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25/02/2024

So what the hell is Biohacking? A quick search will bring up various definitions, some focus on managing nutrition, others look more to lifestyle and yet more focus on types of technological innovations. As you can see in the title to this piece I’m focusing on Diet, but during consultations general lifestyle is also addressed.


First, a very quick look at general lifestyle, I mentioned in a previous Blog that humans are designed to run. That statement can be extended to say that humans are designed, or rather evolved, to move; walk, climb, carry and of course run. This statement points to a simple reality, for the vast majority of the history of the human race and our immediate predecessors (Homo Erectus - Homo Rudolfensis and others) give or take 2 Million Years, we hunted, gathered, and migrated on foot. So our biology evolved to carry out these tasks with efficiency, it is notable that despite the relative slowness and weakness of humans, compared to other creatures, isotope analysis of ancient skeletons shows that humans were apex predators. Putting it very simply, as far as general health and fitness is concerned carrying out activities that mimic the hunter gatherer lifestyle is the surest way to achieve good general health. I’ll come back to this area of health activity at a later date, but for now let’s focus a little on diet.


There is no shortage of diet and health information available on-line. Youtube influencers bombard us with the latest research or at least informed opinion. Some of that information is very interesting and some of it is useful, unfortunately much of it is poorly researched or worse, opinion without basis. One of the problems influencers have to deal with is the need to find new content every week or even several times per week! Inevitably that tends to push content creators into inventing things to talk about. Additionally many of these creators go down various rabbit holes and blind alleys, but at least they have something to talk about. This often involves managing our lives at a microscopic level, with much of the advice little more than best guess. This results in constantly changing advice, at least from those honest enough to admit that their previous advice was wrong.


My approach to dietary choices is founded on the same approach that I take to exercise, quite simply, as stated above exercise in a way that mimics what we evolved to do; walk, carry, climb and run. Similarly with food, eat what we evolved to eat. At this point it’s important to briefly consider for a moment the 2 Million or so years of human and pre-human history. We evolved slowly in a wide variety of environments across the globe, there was not a single individual, time or location that can be pointed to as THE example of how we lived. At various times our ancestors, inhabited jungles, mountains, savannahs, icy wastes and tropical swamps. All of this points to the greatest of human strengths, our adaptability, but for the purposes of this conversation it points to something else, there can't be one single best dietary approach. Humans as a race have far too much genetic diversity for a simple one size fits all approach. So some individual research is required to determine exactly which food types your body does best on. But there are a few things that we can be sure of, let’s look at that 2 Million years of history as a graphic.


What this graphic shows is that we, Homo Sapiens, have not been around for very long and some of our predecessors were around for a lot longer that we have managed so far.


The important information, however, is that modern life (agriculture and much more recently industry) represents a tiny fraction of our evolutionary timeframe, in fact it is such a small part the red and green lines on the graph are in reality too close together and to far to the left, but scale makes it impossible to show them to actual scale. So what we know is that we haven’t had nearly enough time to evolve and adapt to modern food. Modern food makes us ill and it can kill us, just as it did to the ancient Egyptians.


I’m defining large scale agriculture as the establishment of substantial mono cultures (single crops), by Sumerians / Egyptians around 5,000 years ago. These cultures initiated the cultivation of grains and the development of bread as a staple dietary ingredient. In fact Egyptians were often paid for work,  at least in part, in bread. Interestingly Egyptian art shows bread making as a core cultural activity. Egyptian art also captures another interesting fact; the impact that bread and grain consumption in general had on peoples’ health.


This image of an Egyptian man shows the effect of an unhealthy diet based on a high proportion of grains. This man has developed a soft body with no muscular definition and, what appears to be a case of Gyniecomastia (man boobs).


It wasn’t just physiques that were affected, a Papyrus from 1550 BC describes the symptoms of Cardiac disease.







I won’t explore this subject any further here, suffice to say that your diet is at least as important as your exercise regime, eat natural food the kinds of food that we evolved to eat. Science continues to research and no doubt much useful knowledge will emerge in the future. But our past is pretty well known and we can learn a lot of from our known past.


If you’re interested in the history of our diet of the generations and how you can manage and improve your eating habits a few years ago I wrote a Kindle book that goes into great detail on the subject. Click on the image to go to Amazon.




If you need a little personal help with your diet or lifestyle in general  get in touch.






#couchto5k #runningtips #biohacking #weightmanagement #healthandfitness #runninginjuries