Sunday 21 August 2011

WWGD - What Would Grok Do?

The blackberries are just starting to ripen. My walk with the dogs now includes bringing a bucket and, as Marcus observed,  gear fit for the zombie apocalypse. The fire ants are horrible this year so I've had to resort to close fitting pants over boots with the cuffs taped to the boots to prevent stings. The berries are gorgeous however, so I'm not going to let the ants or the brambles stand in my way.

Blackberry season makes me feel like gathering and preserving like no other time of year. I find myself quite introspective on the walks back to the car, thinking about what it was like for our early ancestors and wondering about this sort of soundless, unconscious urge to gather and store food.

Perhaps because of me noticing this urge in myself, I think about what moves us as humans. Not as modern societal human, but what moves us instinctively. Or maybe it's the reverse. Maybe because I increasingly think about how humans "should" eat and move, like how we did when we were hunting and gathering to live, then I'm more aware of these urges within myself. It makes me think about how we really are creatures of our ancestral environment even though we feel so far removed from it now.

For example, I find it fascinating that fructose (the sugar found in fruits and berries) interferes in several ways with leptin (a satiety hormone) and also with insulin. This means that eating fructose means we don't feel as full as fast, so we eat more and gain body fat. Berries and fruits in the wild often ripen in late summer and early fall. As they ripen, the sugar (fructose) content rises and makes them more delicious to eat. It makes sense that we developed this response to fructose as it would trigger us to put on fat in preparation for colder temperatures and reduced food supplies. Developing a response to available fructose would have been a great design for ancestral humans, especially those in temperate climates.

The problem is that modern fruits and berries are bred to be much sweeter than they were in the wild, and they are available all year 'round. If the theory holds true, then by eating large amounts of fruit, we are basically continually telling our bodies that winter is coming and we need to get fat. Just another contributor to the prevalence of obesity we see these days.

There are many more examples like this, and as I mull on them during my walks, my thinking always comes back to: "What would Grok do?" What would our ancestors have had available, how would they have gotten it, how much would have been available and what would the nutritional content have been? For me, I find this is a great guide as to how I should eat, exercise and even sleep (although sleeping like Grok really isn't possible with a real world work schedule, at least not yet).

Maybe fructose is one of many subtle signals, along with shortening day length, changing quality of light and warmth of the sun, which triggers me to gather and put aside food for the coming winter. Whatever it is, I know that friends and family are happy with my little urges, as they benefit with jars of jelly and jam, perhaps tarter than they are used to, but delicious none the less.

Anyone else get the urge to preserve this time of year? Any other paleo or primals notice this effect? Please share!

If you want to know more about primal living, or ancestral philosophy of eating and living (some people also call it the caveman diet), Mark Sisson of Mark's Daily Apple wrote a great book called The Primal Blueprint. Pick it up  for a compelling overview of how to combine evolutionary biology with modern living. Then perhaps, like me, you will give it a try and be prone to fits of philosophical musings. Oh, and also feel better than you ever have before.

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