Have you ever wondered why you gain weight so easily, and why your body stores fat so easily? It isn’t just your fault or the fault of your parents. And it isn’t just because you have a sweet tooth or eat too much each day.
They say that about sixty per cent of people in the western world are overweight now so you have plenty of company. Is overweight normal? Why is weight gain spreading like an epidemic in our society? Is it a disease? To help you understand how to lose weight you need to understand why your body gains weight. And to do that, you need to think about the distant past when humans lived as nomadic hunters and gatherers.
Weight gain is not a disease
Epidemics are infectious diseases caused by germs spreading from one person to another. Sometimes the germs spread indirectly via something else, such as the water system or an insect. When a large number of people in a community catch an infectious disease we call it an epidemic and say that it is spreading quickly. Some of the most infamous infectious diseases are the common cold, influenza, cholera, tuberculosis and malaria. Obesity isn’t an infectious disease, and it isn’t a true epidemic.
Weight gain is not a disease at all, but it can help many diseases to develop. If you are overweight you increase your chance of developing all sorts of diseases such as arthritis, heart problems, diabetes and even cancer. And it puts a big strain on your muscles, bones and heart, just because of the extra weight load. Try filling up your car boot with something heavy and driving it around. You can feel your car struggling and going slower can’t you? And try walking up a hill with two bags full of oranges slung over your shoulders. You’ll be lucky if you don’t get a strained muscle or two.
Weight gain is a natural process
Weight gain isn’t a disease or an epidemic. Weight gain is really just a natural process in the body. We were designed and built for a very different way of life, one that lasted for a hundred thousand years. And that certainly is not your fault. In those ancient times, people who were skinny and struggled to gain any weight probably had trouble surviving. Many of them would have died when times were tough, leaving the well-rounded to survive. So is it any wonder that there are so many people now who put on weight easily?
Our modern societies have been developing for just a few thousand years. But for one hundred thousand years before that, humans lived as nomadic hunters and gatherers. At first, they did not even have fire, or it was used for warmth in winter and protection from wild animals at night. There was no cordon bleu cooking in those days.
What did early humans eat?
And what did people eat in those ancient times? Let’s picture them somewhere in Europe fifty thousand years ago. They would wander around, gathering everything edible that they could find. There would be fruit, nuts, berries, and some wild grains. At certain times of the year these would be plentiful, but in the colder months they would be hard to find. People would probably also eat a few insects and little edible creatures, but please don’t try that now! Some of those can be extremely toxic to humans.
Occasionally, when people were feeling particularly brave and hungry, they would hunt for meat. That was not easy when all you had for a weapon was a home-made spear or club made of wood. They would also catch fish from the ocean or rivers and streams.
The closest thing to a sweet treat was honey. A volunteer would raid a wild beehive and get quite a few bee stings in the process. If it was that difficult to get a piece of candy today, I wonder how many of us would feed that sweet tooth of ours?
Have you ever seen a cat eating a mouse? The first thing it does, after killing the poor creature, is to bite off its head and then devour the internal organs, including the intestines loaded with half-digested food. People would probably have done the same thing when they caught an animal, which would give them a stomach full of mixed grains. (Apologies for being gory).
Perhaps you are thinking that our early days sound ever-so-slightly idyllic, wandering about in the countryside picking fruits and berries. But there would have been droughts and even fires, when the source of food was drastically reduced. And every year there was near starvation when the long, cold winter came with hardly any food available. How did they manage to survive?
The ability to gain weight was vital for people to survive those difficult months. Luckily, they could eat their fill in summer and gain plenty of weight. Then, when the bad times came and they needed to keep warm and live off their own bodies, they had a nice store of fat. Their weight would increase dramatically and then drop dramatically every single year. Does that sound like a form of yo-yo dieting to you?
We no longer need fat stores to survive a famine
About ten thousand years ago humans began to develop agriculture. They planted grains, fruit and vegetables, raised animals for a ready source of meat and milk and improved their fishing methods. They traded and stored their food, and had access to food all year long. They had to work hard, though, and the food they ate was very rough and unprocessed, so there wasn’t much chance for people to gain a great deal of weight.
One hundred years ago processed foods such as cake mixes, sauces, breakfast cereals, jams and frozen dinners were unavailable. The evening meal, cakes and treats had to be made from scratch. Many people did hard physical jobs every day, so they were able to eat a bit more without getting fat. Poor people would often struggle just to keep their family fed. For everyone, eating at a restaurant was a rare event and candy was only given to children on special occasions.
Today food has never been so readily available to so many people. All those processed foods, which are often high in fat and sugar, fill the supermarket shelves. Nearly everyone eats at restaurants, cafes, all you can eat buffets and fast food restaurants. Some eat at a fast food restaurant every single day. But our bodies have not evolved to cope with this out-of-control over-nutrition. Our bodies want to store all that extra food so that we can survive a few months of starvation. Is it any wonder that so many people are becoming overweight?
Text and Image copyright © 2016 Toni Pike – All Rights Reserved
Toni Pike is the author of The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series – conspiracy thrillers about a secret sect, a deadly Brotherhood and a man on a mission to stop them both.
Book 1 is The Magus Covenant – The secret that will change the world
Book 2 is The Rock of Magus – Code Red in the Vatican
Book 3 is The Magus Epiphany – Ancient treasures and a new revelation
“Pike set out to write a thriller of epic proportions and she knocked it out of the park!”
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