Daniel Vitalis Shares Wisdom From the Wild Side: Why Connecting With Nature Now is the Key to Lasting Health, Happiness & Confidence
-an interview with Daniel Vitalis and Alison Rasmay
You can visit the audio for this podcast here on the WISH Radio website, or catch it on Youtube.
We are all driven to become the best version of ourselves. And to do this we think we need to try out the latest and greatest fad diets, fashions, products, superfoods and even pharmaceutical drugs that promise to enhance our health and happiness.
As we surf the net on our iPhones, iPads and MacBooks looking for the answers to love, life and an end to loneliness, deep in our DNA and just outside our door, quietly ever present is an answer to health, vitality and interconnectedness. Time and time again the beauty, wonder and power of nature inspires and heals us physically and spiritually. It teaches inner calm, perspective and brings us a feeling of well-being.
It speaks to the wild nature that is inside of us. But in a world where technology reigns and the dollar is king, in a consumer driven world where nature cannot be bought and bottled and sold, so is therefore largely forgotten, we experience a great disconnect from this wildness.
But thankfully there are people out there like my next guest who have made it their life passion to shed new light on old wisdom and help us to understand again why we should switch off, unplug, ditch the fancy footwear and honor the rhythms, cycles and elements of nature to reawaken that wild creature that resides in us all.
Daniel, thank you so much for being here to get a little wild with us today. Daniel Vitalis: Hey, and it’s great to be here and I really loved that introduction. Alison: Great. Thank you. So I know you have gone really deep in your exploration of rewilding and have a lot of amazing knowledge to share. But let’s just begin at the beginning with a bit of an introduction into rewilding.
What is rewilding? And why is it something we should consider doing to enhance our long-term health.
You know it’s so interesting when we think about ourselves as a species. You know human beings – we tend to get into a mindset like we are visitors on planet Earth and like we’re not really as much a part of it as we are observers here visiting, or even exploiting the earth, but not so much part of it. Not the same way that the other animals are, not the same way that the plants are and the fungi are and the microbes are. It’s almost like we have an us or them mentality.
Now, the reality is I think when we look at ourselves more objectively for a moment, we see there’s a lot of similarity between us and all the other organisms of the planet. It’s not hard to see the resemblance between ourselves and maybe some of those relatives of ours, the great apes, and we can see these tremendous differences. But we also see that there’s a lot of similarity.
And we see that our needs are very similar to so many of the other species, particularly the mammals. And again as we move toward those primate animals – so similar. We see that we need the same kind of foods and we need the same kind of environmental factors and we’re born from our mother’s womb and we nurse from our mother’s breast and we’re raised in community.
And we’re so similar in so many ways.
And we’re at this point today where we are frantically trying to figure out a solution to our diminishing health. Not just physical health, but also our emotional health and our psychological health. And we’re frantically looking for answers and we’re willing to take extreme measures in order to try to find – re-establish that homeostasis, that balance we’re looking for. But we keep looking in the places that we’ve been looking.
We keep looking to things that divorce us further and further from nature. So we keep trying more drugs, different drugs, newer drugs.
We explore new ways to slash and burn our bodies in a hope to cut away what’s bad, you know what’s hurting. We explore more and more ways to augment ourselves.
We isolate ourselves more and more from nature. We seal our houses up more, we climate control more, we remove ourselves more and more and isolate ourselves more and more, not just from the natural world but even from each other. And re-wilding is sort of a different approach.
It says, “Hey, wait a second!”
We come from the natural world.
We may not remember it very well, but it’s where we come from. And even just a walk out in the forest on a trail brings us a kind of inner contentment and joy and a sense of belonging that nurtures something in us that a lot of us have lost. And rewilding says hey,
and beginning to honour and respect our needs for nature and the things, the food, the water, the air, the sunlight that comes from nature.
So re-wilding is – for me what it is, is it’s an approach, it’s a strategy, it’s a path toward health that believes in and respects the natural way for humans rather than gushing over technological quick fixes.
Yeah, that’s great. And you also talk a lot about domestication and what has happened to us since we’ve divorced ourselves from nature. I know it’s been a long process. But can you tell us a little bit more about how you view human domestication?
I’ve got a lot of passions in this life, but one is this study and trying to understand this thing we call domestication. A lot of us have heard that world “domicile” and it means home. And the word “domestication” is a Latin word, it means of the house. And we use it to describe species who have been altered or changed from their natural form to a form that’s sort of under human control or sometimes even truly of the house, like things we bring into our house.
The great example is our domesticated dog. And the reason is because all of the domesticated dogs around the world, you know it’s not just here in the United States or just in the developed Western World that we have dogs, but we find domesticated dogs when the colonists arrived here in the New World. They found domesticated dogs here amongst the tribes.
When we went out and found the Inuit People, they were living with domesticated dogs and the same is true in Africa and South America. We found all around the world, man’s best friend has truly been man’s best friend. But all of those dogs come from grey wolves. The only difference – you know technically science sees them as the same species – but the only difference is the domesticated dog is of the house.
