Tribesman hunting on the plains

Evolutionary Medicine: To Understand The Human Body, Look Back In Time

4 min read


That is the directive of Evolutionary Medicine, a new paradigm of healing that uses evolutionary theory to understand what drives the human body toward or away from health. Evolutionary Medicine seeks to understand not how the body malfunctions, but why. Modern reductionist medicine tends to view the body as though it exists in a giant Petri dish — a single entity separate from any sort of evolutionary biological context. But our physiology was forged directly from our relationship with our ancestral environment. It birthed us; it made us who are today. Therefore, to truly understand how it performs, we must look back at the evolutionary forces that shaped us. We must understand our ancestral design. 

Evolutionary Medicine represents such a fundamental shift in how we think about the body and the degenerative forces of contemporary society that it could rightly be called Revolutionary Medicine. It seeks to understand not only why the human body evolved the way that it did, but how living in a modern environment out of sync with our genetic heritage sets the stage for physiological dissonance.

Evolutionary biologists estimate that 70 percent of the U.S. healthcare budget goes toward addressing maladaptive conditions — in other words, problems caused by putting the body in situations for which it is not adapted.

Ancestral Adaptation

The more distant we are from an earth-centered way of life and the cultural traditions that connect us, the more out of balance we become. We are shaped by our connection to the earth. Through the brilliant process of natural selection, all organisms adapt to become better suited to their influencing environment. Human beings are no exception. We are descended from ancestors who were perfectly adapted to their immediate surroundings. Their genetic legacy lives on in us, a legacy that is intimately connected with the earth, its seasons, and its resources.

  • When forests gave way to grasslands, we evolved from frugavores (fruit eaters) to hunter-gatherers.
  • When bands of us migrated north from the equator, we evolved the ability to withstand extreme cold.
  • When we ingested residual dirt on our food, we evolved a commensal relationship with the microbiota it contained, allowing our immune systems to withstand the allergens and germs of our environment.

Every traditional culture around the world embraced their relationship with the earth and the foods it supplied, carrying on a cultural legacy that was established in ancient times. Our cultural rituals, food customs, and core beliefs were born out of a connection we shared with our immediate environment.

Connection to the earth is what shaped us, and adaptation is how we survived.

Evolution, Outpaced

Human adaptation has been a long, slow process of responding to the relatively stable environment over the course of hundreds of thousands of years. Through human intervention, our influencing environment has changed more in the past 100 years than it did in the preceding 2.5 million years. Our bodies must now contend with a foreign and synthetic world they were not designed for, where excessive denatured food, toxic overload, nutrient homogenization, inactivity, and chronic stress are facts of life. There is simply no way that our inherited physiology could adapt quickly enough to keep up with the drastic changes we’ve made to our environment and how we interact with it. In fact, traits that were assets in our environment of origin are now liabilities in our current world. Evolutionary biologists call this imbalance “evolutionary mismatch,” which, according to David Sloan Wilson, PhD, creates “a state of disequilibrium between organisms and their environment.”

Chronic stress is a particularly poignant example of the physiological dissonance we currently experience. The continual triggering of our fight or flight response, a survival mechanism that was meant to be used only in cases of dire emergency. The fact that nearly 90 percent of all doctor visits today are stress-related is evidence that the body is not equipped to handle this perpetual state of hyper-activation. To be clear, human evolution has not stopped; it is, however, being outpaced by the rapid clip of human initiated changes in our environment. And this asymmetry creates an enormous tension — a clash between the needs of our ancestral design and the degenerative forces of our modern society.

90 percent of all doctor visits today are stress-related.

Foundational Support

In reconnecting with our natural environment, we heal. Clearly, we cannot undo the drastic changes we’ve wreaked upon our world. We cannot turn back the hands of time, put the toxins back in the factories, or slow down the pace of modern life.

We do have the potential to launch our very own personal revolution.

We can mend the fissure between the deepest desires of our physiology and the persistent degradation rooted in our modern environment. We can reconnect. We can realign. We can offset the imbalances. The answer is so simple, and it’s right under our noses: elements of origin — those pristine reservoirs of natural nutrition that our ancestral environment once provided, but that are sorely lacking in our industrialized world.

Originating from earth, plant, and animal sources, elements of origin are naturally derived — not artificially fabricated — and provide a full array of nutritional factors perfectly balanced to meet the needs of our inherited physiology. When we reintroduce these elements of origin, we alter systemic imbalances to close the rift between how we are and how we’re meant to be.

Rather than providing simple isolates — in other words, single factors that have been removed from their greater natural context — Enviromedica takes great care to provide pristine elements of origin that mimic the symbiotic combinations that have occurred together in nature, and that humans have depended upon, for eons. Enviromedica offers the needed foundational support our physiology can easily recognize to prepare, regenerate, equalize and excel.