Wednesday, June 27, 2012


We've all heard of evolution; from life in the ocean to life on land; from life on four legs to life on two; it's a subject whose origin and validity has been observed researched and debated to death.  Taking a simplistic view however, we usually relate the "evolutionary process" to one in which an organism or animal changes over many generations in such a way that this change leads to improvement in one way or another.  Darwin stated that through natural selection life on earth has evolved in such a way that only the most dominant or strongest or beneficial traits needed for survival would be passed on to the next generation, slowly but surely paving the way to modern day animals and fish and humans.

Is this the case however when it comes to the evolution of the human diet?

Sure you can say that the human diet has evolved.  Evolved from one driven by a pure basic natural need for nourishment to an industrialized factory driven diet of overly processed foods replacing the basic dietary needs of the body with chemicals and toxins.  And with this dramatic change in our diets over such a short period of time, evolutionarily speaking, we have also seen the evolution of disease and the toll it has taken on this modern industrialized nutrient starved human race, rendering our society one plagued by obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and chronic inflammatory diseases of every kind.

This however seems to contradict ours simplistic view of evolution.  If humans are the most evolved species on the planet than why have we let our diets take such an unnatural and blatantly detrimental path.  Unless of course this is nature's way of weeding out a specie that has proven to be toxic to both nature and themselves alike.

If this is the case then I say its time for the "De-Evolution" of the human diet!

It is time to replace those chemicals (fillers, preservative, GMO's) with pure natural organic nutrient rich un-fooled-around-with ingredients.  It's time to step off this indiscriminately destructive fast moving industrialized food train that our "highly advanced" society is riding full-steam-ahead and get back on track with the basics of our dietary needs.  It's time to stop exploiting this chauvinistic view that the human race sits alone above all other species as are given right to do as we please in the name of food, regardless of the destruction in our wake, and wise up to the fact that when it comes to our health (life) we are not independent but rather dependent.  The truth is there is something like 10 trillion bacteria making up the human body, which is 10 times the number of individual cells that actually make up the human body.  So biologically speaking, at the cellular level, we are not even the dominant organism when it comes to ourselves!  Maybe if we step back and look at our dietary "evolutionary advancement", we will see that from a health perspective we haven't advanced at all. 

I don't mean we must a revert back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors eating nothing but raw meat from fresh kills, but we can take away something very important from our distant past, and that is our basic primal need for animal protein, animal fat, and fat soluble vitamins.  As a hunter gatherer you ate to survive which meant giving your body what it wants and needs!  Once we lay this crucial dietary foundation consisting of healthy pastured meats in place we can move up the timeline to the advent of agriculture.  Agriculture has been around for approximately 10-12k years, and although a mere blip on our evolutionary timeline, when compared to factory farming and industrialized "pharming" which have only been driving our food industry at this pace since around the time of WWII (barely an evolutionary blink of the eye) we can safely say that there is a place in our diets for organic sustainable farming.  But even here we have to travel back in time to the agricultural beginning when we had only one way to preserve our food, lacto fermentation.  It was this basic natural process, not chemical preservatives or genetically modified organisms or even refrigeration for that matter, that not only kept our food from spoiling but fed our bodies with the healthy bacteria that we need to survive.

Lacto fermented foods have been shown to be far more abundant in strands of  healthy bacteria in a single serving than most over the counter pharmaceutical grade probiotics contain per container.  Add this to the enhanced nutrient content and absence of  most toxins and anti-nutrients compared to non-fermented foods, and you can quickly see why fermented foods are so important to the human diet.  Our gut is our immune system, and when we have an unbalanced unhealthy gut we are easy prey for bad bacteria taking over our bodies.  Without the correct healthy ratio of beneficial bacteria to unhealthy bacteria within our bodies, we begin to suffer from the many chronic diseases and disorders that the modern human diet promotes.

So do your body, and the trillions of bacteria living within that make life possible a favor and help De-Evolve when it comes to your diet.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Barefoot when possible

I have posted about this before, the benefits of going barefoot when possible, and still I feel compelled to reiterate my thoughts, especially when I come across an article such as the one I did today; "Born to run barefoot? Some end up getting injured". 

The gist of the article is about the growing popularity of this "new trend" of running barefoot, and how many are suffering the unexpected consequences (injury).  It talks about how runners are ditching their favorite sneaks for a chance to go unshod, only to find that injury is lurking around the next turn.  Their stories seem to be the same, they lose the shoes, practice barefoot on the grass, and eventually take back to the streets graduating to either barefoot running or running with shoes that mimic barefoot running.  In either case though the stories seem to end the same, with the runner suffering from tiny fractures in the foot.

