Face It! Evolution Is Smarter Than You!

F.E.I.S.T.Y

Face it! Evolution is Smarter Than You

It’s time to get F.E.I.S.T.Y. by recognizing that evolution can help you be healthier, smarter, happier, and more successful if you just align with it. Leslie Orgel, an evolutionary biologist, observed that the products of evolution are ingenious. The whole planet is full of innovative inventions that are a genetic response to evolutionary pressure. Mice and deer have very large ears, the better to hear a predator approaching. Genius! Geckos have a removable tail. The tail resembles their head, so if a predator bites it, the tail falls off and they grow a new one. Clever! You, Homo sapiens, are always adapting and responding to your environment. Adaptations can help you or hinder you. Disease is an adaptation. Muscles are an adaptation. Obesity is an adaptation. Creative thinking is an adaptation. The epidemic of Myopia is an adaptation to a lack of sun. What environment are you adapted to? Don’t like your results? Then F.E.I.S.T.Y. and adjust your environment and behavior.

None of us are smarter than evolution. We are a product of evolution.

So what are humans adapted to? Moving, running, climbing, thinking, socializing, eating cooked food, difficulty, evading predators, solving complex problems, working together, and living in diverse environments. For starters. Think we’re going to outsmart evolution during our very short lifetime with the un-evolutionary habit of sitting in a chair upwards of 10 hours a day? How about spending 23 out of 24 hours a day inside? Being too isolated? Or never facing any real physical danger (i.e. why people love that damn Spartan Race)?

We weren’t built for the world we’ve recently created; it’s an evolutionary mismatch. The core of this Mixed Mental Arts (MMA) task is humility. This is the ‘bowing before the master’ belt of MMA. Here is an example:

Nature designed the amazing and ingenious Wolf. We designed the Pug (they are cute in that ugly way). #humility

We, like all animals, have specific and unique talents. How did we get so complicated, interesting and amazing? For instance, we are bad-ass long-distance runners. Maybe better than all other animals on the planet. We also have (probably) the highest social intelligence of any animal. Our long-distance eyesight only pales in comparison to birds of prey – but it’s still pretty boss.

And how did we get these gainz? Millions of years of evolutionary pressure. Drug-resistant bacteria are a result of this kind pressure. Not all bacteria survived the exposure to antibiotics, but the bacteria that did survive the attack by man-made drugs went on to reproduce and now we have nasty things like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). This is great for the bacteria, not necessarily for us. We are great runners because we had to move over long distances to outwit other animals, escape danger or migrate. Now let’s talk real gainz. 

What the Governator said above acknowledges that evolution is the bad-ass boss. Without the extreme pressure of his chosen activity – bodybuilding – Arnold knew he could never be Mr. Universe. But he wanted to be Mr. Universe, so he leveraged an evolutionary fact: If you are a male Homo sapiens and you lift heavy things (over and over and over again) and you increase the weight of these things over time, your body will respond to that pressure by creating more muscle so you can accomplish your task with success. Arnold bowed before the master that is evolution and created the right environment (heavy lifting, the right food for muscle-building and probably some steroids) that would force his body to adapt to that environment, with the resulting strength and look. He wasn’t reshaping his body, he was reshaping the environment and letting evolution work. Like Jon Aguilar did as a young man when he used Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding to achieve this: 

You can like it. You can not like it. But you might as well:

Face it!

Evolution

Is

Smarter

Than

You

What does that spell? F.E.I.S.T.Y. Evolution is the boss, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be feisty. By challenging yourself, you will force yourself to evolve into whatever challenge you set. It’s the beauty of humans; we are very, very adaptable. Challenges can be physical, they can be intellectual or societal. Whatever the challenge, the raw power of evolution will help make your goals a reality. Clearly, it is pressure and challenge that trigger positive changes, not complacency, inactivity or even abundance.

Let’s look at sitting. Yes, just sitting. We have, quite suddenly, become a species of sitters. And it’s not F.E.I.S.T.Y at all. Sadly, us modernites spend approximately half our time sitting. All that time on our asses increases our risk of death significantly. Why? We didn’t evolve to sit around! We are uniquely human as a result of intense natural pressures, not from having an easy, comfy life. We got here through hard physical work, responding to incredible challenges (predators, natural catastrophes) and lots of movement. So just because we can suddenly can sit all day, doesn’t mean we should.

What about getting out in the sun? Humans evolved to not only tolerate the sun, but to need exposure to the sun. Yes, despite all the sunscreen marketing you’ve been exposed to, we need the sun. This is how we create vitamin D and this is an absolute for human health. Your brain soaks up sunlight through the skull, your eyes soak up natural light and your skin senses light and produces vitamin D. Vitamin D is critical for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, sustains our bones and teeth and helps protect us from cancer, diabetes, heart disease and MS. We even happen to be fairly hairless, so we can soak up even more of the sun’s light!

So what happens when humans spend 23 of 24 hours inside buildings, away from direct sunlight? You probably already guessed that it leads to disease. One interesting connection is nearsightedness (myopia), which has become a common, serious modern problem. Exposure to bright, full-spectrum light helps the eyeballs stay round and this protects our excellent human eyesight.

But it isn’t just the lack of natural light, it’s overexposure to the blue-light spectrum emanating from our ubiquitous screens. Exposure to this narrow spectrum of light at all the wrong times creates some real problems for us.

Why? We simply have not evolved to this brand-new behavior that has shifted our biological functions so dramatically. Not so far in our past, nighttime was completely dark. We evolved hand-in-hand with this darkness to function at our absolute best by being exposed to bright light during the day and blackety-blackness at night.

Sorry, but you are not going to win an argument with evolution. Not in your lifetime, anyway. Circadian rhythm is critical to your body – all systems are affected by the natural cycles of night and day. It’s the main reason night-shift workers face serious health problems due to the disruption of normal biological cycles (humans, despite what teenagers claim, are not nocturnal).

You are always adapting to an environment. Adaptations can help or hinder you. Disease is an adaptation too. What environment are you adapted to? Don’t like your results? Get F.E.I.S.T.Y.

 

Nerd follow-up:

Sitting – http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/much-sitting-linked-heart-disease-diabetes-premature-death-201501227618

Too much time inside – https://snowbrains.com/brain-post-much-time-average-american-spend-outdoors/

Amazing runners –  http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2012/06/long_distance_running_and_evolution_why_humans_can_outrun_horses_but_can_t_jump_higher_than_cats_.html

Eyeballs –

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/sifter/nearsightedness-caused-too-much-time-indoors

Night-shift workers –

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/shift-work#1

Disease –

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/2010/07/disease-as-a-byproduct-of-adaptation/#.WW5e5NPyvVo

Genes –

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/ingenious-genes

The Evolutionary Advantage of Brain Disorders –

http://www.cracked.com/article_20905_5-brain-disorders-that-started-as-evolutionary-advantages.html

 

Jenni is an Ancestral Brain Health & Performance Coach. Jenni coaches people - brain-injured teens to high-performance athletes - so they can be healthier, happier, smarter & more effective. She has a book coming out in 2018!

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