Many people are under the assumption that we have it better than our ancestors did. While it may be true in some aspects when it comes to health and well-being our grandparents and beyond lived healthier lives than we do now. They had a shorter overall life expectancy than us, but were not sick as often and didn’t have the multitude of diseases we suffer from now. We can definitely improve health and well-being by learning a thing or two from our ancestors. Here are 5 ways that our ancestors were healthier than we are.
5 Ways Our Ancestors Were Healthier Than We Are
1. They Ate Better Food
Our ancestors diets consisted of farm-fresh food throughout their lives. Animals were not fed GMO corn or soy food. They didn’t have the antibiotics that are used today to make animals larger at a younger age. They didn’t have highly processed, sodium filled, glucose-laden, pre-packaged non-foods that provide little to no nutrition. We have really strayed from the healthy ways that our great-grandparents used to eat. Eating food out of boxes, cans and drive-thru windows is the norm for many people which didn’t exist X years ago. These types of foods are associated with heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity. Our ancestors didn’t have the option of processed food and going out to eat was not a common habit. Food was not treated with additives, antibiotics and hormones to help preserve shelf life. Because of this our ancestors ate local, seasonal and fresh food which provided them with the essential nutrients the body needs to function properly. Foods were cooked at home and used traditional methods such as fermenting and canning to preserve food. Nutrition affects EVERY cell in our body. The health of our cells is dependent on diet and lifestyle. Cells create tissues, tissues create organs, and we are made up of a system of organs. If your nutrition is inadequate, the integrity of each cell, tissue and organ in your body will suffer.
What to do: Opt for fresh, local organic ingredients whenever possible. Grass-fed and pastured meats are a healthier alternative over grain-fed animals. Preparing meals at home and avoiding processed and fast food helps to improve overall health and wellbeing. Implementing traditional food preservation methods such as fermenting can be extremely beneficial and help to provide enzymes that help the body to absorb nutrients more efficiently.
2. They Used Herbal Medicine
Our ancestors used herbal methods to cure their ailments long before drug companies started making billions of dollars off of our health. There are many plants and herbs that grow freely in nature that are capable of curing our most common problems. From head colds to headaches, plants and leaves have helped the human race prevent problems for thousands of years. It wasn’t until recently that pharmaceutical companies have started capitalizing on illness and charging money to cure even the smallest of ailments.
What to do: Opting for alternative methods to heal our body such as foods, herbs, essential oils, and ancient medical techniques (acupuncture, yoga, reiki, etc.) is ideal when possible. Modern medicine definitely has its place, but when it comes to common problems there are more natural, cost effective and healthier options for remedies.
3. They Spent More Time Outside
Our ancestors spent more time outside working and getting food. The often spent hours outside farming, gardening, hunting, etc. Because of this they got more regular exercise and more exposure to natural sunlight providing them naturally with vitamin D and other immune boosting properties. Our ancestors were healthier than us because spending time outdoors helps us to de-stress naturally and exposure to vitamin D works to boost mood and heal faster.
What to do: Take time each day to spend some time in nature. Vitamin D is essential in order for our bodies to function properly. Being outside also helps to connect us with ourselves and the world around us. Getting kids outdoors is especially important. Children who experience nature play are happier, healthier and perform better in school.
4. Less Stress!
Our ancestors lived much more simple lives than we do today. They didn’t have the hustle and bustle that we do now and they did not have the constant social pressure that we have today. They worked hard, slept well and typically followed a routine that was free of distractions. They didn’t have fad diets such as calorie counting and ate food as it was available and according to the body’s needs. Because of this their metabolism functioned properly. In addition, they didn’t have the electronic distractions that we do now. While these gadgets were invented to make our lives easier, they have created mental clutter. We are over stressed and over stimulated and that has an impact on overall health and well-being, both physically and emotionally.
What to do: Living simply and mindfully doesn’t have to mean moving to a farm and abandoning all of life’s modern conveniences. It simply means unplugging more and focusing on what is most important. Including yoga and meditation into your regimen is a great way to reduce stress and support the parasympathetic nervous system. There are also many other simple ways to live more mindfully.
5. Exposed to Less Toxins
Toxins are everywhere and can be produced by our own bodies, manmade or naturally occurring. Decades ago our ancestors were not exposed to the amounts of manmade toxins we are today. 6,000 new chemicals are listed each week in the Chemical Society’s Chemical Abstracts, which adds up to more than 300,000 new chemicals each year. These chemicals become dangerous when inhaled, ingested or touched. Repeated exposure to these toxins can lead to hormone imbalance, immune suppression and various health related problems. These toxins can be found in household cleaners, personal products, food, water and air. As the toxins accumulate in our body our liver works in overdrive to detoxify our system and becomes stressed which has an adverse impact on our immune function.
What to do: It is important to minimize as much toxins from our lifestyle as possible. This includes drinking clean water, eating organic food, Grass-fed and pastured meats and eliminating processed foods. This also includes eliminating household products that are toxic such as cleaning products, scented candles and plug-ins, medications and beauty products.
To live a happy and healthy lifestyle it is important to understand how times have changed and what we can do to improve overall health and wellbeing. These 5 changes can make a big impact on making sure our body functions properly!