Is the Paleo movement something new, or is it just a repetition of something that has happened before?
The lecture that impressed me the most at the Ancestral Health Symposium 2012 has just been posted online. Here’s Hamilton Stapell, Ph.D., comparing the Paleo movement to the “Physical Culture” movement of the early 1900′s. The similarities are startling. Better diet with less sugar and processed crap? Check. Strenght training á la Crossfit? Yep. Intermittent fasting? Sure. Sun exposure? Yes. Barefoot walking? Absolutely.
Both movements are about a “return to nature” in a stressful and disorienting new world, according to Stapell. They’re a reaction to rapid social, economic and technological changes.
If the movement of the early 1900′s were a reaction to the Second Industrial Revolution, the Paleo movement of today is a reaction to the Digital Revolution (sometimes called the Third Industrial Revolution).
Stapell’s argument raises some intriguing questions. Will the fast-growing Paleo movement of today go mainstream, or will it stay fringe until it fizzles out? Stapell was asked that in the Q&A (not in the video). He hesitated a bit and then said that… no, he did not believe Paleo will go mainstream.
I think Stapell might be right. This “return to nature” Paleo concept is very powerful today, but in ten years time running around barefoot might feel very passé.
What I believe is truly important is to make some core concepts in the original Paleo movement go mainstream. Like the focus on human evolution for understanding what’s likely to be healthy today (followed by controlled trials to prove it, of course). And most of all, in the middle of a disastrous epidemic of obesity and diabetes, to realize that we are not genetically adapted to today’s extremely insulinogenic processed high carb junk food.