Our current modern western lifestyle is the result of three successive innovation waves that drastically changed the set of stimuli applied to our bodies:
- Farming: the invention of early farming some 40,000 years ago until it spread widely about 10,000 years ago resulted in changes in terms of nutritional stimuli or course, but also physical (less walking and movement variety, more sedentariness and repetitive moves) and environmental (population exploded, group sizes drastically increased, infectious diseases became common and harder to cope with).
- Industrial revolution: harnessing the power of electricity and fossil fuel cut down the need to use physical energy for a large part of movements (cars, trains, etc.). Machines assisted in all tasks to decrease the need for physical expenditures for humans. Impact on nutritional stimuli as well: modern farming practices resulted in a food production that bears very little resemblance to a hunter/gatherer diet but even to our early-farming ancestors diet (agressive species selection for highest yields but not necessarily nutrition, pesticides use, preservation and food processing techniques using artificial ingredients, etc.). Environmental stimuli also changed of course: soil and air pollution, urban setting, etc.
- Cultural revolution: the wave of cultural innovation unleashed from the 20th century and spreading on top of the changes brought about by the Farming and Industrial waves. Most important here is the apparition of modern medicine and the information revolution. The information revolution in particular enabled a drastic acceleration in innovation with the farming and industrial sectors, which resulted in something that even 100 years ago did not exist: energy abundance.
Our standard western lifestyle is characterize by these physical stimuli:
- high to very high degree of sedentariness: the tendency in our society is to tend towards the elimination of all physical expenditures. Transport is mechanically assisted whenever possible (cars, trains, planes, etc.).
- diminishing occasions to move: smaller movements are outsourced as well. Washing machines, dishwashers, all your kitchen apparatus are designed to assist you in minimizing movement. You push a button without moving to turn on your lights. You don’t carry your groceries but push them on a mechanical device, etc.
- staying immobile for long periods of time is the norm, whether it is laying on the couch, bed, sitting in your car, train, office chair, etc. Standing all day at a desk is still being immobile for the day.
- sitting in chairs is the norm: completely unnatural for the body and done for extended periods every day.
- walking is avoided when possible
- close to no hanging, jumping and running for most people
- close to no feet stimulation for most people due to protective footwear
- when physical activity is practiced it is mainly done for specialized sports, in specific, artificial and standard settings, as well as time bound. We go for a run in the park, but we go to the park and come back in car to sit at home.
Sadly, if the Physical stimuli of our age are a departure from the evolutionary ones, the Nutritional stimuli are even worse.
- standard diet is mostly made up of processed foods
- artificial ingredients are routinely used in food processing: these ingredients are foreign elements for our bodies
- pesticides are present in the vast majority of our food production
- carbohydrates and fats are available in abundance for the first time in our evolution and our bodies crave them because they were so rare before that it was a positive adaptation for us to gorge on them the rare times they were in abundance
Last but not least, Environmental stimuli also changed for the worse:
- we are now subject to pollutions of all sorts, that each add their load to the detoxification processes of our bodies: air, ground and food pollutants of course, but also artificial lightning, artificial electromagnetic fields, etc.
- we use footwear that has no biological rationale and deform our feet, solely for cultural reasons (conventions, fashion, etc.)
- sleep deprivation is the norm in the western world
- chronic stress is also acutely increasing
- our environment makes poor posture the norm due to our prolonged sitting positions and technology interactions (keyboards, phones)