It’s been changed because its environment’s changed and its food’s changed and that’s changed its behaviours. And over time as they were bred and bred and bred, we’ve ended up with a distinctly different subspecies of grey wolf called Canis lupus familiaris – the common dog.
Now this has also happened with cows, who come from a gigantic wild beast called the auroch. It’s happened to sheep who were once rams, it’s happened to goats who were once mountain goats. It’s happened to our pigs who were once boars and I could go on and on. There are many species which have become domesticated, and that’s true of plants as well.
Now this process changes us to be more suited to a controlled environment. And human beings were probably really the first domesticated species. We changed ourselves first and in that process started changing other species. And what we kind of did was – you know we hear that idea survival of the fittest. And you know it doesn’t mean who can run the fastest. That’s not what it means at all.
In fact Darwin said really survival of the fittest was about who was quickest to adapt.
And we adapt to our environment and all the things in our environment. And because we’ve lived in a kind of artificially created human reality for a long time now, we’ve adapted to an almost artificial world and that’s why so many of us struggle to get back to the natural world. Because we’re almost more fit for living in hotel rooms than we are for living in nature.
“Darwin said really survival of the fittest was about who was quickest to adapt. And we adapt to our environment and all the things in our environment.”
It’s funny, but a lot of us are a lot more comfortable when we’ve got the air conditioning on and we’re wearing clothes and we’re in a comfy recliner and we’re watching HBO with our feet up than we would be out on a trail somewhere.
And I’m one of those people, so I speak from experience. You know just like we can find the – what we call the wild progenitor of the dog – so we know that the dog comes from this wild organism, the progenitor of it, the wolf, we can find a wild progenitor of human.
And these are the aboriginal peoples of the world or the indigenous peoples of the world, the tribal hunter-gatherer peoples who lived basically everywhere around the world except the most extreme Arctic climates.
I mean we find our aboriginal ancestors were living everywhere. But they did so without the domestication of plants, without the domestication of animals, without factories, without jobs, without industries. They did that living in many ways, like so many other species of the planet, by being enmeshed in the natural world.
We have domesticated ourselves and we’ve left the natural world behind. And many people listening are going to say, “well, good, right. Isn’t that a good thing?”
And in many ways it seems that way. And then we start to observe what we learn from anthropologists, from archaeologists, from our Paleo anthropologists, from the people who study the ancient sites where we can look back into our early history.
And here’s what emerges:
The strangest thing is, when we really started this practice of domestication – and it really ramped up about 10,000 years ago in Mesopotamia – we started with the domestication of wheat. And when we began that process we see that life changed for us really dramatically.
We went from a life that was a very free and actually very leisurely – surprisingly leisurely.
But also we see that our bones shrunk and started to be scarred by the lesions of the repetitive stress of the work that we were doing. And we see that our brains actually shrunk.
So you would think, well, didn’t we get smarter when this started?
But actually we see our brains got smaller. And one of the real tell-tale signs is that we started to see damage in our teeth from the malnourishment of our new domesticated diet.
Now, here’s the thing – this process has been underway for 10,000 years, but it’s got a parabolic effect. It’s not a long slow process that just sort of trucks along. It’s like so many other processes, much like what population does. We went from early domestication and we trucked along for 10,000 years and then recently the health problems have skyrocketed. It’s a parabolic curve.
And what we see now is this rampant type of disease that we call degenerative.
And we call it degenerative because what we see is that our bodies are degenerating, our epigenetics – our epigenetic level – we’re degenerating. And we’re degenerating because we’re no longer evolving and adapting, we’re actually coming unglued. What would be great is if we saw, wow, look how we’re changing and adapting to this new lifestyle. But what we see is not that. We see – we sort of see that picture painted in our media, but what we see in reality is a rampant degenerative disease.
So that could be cancer, that could be heart disease, that could be arthritic type conditions of multiple types. That could be all of these misunderstood syndromes from myo-fascial pain to Lyme’s disease. It could be diabetic type blood sugar issues. But what we see is that people are going down faster and faster, earlier and earlier from degenerative disease. And it would be short sighted to look back and say hey, there was a lot of that a hundred years ago.
That’s true. But the process really got underway about 10,000 years ago!
Wow. So what is it, Daniel, that has been the real accelerating factors in this process? You talk about domestication, but what is it about domestication? Diet is a big one, and divorcing ourselves from nature. But can you talk a little bit more in detail about the whys of this degeneration?
I will. And let me say this first.
“My opinion is that if we remove ourselves from nature, we really truly remove ourselves from the source of all health and all life. And that process of boarding ourselves in – you know you could almost I guess metaphorically imagine a person who starts to shut out everyone who loves them and everyone who cares about them. And stops eating and stops taking care of themselves and boards themselves in more and more and more.”
That’s what we’re doing as a species.
Not only have we divorced ourselves from our connection to the planet itself – I mean we literally insulate electrically ourselves from the planet with our footwear.
We’ve moved out of natural air. And we’ve cut our ties to all the plants and animals who we saw before as our brothers and sisters or as our allies who today we’re actually – we’re actually causing an extinction level event on the planet.
