It isn’t easy being healthy in the modern world. The way we live now is not the way we evolved to live. Modern man evolved in a stone age world over millions of years, and the past 2000 years since we became neolithic farmers, and then became “civilised” isn’t long enough for our bodies to adapt to all of the changes that brings.
For example, our stone age bodies are not programmed to deal with chronic levels of stress. Paleolithic stress would have been short, sharp and sometimes nasty! Our fight or flight mechanism is designed to divert valuable resources around the body towards getting out of a life or death situation. The body’s adrenal gland secretes the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol which get the blood pumping, the heart racing and bring the mind into a state of high alert. However, chronic levels of stress are pro inflammatory and can be harmful for both your body and your mind, and they can also cause premature ageing of the skin. Having suffered from adrenal stress myself, in this blog I will be exploring ways to naturally reduce stress levels and take the pressure off our adrenal glands including modifications to diet, better sleep strategies and other lifestyle habits such as yoga and meditation.
Another huge change that our stone age bodies struggle to deal with is the change in nutrition. Modern day soils do not contain the high levels of minerals found in the soil before the agricultural revolution, which means that a high percentage of the population is deficient in essential minerals such as magnesium, as well as trace minerals. These play important roles in the body. Hybridisation of plants have changed the nutritional composition of them. Apples are much larger and sweeter than found in the wild, where they would have resembled a crab apple. Many people find ancient wheat such as spelt and kamut easier to digest than modern wheat, which has been cross bred to make it easier to grow and harvest, but which has modified the proteins. Our modern diet contains a much higher proportion of carbohydrate and a lower level of fibre and fat, which in turn nourishes different bacteria in our biome. Our biomes contain a much less diverse population of bacteria than those of indigenous tribes who do not follow a Western diet. Scientists are only now beginning to understand quite how important our biome is to our health. I have spent many years experimenting with different nutritional strategies to optimise my health and my skin. Look out for my future blog series on Nutrition for Healthy Skin.
Foreign chemicals found in pollution, in pesticides, food preservatives and additives, and even contaminants found in modern materials such as plastics are foreign to our body and it does not know what to do with them. They cause confusion in the body and can contribute to inflammation and accelerated ageing. Although there is little we can do about the air we breathe, there are some steps we can take to reduce our exposure to foreign chemicals by being careful about what we eat, what we put onto our skin and our lifestyle habits, and also there are ways we can help our bodies detoxify chemicals by supporting our liver, which I will explore and share with you.
Our bodies evolved in rhythm with the daily cycles of light and dark, called our circadian rhythm as well as the longer cycles of the seasons. Modern living can disrupt our natural biorhythms because we no longer rely on the sun for our light source. We spend time indoors in the morning, which means we do not get a strong dose of UV light necessary to balance our circadian rhythm, and then we expose ourselves to blue light in the evening which inhibits the production of melatonin, which is a sleep hormone responsible for helping us to get to sleep and stay asleep. This means we are sleeping for fewer hours than is healthy and many people suffer from insomnia (myself included). I have experimented with several ways to improve my own insomnia which I will share with you.
I hope what I have learnt is helpful and it empowers you to make positive changes in your own life towards better health and better skin. I look forward to sharing my modern living strategies with you in this blog.