You Are Tougher Than You Realize

The Hadza are some of the last functioning hunter-gatherers in the world. They reside in Tanzania near Lake Eyasi and are a nomadic group of people who have lived essentially the same way for thousands of years.

The Hadza diet consists primarily of berries, roots, greens, and other wild plants as well as meat obtained by hunting and killing wild (lean) animals. Children learn early on how to pick fruit and roots as well as how to kill small game animals such as birds. Honey is the only “pure sugar” source of carbohydrates, and it is gathered and stored (when available) because of its natural suitability for long term preservation.

The Hadza are also very physically active. As the primary game hunters, the men carry axes, bows, arrows, and knives, and they often spend the majority of the day stalking prey or chasing predators away from freshly killed animals. The women carry food pots and fire making material, and they often have to transport heavy equipment when the camp needs to be temporarily relocated due to a large animal kill.

It’s a tough life. But it’s also the type of life for which you are physiologically optimized.

The key takeaway here is to realize that, while your lifestyle may be drastically different from that of a hunter-gatherer, you are essentially the same human being. And when you deviate too extremely from the diet and activity patterns that have been ingrained into your genetics for over 50,000 years, you are likely to experience some “push back.” Unfortunately, this usually takes the form of such niceties as hypertension, impaired glucose tolerance, atherosclerosis, and type II diabetes.

So toss away that iced caramel macchiato (with whipped cream) and get in a power law workout...

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  1. The Hadza « says:

    […] The Hadza Posted on December 13, 2009 by srhernan The December 2009 edition of National Geographic has an excellent piece on the Hadza of Tanzania. They are one of the last remaining true hunter-gatherer societies, and I’ve written on them previously. […]

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