So we are doing a kind of genocide against all other species.
So my opinion would be that is why, but let’s break it down a little bit more scientifically. You know if we were going to say, what creates or what are the factors that truly effect health? And you know I apologize if this seems a little myopic, I know there are many factors that create health, but let’s talk about some of the big ones.
I would say diet is a very large part of it. I would say lifestyle in general is a huge part of health creation. I would say exercise; we know that’s a tremendous part of our overall health. Our genetics of course are a huge part of our health, right? A lot of factors are genetic.
Our environmental exposures, the things that we get exposed to are incredibly important to our health. And of course our social structure and our familial structure is really important to our health.
So if we just took those few things, right?
Obviously there are many more – we could flush this out for days, but those I think are the real major things.
If we were going to look at what’s changed, you know for instance our diet used to be wild plants and wild animals primarily. We definitely ate fungi, we definitely ate microbes – we were hunters and gatherers. So we both hunted wild animals and we gathered wild plants. And those foods contain nutrients and compounds that we don’t really see in this day, or we see in different ratios in our modern foods.
For instance when we look at wild plants we see a radically different ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats. And so what we find is that once we domesticate a plant – for instance if we took a wild grain, like a wild seed from a grass, we would see that it had higher omega-3 fats and lower omega-6 fats than the grains that we eat today, which become very high in omega-6. And the problem is omega-6 fats are inflammatory. And we know that inflammatory conditions underlie most health issues.
So what we see is by domesticating the plants for whatever reason, those plants become more inflammatory.
We also see that the wild plants that we used to eat contained flavours that indicated the presence of complex, partially poisonous chemicals – alkaloids that were in our plants – most flavours were bitter – honestly, they’re bitter flavours. We used to eat foods that contained more bitterness.
By breeding that bitterness out through the domestication process – a great example would be our lettuces, which used to be much more bitter, we breed out the medicine. And the wild lettuces are still here, they’re still in your backyard for most of the people listening, but you may not recognize them.
They’re there and they’re on the side of the road and you drive by them every day if you live in North America – they have very strong bitter flavours because of the compounds that are found in there.
Now those compounds are poisonous, but they’re almost medicinal. Just like all pharmaceutical medicines which are poisonous but also medicinal and it’s all about the dose. Well, wild plants contained hosts of medicines. To this day most of our pharmaceuticals are still derived from plants – wild plants.
Well we used to eat those and we would get those medicines in our diet. Today we’ve bred them out, so we eat the plants but they don’t contain the medicines anymore.
And what ends up happening to us?
Well we start to have a medicine deficiency. And of course we’re trying to compensate for that by taking pharmaceutical drugs, but they’re too unnatural, too unbalanced. And they ultimately create horrible imbalances in our bodies. And I don’t think I really need to flush that out, I think a lot of the people listening get that pharmaceutical drugging is a very dangerous path to go down. And certainly there are some very tremendous benefits, especially in the emergency setting, but in the long-term treatment setting, I mean these things are dangerous.
And plants are what we have some 200,000 years of adaptation to. And we see a similar thing with the animals that we used to hunt who had very different types of body fat because those animals ate wild plants. Whereas today the animals people eat are eating domesticated grains.
And again, they end up accumulating these inflammatory fats and they end up becoming deficient in things that we really need, like the long-chain fats, which we build our brain from. And so we find that there’s deficiencies in our domesticated diet. Now again, this has gone parabolic because we started eating that food 10,000 years ago, but we still hunted and gathered.
And for a lot of the people listening, your mom probably – I mean your mom may have gathered herbs and your father may have hunted. I mean this isn’t like a practice that disappeared 10,000 year ago. But now we’re at a generation where suddenly almost no one does any practices like that anymore. And the food has gone from just being domesticated to being genetically modified and this is leading to health issues that are difficult to trace but profound in their effect.
So we see a diet today essentially that no longer even resembles the natural diet for our species.
And I think it’s obvious to anybody listening, if we were to take a wild animal and radically alter its diet, we would expect to see some negative effects because it’s adapted to that diet. So we’re not eating the diet we were adapted to. When we domesticated ourselves we changed our lifestyle.
We were actually semi-nomadic people. Human beings were not what we call sedentary. So we became sedentary when we started domesticating things. Because prior to that what we would do is we would eat up all the food in an area and then we would go to another area and eat up all the food there and wait for the food to grow back in the other area.
And we would – most peoples would have a sort of circuit that they did. It wasn’t like they wandered endlessly; they would have a circuit that they did. And they would go from sort of camp to camp, season to season eating up the food there and then allowing it to regenerate. And they actually had amazing processes to ensure that more grew back than what they took, so it was a beautiful thing.
When we started domesticating we started farming and that meant we stopped moving and we became what we call sedentary peoples. And we went from having a lifestyle where everybody was very equal to one that became hierarchical.
Because the creation of surplus foods meant that there had to be somebody to rule over those foods. And the ruling over those foods created the kind of hierarchies that we see now today. It also created a priest class and eventually a disciplinary kind of class, like the policing class. And so we – our lifestyle has changed dramatically from a tribal one where we moved, to a sedentary one, which is run through hierarchical modes of control.
