PALEO PEOPLE TODAY: PART 3
Optimal fitness and health, including great nutrition and endurance, along with music, are vital for our existence
Each year, scientists warn us, tens of thousands of species become extinct. As most agree, it is just a matter of time for humans to fall prey to such a natural cycle. While human technology may have created an irreversible mess of our planet—not just the environment but the people who are part of it—we must find a way to use high tech to save us. Of course, no one has all the answers about how this might be done. However, the real issue is whether enough healthy humans can survive what many say is the process of extinction that has already begun.
Our planet’s past includes many instances of mass devastations that wiped out large numbers of inhabitants. Scientists tell us there have been five major mass extinctions, where most of life disappeared. And except for one event, when earth was nearly destroyed in a short period after being struck by a large meteor, the rest took place over many thousands of years. During these extinctions, it was typical for about 75 percent of life on earth to disappear. While there have been many other less-discussed and smaller scale extinctions, the sixth major devastation, scientists say, has already started. Which of today’s paleo people will survive? The answer is obvious: those who are more physically and mentally healthy will be most capable of carrying on humanity.
The current extinction may have started about 50-thousand years ago. Called the Pleistocene extinction, it first involved paleo people killing too many animals to meet their growing need for food. Today, we can raise enough animals, but pollution and poor health have become the primary causes of our apparent and rapidly accelerating demise. Of course, these problems are strictly preventable, but most humans choose to look the other way as the process of mass extinction continues.
Let’s not even discuss the possibility of being hit by a large enough meteor to demolish the planet. How many people would survive just a loss of electrical power? Imagine not being able to use your kitchen or car, heat or air conditioning, or most other modern conveniences? But this problem is pale to the existing crises already upon us. More significant is the global health crisis, where 75 percent of the population is overfat. In addition to the gross burden of costs, and the possible plummeting of social structure, this condition significantly affects fertility. I’ve addressed these issues in past books and articles.
Now we are hearing another key clue. As discussed in the first two parts of this series of articles, human songs have played a key role in getting our species to where we are today. Suddenly, music itself may be warning us about our extinction.
When the Music’s Over
Among the species undergoing rapid extinction today are songbirds. And scientists have discovered something that could also apply to humans.
Frogs do it, so do whales, and even mice. It’s music, and humans have been doing it for millions of years before we learned language. Animal songs are an important and integral part of sexual reproduction. But it’s much more. Songs are a way to find not just any mate, but the best match. More powerful than natural selection, songs result in sexual selection, a way for the singing species to greatly improve their chances of evolving stronger.
The earliest humans produced music that dramatically improved their reproductive success, helped in the search for food, the development of society, and overall survival. Music may be the only single stimulation that turns on all the many areas of the brain, helping it to function optimally in so many ways, including creativity and maintaining a healthy body.
But when a species faces extinction, one warning sign may include a diminishing of song quality. Scientists have discovered this phenomenon in certain types of songbirds. Other researchers have shown a sudden and unique change in human music of the last 20 years too—changes frighteningly similar to those of the disappearing songbirds.
In addition to changes in song quality, more humans than ever have lost their musicality. Many not only don’t play or sing, something unheard of just a few hundred years ago, but some are even averse to music’s natural stimulation. Delegated to the background, but popular in elevators and driving forces of games, music’s role as a commercial vehicle is most popular in selling us all those unnecessary things that pollute the air and airways.
Today, unwanted sound—noise—is interfering with nature. We know this is another problem for songbirds, but humans are also drowning in a sea of noise. This has an adverse affect on the brain, and poses a serious stress that further impairs our health.
Noise pollution—from auto, train, bus and air traffic, to machinery, radio, TV and Internet chatter—can seriously impair our ability to benefit from songs we might hear.
In their attempt to adapt to unnatural noisy environments, songbirds change the frequencies of their songs, one of the factors associated with reduced quality, which can reduce the effectiveness in triggering female responses. Too much noise in the environment can cause a decline in the number of breeding bird territories, and reduced reproductive success.
What Can Paleo People Do?
Is the earth’s extreme pollution problem beyond repair? Are more people functioning in inhumane ways? Whether the answers to these questions are obvious or not, it still comes down to one key issue: we are responsible for our own health and fitness—and survival. All humans have this instinct built-in to the genes. Saving the planet, and humanity, starts with each of us as individuals.
Along with some luck, the 25 percent of the population that may survive mass extinctions does so because they are the healthiest and most fit. It’s also possible these are the most musical of people too. Just as in Paleolithic times, our songs remain as important as proper nutrition and optimal endurance.
When it comes to making music part of a healthy life, there’s nothing complicated about it. When stopping to smell the roses, we hear the music too.
Hearing, seeing, and playing music is therapeutic for the brain and body. Just take the time to listen. Do it in your car, sit with a few songs while having morning coffee, with your meals and in other situations—make it a part of your life again. Instead of watching the news or other TV, listen to an album each evening while relaxing. Find the music that makes you feel good. For many people, these are the songs from yesterday—from a time when life seemed more simple, relaxing and fun. This might be the music of your teen years, or the songs you first fell in love with. But the brain loves new music too, and there’s plenty of it out there when you weed through the junk. (In addition, get that old guitar out of the closet or dust off the piano—and just play!)
Putting all the scientific stuff aside, the simplest way to know how the paleo process applies to you is you: how do you feel from the lifestyle you live each day considering diet and activity? And, does the music you hear move you? It should. It is not a separate musical feature for the brain, as songs are shown to improve all the non-musical areas too (probably through changes in consciousness, i.e., the production of alpha waves, blood circulation, and hormone regulation).
Paleolithic people were holistic, and, today we are meant to be the same, especially if we want to live life to the fullest and survive as a species.