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5 Paleo Experiences to Let The Good Times Roll

By Stephanie Vuolo, B.A.
May 19, 2015
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Wouldn't you enjoy taking it easy once in awhile? Our fast-paced, adrenalized modern lifestyle is mismatched with our Stone Age genes.1 Eating and moving like a hunter-gatherer are fundamental changes to support our physiology. However, there are additional ways to optimize our gene expression2 and mitigate the ill effects on constantly being on the go in modern times.

Spring and summer are the perfect time to embrace these ideals. Remember what it felt like when you were a child? For me it was sleeping late, spending all day outdoors barefoot, coming home covered in dirt, and enjoying endless amounts of juicy watermelon and tomatoes. Return to simpler times and engage in new experiences to fully support your Paleo diet lifestyle.

1. FORAGE FOR FOOD

It’s the ideal time of year to focus on gathering seasonally available and locally sourced foods. Steer clear of plastic wrapped produce that has traveled for days after harvest and seek opportunities to reconnect with food production. Gather your Paleo bounty from a local farmers’ market, your own garden, or via foraging for edibles. Once you experience a fresh salad harvested from your land (or even a planting container) and taste sun-kissed tart berries you’ll understand the difference.3

2. SLEEP UNDER THE STARS

Chances are the last thing you do each night is watch TV, check email, or use an app on your phone. Blue-blocking glasses might help reduce some of the exposures to modern lights, but don’t reduce the impact of always being connected to technology. Literally unplug from unnatural light sources and camp out this summer, even if you only go as far as your own backyard. You'll notice an overall improvement to your sleep patterns, as just one week of being exposed only to natural light synchronizes the internal circadian clock to match solar time.4

3. GO BAREFOOT

Do you love your Manolos as much as I do? Sadly, high heels and “sensible” footwear cause more harm than good.5 Research supports that we have evolved to run barefoot, 6 to feel the ground when moving,7 and our feet function best, even while standing, when barefoot.8 It might be too dangerous to walk around urban areas without shoes. However, you can minimize the amount of time you are in shoes each day. Rest your bare feet in the grass at a park or adopt the Hawaiian tradition (brought by Japanese immigrants) of removing your shoes before you enter a home.

4. CONNECT WITH YOUR TRIBE

Our success as a species has been derived from social structures based on networks, culture and cooperation.9 Hunter-gatherers formed complex social networks out of necessity to trade food resources and other goods,10 to provide social ties, and also to connect marriage partners.11 We have evolved, to the detriment of the quality of our relationships,12 to connect via technology rather than around the campfire.13 Make a plan to meet friends in person for a hike, a game of Frisbee, or a barbecue with your favorite Paleo recipes.

5. SLOW DOWN YOUR PACE

Compared to hunter-gathers, who were able to rest for long periods and recover from stressful situations like being chased by a lion, modern man is under chronic stress. The toxic effects of exposure to both physical and psychological stress can lead to many health problems, such as immune suppression, increases in coronary heart disease, and accelerates the aging process. 14,15,16,17The longer, sunnier days of summer provide the perfect opportunity to relax. Take naps, read in a hammock, and seek out activities that give you pleasure.

Tell us, what changes will you make this summer to connect with your Paleo diet lifestyle?


REFERENCES

[1] Riggs, Jack E. "Stone-age genes and modern lifestyle: evolutionary mismatch or differential survival bias." Journal of clinical epidemiology 46.11 (1993): 1289-1291.

[2] O'Keefe, James H., et al. "Exercise like a hunter-gatherer: a prescription for organic physical fitness." Progress in cardiovascular diseases 53.6 (2011): 471-479.

[3] Heim, Stephanie, et al. "Can a community-based intervention improve the home food environment? Parental perspectives of the influence of the delicious and nutritious garden." Journal of nutrition education and behavior 43.2 (2011): 130-134.

[4] Wright, Kenneth P., et al. "Entrainment of the human circadian clock to the natural light-dark cycle." Current Biology 23.16 (2013): 1554-1558.

[5] Menz, Hylton B., and Meg E. Morris. "Footwear characteristics and foot problems in older people." Gerontology 51.5 (2004): 346-351.

[6] Lieberman, Daniel E. "What we can learn about running from barefoot running: an evolutionary medical perspective." Exercise and sport sciences reviews 40.2 (2012): 63-72.

[7] Nigg, Benno. "Biomechanical considerations on barefoot movement and barefoot shoe concepts." Footwear Science 1.2 (2009): 73-79.

[8] Cavanagh, Peter R., and Mary M. Rodgers. "Pressure distribution under symptom-free feet during barefoot standing." Foot & Ankle International 7.5 (1987): 262-278.

[9] Hill, Kim R., et al. "Co-residence patterns in hunter-gatherer societies show unique human social structure." Science 331.6022 (2011): 1286-1289

[10] Hamilton, Marcus J., et al. "The complex structure of hunter–gatherer social networks." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 274.1622 (2007): 2195-2203

[11] Stewart, J. H. 1938 Basin-plateau aboriginal sociopolitical groups. Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin. Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press.

[12] Cummings, Jonathon N., Brian Butler, and Robert Kraut. "The quality of online social relationships." Communications of the ACM 45.7 (2002): 103-108.

[13] Chou, Hui-Tzu Grace, and Nicholas Edge. "“They are happier and having better lives than I am”: the impact of using Facebook on perceptions of others' lives."Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 15.2 (2012): 117-121.

[14] Levine, Robert V., et al. "The Type A city: Coronary heart disease and the pace of life." Journal of behavioral medicine 12.6 (1989): 509-524.

[15] Levine, Robert V., and Ara Norenzayan. "The pace of life in 31 countries."Journal of cross-cultural psychology 30.2 (1999): 178-205.

[16] Cleland, Verity, et al. "A prospective examination of children's time spent outdoors, objectively measured physical activity and overweight." International journal of obesity 32.11 (2008): 1685-1693.

[17] Simon, Naomi M., et al. "Telomere shortening and mood disorders: preliminary support for a chronic stress model of accelerated aging." Biological psychiatry60.5 (2006): 432-435.

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