So that has had a tremendous effect on our health.
Another piece would be the exercise piece because everybody was active and not because they were working out, right? So when we look at indigenous people, a fascinating thing about undomesticated people is that they have the muscle mass of our Olympic athletes.
Now, they don’t train for that. They don’t have like a hunter-gatherer gym they go to, they simply live outside and their daily practices of securing their needs, even though they work far less than we’ve ever worked and have far less stresses than we have, and have far better teeth and bones than we have, they still don’t have to do very much to maintain the muscle mass of our Olympic athletes.
As opposed to us, who – what we do is we actually work to store up money that we then spend on food that we eat and then we pay to go to a gym to try to burn off the calories that we ate because we didn’t need them. We created the crazy cycle where we essentially – not only do we have to find some artificial way to train ourselves today because of our lifestyle, we have to find artificial ways of exercising, but we typically choose forms of exercise that are more punishing than they are rewarding.
And so for a lot of people out there, they go through their exercise begrudgingly. And it’s unfortunate because I see exercise personally as training, and so it’s sad to see that people train themselves into unhappiness very often.
And of course we’ve seen that change with the emergence of sort of more like yoga and more cross-fit – more things that people are passionate about and that’s been great. But of course artificial exercise, you know we see – I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the amazing images of a chimpanzee with no hair but the muscle mass is shocking.
It’s shocking how muscular they are.
And they don’t, you know lift weights and they don’t need to.
They don’t run on treadmills, exactly. I think that the treadmill is sort of – you know I mean it is a lot like, you know the wheel that you put in the mouse cage, right?
It’s a road to nowhere. It’s almost beyond – it’s like it’s poignant, you know – running to nowhere. All of that work expended, but nothing accomplished, if that makes sense.
So if you think about the work – the exercise that an aboriginal person would do, every expenditure of energy would yield something produced as opposed to, you know all that energy of running on the treadmill, but not actually getting anywhere. All that work lifting things, but not actually having put anything together is really – I think it’s poignant.
I think it’s unfortunate.
So a couple more factors. You know one would be our genetics. And I think ultimately that’s what we see with domestication. You know genetics are a huge factor in our health. Now we as a species share a genome, but each individual has a unique epigenome.
The epigenome is the information that rides along with your genome like a little sidecar of data that – it flicks on genetic switches and flicks off genetic switches. And your epigenome is heavily influenced by the foods you eat, by the foods your mom ate and your dad ate, by the food that your grandmother and grandfather ate – heavily affected out about three generations.
And of course what we see is that there’s been a tremendous lifestyle shift in the last 10,000 years, but it’s really accelerated in the last couple generations. So today what we see and we hear about – so many genetic illnesses. Now what I want the listener to know is that most of these genetic illnesses, what ends up happening to somebody is yes, they have a gene that predisposes them to the potential for a type of illness.
But it’s up to them whether or not that gene gets expressed. How you live, what you eat, environmental factors, how you exercise determines if that gene will get expressed or not get expressed. So if somebody has a gene that predisposes them to breast cancer, they do not have to go get the Angelina Jolie double mastectomy.
They simply have to live a lifestyle that doesn’t turn those genes on. And I mean it’s a tremendously sad thing to see the level of slashing and burning people will go to, the augmentation because they don’t know that they have some control over the expression of genes in their body.
Instead we’ve almost been convinced our body is attacking us or waging war against us, or – like as if you’re not your body and your body is this separate thing fighting you with it.
It’s very sad. So we have really altered our genetics through this process of domestication, but we also still have a tremendous measure of control. The next piece I would say is environmental exposures.
I just did a little research on this before the call because I wanted to offer a little insight into environmental exposures. If you imagine – let’s say we go back to the world of the Native American tribal person, pre-1492. I don’t want to give the impression – I don’t want to sound utopic, like I think that the people who were, you know living here in the Americas prior to the era of Columbus had some perfect life.
I understand that they didn’t.
But compared to us today, they did in many ways. One way would be that they lived in a world of old-growth forest, waterfalls, clean rivers, clean rain, no chemicals, healthy soils, no deforestation, no erosion, no runoff, no chemical exposure. They lived in a perfectly clean environment.
We can’t even imagine it today.
And it’s going to be a long time before anyone can imagine it again. We’ve altered our landscape so much so that geologists today are calling our current era the anthropocene era. And it means that we’ve changed the earth so dramatically that it will be seen in the layers by future archeologists. So we have altered our landscape and we’ve released concentrated – reacted and released nuclear radiation – nucleotides at a level that just is almost unimaginable. And that’s going to be here for a long time.
But interestingly we in the United States currently have 85,000 registered chemicals in commerce. 85,000 new, man-made registered chemicals in commerce and we add 2,000 every year.
Oh my goodness.
Now, does anyone entertain the idea that we know what all these chemicals do in our bodies over time or what the interactions of these different chemicals? I think we all know that we don’t know. And we are just haphazardly really sort of creating and releasing things.
