The simians are “the "higher primates" familiar to most people: the Old World monkeys and apes, including humans, and the New World monkeys" (From wikipedia….But I believe this is correct).
Humans are essentially apes. Primates. Animals.
Yes, we are self-aware, complex individuals, but our physiology is that of a bipedal, upright ape. Genetically we are more than 95% identical to chimpanzees and Bonobos.
Put another way: We are more genetically/evolutionarily related to chimps than chimps are related to gorillas! (let that sink in for a moment…)
Knowing this fact, I think we begin to see why many aspects of modern day life cause problems for us. Civilisation has changed our lives at an incredible rate….And mostly for the good! But in many ways, modern life fights against our inner chimp/primate/caveman needs. Evolution cannot keep pace with the rate of civilisational change.
Lets take an example.
When our ancestors came into contact with a threat, maybe a sabre-toothed predator of sorts, they had a massive release of adrenalin and cortisol in a “Fight or flight” response. These hormones would trigger a series of preparatory reactions in the body allowing them to either run away or fight for their very lives!
Muscles tense, ready to react.
Pupils dilate, taking in every little thing around them.
Sweat glands activate to cool the body down.
Breathing and heart rates jump up ready for action.
In the ensuing chase or fight these hormones and their reactions are used up in the body. The physical stress of the chase balances the emotional and mental stress of the hormonal response in the brain. Equilibrium is restored.
The thing is, we still have that mental, autonomic stress response alive and well in our DNA. We experience the same thing in our daily lives. Someone nearly collides with you in traffic. Your boss walks in yelling at you for some mistake. A deal suddenly may fall through. A customer hasn’t paid.
All of these things trigger the same response, our bodies react, ready to spring into action!!!!
…And then we sit in an office chair for 8hrs.
It just doesn’t seem right does it?
This is just one example of how our modern life is in opposition to the conditions we have evolved to expect. There are countless others in our diet, our sleeping patterns, our access to information, play-time etc etc etc. We are fighting our very DNA every step of the way!
When we start to give our body what it needs; what it EXPECTS and what it evolved for, things start changing for the better. Our health problems start to go away. We sleep more and better. Our hunger drops. Our anxiety and depression attenuates. We are calmer, clearer, happier and healthier.
Calm Your Caveman (or woman!)
Going back to the stress response example, I used to say that a workout would calm my “inner caveman”. That’s exactly what it felt like to me, but I never realised how correct I was. After rushing around and working hard mentally all day, dealing with breakdowns and urgent problems at my job, a hard, heavy, almost-want-to-puke workout made everything sink back down to baseline. Nothing felt as overwhelming as it did an hour before. Somehow the workout settled my brain, and gave me perspective to see the day's issues in a new light. Calmly and clearly.
The “Ancestral Health” movement is concerned with changing lifestyles to suit our DNA and restore our health and wellness to make us stronger and more resilient in these stressful modern times. As a Primal Health Coach I am extremely interested in how tweaks, hacks and lifestyle changes can influence our chronic health problems and make day to day life easier and even more fulfilling. The Primal lifestyle revolves around the needs of our evolutionary biology.