Diseases We Have That Our Ancestors Didn’t
We have been blessed with some amazing advances in modern technology which has allowed us comfort that was not possible a mere 100 years or so ago. But despite these advances, we suffer from severe chronic and degenerative diseases that were unknown to our recent ancestors.
We are a sick nation, overburdened by conditions such as diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart disease and allergies. Our healthcare system expense hit $3.8 trillion in 2014 — and is still on the rise. Yet we remain 37th out of 190 countries in the effectiveness of our healthcare system. We are plagued with disease, yet we have access to many technological advances that other countries will never be able to imagine, let alone realize.
According to Daniel Lieberman, a professor of Biological Sciences at Harvard University:
The fundamental answer to why so many humans are now getting sick from previously rare illnesses is that many of the body’s features were adaptive in the environments for which we evolved but have become maladaptive in the modern environments we have now created.
Spike In Diseases
This would explain why we have seen such a major spike in degenerative diseases such a Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease and Crohn’s disease. Allergies are more prevalent. Since the industrial revolution, the production and consumption of processed and fast food has skyrocketed, along with a sedentary lifestyle.
It is no longer the norm to grow our own food. Instead, we prefer our drive-through lunches and quick microwaveable dinners. The human body was not created to metabolize high volumes of vegetable oil and sugar — the main ingredients found in our industrial food supply. In addition, we were also not built to live such sedentary lives. Yes, things are very different than they once were.
In 1900, pneumonia was the leading cause of death in America and the life expectancy was only 47. In the early part of the 20th century, doctors were busy treating infectious diseases and inventing drugs to cure pneumonia and tuberculosis. With these advances, people lived longer and – thanks to poor lifestyle choices — began to develop coronary heart disease at startling rates. By the 1930s, heart disease became the leading cause of death.
It was and still is poor lifestyle choices that ultimately result in millions of lives lost each year to heart disease and other lifestyle-related illnesses.
So, while on the one hand, science and technology have allowed us to live longer, “advances” in our food supply and various other “tools” have turned our nation into a “drive-through” people, making us sicker.
We don’t move as much as we used, eat too much, eat the wrong food, and don’t manage stress well. We generally disrespect what God created and declared good. Children are more obese than ever and battling earlier onset of diabetes and other dangerous conditions.
So, what did our ancestors get right?
That is a simple answer: plenty. Here is a short list of what they did that we no longer do:
- Grew their own food
- Cooked with whole foods
- Rarely snacked
- Engaged in physical labor
- Went to bed early
- Got up early
- Ate a traditional diet
- Led a simple life
- Did not have electronics
The answer to a long, healthy and disease-free life rests in how we treat our body. We succumb to lifestyle-related illnesses today because of the lifestyle that we choose to live. Our ancestors had plenty of threats to their health, but they were mostly external threats and things that they had very little control over.
We have the extreme advantage of being able to live in a world with clean water, advanced emergency medical care and access to tools that make our life very easy compared to our ancestors.
How healthy you are depends a great deal on the daily choices that you make. With a new year, now is as good a time as ever to start making the right ones!
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