This article is written in partnership with Ancestral Supplements. They’re dedicated to putting back in what the modern world has left out, ethically, and we’re proud to work with them. ~ ed.
Ancestors are trending.
That AI photo tool started it all. You know, the one that turns old photos into strangely mesmerizing animated loops, bringing long-dead people “back to life”?
Ensuing online discussions about the ethics of this technology aside, they got me thinking…
About the wisdom behind those ancient eyes. About what we’ve forgotten in our fast-paced modern lives. About how many of today’s ills (physical, sociological, mental, spiritual…) might be traced back to how singularly “now-focused” we’ve become.
Of course, progress is a thing. We build on the mistakes of those who’ve gone before, just as much as we build on their wisdom. But could reaching back in time give us the grounding many of us seem to be grasping for in this time of shifting sands?
I’m not talking about nostalgia for “simpler times.” I’m talking about age-old tenets for living worth resurrecting in a time of out-of-control speediness. After all, we need both roots and wings, right? Or something like that.
Ancestral Living: Could going “Back in Time” be the Key to better Well-Being, Today?
Given this backdrop, as well as a personal passion for health and wellness, I was curious to learn about Brian Johnson and his approach to living, eating, sleeping, moving…all based on ancestral wisdom.
Brian is the founder of Ancestral Supplements. He and his team are on a mission to re-educate us toward better health, through a return to ancestral living tenets. His family’s own wellness journey is the personal backstory to the brand.
“I, too, started this health journey out of medical necessity. When my boys were tiny (around 2004ish), they didn’t thrive. They were allergic to everything. Every doctor we took them to gave us the same prescriptions for allergy medicines, Benadryl, and an epi-pen. After reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price, we took matters into our hands starting with organic, pasture-raised, and wild-caught nose-to-tail foods with varied organic, in-season fruits and veggies. This was many moons ago.
My boys haven’t been back to a doctor’s office since because, well, they don’t need to. My boys never get sick. They don’t get the flu. They don’t get allergies. Their development is actually amazing. They’re in the top 95th percentile for academics and when they test their mile times for physical fitness, they’re in the 99th percentile. What’s crazy is that my kids don’t do all that insane studying that other kids do today (not even close) and they don’t even practice running. They’re just mentally and physically fit!”
Ancestral Supplements was founded on the belief that the human organism is superbly adapted to an environment that no longer exists. Our modern world is totally inappropriate for the bodies we inhabit today, and the vast majority of our health and happiness problems result from this mismatch.
This is, in short, The Evolutionary Theory of Health and Wellness.
For millions of years, robust strength and exceptional health were central to our existence. We were once strong, lean, healthy and fit. Brian and his team maintain that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, including nose-to-tail consumption of animals, is the central tether that connected our ancestral to the natural world, on all levels—from the physical to the spiritual.
Like the fertile ground that we once walked upon, we were a natural extension of this earth.
In the modern world, we unknowingly struggle to fulfill our nutritional needs in order to support and sustain a vibrant, disease-free life.
Many of us are critically deficient in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K, and E, as well as magnesium, iron, choline, B12, and iodine.
Because of this, Ancestral Supplements focus on products that make the biggest impact on overall health: the highest quality grass-fed beef liver and bone marrow.
Ancestral Living goes beyond popping a pill and getting on with business as usual, though. As a lifestyle, it’s about rekindling our connection to our deep ancestral history.
5 Key Tenets of Ancestral Living.
There are nine of them, in fact. Fellow wellness geeks can dive deeper into all, here. But these are the five that stood out to me as totally doable, like today.
1. Sleep like a Rock.
Okay, so there are levels here. How deeply you commit depends on how badly you want to reclaim your health and happiness, as Brian says. Bearing in mind that smaller changes made incrementally are proven to be more sustainable long-term, here are the main Ancestral Sleep pointers:
- Regulate your circadian cycle with morning sun exposure at the same time, daily.
- Finish your last meal at least 3 to 4 hours before bedtime.
- Earthing: see point #4 further down for more
- Sleep cool: between 64 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Sleep dark: use blackout curtains or blinds.
- Use Himalayan salt lamps at sunset instead of regular lighting.
- Wear UVEX safety goggles ($9 apiece) at least 2 hours before going to bed…the Ancestral Supplements tribe considers this one a seriously big deal. They say that if you’re only going to do one thing, this should be it.
- Don’t be a mouth breather. Shut your mouth. Breathe through your nose. Do what it takes to ensure you can. Like, even going as far as taping your mouth closed, they say.