And what we end up finding out about these chemicals when – what we end up learning is that they’re bad for us, but we learn it in retrospect.
So we find out oh, BPA, wow, it appears that bisphenol A is an endocrine disrupter and that it destroys fertility and that it creates tumors and cancers in the reproductive systems of men and women. But oh, sorry, it’s in almost everything in your house. Oops. “We’ve altered our landscape so much so that geologists today are calling our current era the anthropocene era. And it means that we’ve changed the earth so dramatically that it will be seen in the layers by future archeologists.”
Right? So rather than anybody stopping to ask the question first, what we do is we rush it through. And you know a lot of us could say oh, the congress should have – you know it’s the chemical industry, it’s this – but we’re buying the stuff, so ultimately really a lot of the power resides with us, you know.
We vote with our dollars.
But my point is, is that the Native American person, the Aboriginal of Australia, the Ainu person of Japan, they were not dealing with chemical exposures the way that we are. So that’s had a tremendous effect on our health. We’ve changed our world. We had a very utopic world and now we have an almost – well, we have a dystopic world and we have to learn how to really deal with that and create strategies to deal with it.
And the last piece I want to give on this is our social structure. We went from a world of tribal interconnectedness. And again, I know the tribes warred with each other, I know that things were not perfect, but the difference between our world today and the world that we were from – we lived in a tribal setting. We had elders who were wise. We had many, many generations of people that we would be enmeshed in.
We would be enmeshed in many generations – young people beneath us and older people – wise people above us, and we would move through that from our early stages to our elder stages through the life cycle enmeshed in a tribal setting. And then what we did was we became sedentary and we created larger villages and we created hierarchical structures and we created monarchies and we created slave states and we created peasantries. And as we’ve become more and more technologically evolved, we’ve become more and more isolated.
So we went from villages to neighbourhoods to individual nuclear family units to broken family units to what we’re moving into right now, which is an era of the isolated individual.
Currently, right – when we go to school, we’re separated away from every other generation. So we’re only with our own generation, which means that we lose the ability to learn from an older generation or a younger generation. And we are kept in that kind of generational isolation throughout the entire commissary school process so that by the time that we’re done we haven’t been able to garner that kind of wisdom anymore.
And then we’re quickly pushed onto a workforce, which is often very similar. And more and more what we’re finding because technology allows us all to have only what we want when we want it, we’re finding ourselves incredibly isolated. And even though we have more and more friends on Facebook, we have less and less friends in reality. We have more and more friends who live so far away that we can’t just go visit them. When I was a kid I remember I had friends in my neighbourhood.
Now my friends – and I love my friends, but they’re all over the world and that’s fantastic except that I can’t just get together with them anymore.
You know? And we don’t know the people on our street anymore. And what’s happened is the individual finds himself more and more isolated. So again, we went from the diet that we were perfectly adapted to, that kept us in perfect health – a lifestyle that kept us in perfect health, exercise that kept us in perfect health. We had perfectly healthy genetics and a perfectly clean environment with a truly warm, loving tribal structure.
Today, we have adulterated all of that and now we’re at this place where we need a strategy to get through this because it is truly becoming a dystopia for those people who don’t have any answers.
Wow. That’s a lot, Daniel. And for some of us out there that’s going to be brand new information and it may seem pretty intense. But as you say, there are strategies out there and that’s kind of the work that you are all about. And I know that you use the elements as a kind of template for re-wilding and I think it’s such a perfect and simple way to reference when thinking about strategies and ways to incorporate re-wilding into our lives. So can you explain to us how you use the elements to illustrate re-wilding and maybe go into a few easy tips that we can start doing straight away to help rewild our lives and foster maybe some more vitality for ourselves?
Yeah. The good news is these strategies are really easy. They’re very instinctive. And using the four elements like you mentioned, using earth, water, air and fire as a template, really what we’re doing is we can use it as an accelerated learning system. So rather than having to look – frankly, do what I did, which was spend half of my life trying to figure out what to do about everything we just talked about.
Here I’ll give it to you in a very simple package that’s really easy to make dramatic shifts in your lifestyle at the pace that you’re comfortable with and in a way that you won’t forget about it. So I think we – nobody’s going to forget earth, water, air, fire; we can easily remember that stuff.
And that makes this a very easy system to learn. So here’s rewilding in a wild nutshell.
Okay. So the earth element is a great way for us to think about the things that we eat. Because anything we eat rises out of the soil or really truly out of the earth.
You know earth is a synonym for soil in many cases. So we can think of earth as all those foods that we need to eat. The first thing to remember is that foods have to come from soil. Really I think even before that we want to remember that everything we eat is a life form.
We eat living things or things excreted by living things. It’s easy to forget that because everything comes in Styrofoam and cellophane where most people buy their food. And I know that’s probably not true for a lot of the listeners, but for a lot of the people the listeners know, food is abstract today.
And it’s only going to become more abstract as we move forward.
