservatives. It’s safe to say unhealthy and most of all unnatural ingredients are involved in the making of these foods.
- Avoid quick, frozen foods.
- The sodium level alone is enough to skyrocket your blood pressure. But the preservatives just seal the deal here. Don’t eat these foods.
- Whenever possible, eat seasonal, non-GMO, organic, local produce.
Eating these foods will keep you lean, healthy, and strong, just like it did our ancestors for thousands of years. The ancient civilizations of the past lived off the land. Ancestral eating is really cultural eating. Go back and find out the way your great grandmother ate. You may be surprised at how much has changed since then, even though that wasn’t all that long ago.
While our bodies are designed to evolve and adapt to change or stress, the rate at which our food has changed has been astonishing. We cannot keep up and it’s evident in the way we as a population look and feel. Most unfortunate is the way society has normalized chronic health conditions that were completely absent in our ancestors. We’re getting sicker and sicker and the only person who can help you is you.
Big Shifts In Our Modern Lives Lead to Big Health Problems
Let’s take a look back to the 1970s. A well-known microbiologist by the name of Rene Dubos was fascinated by how health and disease are linked. At the time of his work, people in Japan, native Japanese, were getting larger. And it wasn’t just their weight, but they were even growing taller.6
This was being celebrated and credit was given the “proper nutrition” these people were now receiving post-war. The reality was that these Japanese people were now having a 15-fold increase in milk consumption and a 7.5-fold increase in meat and egg consumption. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, no this wasn’t great.6
With the rapid increase in both weight and height Dubos found, “the post-war Japanese are taller than their parents, but this does not mean they will live longer, will be happier or will become more productive in the arts and sciences.” So eating a diet that was very much not their native diet wasn’t doing these people any favors. In fact, it was making them sicker. Rising weights bring chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. He concluded that global changes in the food supply, dietary patterns, and growth chart increases don’t mean a greater quality of life and mental health will be the result.6
In addition to this, Dubas conducted groundbreaking research for his time, showing children were too sanitized and needed to be “dirtied-up” in a controlled manner to decrease the likelihood of illness.7 While this wasn’t widely accepted at the time, we now know that humans and many microorganisms live in a symbiotic relationship. This means these bacteria aren’t always harmful, in fact, more times than not they’re actually quite helpful.8
Our bodies contain 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells. In your gut alone, there are over 10 trillion organisms with over 1000 species. These tiny microorganisms help regulate your immune system, digest food, prevent your gut from being colonized by disease-causing microbes, and synthesize vitamins. They also play a crucial role in the gut-brain axis with diseases like autism, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, and depression.9 Our obsession with anti-bacterial hand wash, cleansers, and hand sanitizer may sometimes do more harm than good.
This all begs Dubos’ biggest concern: What if our environment, nutrition, urbanization, biodiversity, mental health, and microbiota are all interrelated? What if going back to basics by living a lifestyle and eating a diet like our ancient ancestors is the key to vitality and longevity? He was definitely onto something and research decades later would prove his theories to be true.
Unlocking Vibrant Health By Minimizing Toxicity
In this modern era, our toxic food production methods and the foods themselves are a real problem. There are many ways these foods contribute to toxicity from decreasing gut microbes to heavy metal toxicity. The key here is to be aware of the ways you’re unknowingly contributing to your own toxic load and making new choices that’ll ultimately lead to better health.
The things which contribute to our already heavy toxic load include:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Artificial sweeteners decrease gut microbe diversity and count by inhibiting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.10 When the beneficial bacteria in your gut are altered, even your behavior can change. This alters your gut-brain axis and affects both brain function and mental outlook – encompassing many areas of mental health including depression and anxiety.11
- Altered gut bacteria also contributes to obesity and diabetes.12
- Heavy metal toxicity
- Eating probiotic-rich yogurt has been shown to decrease heavy metal exposure in developing countries. A decreased gut microbe diversity and count is linked to heavy metal toxicity.13
- You can also increase your probiotic intake with a probiotic supplement. Our favorite is NativePath Probiotic because of its 11 unique super-strains and 42.5 culture forming units.
- Sweating also releases heavy metals to lower your toxic burden.14 You can work up a sweat by being outdoors in warm weather, exercising, or giving a sauna a try.
- Air pollution
- Moving into highly populated urban areas has hurt our air quality. The increase in air pollution increases inflammation, risk of dementia, central nervous system damage, stroke, and depression.15
- Try to get out of the city to breathe in clean outdoor air. Also, you could consider purchasing an air purifier for your home.
- The pesticides that coat any non-organic produce are directly linked to cancer.16
- Eat organic whenever costs allow, minimizing your exposure to these deadly chemicals.
- Pharmaceutical medications
- While you may not be able to minimize your use of some medications, consider natural alternatives whenever possible.
