Caveman Skills Just as Relevant Now as Then

The more we’ve moved humanity indoors, automated our skills away, and gotten our experience of the world filtered and sent to us through screens…

The more we’ve lost touch with some of the vital skills cavemen and prehistoric men learned in order to survive.

We’re only able to tell an automated device to play a song by a famous dead artist, or microwave a burrito, or fly to a different time zone on a moment’s notice, because our ancestors developed the essential skills that were necessary to beat the odds and survive.

Now, our brains and urges haven’t changed all that much.

We still want to have sex. We still get cold and hungry. We still get bored waiting without stimuli. We still instinctively fight to save our young from danger. We still laugh when someone stubs their toe. We still delight in the beauty and awe of nature.

But the world looks different now.

When the human brain isn’t occupied in storing enough grain to get us through the winter or building every family member a bowl for food, we’re able to focus on other things — like paying for gym memberships so we don’t have to run in the cold, or studying surgery so that we can repair someone who would’ve been considered a lost cause 200 years ago.

So it can be pretty easy to forget important lessons from our ancestors.

Like the absolutely essential need to chew our food, living in the circadian rhythm, and spending time barefoot. 

For a caveman, those things meant life or death.

For us? They connect our lives to the eternal, to the grounded, to the essence of humanity.

Chewing Food

You see, our prehistoric ancestors were largely eating raw food — like seeds and nuts — and tough meat. So as we learned to soften our food, we didn’t chew our food as diligently, since we didn’t really have to.

Now we all have smaller jaws and crowded teeth.

But that’s not the reason you need to chew your food like a caveman would…

Chewing your food for longer releases more saliva, which contains digestive enzymes. We’ve said it before, but digestion begins with saliva. The smaller you can break your food down, the easier the stress on the esophagus, and eventually the stomach. Plus, the more digestive enzymes released, the more aid you’re giving to your digestive tract.

When you don’t take the time to chew your food properly, scarfing down food in your car or eating standing up over the sink, you risk:

  • Bacterial overgrowth in the colon from undigested food particles
  • Sending food to the digestive tract without sending it the signal it needs to start producing hydrochloric acid, which then slows down the digestion process
  • And your lower stomach remains tense instead of relaxing before food gets sent to the lower intestines.

You should be chewing your food between 10 and 30 times before swallowing.

Living a Circadian Life

The term “circadian rhythm” simply refers to the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that occur throughout a single daily circle, corresponding primarily to natural light and darkness in a body’s environment.

Put simply?

Waking when the sun comes out. Sleeping when the sun goes down. An area in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus controls our hormone production, heightening output of certain hormones and dampening output of others depending on the time of day. 

For example, a body in touch with the circadian rhythm of the world around it will produce melatonin when the outside light starts to dim. 

A body out of touch won’t get the message, and will therefore have a harder time falling asleep at night.

The closer you’re aligned to your body’s natural circadian rhythm and the timing of your environment, the healthier and more connected you’ll feel. 

Walking Barefoot

This is a tricky one for a lot of people, especially those living in urban environments. But realistically, humans only began wearing shoes 40,000 years ago when we introduced agriculture into tribal groups and labor began to be divided.

We were able to invent tools like sewing needles and to consider our comfort, specifically in terms of warming our feet.

But because we spent almost all of our time with our feet covered, we’ve lost out on some fundamental developments in our bodies…

  • Like our posture, which used to be regulated by managing our own steps and strengthening the muscles in the body that keep the spine erect.
  • Or hitting the reflex points in our feet, which are covered by shoes and can’t be activated when we’re walking around.
  • Or being disconnected from the negative ionic charge of the Earth.

You don’t have to give up your modern creature comforts to get in touch with the way cavemen lived — if they’d had the internet, of course they would have used it.

But the fact is, because they had less, they strengthened and toned what they did have…

And so can we.

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Dr. Pedram Shojai

NY Times Best Selling author and film maker. Taoist Abbot and Qigong master. Husband and dad. I’m here to help you find your way and be healthy and happy. I don’t want to be your guru…just someone who’ll help point the way. If you’re looking for a real person who’s done the work, I’m your guy. I can light the path and walk along it with you but can’t walk for you.