- Sleep on the floor: ironically, sleeping in the equivalent of a cushioned cast might be exactly what’s behind our morning aches and pains.
2. Eat like an Ancestor.
As Brian explains, our ancient ancestors were not just visiting the natural world for a day or a week or month as a retreat. They were integrated into the environment, and adapted to their circumstances, resources, and food supply, changing effortlessly with the seasons.
Despite the fact that food sources were seasonal, variable, sometimes scarce, and required great effort and skill to acquire, they were still able to access the nutritional requirements to not only survive but thrive.
Millions of years of environmental pressures and natural selection have honed our DNA into the form most harmonious with the natural environment. Though our world is far different than that one, our biology has been left relatively unchanged.
Traditional peoples, Native Americans, and early ancestral healers believed that eating the organs from a healthy animal would strengthen and support the health of the corresponding organ of the individual. This nose-to-tail approach not only benefits our nutrition but honors the animal.
That’s right: animal organs are the original superfood. Beef liver, for example, is stronger than your average daily multi-vitamin and has three times the amount of nutrition than superfoods.
That said, it is absolutely crucial that we’re mindful of the source: organic, grass-fed, wild-caught only. This is exactly what Ancestral Supplements focus on when it comes to their raw sources.
The thing is unless you happen to know a few local, small-scale organic farmers, or you’re prepared to hunt and process your own animal products (respect to you), then I’m betting it might be a little legwork to meet these criteria.
And, unless you have an Austrian grandma who can whip up some traditional, yet sustainably-sourced blood sausage and liver for ya, then you may find yourself in some unfamiliar territory in the kitchen. Here’s where Ancestral Supplements aim to fill the gap.
Grass-Fed, Ethically-Raised, Nose-to-Tail Nutrition:
Small Batch, High Quality:
Ancestral Supplements produce one small batch at a time to ensure higher quality and attention to detail. This includes third-party testing all products to ensure purity and product specification. They are a small, Texas-based family-run business doing things the old-fashioned way. No shortcuts. Higher quality. Higher standards. Customers come first.
3. Move like an Ancestor.
What you do with your body is just as important as what you put into it. In maintaining a “healthy level of movement,” we also develop a healthy approach to consumption, where instincts become far more identifiable and beneficial.
The human body is designed to move. People in hunter-gatherer groups probably walked around 10,000 steps a day. It’s not hard to get in the levels of movement we are biologically evolved for. Here is Brian’s schedule:
- First thing in the morning: walk for 20-30. Brian says this is his cup of coffee, but again: levels, people.
- Early afternoon: walk for 20-30 minutes. This is his afternoon nap, though some scientific evidence suggests having one of those may not be a bad idea, either.
- After dinner: walk for 20-30 minutes.
If you can’t walk this much and if you have a desk-based job, consider getting a standing desk, take short movement breaks, and replace driving with walking wherever possible.
Brian also lifts heavy things but this is supplemental to moving around at a slow pace. Whatever you can do, start there. Just get moving and notice how your body responds.
4. Connect to the Earth.
Our early ancestors were in constant contact with nature. At the heart of earthing is a central physics-based relationship. Since the advent of shoes, houses, flooring, and elevated beds, we’ve lost our connection with the earth and its inherent electrical field.
It doesn’t cost anything. It doesn’t require a whole lot of effort. All you need to do is take off your shoes and put your bare feet directly on the earth (grass, dirt, gravel, sand…) That’s it! Do this for a 10-minute stretch and pay attention to how you feel. Do it in the morning, do it in the evening or do it every few days…some is better than none. If you see and feel the value in it, you’ll do it more.
5. Get Cold.
Our early ancestors were regularly subjected to cold temperatures. It’s most likely why we humans have brown adipose tissue (BAT). BAT is especially abundant in newborns and in hibernating mammals. It is also present and metabolically active in adult humans and its primary function is thermoregulation. In the modern world though, we are rarely subjected to cold temperatures for any real duration. Being warm and toasty is just more comfortable, after all.
Exposing ourselves to the positive stress of cold prompts our in-built, DNA-coded potential for strength and health to fully express itself, bringing widespread benefits to our cardiovascular, circulatory, immune, metabolic, and nervous systems.
Wim Hoff is clearly onto something. And I speak from personal experience when I say it’ll grow on ya! Give it a try.
Start with cold/hot shower contrasts for 30 seconds at a time. At first, it is downright uncomfortable but stick with it for at least 30 days if you can. As Brian says, the way it leaves you feeling (alive AF, in short) will keep you coming back for more.
