Becky HolmanA Practical Guide to Harnessing Our Innate Capacity for Health and Healing
The author of Evolution Rx, William Meller, M.D., is fascinated by the evolution of humankind’s immune system and how it has helped us survive. The first part of the book is devoted to how cavemen lived and the infections they had to survive and then explains how germs evolved. Interesting to some, but others would say the first chapters give a bit too much ink to background rather than action and application. You’ll have to hunt and gather past the first third of this 300-pager to find the author’s recommendations for how to use our evolved immunity for better health now, but it’s worth it.
One of Meller’s more interesting conclusions is that instead of “overprotecting our children and thereby putting them at risk, we need to put them in nature’s way.” In other words, exposure to dirt and germs—even farm animals—builds immunity early in life. For example, “Evolutionary-minded researchers are now finding that it may be best to feed infants peanuts and other potential food allergens in infancy in order to avoid allergies later.” Interesting!
You’ll learn a lot, about everything from food allergies to germ replication to Stone Age eating. Meller smashes many myths on subjects that range from eating to exercise to cancer prevention. For example, if you think cancer is increasing due to our toxic environment, think again: “The single most important reason cancer is increasing in the developed world is that we are living longer.” Our immune systems get old and finally become overwhelmed. He explains that “eating well without overeating, quitting smoking, decreasing the number of menstrual periods and seeking vitamin D from the sun together can decrease the risk of the most common cancers by 90 percent.”
You’ll see that our bodies have evolved to handle the small amounts of toxins in our food supply, so you really don’t have to go organic or be terrified of mercury in the fish you buy. Your body is good at detoxing if you eat right.
Oh, and don’t forget to get out in the sun—without sunblock. You need vitamin D from sunlight rather than from food or supplements: “Vitamin pills usually contain only one kind of vitamin D. Our bodies need five varieties, and we make all five when exposed to sunshine.” Not only that, we need more sun exposure as we get older because our bodies can’t produce vitamin D as efficiently.
What about the deadly skin cancer melanoma? Meller is ready for that one: “The principal cause of melanoma, which causes 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths, is not sun exposure. It’s in our genes.... Melanomas appear frequently on parts of the body never exposed to sun.”
Meller even shatters so-called truths about injury healing. He says that everything from icing injuries to stretching to massage to physical therapy has little to no effect on our healing—and some of it prolongs the recovery process. Stretching actually produces microtrauma in muscle and connective tissue, so if you do it before an event, you increase your risk of injury. Even drinking water during exercise can divert blood to the stomach to absorb the water, which can deprive the muscles and brain during a workout.
Meller also makes surprising observations and recommendations on sleep, dating, mating, attraction, happiness and aging well. Once you hit the second half of this book, where all the interesting evo facts reside, you’ll have a new perspective on how to better cope with life’s rocky road. It’s all about evo-solutions. By the way, one of the standout suggestions: “No matter what your age, exercise to build muscle.” Sound advice!