Before I point out what I feel is the obvious reason for these injuries, I want to once again talk about why I feel so strongly about going barefoot (walking or running) when possible.  For many years I suffered from what the podiatrist called "severe tendonitis" in both my feet, caused by what he claimed was my high arches as well as my overuse (running).  I went down the traditional path of cortisone shots, "better" (more expensive) shoes, and eventually molded orthotics.  I was told that I would most likely never be able to walk let alone run again without using these hard unforgiving man-made torture devices.  So as you can probably guess it wasn't long until I gave up on the traditional rout, and decided to go the more natural road-less- followed.  I purchased my first pair of MBT's or the "anti-shoe" as they call them, and never looked back.  The idea behind the MBT, or "barefoot technology" as they called it at the time, was that the foot was designed to walk over softer uneven surfaces working the muscles (not tendons) allowing the foot to flex, bend, cradle, and do whatever comes naturally; basically to allow the foot to work how the human foot has evolved to work.  This way of thinking says that its today's confining, overly supportive, and highly restrictive shoes that greatly restrict muscle activation and overwork the tendons.  Add that to the flat, hard, man-made surfaces that humans walk on (shod or unshod), and it becomes a little more obvious as to why modern day humans suffer from so many foot injuries.

So to get back to the article at hand, I feel that it's not the "barefoot" aspect of this growing trend amongst runners that is causing these injuries, but rather the surface they are ultimately running on that deserves the blame.  Whether you are running barefoot on the street or sidewalk, or running in the many available verities of running shoes that are designed to mimic barefoot running, you can't escape the fact that the surface below your feet is NOT what we were designed to walk or run on.  Even natural hard surfaces like rock or stone have some sort of curvature to them, some sort of unevenness to them.  Concrete or asphalt on the other hand is flat, minus the pot holes of course, but as far as the foot is concerned there is no curvature or unevenness beneath it for which to cradle.  The foot was designed (evolved) to, believe it or not, cradle the surface below, kind of like your hands would if you were walking on your hands.  Hence the arch in the foot, not to mention the many muscles that make up the foot.  But when we walk on a surface that is perfectly flat, from the foot's perspective, we now have muscles that don't get worked, aches that get week and need support, and tendons that get overworked.  When you consider that along with the fact that these artificial surfaces like concrete or asphalt don't give and therefore magnify every shock wave generated upon impact, right back up where it originated (the foot), and you have an injury waiting to happen. 

So instead of giving up on the whole barefoot approach, be conscience about where and how you are going about it.  When running barefoot, or with sneakers for that matter, do it on a natural surface like the grass or the beach, and when walking on those unforgiving surfaces make sure you are wearing something that mimics "walking on softer, more natural, uneven surfaces" not simply a shoe that "mimics bare feet".

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Circle of Life

This spring has been quite a learning experience for my wife and I in the art of chicken predation prevention.  We've had a fox visit our yard twice and a raccoon once under the cloak of darkness in the wee hours of the morning.  It was a rough couple of weeks with numerous days of interrupted sleep, with each morning beginning the same... waking up to predator screams and chicken calls.  Thankfully though our electric poultry fence held strong, separating predator and prey.  Even a hawk attempt was foiled, which left the score predators 0 in 4 attempts.

That first hawk attempt was magnificent despite its intentions when you consider the power and stealthiness of this formidable raptor.  Somehow though with its intense focus and determination to feed, it failed to see the poultry netting and wound up a tangled mess.  You can imagine our surprise coming home one evening to find a hawk caught up and hanging upside down in the fence.  We held no ill will towards our unwanted guest though, and carefully untangled it and brought it to the bird sanctuary not too far from our house. 

Hawk attempt number two however did not end as well for our flock.  Although the attack was interrupted as my wife ran to the aid of the chickens and their distressed calls, it was not a battle without casualty.  One of our original four birds "Crooked" had made her last stand as she bravely stood alerting the others of the danger.  Or that's how we would like to believe it went down...

Appropriately named, she was one of the original four that we acquired with our coop and was a perfect example of the misguided farming practice of clipping the beaks.  Despite this inhumane practice and handicap, it's amazing how efficient a forager/hunter they still are.

Now we don't make it a habit of naming each member of our flock.  I think of our (human-chicken) relationship more as symbiotic one, each depending on the other for something.  They allow us to keep them contained and eat their eggs, and we offer them our yard and all of the food (worms, bugs, grass, berries...) they can forage and sunlight they can soak up in the process.  I like to believe we give them the best lives they could have as a domesticated farm animal, that is until their time has come to an end even if it's prematurely.

In the end she became food for the very yard she called home, giving back to the earth with interest feeding the countless worms and microorganisms that are so vital to any organic pasture.

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