The Hunter Gatherer: Lessons from Our Ancestors: Early humans engaged in natural movement patterns; they ate real, whole, and wild foods; their communities worked together; their exposure to light was natural. And so it’s this kind of vibrant ancestral health that we’re all seeking.
The Hunter Gatherer: Warren’s Story
Most people become ‘health hunters’ after they or someone they love became sick. When you are someone you care about is suffering, it lights a fire in you to seek a better way of life.
Fifteen years ago when Warren got sick, he was working as a credentialed geologist with a focus on toxicology and chemistry. He had a strictly science-based mind and was publishing articles and journals with major organizations trying to make a difference in science.
“I detoxed the world as a profession. I cleaned up hazardous waste for a living, abandoned mines, those sorts of things, toxic heavy metals.”
And then he became very sick, which led him to pursue every possible path to get better. “Walking down the conventional path of medicine to start brought me nowhere,” he explains, “I had to sell everything to afford the standard of care- which didn’t heal me.” It’s then that Warren spoke to Merily Pompa, and eventually, Dr. Dan Pompa.
The Hunter Gatherer: We are Designed for Health
Dr. Pompa and Warren believe that as humans, we’re designed to interact with nature in such a way that it provides health. This belief is not only intuitive and based on historical accounts. They’ve actually seen first-hand how civilizations still living in touch with their ancestral roots are thriving. Without the intervention of modern day medicine, dentistry, and intervention of modern foods, these communities are thriving.
About 12 years ago, Dr. Pompa and Warren made the trip to Africa to explore the natural healing methodologies of the motherland. “One of my favorite things is learning from not just studies because studies can be really misleading… but studying what ancient cultures actually do,” explains Dan. The trip took them into the deep bush of Africa, about 8 hours from civilization.
They drove from a double highway to a single-lane road to a bumpy, rocky road, to a dirt road, and found themselves immersed in this relatively untouched tribe. This tribe was living in unity with nature, without electricity or the imposition of refined diets of the modern world. Their circadian clocks with totally in tune with the rising and falling of the sun, and they still hunt and gather for their food. The concept here is rather simple: whatever you’re being told by mainstream healthcare, just do the complete opposite.
The Hunter Gatherer: One Meal a Day!
We’re often told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, that the sun is dangerous, that we have to eat at least 3 meals a day, that cholesterol causes heart disease, and that weight loss is a measure of less food and more exercise… and the reality is, none of that is true.
We look at these communities living in ancestral ways: and they are lean and muscular. They have beautiful white, healthy teeth. The kids are vibrant and fit too, the whole community exudes health, cancer is non-existent… and yet they are doing things totally contrary to what we’re being fed is a “healthy” way to live.
First of all, the men of this tribe would go out at 4:30 am to hunt, without eating breakfast. They would break their fast after coming home with the fruits of their hunt, often later than noon. They eat plenty of meat and naturally intermittent fast (and occasionally longer water-only fasts in times of food scarcity), they spent plenty of time outside, moving all day long.
The Hunter Gatherer: We Are One with Our Environment
This lifestyle has been explored more scientifically as well, like the Hunza tribe. The Hunza hunter and gatherer ways also had them doing a lot of hard physical labor on an empty stomach, and instead of eating all day long as most modern people do- would have one, maybe two, larger meals a day. Eating wild plants and meat, and spending time in the dirt (barefoot) literally changes the genetic code of these people. As humans, we have a symbiotic relationship with our environment, and being in tune with nature builds a strong, resilient, healthy body.
“We developed with our environment, our bodies were developed with nature,” explains Warren, “it’s hard to believe how aligned we were with nature, even 100 years ago…. our great-grandparents lived off the land.” Humans gardened, they were in the dirt, they were exposing themselves to the soil, and in modern times we’ve taken 180 degrees opposite lifestyle of what the Hadza tribe had. In doing so, we’ve lost the vitality and energy that still exists in the less-modernized parts of the world. There we see vibrant health… and here we see disease.
The Hunter Gatherer: Modern Foods and Illness
The modern processed-foods diet, toxin-filled, and sedentary lifestyle is generating disease at an all-time high. Modern medicine has many of these multifaceted illnesses categorized as unexplained, and untreatable. “I teach doctors in my multi-therapeutic approach [to healing]” Dan explains, and “you get [recovery from] these unexplainable autoimmune conditions”.
One of the biggest takeaways Dan and Warren took from their trip to Africa was how little they ate. Despite being incredibly active (hunting and gathering their food, walking incredible distances to get water), they truly ate incredibly small amounts compared to modern lifestyles. Indeed, they knew how relevant their eating habits had in generating health because many surrounding areas had been caught in the “World Vision trap.” Despite their efforts to help, many of these international development organizations are imposing our Western diets onto these ancestral communities, and along with grains, they are introducing similar ailments of our modern society. The weakened immune systems brought on by modern foods opens up the floodgates of cancers and autoimmunity, ranging from AIDS to Lyme disease, and everything in between.
