By Dr. Mercola
“Fire is what set us apart. But that fire is on the verge of burning us.”
Living in the modern world is making us sick. That’s the conclusion drawn by Dr. Pedram Shojai, OMD after many years of treating patients for the same lifestyle-induced illnesses, over and over again. This realization inspired him on a four-year mission to produce a film that might help “wake us all up.”
Dr. Shojai partnered with South American filmmaker Mark van Wijk to produce the documentary “Origins,”1 a broad exploration of the intrinsic connection between our health and the vitality of our planet, and how our modern lifestyle is out of synch with our DNA.
The film features 24 great minds in the fields of anthropology, medicine, ecology and health, including David Wolfe, Jeffrey Smith and Sara Gottfried, M.D. Not only is it very informative but also beautifully filmed. “Origins” takes us back to our human roots when we lived as one with the earth.
Plugging Back into the Earth
“The bushman lives his life in nature... the earth, the sun, the wind. This is a wilderness person who respects nature. This is where we make our lives in order to live together with nature.” -!’Aru Ikhuisi Piet Berendse, Bushman and Activist
While we were developing as a species, we lived in tune with the earth, but that connection has been all but lost. Once we plugged into technology, we unplugged from our planet.
Most people feel profoundly different when they leave the city to spend just a few days in nature, gaining an appreciation of just how disengaged they’ve become. This is why grounding is so powerful.
We are besieged by constant messages that in order to be happy, we need more stuff, but in reality, we have only four basic human needs: water, fire, food, and shelter.
The modern world wants to brainwash you into thinking you need much more than that, but in reality, the rest are only “wants.” All of this “stuff” has weakened your relationship with the earth.
The Native Americans were highly attuned to nature. They took care of the earth and it took care of them. They lived symbiotically with the planet instead of as parasites upon it, with reverence rather than disregard.
They would sit in one spot listening to the noises the birds were making, sensing the direction of the wind, atmospheric changes and so on, and this mindfulness informed them of what their next move should be.
As Above, So Below
What allowed us to pull to the head of the pack was fire, making it possible to grow bigger brains that gave us tools, then eventually science and technology. Our ability to wield fire put us into orbit and gave us the internet and all its benefits.
We became Top Dog—but also Top Bully. The unfortunate corollary to humanity’s greatness has unfortunately been tendencies toward arrogance and shortsightedness.
Technology has vastly outpaced our common sense, and we’ve developed a dangerous disregard for long-term consequences for ourselves and the ecosystem in which we live. Both are sounding alarms, and it’s questionable whether we’re hearing them.
Greek philosopher Hermes Trismegistus had a famous axiom: “As above, so below.” This can be applied to the relationship between humans and the earth—microcosm and macrocosm are reflections of each other. What we see on a large scale will inevitably show up on a small scale, and vice versa.
Our ailing bodies, ailing soils, disappearing species and their habitats are all symptoms of one pervasive problem: a planet that’s becoming more toxic with each passing day. Ignoring its warning calls may place humans next in line for extinction.
Humanity and Earth Cry Out... But Is Anyone Listening?
The US is now producing and importing 74 billion pounds of chemicals each day—that’s 250 pounds per person, per day. And that figure doesn’t even include pharmaceuticals, pesticides, fuels, and food additives. Most of these chemicals have never been tested for their effects on human health, yet we consume them daily. What on earth are we doing to ourselves?
In 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization (WHO), deemed air pollutants a class 1 carcinogen.2 It’s projected that air pollution will be the number one cause of death globally by 2050, largely because of our dependence on fossil fuels.
Six billion pounds of bisphenol-A (BPA) is produced each year, leaving our planet literally choking on plastics. BPA, phthalates, and other pseudo estrogens are hijacking our hormones, disrupting the endocrine function of our entire species.
The average baby is now born with 287 chemicals in their body—before they even takes their first breath. We’ve reached the point at which the signals from endocrine disrupting chemicals in our children’s bodies are louder than the signals they’re getting from their own natural hormones.
We used to be naturally lean and strong but have become progressively more obese and weaker. Our bodies are so busy detoxifying that they frequently lack adequate resources to perform basic biological processes. Is it any wonder that humanity has become so sick?
When a species is healthy, nature rewards it with fertility, but studies show that human fertility is waning. One of every four couples worldwide is unable to conceive due to problems with conception and miscarriage. Fertility is a leading indicator for the health of an organism, so the fact that one in eight of us are not healthy enough to reproduce is a major clue.
Your Inner Ecosystem: The Interface with the World
There is no more poignant illustration of your connection to the world around you than your microbiome, or “inner ecosystem.” The long tube running through you from your mouth to your anus is the interface between you and the outside world, and the seat of your immunity—health and disease start in your gut. But this vital system is being severely disrupted by our modern lifestyle.
Infants are literally bathed in beneficial microorganisms during childbirth, which they receive from their mothers as they pass through the birth canal—it’s a baby’s “first inoculation,” potentially providing lifelong immunity.
However, babies born by C-section do not receive this natural inoculation. Kids who were deprived of a vaginal birth are showing all kinds of diseases, including asthma and autoimmune disorders. Infants receive another microbial boost from breast milk, but of course those fed infant formula miss out on this too.
Making matters worse, infants and children are prescribed antibiotics periodically throughout childhood, are discouraged from playing in the dirt and then doused in hand sanitizer. This “sanitized childhood” prevents kids from developing natural immunity, and their bodies fail to populate with the beneficial microbes that grow into an army of protection from illness. Antibiotics have essentially led to the “mass extinction” of our beneficial gut flora, resulting in dysbiosis (an imbalance in your microbiome) and all of the health problems that accompany it.