It does get easier, too, because the adaptive mechanisms, including the smooth muscles that line the blood vessels, well…adapt. They get stronger, faster, and more efficient at doing what they were designed to do. You’ll probably notice that your ability to withstand cold will increase considerably after only a few days. So, first, it gets easier. Then, it starts to feel amazing.
Struggle develops strength. Sleep and nutrition are fundamental to healing. Brian and the tribe behind Ancestral Supplements not only believe but live this philosophy.
Like any lifestyle, Ancestral Living is a journey, not a destination. Start by doing a little. Then, when and if you can, do more. Don’t get overwhelmed. Trust that your body is an amazing biological machine, evolved over thousands of years to sustain and heal itself, if only we can provide a natural environment for it to do so.
Check in with the evolutionary wisdom that resides in your DNA.
Are you getting the deep restorative sleep that your biology needs to recover, rebuild, and repair?
Are you consuming a varied diet with nose-to-tail nourishment (or) supplementing with Ancestral Supplements’ Liver, Beef Organs, and Marrow?
Are you getting sun exposure, eating wild fish eggs, or taking tallow for its vitamin D3?
Make sleep, diet, and lifestyle your priority…then start moving. One step at a time. This stuff has worked for millennia, and for many people, more recently, if Ancestral Supplements’ reviews are anything to go by. You have every reason to be hopeful.
“I get to see moms become moms again because they finally have the energy to put their bodies in motion. I get to see people that were quietly suffering, trapped in their own homes, reconnect with the outside world. I get to see really sick kids (sort of like my own boys) have a decent chance in this world because someone cared enough. This is what gets me up in the morning.” ~ Brian Johnson, founder Ancestral Supplements
What fans of Ancestral Supplements are saying:
“I have been taking the Liver and Spleen supplements now for over 6 weeks and I just don’t have enough words to describe how amazing I feel. I’ve been dealing with chronic fatigue, due to Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism which is an autoimmune disease, for the past 5 years. I am a busy, homeschooling, stay-at-home mom of 7 active children and have a husband who travels for work. Ain’t nobody got time for chronic fatigue and neither do I! My journey has been long In trying every natural option out there as well as working with my D.O. and my homeopathic doctor to put me on the road to a ‘normal’ life. The benefits from these supplements have changed my life! I no longer dread getting out of bed in the morning nor do I look forward to the moment I can fall into bed at night and only hope to finally go to sleep. I have more energy than I have had in years. My eyes feel bright and my mind is clear. My motivation to take on the day has returned and I couldn’t be more grateful! My children no longer ask me, ‘how do you feel today?’ Because they can tell that I feel ALIVE again!” ~ T. Roger
“I never even knew it was possible for something to work so well. Before I started with Ancestral, I was suffering from depression pretty badly. I ate what I considered a clean balanced diet (lean meat, fruit, veggies, greens, whole grains) and exercised as much as my schedule would allow, but I would still come home from work exhausted and no amount of sleep seemed to help. I had brain fog, was losing my hair, and I felt really hopeless because I’m only 30 and nobody else seemed to be as tired. Even though my blood tests came back ‘normal’ I knew there was something missing from my body. After doing some research I found the Beef Liver pills when I searched for a heme-iron supplement. My husband thought I was crazy when I told him I felt a change in my body hours after taking the first few pills.. but after a week there was no doubt about it. I started waking up before my alarm and just literally could not believe how excited and energized I was again. FINALLY!!!!” ~ Kat Brackenbury
“6 months ago I was ill with pneumonia and iron-deficient anemia. About a month after getting out of the hospital I started taking this product. I knew I needed to consume beef or chicken liver but couldn’t get up the nerve to make it. I tried a different brand first but switched to Ancestral Supplements because they are third-party certified, and their product comes from New Zealand Beef (100% grass-fed, no antibiotics, and no hormones). About 30 days later I noticed my skin was improving – it was smoother, more vibrant, in short, it looked younger. I also had increasingly more energy. The changes have continued (I’m going on 5 months). My hands literally look 20 years younger. It’s amazing. I feel wonderful and have a lot of energy. People comment on the quality of my skin and hair. I was able to stop taking my iron supplements – the organ meat supplements in combination with weekly consumption of chicken liver (yes I found a good way to cook and eat it) keep my iron reserves at a healthy level. I haven’t been sick since starting these supplements. I also take their Heart, Beef Organs, and Spleen (on a rotation). They have a wonderful Instagram account where they share a lot of helpful education.” ~ Sarah Laucks