Dr. Doug Pooley
The Truth About Aging and Health
Before we get into anything else, let’s dismiss the notion that age and disease are somehow related. We in Western society, have been consciously and sub-consciously conditioned to believe that there is an undeniable correlation between getting older and an increased likelihood of getting sick. I have to call bullshit on that. Sure, we are all going to eventually die, and that death will have a cause, which will in all likelihood be labelled as a disease, but as far as age being synonymous with illness and disability...no, I refuse to buy into that notion and so must you if you want to thrive going forward. What a dis-empowering prospect. I will continue to remind you as we dive deeper into our exploration of the attainment of super-health, that the intended expression of life is health, not disease, full stop, and contrary to what you have been led to believe, age has far less to do with that process than you might suspect.
What would you think if I told you that I refuse to participate in the aging process, and you don’t have too either! I can see you rolling your eyes and thinking, What an “f’n" dreamer!
Well, you’re right. I am a dreamer.
That is exactly why I am saying with absolute certainty that although we all will age; I will never acknowledge this ridiculous notion that we have to get old. In my work with patients, I have some, who at 85 who don’t know they are old, and others at 25 who are ready for retirement. One thing that my life in practice has taught me is that aging is an attitude and, in many ways, as unique as your fingerprint.
Now, I don’t care about being over 55, (in fact, well over 55), but I don’t want to necessarily look or feel it. I intend to still engage life, not merely observe it, and damn if I am ever going down without a fight! We owe it to ourselves and to every future generation to re-think what it means to get old. It's time for a team meeting folk, so gather round!
Take a second and think about the following statement. Most other living species allowed to exist in their natural environment, continue to thrive in a state of health pretty much to the last days of life. Why should it any different for humans? We know without question, that through the process of evolution, we are genetically programmed to be healthy. If this was not true, we quite simply would not have survived this long as a species, much less evolved to the top of the food chain. So this begs the question: If evolution has sculpted us over thousands of generations to be healthy, why over the last fifty years have humans been getting sicker, and why does this statistically occur faster the older we get? I believe that the truth of it all lays embedded within our evolution, but more pointedly, it is contained within the ways we have altered that evolutionary path over the last half century. Blaming age for our ills has in many ways become just another convenient scapegoat. How often have you had a healthcare practitioner say that you are suffering from this or that because you are getting old? This statement is just crap! In the majority of cases it is just not the truth, so do yourself a favour and never let anyone try to sell you that ‘snake-oil’ going forward.
Through an internal strategy for the repairing and replacing of cells called senescence directed by tiny signalling proteins called sirtuins, we are naturally and automatically capable of regulating many metabolic functions related to aging and repair – including genome stability, inflammatory response, apoptosis (normal cell death), DNA repair and mitochondrial functions. I am sure that some of you may be saying “so what…big words and complex processes, what’s the point?” What I am driving at is simple…the body is of itself, creations most magnificent health factory. We were all born with these spectacular processes, and they happen without thought or conscious direction every minute of every day you are alive---it just does not get any more incredibly amazing! Without getting unnecessarily complex, it is sufficed to say, that this is a process which can work pretty much as effectively at 85 as it did at 35. Sometimes it takes a bit longer the deeper we go into life, but this miraculous system occurs naturally from the moment of inception and continues through to the second we die. Consciously, you don’t even know that it’s happening. Your incredible body is constantly rebuilding itself.
Age as the source of disease, in and of itself just makes little sense. Would it be more plausible to assume that accumulated insult over time, left unchallenged, eventually overwhelms and weakens the body's systemic integrity, sufficient to predispose it to disease? The answer is yes. It is a fact, that most of the diseases that kill us as we age are not sudden onset. Heart disease, cancers and strokes rarely occur spontaneously, but are rather the end result of progressive deterioration over time. There is usually a trail to follow leading to the final catastrophic event. Would it then make perfect sense to believe that if we could positively redirect that trail, it might just lead to a different outcome? Kinda makes sense. Lets take it one step further. Could it then be possible, through identifying and enhancing those key core components of life responsible for health, to rebuild damaged vitality and even achieve a state of super-health? I believe it is a reasonable possibility. Again, keep in mind that the body has been engineered for health. As you are about to see, the most fascinating part of the equation in that we have contained within us, all the tools necessary for making it happen.
Believe it or not, with the exception of some very specialized tissues, for the most part you are approximately two years old. That’s right! Did you know that almost every one of your cells has a predetermined turnover rate? In fact, there is compelling evidence that even your DNA is replaced by up to 20% every 10-16 years. For example, our gums take two weeks to turn over. Stomach cells are replaced every two to nine days, and the cells in our throat change every two months. The lining in our lungs takes just eight days to rebuild. The pancreas regenerates every twenty to fifty days and the trachea is pretty much replaced every one to two months. Even your bones are replaced at a rate of ten percent per year. To maintain life, the body is a constant state of rebuilding and repair, with the process occurring seamlessly each and every day independent of will or age.
I assert that it is not the years that make us sick and ultimately kill us. Rather, for most, it is the accumulated stress and dysfunction associated with lifestyle choices and individual health depleting circumstances that in the end results in our demise. The slow accumulation of insult over time eventually overwhelms the body’s inherent capacity for repair. This in turn results in a functional breakdown with disease being the eventual outcome. Again, yes at the end of the day we are all going to die, but I don’t believe for a moment that living sick was ever part of the intended plan and age in and of itself does not make us ill.
On the other side of the coin, just imagine for a second if you had a way to identify and actually activate those key elements and functions naturally responsible for the creation of vitality and repair. Could you then potentially return the body to the path of health? I think that it is not only possible; it is the only way to successfully facilitate positive lasting health change, and I will explain in detail the nature of this process as we get a little further along.
Following that same thought, I also assert that your chronological age has little to do with the recuperative process. Certainly, the degree of improvement will vary from individual to individual in each and every case. That is just logical, as each of us has a unique life story leading to where we find ourselves today. You may not yet be aware, but there is emerging science demonstrating that each of you has tremendous natural capacity to heal and be healthier, no matter where you are on your life journey. Good health was always intended to be the normal expression of life during this human experience at any age, not illness and suffering. Repeat this to yourself enough with conviction and your body may just start to believe it.
Next week, we will continue our journey and explore the genesis of life and with that health.