The Hunter Gatherer: Feast/ Famine: Diet Variation
It is this ancestral wisdom that the Health Hunters are chasing and that Dr. Daniel Pompa has been promoting for decades. People these days are very dogmatic in their approach to eating: the Paleo diet, a Vegan diet, the Atkins diet…. but what they learned from these tribes is something Dan refers to as diet variation. The tribes naturally have times of feasting, and the times of famine: this is diet variation. Although modern times don’t naturally have periods of famine, we’re learning how important it is that our DNA actually emulate these periods without food.
“A lot of the studies that I’d found especially regarding cancer,” explains Dan, “is that we’re stuck in a feast mode as a society, and not times of fasting and famine; [in doing so] we’re actually triggering our DNA for the bad and creating disease.”Part of his ancient healing strategies is replicating these tribes in feast/famine cycles, which Dan calls diet variation. “Even the American Indians were cyclically ketogenic,” Dan explains. Harvests are naturally more carbohydrate heavy in the summer (particularly due to fruits), and lower carb in the winter (more meat-heavy).
The Hunter Gatherer: Exercise does not equal weight loss
Diet is a subject often intertwined with weight loss. “It’s the Rocky culture code,” as Dan calls it, “now it’s CrossFit, but when we were younger it was Rocky. When we wanted to get healthy, what’d we do? We’d start cracking those raw eggs and start to run”. There’s an emotional attachment to this idea that exercise and health are one and the same, and although running provides some health benefits, “running does not equal weight loss”.
“There are benefits to endurance exercise,” Dan explains, “there are benefits to burst training type of exercise or high-intensity training,” but these days there’s actually a massive problem with over exercise. People want to have the energy like the Hunza tribe, to look, feel, and have vitality like them.. their skin, teeth, microbiome,” because indeed an ancestral lifestyle affects every aspect of health- which not limited to exercising (like many people think).
One of the reasons behind the study of the Hanza people was to better understand how they could be doing so much movement and so much labor, with so little food. The study demonstrated that in fact, despite moving so much, they were not burning that many calories. We’ve been told that exercise is the key to leaner bodies, but it didn’t matter that they were exercising all day: their caloric output was essentially the same; as Dan puts it: “the takeaway is, holy cow, exercise really doesn’t have much to do with weight loss.” Exercise the cherry on the top, meaning that it has very little to do with calories.
So why exercise can exercise only give you a little caloric advantage? “It’s a hormonal thing,” Dan explains, “when you exercise, you drive up growth hormones. You can become more hormone sensitive.”
The Hunter Gatherer: Top 3 Takeaways
So how do we implement these basic takeaways from ancestral people? This is something that will be explored intensively throughout these Health Hunter podcasts, and articles. For now, here are our top 3:
- Is not the key to weight loss, but helps optimize hormones
- High-intensity exercise: if you’re struggling to lose weight, skip the long, daily workouts, for high-intensity bursts of exercise (HIIT) about 3-4 times a week.
- This induced greater hormone optimization.
- Ten minutes of getting your heart rate up to the point where it’s difficult to talk (about 80% of your max).
- Studies do show that during the exercise, all you burn is glycogen (your sugar stores) but for the next 36 hours, on average, your body is incrementally rising in growth hormone and starts to utilize its fat to essentially replenish those depleted sugar stores.
- Eating more, but less often (intermittent fasting)
- Following Dan’s style of Cellular Healing Diet, with diet variation (feast/ famine cycles)
- Incorporating at least one longer fast per year
- Ditch the low fat, and also ditch the refined foods (sugar, grains, and oils)
- When you regularly stress your body (whether it be toxins or mental stress) your body releases cortisol. Cortisol interferes with the normal process of your hormones. It causes fatigue, and intracellular inflammation (which we will discuss more in the future).
- One of the major secrets of health is optimizing hormones: if you do exercise that optimizes hormones for weight loss and you eat to optimize for hormones for weight loss, you will reach your goals
The Hunter-Gatherer: Changing Perceptions
The backward thinking perpetuated by modern society healthcare systems reaches far and wide. We’re here to start debunking the lies. We want to build a tribe, we want you to identify with that tribe and concept: we are health hunters. We’re going out there seeking the truth on your behalf, both for the mind and the body. We’re seeking not only longevity but vibrant health throughout this long life.
“Our goal is to bring you’re the truth.
Go on the hunting excursions and bring you the truth.”
Listen to more here: