Ten years ago, the basic science of health was unknown territory but studying diseases, we have finally learned enough to understand health.
We are in the midst of a revolution in the science of aging. The science behind this revolution is vast and extraordinary, covering fields as diverse as cell physiology, protein structure, biochemistry, experimental psychology, ecology and comparative neurology… the list goes on.
Health is biologically more complicated than disease. In disease, the train has gone off the tracks and the laws of physics take over. Health is the reverse. It has carefully designed control mechanisms to keep the train on the tracks. And while the science of those mechanisms – the blueprint of our bodies – is complex, the controls are simple to operate.
In fact, you need to understand only two points to take charge of your health:
- The human body is not a neatly integrated design package. It was put together by nature from parts that evolved in different species millions, even billions, of years apart. In fact, your opposable thumb, and a couple of extra pounds of brain are the only parts of you that are distinctly “human.” Everything else is from another species, and not chimps – but bacteria, dinosaurs, birds, worms, gazelles, lions – the list goes on for pages. Your body is mostly made up of cells whose basic structure and operation were developed by bacteria billions of years ago. The messages that run these cells are not the conscious thoughts, in fact, they are not thoughts at all – they are primitive electrical and chemical impulses that predate the dawn of consciousness.
- You can control your deeply primitive cells with your brain, but not in the way you would expect. You have to talk to your body in code and follow certain rules.
The code and the rules, Nature’s rules – you can’t get around them.
You have good body and a truly amazing brain. In fact, you actually have three separate brains, from three very different stages of evolution, all working together. In simple terms, you have a physical brain, an emotional brain and a thinking brain. Although they are chemically and anatomically distinct and have different purposes, all three are densely wired together to get you through your day.
But here’s the catch – your body and brains are perfect for their natural purposes, but none of them was designed for modern life: fast food, TV or retirement. They were designed for life in nature, where only the fittest survived. Most of your body parts have as little business in a mall as a saber-toothed tiger. Left to their own devices, your body and brain will consistently misinterpret the signals of the twenty-first century.
At some point, in our forties and fifties, our bodies switch into a “default to decay” mode and the free ride of youth is over. In the absence of signals to grow, the body and brain decay and we “age.”
In fact, a critical distinction between aging and decay is that aging is inevitable; it’s biologically programmed to be a slow process. However, most of what we call aging, and most of what we dread about getting older, is actually decay. We are stuck with real aging, but decay is optional, which means that most of functional aging is optional as well.
What we can do is to override those default signals and change decay into growth. We do this by changing the signals we send to our bodies. The keys to overriding the decay code are:
- Emotional commitment
But is starts with exercise. You exercise all the time because it’s who you are – it’s also who you were. What you came from, hundreds of millions of years ago.
So there you have it… the simplest way to reverse decay back to growth and continue feeling great and full of energy and vitality is to talk to you body in code that it understands, a.k.a. exercise every day.
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