- The burden of chronic stress leads to many behaviors we want to avoid in the first place like smoking, lack of sleep, eating too much, and drinking alcohol. 17
- Incorporate ways into your life that work to decrease your stress. This could mean meditation, reading, exercise, or spending time with those you love. Just do whatever works best for you.
- Household cleaners
- All non-natural household cleaners are full of a wide range of chemicals. Just grab a bottle of one of your cleaners you might have sitting at home. You maybe shocked at the list of ingredients in just a simple window cleaner.
- Excess fatty tissue
- Losing weight does more than just help you look and feel your best, it also helps your body release toxins. That’s because fatty tissue stores toxins in your body.18
- Fat loss equals toxin reduction.
- Constipation leads to the recirculation of toxins in your body. This increases your risk for chronic disease, even cancer and heavy metal poisoning.19
Lower Chronic Inflammation with Ancestral Wisdom
Inflammation is at an all-time high. Sticking to an ancestral lifestyle lowers your risk of inflammation which is associated with a laundry list of health disorders. It’s often said that inflammation is the root cause of almost all chronic conditions. Inflammation is the result of your body trying to remove a foreign contaminant and it’s also a sign your body is trying to heal itself. It’s when inflammation becomes chronic that you have a real problem on your hands.
Some conditions that are associated with chronic inflammation include:20
- Chronic peptic ulcer
- Crohn's disease
Luckily, there are ways to incorporate a Native Lifestyle into your life that will drastically lower inflammation in your body. Some of these include:
- Taking a turmeric supplement to decrease inflammation and even decrease joint pain.21 NativePath Turmeric delivers maximum bioavailability and absorption.
- Exercise regularly to reduce inflammation. Even just 20 minutes a day is proven effective.22 If you need some exercise inspiration, check out the movement area of our blog. There we have different exercises and stretches to tone and define your body.
- Practicing ancestral eating as part of a Native Lifestyle.
- Omega-3 oils are proven to reduce inflammation. NativePath Antarctic Krill Oil contains powerful anti-inflammatory agents to help you on your path to health.
- Keep a healthy gut by eating a diet rich in probiotics or take a daily probiotic like NativePath Probiotic to keep a healthy balance of gut microbiota.
- Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and able to detoxify.
- Spend time building relationships with others that leave you feeling happy, fulfilled, and cared for. This will help to decrease both inflammation and stress.
What Can I Do to Begin Living a Lifestyle Native to My Ancestors?
Here’s a quick list to summarize what we’ve discussed, as well as get you kick-started on your path to living a Native lifestyle based upon how your specific ancestors lived:
- Take the native body type quiz to begin to understand what foods are right for your specific body.
- Begin a 30-day reset to kickstart your new healthy lifestyle. The NativeBody Reset is personalized to you and also helps to maintain your metabolism and restore energy.
- Aim to exercise five to six times a week for at least 20 minutes. Walking is a great start for beginning a daily fitness routine.
- Keep a healthy gut by minimizing toxic, processed foods and eating a variety of whole foods in their natural form.
- Minimize stress by taking time to unplug from electronic devices, enjoying time outdoors, or reading a good book.
- Get outside barefoot to have direct contact with the ground. Our ancestors were often if not always, directly exposed to the ground. This helps to improve sleep and decrease pain by reconnecting with the Earth’s electrons.23
- Reduce the toxins you’re exposed to in your environment as much as you can.
- Take steps to reduce inflammation and avoid inflammatory agents.
- Get good quality sleep and aim for seven to nine hours when possible.
The Secret to Vibrant Health Lies in Our Ancestors
Unlocking the most vibrant, best version of you lies in those who’ve gone before. Those who didn’t eat convenience foods, but ate real foods in their whole form. Those that exercised by walking, hunting, and foraging. Because our ancestors didn’t spend time filling up on fatty, preservative-laden foods, they were lean and fit.
The longer we ignore our poor nutritional habits as the leading cause of our health problems, unhappiness, obesity, and mental health problems, the more people we’re going to continue to see live their lives captive in their own declining bodies. And very sadly, not living as long as they could.24
But you have the power to change this! It can seem daunting at first to get started on a new lifestyle path, but the rewards will just keep on coming. Maximize your nutrition, minimize toxicity, and incorporate healthy lifestyle habits like forming healthy relationships and exercise. Take a look at our NativeBody Reset to get you started.
Here you’ll find a 30-day reset program which includes nutritional plans, exercise plans, and most of all, a community of people ready to cheer you on. It’s clear your hard work will only be elevated by doing it with others, together. You aren’t alone in your search for a fulfilling, abundant life. And you deserve to experience what it’s like to follow a lifestyle that’s fully tailored to your unique biology. Take the quiz today to get started!