From Famine to Costco
Because much of human history has taken place in time of famine, the body, by necessity has successfully adapted to the stress of inanition. As a result, the organism has learned to survive under conditions of scarcity. We have evolved into extraordinarily high-performing machines with the miraculous ability to travel long distances on a limited supply of fuel – i.e., we get a lot of miles per gallon. In terms of continued existence, this is a good thing, especially in times of deprivation. Interestingly, we oftentimes lament this fact and under-appreciate the very mechanism that has allowed us to survive into these times of great surplus.
Of course, for most of us the modern landscape looks quite different from that of our nearly starving early ancestors. Where once we searched hard for food and hardly found it, today we simply open the fridge and are instantly overwhelmed by the wide array of delectable possibilities. To eat or not to eat - is no longer the question. Our biggest challenge has now become - what to eat. With almost every step we take and in any direction we move, we are relentlessly assaulted by an over abundance of culinary delights, all flirting with our instinctive drive to find nourishment or die.
Ironically, our chances of dying from too much food are now greater than from too little. Although, these days it is not uncommon to find the same person both overfed and undernourished - double trouble. For the first time in human history we are witnessing overweight people who are actually starving. We are programmed to find the most calories with the least effort. In the natural environment, where processed foods never existed, calories came in tandem with nutrients; one led us to the other. In our present environment this is more than likely not the case. Foods have been stripped of their micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals), delivering instead, an inordinate amount of artificially concentrated calories. Hence, more macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) leading to more weight, and less micronutrients leading to less nourishment. Where our ancestors spent more energy acquiring fewer calories and more nutrients, we spend less energy acquiring more calories and fewer nutrients. So as you can see, it is rather easy to become simultaneously fat and malnourished.
For all intents and purposes we live on a movie set. We are so far removed from our original environment that we have lost sight of the natural relationship we hold with it. Once, food served as our sustenance; now, it serves as our entertainment. Once, food was our medicine; now, it is our drug. Once food brought cure; now it brings disease. I am not in favor of going back to loin clothes, grunts and groans; but I am in favor of reconciling the unprecedented extravagance of the modern era with the unparalleled efficiency of the human body.
Reflexes must now give way to more thoughtful defenses. Since we have more mechanisms to keep us eating than from eating, we must stop and think about processes that were heretofore spontaneous. Consequently, living naturally in the modern world can feel quite unnatural. We spend too much time and effort trying to circumvent the inherent wisdom of the body instead of respectfully aligning ourselves with it. The intention, of course, is to overindulge with impunity. Hence, the never ending glut of diets, pills and potions. We have come to expect the fantasized reward without making the real effort.
With each passing year, the rate of human advancement seems to accelerate geometrically. This comes with greater and greater responsibility on our part to balance and rebalance the constantly changing terrain with the immutable laws of life. We should proudly celebrate human excellence and all that it brings. But we should never forget that life comes with inexorable boundaries which must be acknowledged if we are to persevere. Our ability to endure and adapt is awe-inspiring. The tool we employ is our intellect. It gives us our progress, but it must also protect us from it. It has taken us from scarcity to surfeit. Now it must shield us from a world of abundance; a world that is bursting with the fruits of our grandeur; a world that has gone from starvation to obesity and from famine to Costco.
Please Note: Above statements are not written by Health Realizations nor the opinion of Health Realizations