Book Review: The Primal Blueprint – Mark Sisson
Updated: Sep 30, 2022
“Our genes are suited to a hunter gatherer existence, because that is how we homo-sapiens have evolved for the great majority of our existence on earth”.
This book argues that we currently exist in a state of de-evolution because the modern human no longer faces constant selection pressures (threats of starvation and predator danger). The book explains that these pressures have shaped us for 2.5 million years and that evolution has essentially ground to a halt in conjunction with the flourishing of civilisation (some 10000 years ago).
Yes, this has brought major benefits that are not disputed, but it has also made us soft, as well as massively confused by the conflicting information that is everywhere. Therefore, the goal of this book is to peel back the many layers of marketing blather, folklore wisdom and manipulative dogma that are entrenched in conventional health wisdom.
This book is not about throwing ourselves back into the stone age, but instead modelling our 21st-century lives after our hunter gatherer ancestors.
This is achieved by offering up the 10 primal blueprint laws.
1. Eat lots of plants and animals
2. Avoid poisonous things
3. Move frequently at a slow pace – Walking/ jogging etc.
4. Lift heavy things
5. Sprint once in a while
6. Get adequate sleep
7. Play – Unstructured fun
8. Get plenty of sunlight
9. Avoid stupid mistakes
10. Use your brain – intellectual ability
These laws are very simple and based on common sense. But there is much research that explains why these are important and how they can actually reprogramme our genes in the direction of better health. And yes, genes are not fixed as we have always been told!
The core message within these pages is that our genes are basically misfiring due to our harmful daily habits that go against the evolutionary grain. Habits such as high carb eating patterns, the consumption of foods that are foreign to our ancient genes, chronic exercise patterns (exercising too hard too often), a lack of leisure, play and outdoor time, poor stress management and poor sleep habits.
I found this book incredibly enlightening and it has obviously made a big impact, as it now forms the foundation for the Primal Health Coaching Institute (PHCI) syllabus; which just so happened to be the health coaching discipline I am qualified through. Not only was the book enlightening to me, but it also spoke to me at a deep level. It highlighted that although we now live in a high-tech age, often thought to be the tip of human evolution; we also live in a time where we see the fattest, laziest and probably the unhealthiest people in human history.
We are reminded that these same modern people are genetically identical to our ancestors of 10,000 years ago, who were some of the leanest, fittest and healthiest people known to have existed.
The author goes on to tell us that if our ancestors could steer clear of fatal misfortune (the biggest killer in primal times), they could live a long life of excellent health and fitness and could reach a maximum lifespan of 94 years old. Additionally, we are informed that present day hunter gatherers can live well into their 80s and this is without modern comforts and conveniences, no medication or healthcare that we know.
Perhaps then, the Primal Blueprint represents the best from our ancient past, which if combined with the best of our modern tech age, could usher in a new era that we seem to be on the brink of.
Could you imagine this future? I can, and this is what I am working to achieve. Join the re-evolution!
Top tips from the book
Ditch grains and sugars - “Eliminating grains and sugars from your diet, could be the number one most beneficial thing you ever do for your health.”
Reduce Carbs – “Excess carbohydrate is the most destructive behaviour disparity from what our genes crave to support health, longevity and peak performance”
Fat is your friend - Healthy fats support optimal function for all your body systems, help you feel full and satisfied and doesn’t spike blood glucose levels (stable mood and mind).