I’ve been asked the genesis of the name for my wellness consultancy, MED-Evolutionary Wellness. This name arises from the fundamentals of what I believe to be the best lifestyle practices for many, and especially for those of us 45 and older who seek to have and maintain a robust lifestyle.
The first principle that informs my beliefs is Minimum Effective Dose, or MED. This term, originating from the study of pharmacology and since applied to disciplines such as physical training, nutrition and even learning paradigms, refers to the “minimum dose that produces a therapeutic response or desired effect.” As such, anything beyond the MED is wasteful. Think about this for a moment. If we do just enough, the minimum, and achieve the desired result, we have more resources for the rest of what makes life so wonderful. We have more time, more energy, and we even have more tangible resources, like money. I am grateful to Tim Ferriss and his book The Four Hour Body (2010) (http://fourhourbody.com) for introducing this concept to me. Since then, I have seen it applied to endeavours as diverse as language acquisition, sales techniques, and diet adaptation. I believe that the practices we undertake to support and promote a healthy lifestyle and robust longevity should not be all consuming. They should be purposeful, focussed, efficient and effective. And, they should be in support of all the other meaningful activities of a rich life, rather than in place of them. When considering one’s own health and wellness, I am a strong advocate of viewing each element through the lens of Minimal Effective Dose or MED.
The second principle upon which MED-Evolutionary Wellness is founded is the ‘evolutionary’ part. I have long been looking for the best approach to nutrition and physical training in support of robust longevity. For most of my life, and as a result of the formal education I received in this area, I was a firm believer in the standard metabolic equation, which simply considered calories in and calories out: If you consume more calories than you use, you have an excess of calories likely to be expressed as extra body fat; consume fewer calories than you use, and you will lose excess body tissue. Maintain a balance between calories in and calories out, and you will maintain body composition. In short, I believed that I could eat almost anything I wanted so long as I balanced these choices with enough physical exercise to burn the extra off and keep it all in check.
Then I hit my 50s, realized that metabolism tends to change and slow as one ages, and was interested in mindful choices which would set me up for a healthy second half of life. Fortunately, I came across several perspectives, which resulted in a shift for me and my approach to training, diet, and nutrition. I read Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014) by Yuval Noah Harari (https://www.ynharari.com/book/sapiens/), The New Evolution Diet (2011) by Arthur DeVany (https://www.outsideonline.com/2284206/eating-reverse-aging), The Blue Zones (2015) by Dan Buettner ( https://www.bluezones.com), and even went back and reviewed the core tenets of Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species (1859). The Darwin deep-dive was inspired by the fascinating work of Robert Wright found in The Moral Animal (1994). Further, I reviewed the eye-opening work of Gary Taubes (http://garytaubes.com), author of Good Calories, Bad Calories; Fats, Carbs and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health (2007), and Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It (2010) as well as The Case Against Sugar (2016).
The findings, recommendations and research of these authors, as well as the synthesis of many complimentary works of like minded colleagues, resonated with me like no other discussions of these topics that I had ever encountered. For me, the ‘light bulb’ went on. Essentially, what I’ve come to understand is that we need look no further than our evolutionary past to discover the best practices for optimal health today. The way our most successful ancestors ate, moved, expended and conserved energy all lead to homo sapiens becoming the most advanced organism on the planet. MED-Evolutionary Wellness considers these practices as foundations for the ‘45 & Thrive’ principles for nutrition and training in pursuit of robust longevity.
I will examine more closely a few key ‘paleo-centric’ and ‘evolutionary wellness’ principles related to nutrition and training in subsequent columns. Suffice it to say for now that I believe our bodies have a natural predisposition towards becoming the perfect entities which evolution has prescribed, and there are consistent, observable and foundational practices which support this inclination. It then becomes our responsibility, through dietary choices and physical training practices, to provide the optimal conditions for this to be realized.
Our wellness should not be subject to an outdated, misguided and questionable math equation based upon calorie counting. Our physiology is more complicated than that – there are more variables, and the results of understanding this is ultimately more rewarding. However, just because metabolic physiology is itself a complicated process, this does not mean the pathway to optimizing this process needs to be. In fact, I believe by combining an understanding of Minimal Effective Dose with Evolutionary Wellness considerations, the result can be a set of lifestyle guidelines which are not only achievable, but support exceptional health and well being. We just need to be mindful of the conditions we subject ourselves to in consideration of the beings we are meant to be. We have evolved over millions of years towards becoming the optimal species to inhabit our environment. I believe we should be cognizant of the elements fundamental to that evolution and try to stay in tune with these best practices as we strive today towards robust longevity.
These two principles, Minimum Effective Dose (MED) and Evolutionary Wellness, form the foundation of the best practices I’ve come across as a health and fitness professional and consultant. These ideas mesh together symbiotically to produce what I believe is a simple, focused and effective set of lifestyle habits leading to the natural outcome of a full and healthy lifestyle accentuated by robust longevity.
What more could one ask for?
Cheers, for now…
Michael Patterson, M.Ed.
Lift long and Prosper
Michael Patterson M.Ed, has spent 30+ years as a fitness and health professional. He holds degrees in Physical and Health Education, Psychology, and Education. Find out more about Michael and follow him on his website at www.45andthrive.com, and on Instagram @45andthrive. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected].
*DISCLAIMER: The information provided and discussed in this column is based on my personal experience, studies of physical and health education and my expertise as a lifelong fitness and health professional. Any recommendations made about fitness, training, nutrition, supplements or lifestyle, or information provided through this column, should be discussed with your physician or other health-care professional.
Editorial Note: the author receives no compensation, consideration, nor remuneration as a result of highlighting the publications and research cited above. These links are provided for readers interested in following up on topics mentioned herein.