The body composition specialist

The Ancestral Diet – Our Path Back to Nature

Do you ever feel like something’s just not quite right with the way we eat today? Fast food is at our fingertips, and shelves are stacked with processed snacks and fruits that look a little too perfect. It’s almost like we’ve wandered a bit too far from our roots. Literally, there’s this growing sense that our modern lifestyle, especially our diet, isn’t exactly what our ancient selves would have chosen for themselves. And it’s not just about waistlines or wanting to fit into those jeans from five years ago. It goes much deeper than that – it’s about how our current way of life doesn’t quite match up with what our genes are wired for.

Imagine this: our ancestors thrived on a diet provided directly by nature, without a fast-food restaurant in sight. Their meals were dictated by the seasons, the environment, and their skills in hunting and gathering. Fast forward to today, and our environment has completely changed in the blink of an evolutionary eye. This mismatch between our genetic makeup and our modern lifestyle, especially our diet, might just be the culprit behind the endless health issues that are plaguing our society. We’re talking about chronic diseases like diabetes, heart conditions, and autoimmune disorders that were virtually unknown to our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

So, what if the secret to realigning our health and wellness lies in looking backward instead of forward? This brings us to the ancestral diet – a way of eating that attempts to mimic the dietary patterns of our Paleolithic ancestors. It’s not just about choosing organic at the grocery store or cutting down on processed foods. It’s a more profound, holistic approach to eating and living with a goal to restore the harmony between our bodies and the environment we were originally designed to thrive in.

Rediscovering Our Roots with the Ancestral Diet

Imagine sitting at a table with your great-great-great-grandparents. You’re explaining to them what a microwave dinner is or how that snack bar you’re eating is considered food. Confusing, right? That’s because the diet we’re accustomed to today is worlds apart from what our ancestors ate. It’s not just about the food itself but how it’s produced, processed, and consumed. This drastic change in diet over a relatively short evolutionary period of time has left our genetics scratching their heads, trying to keep up.

Our bodies are still playing catch-up to a diet that has moved from whole, nutrient-dense foods to one high in processed ingredients, refined sugars, and artificial additives. This disconnect, or genetic mismatch, as scientists call it, is increasingly being linked to the rise in chronic diseases. Diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune conditions – illnesses that were rare among our hunter-gatherer ancestors – are now front and center, affecting millions of people around the globe.

So, what’s the fix? If our current diet is the problem, could the solution lie in the eating habits of our ancestors? The ancestral diet aims to align our eating habits more closely with those that came before us. It’s not about a rigid diet plan or giving up all modern conveniences. Instead, it’s a flexible approach to eating that prioritizes the foods our bodies are genetically designed to thrive on lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. It’s about quality over quantity and whole foods over processed ones.

This isn’t a fad diet or a quick fix. It’s a return to the basics. A return to a way of eating that respects our biological heritage. By doing so, we can minimize, if not outright prevent, many of the health issues that plague our society today. 

But is there evidence to back this up? Yes! Numerous studies have explored the impact of a Paleolithic, or ancestral, diet on modern health issues. One notable study compared the effects of a Paleolithic diet to a Mediterranean diet on glucose control and cardiovascular risk factors. The results? The Paleolithic diet group saw significant improvements in glucose tolerance, a key factor in preventing diabetes, compared to the Mediterranean diet group.

Another review of clinical trials focusing on the ancestral diet found that participants reported not only weight loss but also improvements in blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and lipid profiles without counting calories. This suggests that the type of food we eat may be just as, if not more, important than the amount of food we consume.

Plus, research into modern-day hunter-gatherer societies, who still eat in ways similar to our ancestors, consistently show lower incidences of chronic diseases that affect the rest of the world. These findings provide a compelling case for the ancestral diet as a viable approach to better health and well-being.

Adapting the Ancestral Diet for Today’s World

Our ancestor’s diets varied widely based on geography, climate, and the resources they had available to them, but they all shared a common focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods. Their menu might have included:

  • Meats and Fish: Primarily from wild game and fish, rich in proteins and Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Seasonal and regional, providing vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Nuts and Seeds: A good source of healthy fats, proteins, and other essential nutrients.
  • Tubers: In some regions, roots and sweet potatoes were a primary carbohydrate source.

Bringing these ancient eating principles into our modern lives doesn’t require a time machine. Instead, we just need a more mindful approach when creating our meals. It’s all about choosing fresh over packaged, local over imported, and whole over refined. This shift might mean:

  • Opting for grass-fed beef or wild-caught salmon over their farm-raised counterparts.
  • Filling your shopping cart with leafy greens, berries, and nuts instead of processed snacks and sweets.
  • Cooking more often to control the quality and composition of your meals.

Making the shift to an ancestral diet is less about strict adherence to a specific regimen and more about drawing inspiration from the past to make healthier choices today. Don’t think about it being about perfection; instead,  think of it as progress toward a diet that aligns more closely with our genetic makeup and promises a path to improved health and well-being.

The Benefits of the Ancestral Diet

By mirroring the eating habits of our ancestors, we’re not only paying homage to their lifestyle, we are also getting the opportunity to tap into a rich source of health benefits that modern diets often lack. Here’s how this back-to-nature diet can transform our physical health, mental well-being, and even contribute to a more sustainable and ethically conscious world.

  • Weight Management: Adopting a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods naturally leads to consuming fewer calories without sacrificing on satisfaction. It’s easier to maintain a healthy weight when your meals are based on lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of vegetables.
  • Reducing Inflammation: The ancestral diet is low in sugar and refined carbs, which are often linked to inflammation, a root cause of many chronic diseases. By cutting these out, you can significantly reduce inflammation markers in the body.
  • Minimizing Chronic Diseases: Many studies suggest that following an ancestral diet can lower the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. It improves certain health markers, including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar control.
  • Mood Stability: The balance of nutrients found in the ancestral diet can help to support stable blood sugar levels, which can lead to improved mood and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Cognitive Function: Omega-3 fatty acids from fish, antioxidants from fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats from nuts and seeds are all very important for brain health, potentially improving memory and cognitive function.
  • Sustainable Eating: By emphasizing whole foods, the ancestral diet minimizes our environmental footprint, as these foods require less packaging and processing. Plus, eating grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, and organic produce supports more sustainable farming and fishing practices.

Making the Ancestral Diet Work for You

Why not take the first step on this journey back to nutritional basics? Start with small, manageable swaps—replace those processed snacks with whole fruits and nuts, and choose grass-fed meats over their conventional counterparts. This ancient dietary approach could be the missing puzzle piece in your search for better health and more vitality.

To make this part of your daily life, plan your meals ahead and try out batch cooking to save yourself some time. Purge your pantry of processed items, making room for whole, nutrient-dense foods. At the grocery store, stick to the outer aisles, where fresh produce and proteins live.

So, give it a go. This ancient path to wellness is waiting for you. Embrace it and let the ancestral diet guide you to a life where food is not just sustenance but the ultimate source of your well-being and best health. 

Yours in health,