As I close in on my 40’s I’m starting to notice a pattern in the world – order continues to form, exist and disintegrate. Philosophically, psychologically, physiologically, in the living and in the inanimate, large and small, matter combines and separates for reasons that are now almost completely understood. Once you understand the science and see the pattern, the mystery is gone and the beauty remains.
Dealing with human beings (me in particular), the order that constitutes me is my body. It is made up of particles that are governed by rules. It’s a complicated bag of matter so many of the rules we have now are general guidelines based on statistics. It doesn’t make a difference what way you look at the numbers though, the longer something exists in an organized state, the less likely it is to continue to exist in that state. Everything is falling apart….
Fortunately there is a repair mechanism built into living things to stop them from falling apart and with young healthy humans it will replace most of the cells of the body within 3 months and many within hours. This is an enormous undertaking – manufacturing most of the component pieces that make-up 1 human being and ordering them to be an almost exact copy in one fiscal quarter. The body gets it right over and over and over again until it doesn’t. Then it sets out to keep making itself over and over again while attempting to not write-in the mistake.
Eventually something breaks down or the error is replicated and we get a disease or suffer ill health. If this isn’t addressed, the body will quickly disintegrate into the less-ordered state, death. Once dead, the particles that make up the body break down and find their way back into the environment to become part of something else, eventually.
There is a relationship between what you bring into your body, what it has to recover from, and the speed of the decline – a toxic internal environment will impair or inhibit recovery / repair and can disrupt accurate cell replication. You can increase the toxicity of the body by bringing in toxins, allowing toxins to build-up and by causing too much damage for the body to completely recovery. Smoking and drinking are obvious stressors with a fairly well established consequences. Dehydration and sleep deprivation are known to impair normal functioning as acute events. Getting a concussion during a football game may require a few weeks or a lifetime to recover from. As a general rule though, the younger and healthier you are, the greater your potential to recover from the stresses of life. Young living things tend to have more resiliency when it comes to maintaining high levels of vitality. There are fewer consequences to their actions because they can recover more completely.
EVERYTHING we do has consequences. While it is unlikely that one single action will cause disease the battle to maintain order is a war of attrition. Each reaction takes a toll. Every calorie too much or too few does damage to the body that must be repaired. Every chemical reaction can increase the oxidative stress and damage the cells – too much exercise, not enough sleep, holding tension in muscles because they don’t relax, poor posture, constipation, uncomfortable working positions,….
Treating your blood like the sewer at a chemical factory will also have big consequences on your ability to recover from living life.
The body evolved to maintain a fairly tight range of environmental conditions that promote optimal vitality and can handle most acute deviations outside of this range that result from us ingesting something. But there is a cost to homeostasis both in terms of oxidative stress and the long term effectiveness of the mechanisms used to restore the optimal range. Insulin and cortisol are important for regulating blood sugar. They are two chemicals that the body produces naturally but which have a toxic effect on the body in acute high doses or chronically elevated levels. Too much insulin over time will increase insulin resistance and impairs the body’s ability to regulate sugar (associated with obesity and a slue of other health issues). This leads to more oxidative stress and the cycle continues to worsen. Prolonged elevated levels of cortisol destroys tissue, creates inflammation and increases oxidative stress. People who don’t eat enough or who exercise too much tend to have higher levels of cortisol
These two chemicals are mentioned because they are destructive and because our actions dictate when they will be released. Insulin needs sugar. Without an increase in blood sugar, the body will not need to release insulin. We get sugar from the food we eat. If we eat less sugar, we can improve our sensitivity and recover some of the lost homeostatic functioning. Cortisol is released in response to stress; any type of stress – getting scared, thinking about something bad, getting hurt, not getting enough sleep, not going to the bathroom regularly, having too busy a work schedule, children, relationships, your sex life / lack of one, going shopping, ….. doing ANYTHING will create some stress. The issue begins when there is no escape and recovery from the stress and the cortisol the body releases. Consider it like low grade adrenaline – it gets the body going, but it damages the body a little bit each time it is released. If this damage is not repaired before the next stressor, the body grows weaker. This wear and tear begins to compromise function leading to disease. Getting away from stress can be a little tougher than not eating junk food for 5 days, but most of the things that cause us stress usually have very simple solutions.
The statistical story says there’s a relationship between the amount of pollution we bring into our bodies and the occurrence of disease. Every action has consequences and a need to recover. We DO have control over a lot of the internal environment so we do play a big hand in maximizing our vitality. Our bodies deal with our choices.