Now luckily there’s been a renaissance in local food production and this is great, this is good news for us. But keep in mind that you eat the cells of things that were alive before or you eat things that those cells have excreted. For instance honey or milk or something like that, that is excreted by a living thing. But we eat basically life forms that spring up from the earth.
Now, I think it’s really helpful to think about four kingdoms of life that we eat from. Not everybody eats from all four kingdoms, but it’s important to know about all four kingdoms. And I say that because there are people who let’s say may be a vegetarian, who doesn’t eat from the kingdom of animals. But it’s good to know that we do come from hunter-gatherers and that there is a 200,000-year precedent of us eating animal foods and being in extremely good health.
So I just want to put that out there. But we do consume as a people, as a species four kingdoms of life. We eat from the animals and those are the foods that we hunted.
Now today, those wild animals are not as available to us, so if we’re going to eat from the kingdom of Animalia, we want to make sure that we eat animals that have been reared on their natural diets and in most cases that’s going to mean grasses. Because typically we eat ruminants. So it’s very important to choose pastured animal foods.
I think that’s critical and it’s a way to ensure that the right balance of those fats that we talked about before are present, so we get those low inflammatory fats.
Now, a replacement for eating animals and what allowed India to be a nation of vegetarians was the consumption of dairy products, which were a replacement for meats. And that’s how they subsisted as vegetarians all that time. Again, if somebody chooses to eat dairy products because they don’t have – if they don’t have sensitivities to them, then I would really suggest making sure again that you get grass fed.
And the further we go back in the genetics – in other words if we look at the modern day Holstein cow today, they produce a very inflammatory milk, but we see that we can find less inflammatory milks from Jersey cows. Just to put that out there.
Eggs the same way, pastured are always going to be better. Now, we need to eat plants as well. We eat from the plant kingdom. So we want to make sure that the plants we eat are organically raised, and if can we want to find heirloom varieties of plants. And the best place to do that is at your local farmer’s market or grow them yourself. If you’re going to buy these things in a store you want to choose organic and that is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family.
Keep in mind that we also eat from the fungi family. And it’s very valuable to look at these medicinally powerful mushrooms many of which can now be bought in our supermarkets. And if you get the right kind of education – you don’t do this randomly, but the right kind of education you can harvest these yourself in nature.
Mushrooms have a powerful adaptogenic and anticancer effects and we used to eat them and we have a lot less in our diet today. So they can be very valuable to us. And the fourth, but maybe the most important is the kingdom of microbiota or microorganisms.
And when I say that what I mean is we used to eat a lot of fermented food. Foods that we actually fed first to microbes and then we ate those microbes’ bodies. An example would be sauerkraut. We take a perfectly good cabbage, we let it ferment and be eaten by microbes and then we eat that stuff.
And that stuff fills our bodies – our intestinal lumen with those microbes that work as a kind of defense force for us, a kind of immune system for us keeping us very healthy.
For some people their fermented food might be kombucha, others it may be yogurts, others it may be kefirs, many to choose from and more and more available to us now. So earth, I want you to think four kingdoms of life. And when you choose from those kingdoms you choose the healthiest versions of everything that you can. That’s critical.
The next element is water. All water’s not created equal and I want people to know that, that it’s easy to think all water’s the same thing. But interestingly all waters are sort of different. And the best waters for us are natural living waters like spring waters. “… I want you to think four kingdoms of life. And when you choose from those kingdoms you choose the healthiest versions of everything that you can. That’s critical.”
So I just want to plug quickly my website – a free website that you can use, findaspring. com, which is a database of springs and that will lead you to a spring in your area where if you wanted to you could go and fill up bottles with living, natural clean water from aquifers from deep below the earth.
You simply roll up to a pipe that’s stuck in a spring, that water flows out perfectly clean and it’s not contaminated with all of the contaminants that our surface waters around the world are contaminated with. If you don’t have access to that another great water would be water from deep drilled wells, that water that you may have in your home or someone you know may have in their home.
That water comes from aquifers that’s not been treated with chlorine, not been treated with fluoride, it’s not been treated with phosphoric acid or sodium hydroxide or any other numerous things that ends up in our water supply today. If you must filter your water, please visit my website and check out on danielvitalis.com.
I have an article on demineralized water and learn some strategies to remineralize your water. Because it’s very important that we don’t strip our water of nutrients and often filters, whilst they remove a lot of the bad stuff, remove a lot of the good stuff and create a kind of water that’s maybe not really healthy for us.
The next piece will be air. And remember that human beings today spend 99 percent of their time indoors. Oh, my gosh, that’s a lot.
That is a lot.
It is a lot. And the air indoors is always more polluted than the air outside even if you live in a place where there’s a lot of air pollution. So you might think well, I’m in LA; I’ll close the windows up because the air out there is really bad. Well, the air out there is the air that’s inside too except the air inside has no ions in it and it’s locked up with all of the out-gassing furniture and flooring and cabinetry and countertops.
We need to be very conscientious about the things we bring in our homes.
