Americans are living longer than ever before. The human life expectancy is increasing and barring unforeseen circumstances, we can expect to live to a ripe old age. Though our life expectancy has increased, the quality of our lives and our health has not. The United States continues to be one of the un-healthiest nations in the developed world.
Most of us do not want to live to be 90 if the last 30 years are filled with illness, disability and dependence on family and nursing homes. We want to be able to play golf, take long walks and enjoy our families. Longer lives do not mean much if they are not active lives. The quality of our later years will be dictated by the choices we make in the preceding years, choices designed to stave off the aging process.
Assuming that a person’s entire life is “written” in the genes that they are born with has been a major mistake in recent health care philosophy. The more we learn about genetics, our biological inheritance, the more we realize that for the most part, our lifestyle decisions and behaviors have far more impact on longevity and health than does heredity. A person’s genes define their basic biology, but health decisions and habits control the way genes will affect the body and health in general.
It used to be thought that aging is the ticking away of some internal clock to a predetermined plan laid down in your genes. Dr. Leonard Hayflick, a noted research scientist, grew human cells in tissue cultures and showed that they could subdivide to create new cells only a limited number of times. Latest research shows that this is not the case, the death of the cells were determined by the nutrients they took in and their environment.
Aging can best be defined as the gradual loss of the body’s ability to respond to the environment.
The Human Body is an amazing collection of synergistic entities controlled by what can only be described as innate intelligence. The body is designed to be totally self-functioning and self-healing. It was born with the ability to adapt to chemical and physical stresses put on the body in order to survive and thrive.
We tend to think of healing when we suffer a cut on our arm or have broken a bone, but healing is a constant process of replacing old cells with new cells. For example, red blood cells are replaced at a rate of about 100 billion a day, with one trillion total red blood cells in constant circulation.
The body is constantly analyzing what is happening within the body and what is happening in the environment outside the body and makes adaptive changes as necessary.
Aging is not just the effects of chronological time, but also the abnormal stress we place on our body, which gradually breaks it down. This is caused by a number of things by including inactivity, chemical pollution and neurological and postural stress.