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Lifestyle Illnesses in America: A Mismatch with Evolutionary Design

Updated: 2 days ago

The Mismatch with Evolutionary Design

Our bodies have evolved over millions of years, primarily in environments where food scarcity was a constant reality. This evolutionary pressure shaped our metabolic systems to efficiently store and utilize energy. Our ancestors' diets were comprised primarily of plant-based protein, some lean animal-protein, fruits, nuts and seeds. Processed carbohydrates like white bread, ice cream, potato chips, and breakfast cereals were nonexistent. Food was not always easy to acquire and our bodies evolved to adapt to natural periods of fasting and feeding, which promoted metabolic flexibility, sometimes burning glucose and sometimes burning stored fats.

Glucose/Fat/Protein Metabolism and Ketone Metabolism

Our bodies have two primary fuel systems that evolved to work together: primary metabolism of food-based macronutrients (carbohydrate glycolysis/fat lipolysis/protein break-down) at the time we eat, and secondarily Ketosis, which processes ketone bodies from stored fat during times of food scarcity. These two metabolic systems served different functions throughout our evolutionary history. The immediate metabolism of ingested foods (and short-term storage in the muscles and liver) was essential for energy when food was available, and the process of Ketosis (burning longer-term stored fats), provided a steady source of energy during times when food was not available for prolonged periods. Adapting over millennia to be used interchangeably, each system can rest and repair while the other is in primary use.

Our Modern Foodstyle

In contrast to our evolutionary past, our modern lifestyles are characterized by constant access to many unhealthy foods. This abundance of factory-produced foods lead to high blood sugar levels and a constant state of glycolysis in many individuals. When our diet is consistently filled with food of this kind, the body becomes insulin resistant, and this can result in overweight conditions, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic disorders. Our bodies are not well-equipped to handle the continuous influx of such foods without periods of fasting or caloric restriction.

Our foodstyle in the United States typically includes drinks sweetened with sugar. Sodas, sweet tea, fruit drinks, and lemonade can lead to weight gain and increase your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Having just two sugar-sweetened drinks per day can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 26 percent. Also, it is common for Americans to eat foods filled with saturated and trans fats. Processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats have higher levels of sodium and nitrites, which put you at not only higher risk of type 2 diabetes, but also heart disease. A three-ounce serving of red meat is linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. And the grand finale in our foodstyle, "junk food", consisiting of sugar drinks, fries, donuts, frozen pizza, cookies, chips—increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by a devastating 70 percent.

The Healing Power of Fasting

Fasting is a practice that has gained attention for its potential to address the mismatch between our evolutionary design and modern lifestyles. Fasting allows the body to switch from glycolysis to ketosis, promoting metabolic flexibility. During fasting, the body begins to break down stored fat into ketone bodies for energy, which has numerous health benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, and weight loss. Additionally, in a process called autophagy, which surges during fasting, intracellular waste is removed and recycled by the body. Key hormones are released, such as Human Growth Factor, which plays an important role in muscle growth and strength. Heart and brain protective repairs also occur, as well as many other health inducing functions.

Healthy Eating and Exercise

In addition to fasting, adopting a healthy diet can mitigate lifestyle-related illnesses. This diet consists of whole foods such as lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds while minimizing processed meats, processed carbohydrates, and sugar-filled foods. Many leading health experts now designate daily exercise as the most important lifestyle habit we can develop to ensure wellbeing into our golden years. When coupled with exercise, a healthy dietary approach can improve metabolic health and prevent chronic diseases.

Positive Social Connections

Another aspect often overlooked in the context of lifestyle-related illnesses is the importance of positive social connections. Social isolation and chronic stress can exacerbate these conditions. Building strong social connections, engaging in meaningful relationships, and managing stress in healthy ways can contribute to vitality, a sense of purpose, and overall well-being. Remember, Life is a Team Sport.


The American epidemic of lifestyle-related illnesses reflects a significant mismatch between our evolutionary design and modern lifestyles. Our bodies have evolved to handle periods of fasting, but the constant availability of high-carbohydrate and processed foods has disrupted this balance, leading to chronic health problems. Fasting makes use of our body’s natural design, unlocking our potential to heal from within. Fasting, along with a diet of healthy/nutrient dense foods, regular exercise, and positive social connections, can help address this mismatch and promote better health. Embracing these lifestyle changes in each of our lives can put us on the road to resolving the epidemic of lifestyle illnesses we face in our land of abundance.

At Fasting and Thriving Retreats we strive to bring you relevant information regarding a holistic approach to healthy living. A Fasting Lifestyle will help jump start your journey into health.

Take this opportunity to learn more. For an individual, free assessment use the QR Code below and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.

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