Because the stuff we bring in our homes typically has been manufactured using some of these 85,000 chemicals I mentioned earlier. And a lot of them are volatile and they out-gas into the air and we breathe that. Now one quick strategy – houseplants eat toxic chemicals out of the air.
This was proven in a fantastic study by NASA looking – you know NASA had to figure out if we’re going to put these astronauts up in space inside these sealed containers full of plastic, how are we going to keep them from being super sick from all of these out-gassing chemicals.
And they figured out that plants eat chemicals out of the air, so that’s really important.
Another piece will be having a HEPA filter in your home. It’s tremendously valuable for removing particulate from the air. HEPA just means high efficiency particulate air filter. And what it does is it pulls out little particles, stuff that plants can’t eat – little chunks of stuff.
Particularly it pulls out dust and remember dust is dead skin. And dead skin is fed upon by mites. So what’s floating in our air is lots of dead skin with mites on it that we inhale and breathe and filter into our lungs. And this did not happen for indigenous people.
Because they didn’t seal themselves inside buildings, so their dead skin went into the ecosystem and was decomposed. Ours is trapped in our house and we breathe it. So we want to basically keep the air as clean as we can. If you have plants and have one HEPA filter that you can move around your home, you can keep your air really clean.
And the major important thing is keeping your windows open as much as possible because you want to be getting that fresh air in. Fresh air is not just like some sort of random statement, it refers to the ions that are in the air and that’s an electrical property. Air should have ions in it. You can buy ion generators if you live in a place where you really can’t get good fresh air into the house.
Get an ion generator; that will help to improve the air quality. And as much as possible we want to be getting time outside. Walks in nature are a great way for us to get fresh air, particularly in forests, at beaches, near waterfalls or moving water. That’s where some of the best air is going to be.
The last piece of these four elements is going to be fire. And when I say fire, I’m really talking about the fire of the furnace of the sun.
So the sun is a massive fire, it’s a hydrogen furnace. And that fire’s emitting electromagnetic radiation, which comes down here to earth and guess what? We’re adapted to it. So if we get around other forms of electromagnetic radiation we’re usually not adapted to it.
And so the kind that maybe comes from our televisions, our computers, our phones, our Wi-Fi, that’s a kind of electromagnetic radiation we’re not adapted to because it’s brand new.
And we are adapted to the kind of electromagnetic radiation that comes from the sun because we’ve had millions of years of evolution to adapt to and actually rely on it. Now, what we’re told strangely is avoid the sun and stay inside around all these machines.
And the machines become almost a surrogate sun because they also emit light and radiation. But not in the frequencies and not in the color bands that we rely on for health. So I’m not saying that you should stay outside all the time in the sun without any protection from the sun, but I do think it’s really important that we get some noonday sun on as much bare skin as possible. If you’re a very fair complected person, you need less; if you’re a darkly complected person you definitely need more.
We rely on it to create the master key hormone of all health, and that’s vitamin D, critical to nearly every process in our body at some level. And people are incredibly deficient in vitamin D. But we also rely on the sun for other things as well, particularly the regulation of our circadian rhythm, of our secretion from the pineal gland of serotonin and melatonin. These are our mood regulators and our sleep cycle regulators.
When people become troglodytes – cave dwellers, they remove themselves from the sun; it throws their serotonin into sort of out of balance. And those people very often end up not feeling good. And you know one of the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency by the way is osteomalacia, which means bone pain.
So what you end up with is a person with a deep aching painful body experience and a very depressed mood state. And those people become prime candidates for pharmaceutical psychoactive, psychotropic drugging. And interestingly what they actually needed was – it’s almost so perfectly metaphorical that it’s absurd. What they needed was to step into the light. They needed enlightenment.
They needed to go back to the source, they needed to look at the sun of God, however you want to say that, they – you know we remove ourselves from the source, we hide from it in the darkness, when all health comes from that great source of light.
So in a nutshell, a simple, simple – we’ll say a Brazilian nutshell because Brazil nuts are a wild, uncultivated, undomesticated food – so in a Brazil nutshell what we want to be doing is starting to look at four things. What’s the earth? Food that we eat. What’s the water? The water we drink. What’s the air? The air that we breathe. And what’s the fire? The light that we’re exposed to.
Think about the average American right now. They’re eating genetically modified and cloned foods – yes, I said cloned foods.
Most of the fruits people eat are clones. They eat genetically modified cloned foods; they drink chemically laden treated dead water. They breathe dead recycled conditioned air. And the only true light source that they’re in front of is their iPhone. How healthy could they be?
What if we took a wild chimpanzee and we made them live under those conditions, how long until they would have cancer, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis? Probably not that long. Why would we expect something different from ourselves? So guess what? Rewilding yourself is not you saying good-bye to your family and heading off to the Savannah to live like a chimpanzee.
It’s you living a beautiful, modern life, but being incredibly discerning about the choices that you make for yourself and your family and approximating some of those things that we used to have in our life. And bringing them back in a way that feels sustainable and healthy for you so that you can enjoy some of your ancestral health, which – I mean really, honestly – and if you look at the research on this you’ll see, was a kind of health that we rarely see today.