Your DNA Is Largely Controlled by Your Gut Flora
An abnormal microbiome is a factor behind inflammation, food cravings, obesity, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and many of the other chronic diseases seen today. When your gut flora is unhealthy, leaky gut syndrome can develop whereby food particles leach into your bloodstream where they can trigger allergic and inflammatory responses. An abnormal microbiome can also lead to depression and other emotional and physical problems, because your gut bacteria provide a significant source of your amino acids, vitamins and other important compounds. Three major ones are ATP, tryptophan and serotonin.
Beneficial bacteria also play an enormous role in your genetic expression—continuously helping flip genes off and on as you need them. Your genetic expression is 50 to 80 percent controlled by how you eat, think and move, and your genes change daily—if not hourly. You may be surprised to learn that 140 times more genetic influence comes from your microbes as from the DNA in your own cells. Your genes control protein coding, which determines your hormones, weight, fertility, mood and others.
Which Do You Choose—Food or 'Edible Manufactured Products?'
Our biology adapted to a diet of wild plants and animals—wild vegetables, berries, nuts, roots, and game, which were MUCH higher in nutrients than our foods today. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed nearly 100 grams of fiber every day, compared to the eight to 15 grams now consumed by the average Westerner. Food can be medicine or poison... the processed foods found lining grocery store shelves are not the foods we were designed to eat. Ninety percent of the average American diet is fake food out of a box, can, jar, or tube.
The foods many react adversely to are relatively new in our food supply—soy, gluten from hybridized wheat, corn, sugar, and highly pasteurized dairy, for example. These modern foods are foreign to your body, so it’s common to have problematic reactions, including inflammatory and autoimmune responses, which can lead to allergies, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and the list goes on and on. One of every four Americans now has type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Americans have shunned fats for the last 40 years after being told they cause heart disease, when the real culprit is sugar. The epidemic of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and the like are evidence of what happens when your brain is starved of beneficial fats while being bombarded with toxic insults over time. Your brain is made up of fat, so it’s no surprise that low-fat diets have been linked to depression and suicidal or homicidal behavior.
We have outsourced the making of our food to corporations that have cut corners, added chemicals, and altered the genetic makeup of what we eat—it’s not food anymore but rather “edible manufactured products.” Our children pay the heaviest price, becoming biochemically enslaved to sugar. This is not an exaggeration as studies have shown sugar to be eight times as addictive as cocaine. Would it be okay if the government began marketing and subsidizing cocaine? Of course not, but that’s exactly what they’re doing with sugar with their subsidization of the corn and fructose industry and manipulative marketing campaigns.
Adding a sedentary lifestyle to a massively unhealthy diet creates the perfect storm for “diabesity.” Our ancestors were in constant motion, hunting, building and carrying things, escaping from predators, etc. Today, people barely move. Sitting for more than eight hours a day is associated with a 90 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes. For optimal health, you need to move near-continuously throughout the day, or at least avoid sitting down for more than three hours a day. And, to keep your body strong, you hunter-gatherer genes want you to exert an all-out effort occasionally, such as high intensity exercises, but few of us actually do this.
Your Health Depends on Soil Health, and Our Soils Are Dying
Download Interview Transcript
Just as your gut houses a microbiome that’s critical for your health, our soils contain a microbiome critical to the health of the planet. Your health is directly related to the quality of the food you eat, and the quality of your food depends on the health of the soil in which it’s grown. As above, so below. In the rhizosphere, microorganisms form nodules on the roots of plants to help them take up minerals and other nutrients from the soil. Unfortunately, modern industrial agriculture (monoculture) destroys much of the soil’s microbiome. Heavy agrichemical use and GE crops rapidly destroy once-fertile soils that took centuries to develop. Removing the stress on a plant by dousing it with chemical fertilizers and insecticide cocktails causes it to become weak, producing less of the natural phytochemicals so vital for your health.
Although arrogant molecular biologists believe they know, the reality is that we really don’t know what effects tampering with the genetics of our food supply will have on your health and your children’s health over the long run. I expose their fraud in my fascinating interview with Steven Druker, slated to be published next month. Many experts believe GE foods are contributing to the growing chronic disease epidemics seen today. Despite what industry says, GE foods are not the answer to world hunger. On the contrary, sustainable agriculture that works in harmony with nature instead of against it has been proven to double crop yield.
The United Nations published in a study in 2010 concluding that if the world were switched to agroecological techniques, on the same farming footprint existing today, we could double world food production in about 10 years and begin to heal many of the insults of the chemical era. We must rekindle our relationship with food, go back into our kitchens and start cooking again. In 1900, only two percent of meals were eaten outside of the home, but today it’s more than half.
Your Future Depends on Your Choices Today
Many inroads have been made improving access to local and sustainable foods, but we still have a long way to go. Building a food system that relies heavily on locally grown foods is the answer to many of our global problems, from environmental destruction to hunger and disease. The most powerful tool you have for change is your fork—you vote with your fork three times a day! Are you going to support the companies that are poisoning you and your children, or will you support the people who are raising food in a way that’s a win-win for you and the earth and everyone?
Real food may seem more expensive, but it’s your primary health care, and cheap food isn’t cheap when you consider the risk of extinction. As you’ve seen, nature isn’t “out there”—it’s in your own body, in your own home and all around you. All life on earth is inextricably linked. Every time you make a choice, you’re changing the world and influencing our future. The goal isn’t to abandon technology and return to ancient times, but rather to harness technology for the betterment of all and proceed with mindfulness and reverence. As stated in the film, “The wisdom of the ancients is the medicine of the future.”