Ask a hundred people what “health” means and you’ll likely get just that amount of different responses. I see it as an active lifestyle that empowers us to do anything we want to do. In the long run, I believe that the choices we make have a direct impact on our physical, mental, and emotional decisions, habits, behaviors, and lifestyles.
Natural health begins with an understanding that the human species has been alive and kickin’ for many millennia before you or I were born. Our ancestors somehow managed to climb to the top of the food chain without fast food, a suburban supermarket, the corner pharmacy, those shake-weight things you see on TV, or any other modern-day company that runs ad campaigns implying you need to buy their product to survive. Instead, our species relied on an active lifestyle fueled by natural foods that allowed them to not just survive, but thrive in conditions that no modern-day housing standards would approve of. Cheers to you, cavemen and woolly-mammoth-chasing nomads!
The basics of natural health are rooted in a minimalist-inspired natural diet combined with natural human activity.
Let’s discuss the natural diet. Basically, if you can read the label of your food and clearly visualize in your mind what each ingredient is, you’re likely doing OK (unless you’re a chemist–then you don’t count!). If you’re struggling even pronouncing most of the words, then its time to re-think your diet. Our ancestors ate only berries, meat, fish, plants, and all that other stuff that goes bad after three days in the fridge (how inconvenient!); and that diet gave them plenty of energy to keep hunting down ferocious beasts (no, not that scary spider hiding in your pantry), walk countless miles to forage for plants, and even have a little extra energy left over at the end of a day’s work to make your great-great-great (x25) grandparents. Therefore, I’m more than confident that same diet will provide the modern human with enough energy to sit behind a desk tapping away at a keyboard for eight hours before commuting to the grocery store to grab some greens and fish for dinner.
Unfortunately for us, we can’t trust our food like our ancestors once did. They looked at a blueberry and ate it knowing it would be great for their bodies, minds, and spirits. We look at a blueberry and have to think: is this thing coated in pesticides and preservatives, was it handled properly by clean hands and/or machines, and was it grown by seeds and soil that didn’t contain something unnatural that could cause the berry to be contaminated? That’s a lot of things to think about! No wonder we don’t just go around buying any random blueberry box we find on the store shelves. Oh, wait–most of us do!
What if I told you that your blueberries were grown in an old industrial park where the soil still contains industrial waste runoff, and the farmer used pesticides to produce a higher crop yield, then the berries were handpicked by someone with an open wound on their hands, and then they were dumped into a large vat to be trucked to the processing center, but that vat hadn’t been cleaned since last harvest season a year ago, and at the processing center the plastic box was sprayed with a preservative coating to reduce mold on the moist berries ensuring they last longer on the stores’ shelves? Would you believe me? Well unless you’re buying certified organic it’s likely that most of these things happened, and even if you are buying organic its likely at least some of these events happened. Suddenly buying those berries doesn’t sound so appetizing. Well, my preference is still on the berries over those hot dogs.
Let’s take the following two ingredient labels from bread purchased at the local bakery:
Bread 1: whole grain wheat flour, water, raisins, cane syrup, honey, cinnamon, sunflower oil, soy, yeast, white distilled vinegar, sea salt, wheat gluten, wheat enzymes, ascorbic acid.
Bread 2: unbleached flour, water, rye flour, rye meal, yeast, sugar, caraway seeds, wheat gluten, salt, sugar, spice, acetic acid, lactic acid, dough conditioner (vegetable calcium stearoyl-2-lactylate), vegetable shortening (partially hydrogenated soybeen, cottonseed, and/or canola oil), diacetyl tartaric acid ester or monodiclycerides (datem), monoglyceries, ascorbic acid, potassium iodate, enzyme L, cysteine, inert excipients, caramel color, fungad enzymes, wheat starch, sodium stearyl, lactylate calcium sulfate, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamin ononitrate, riboflavin folic acid. (ps…spellcheck is yelling at me here.)
Which one do you want to be putting into your body, and fueling your life. Geez, no wonder I can’t focus on work and don’t have the energy at the end of the day to do my evening run after consuming all those chemicals in bread 2! And we’re just talking about bread…imagine what’s in that piece of cake that’s been shrink-wrapped in plastic for the last 6 months on the shelves at the gas station, or that bag of potato chips covered in tasty powder flavoring, or that pizza that’s been in the freezer for the last year.
I know the more scientific readers of this site will question my lack of academic studies here, but stick with me. Our ancestors ate plant food that came from unpolluted ground, via natural seeds, which was picked by their own hands, and was usually consumed that day. They hunted animals and fished the waters for meat which lived and ate a natural diet, and the hunters/fishermen usually ate the meat fresh, or preserved it in natural ways. Today we live in a society where the norm tends toward chemically-preserved or altered food, and this simply isn’t natural. Regardless of scientific data supporting whether these chemicals are good or bad, it is definitely a dramatic shift from the way our ancestors have fueled their lives for thousands of years, and its ramifications will only be known by the test of time. The one fact we do know is today, more than ever, we have a higher percentage of morbidly obese people, and more people than ever are suffering a less-than-optimal life as a result of poor diet choices. As for the minmylife community–we’re devoted to keeping with the time-tested diet of our ancestors, eating only natural foods.
OK, let’s move onto natural human activity as it contributes to a minimalistic naturally-healthy lifestyle. Our ancestors didn’t do Cross Fit for three hours each day, they didn’t run ultra-marathons, and they didn’t pump iron at the gym twice a day drinking pre-workout and protein shakes. On the flipside, they also didn’t sit at a desk staring at a computer screen, they didn’t commute to work in their comfy new SUV, and they didn’t hop across continents overnight at 35,000 feet while sleeping in a first-class reclining bed (OK–I don’t do that either!).
The point is, there are two extremes and both are not natural. What was natural to our ancestors was jumping over fallen trees, swimming across flowing rivers, sprinting across an open field to spear a deer, and lifting tree branches to gather wood for a fire. They also suffered through cold winter windstorms, burning sunny days, and long rainy nights. Their bodies grew hardened and they challenged their minds to devise shelter, tools, and community events to increase their quality of life. In general they slept deeply each night knowing they earned rest, and would need the energy to survive again the next day. That is an active natural lifestyle.
Now ask yourself: How does the modern-day person measure up to that standard? Arguably, up until a few centuries ago, most people were still living on the “natural” end of the spectrum, and even today there are many millions who do live like that. Some of us were lucky enough to be raised in families that worked manual labor jobs and understood that physical, mental, and emotional health was tied to an active lifestyle that challenged our minds, bodies, and souls and ultimately made us better people. Some people did not grow up in this environment. You can’t change how you were raised, but you can ask yourself: What can I do to emulate our ancestors?
Now I won’t totally disown the Cross Fit community here–most of their workout motions are based on a dynamic and ever-changing mantra of physical exertion. I also won’t diss the runners (I’m one myself!) that plod down the city streets mile after mile looking to burn a few calories, or the gym rats (I too love the pump after a good lift). What I am saying is that in today’s society its easy to forget about mixing up a daily physical routine to include using all your muscles (including those tiny supporting muscles), improving your flexibility, increasing your mental fortitude, being active even when the weather seems terrible, and generally just pushing the boundaries physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The minmylife community whole-heartedly believes natural health is rooted in minimalistic natural eating and natural activity. We believe that emulating our ancestors’ habits in these areas will contribute to a healthier life today with a higher quality of life in the future, Second-order effects of this natural lifestyle include less stress, higher mental fortitude, deeper relationships, less medical expenses in the future, freedom to tackle nearly any physical challenge that comes our way, and higher levels of vitality. We now invite you to continue the minmylife journey by clicking on the links below.