And it’s a very enjoyable thing to do and it’s all available to you right outside your door. And I know for myself I’ve always sort of looked to nature if I’m pondering a question about what to eat or what my body needs. If you just look at an animal and you just look outside your door, it’s all there for you – what’s available – what’s there. The sun is there, the clean air is there, the plants are there and in what form are they available.
And we enjoy being outside so much and have to go on these sort of packaged holidays to get that time. So there is that disconnection, but it doesn’t have to be that way. And we don’t have to go far, we can just go into our backyards and hopefully we have one. And if we don’t, then we can go to a city park and really try and enjoy that and participate in it and not just be there and snap our photos and leave. But getting back in communication with nature and touch it and breathe it and, you know I like to say roll around in it. And the well-being found in that.
You remind me of the story of the Wizard of Oz, you know I – I’ve always thought it was a really interesting story because each of the characters to me represents one of the elements. And we see like that Dorothy represents earth, she’s looking for home, she’s looking to be grounded again, she’s looking for earth.
The scarecrow represents the mind and that’s always been associated with air. Air is thought and communication. And we see the tin man, who’s afraid of water but that’s because he’s looking for emotion and he’s looking to be able to cry again. So he’s looking for water.
And we see this lion who’s looking for the fire of courage. And the story is that it’s always been in your backyard the whole time and that you don’t have to go searching for it.
And what I think that we – we all sense this stuff that we’re talking about today. We all sense it and it emerges in our arts and it emerges in our storytelling and it emerges culturally, but very few of us have been able to interpret it because again, we’ve lived very isolated from wisdom.
And the good news is, is that every action of your ancestors is embedded within you right in your genetics. And you have access to that information again, but we’ve got to turn the noise down a little bit to find it and we’ve got to get coherent. And you know there’s the tremendous push for distraction right now and the biggest thing that can distract us right now is that we have access to a little pleasure button.
You know we’re like a monkey in an experiment, push the red button; get a little pleasure dopamine rush. We have access to, you know technologies and drugs that make us feel any way we want to feel at any moment. And that’s new and that’s distracting and it’s like a kind of noise. So we have to – like you said in the beginning of this call, it’s not that we’re saying hey, you’ve got to stay unplugged all the time, it’s we’ve got to relish those moments of quiet when we can let wisdom emerge.
We don’t have to think about it, it emerges. And like you said, in nature the answer to your query emerges.
And the answers are also outside your door. But nature is inside us, you know it’s not separate from us. We are nature. And I have a beautiful call with – his name is Kenton Whitman, and we go deeper into that journey of how we are intertwined and we are nature. And I think that’s really integral in this journey, that we don’t need to – like I said in the introduction – look for the next quick fix that’s going to put a band aid on our ouchies. You know? It’s something that’s always been there, and just the way that you feel when you walk in a forest or go to your cottage by the lake is a window into a whole world of vitality and wellness that’s just waiting and sitting quietly there for you.
I couldn’t agree more.
So there’s just one last question I’d love to ask you before we can let you go, Daniel. This is still under the WISH Summit, so I’d love to ask you what your wild wish is for the people listening to this call.
My wild wish – my wild wish is that the truth would have its day. Because I feel like I live in a world that is under a kind of spell and under a kind of hypnosis. And I’ve spent my life finding other people who are not susceptible to that hypnosis, or who come easily out of that hypnosis. And I think my wish for myself, but also for all those people is that we get to see the truth have its day.
And that we see all of these things that we know are possible, that we feel are possible, that we experience and we know they work.
My wish is to see those things employed and to not have to fight and struggle to see those things happen on a small scale, but to see them happen on a large scale. And I don’t know how to make that happen, but I know how to share my truth and so many other people are sharing their truth. So my wild wish is for all of that to finally hit that tipping point where truth really, really has its day and all things are revealed.
Here, here. And thank you so much for sharing your truth with us. It is always such a pleasure to listen to you speak. I could do it for days. So yes, thank you so much, Daniel, for your time and your wisdom. We’ve really enjoyed having you again.
Thank you so much for giving me a place to share.
About Daniel Vitalis
Daniel Vitalis is a writer, podcaster, public speaker, and lifestyle pioneer in the sphere of human health, personal development, and strategic living.
He is especially interested in how our long adapted ancestral life ways have been disrupted by modern domesticated living, and what we can do to restore the natural conditions that once granted us vigorous bodies and wild, sovereign minds. He is best known for relentlessly flouting taboo — and exposing the forces of domestication wherever they lurk — in his lucid, provocative, and illuminating interviews, essays, videos, and on stage discourses.
He is the host of the podcast ReWild Yourself, as well as the founder of SurThrival, a fresh and unique, high-end natural supplement boutique. Daniel can be found on Netflix in the film Hungry For Change, and has been featured in Marie Claire Magazine, The Huffington Post, RT, as well as countless other interviews and media appearances.
He currently adventures the world, and rurally resides in the Pine State of Maine, with his black and tan Catahoula leopard dog companion, Kaina.
Connect with Daniel at DanielVitalis.com, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.