Sunday, August 23, 2009

Healthy Choices Create the Path to Longevity

By Jamie G. Phillips, DC

Does it seem to you that it doesn't matter where we turn these days, there are news stories and advertisements, alike, promoting the stunning research on innumerable exotic supplements, not to mention the cutting-edge health proclamations of coffee and red wine that, in one way or another, guarantee to reduce or eliminate all causes of mortality? It would almost seem, in fact, that a quest for immortality has replaced our search for longevity!

Let me clarify, first of all, that I am a believer in taking supplements and take them, myself. Secondly, I should be candid by saying that I am a person who appreciates a glass of red wine. Therefore, the suggestion that it might truly be beneficial to my health, especially my heart, simply adds to my enjoyment. And, if something as simple as drinking coffee could actually prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, then I'd be tempted to give up my practice and open a Starbucks.

However, before taking ill-considered action, and haphazardly adding another cup of coffee to your morning grind, another glass of red wine to your evening meal, or an additional outlay of your hard-earned cash on exotic herbs that promise to make you live forever, let's rationally think about a couple of things.

For instance, let us consider the fact that we, humans, are dynamic, biological beings, free to enthusiastically interact with life. We have not been detained in a cage, and not one of us has been "propagated" to artificially develop the age-related debilitation and disease that lab animals are bred to do, conditions that are then "reversed" by resveratrol, caffeine, or some exotic herb.

Fundamentally, we are far more than the sum total of our parts. We are dynamic and biological, not "mechanical, conscienceless devices." We are biologically individual, which is to say, we respond in a unique variety of ways to internal irritation factors and external environmental influences. Case in point, though smoking cigarettes is commonly unhealthy, there are a few people who are able to smoke, so it seems, and live to a ripe old age without any apparently-related problems.

Scientific studies isolate certain variables in order to achieve particular outcomes. That's scientific inquiry! But, because the results occur through such isolation, and due to the fact that they are generally done on animals, when it comes to translating such results to humans, it can be said that what may work for some of the people all of the time, won't work for all of the people all of the time, and sometimes won't work at all (to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln!).

Everyday you make considerable choices that affect both your health and longevity. Decisions such as what you'll eat and how much exercise and rest you'll get will either be good for you, or not so good. Obviously, your unhealthy choices are not beneficial for your long-term health. And, even though you know, by the way your individual body responds to certain things, you may often ignore these important health messages.

Then, a study comes along that hails the discovery of THE THING that has the efficacy to reverse all of the immoderate and unhealthy things you may have been doing to your body through unhealthy choices, and you, like many others, may be ready to take double and triples doses of whatever it is! This kind of "hope" is, unfortunately, a subtle illusion.

The human body is an exquisitely involved, homeostatic system. That is to say, every function is interdependent and sensitively balanced. This meticulous system becomes "off balance" when you consistently make unhealthy choices. Over time, the imbalances produce diseases and speed up the aging process.

If supplements help you to feel more energetic and healthy, then as a chiropractor who takes them as well, I say great, take them! If it feels like the thing to do, drink that additional cup of coffee as well. And, have a little more red wine if it honestly feels beneficial. But, keep in mind that the only legitimate way for anyone to avert or reverse age-related health problems is by choosing a consistently healthy lifestyle. You won't get healthier by chance. There is no "lucky charm" when it comes to health and longevity.

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