“It is so much easier to not get old than it is to get young. It is so much easier to not get sick than it is to get well”. - Dave Asprey, Founder of Bulletproof
For many people, health isn’t something that they value until it starts to declines.
Maybe you have a few extra aches and pains?
Or it’s taking a bit longer to recover from your workouts? Or it’s harder to recall things that used to come so easily to you?
We expect that there’s a natural decline in our health as we age... and that’s partly true...but it’s not the whole truth.
Aging (i.e. advancing in years) is inevitable. Many of the effects of aging are optional.
If you’re proactive about your health, you can stave off many of the things that we traditionally associate with aging: muscle loss, bone deterioration, declining cognition. And, it’s much easier to prevent than to reverse!
The same thing is true of illness. Being proactive about monitoring your health is critical for early intervention. Are you monitoring your cardiovascular health markers on a regular basis? How about your mental health markers? What about your skeletal health markers? If not, you should be.
Here’s why: If you wait until you experience overt symptoms of disease, it’s already too late.
Let me explain why this is.
There are 5 main stages of chronic (non-infectious) disease:
Deviation from homeostasis: Homeostasis is a state of balance in the body; homeostasis is health. Any deviation from homeostasis indicates imbalance in the body. If the imbalance can be quickly rectified, the body will return to homeostasis. If the imbalance persists, the body then moves to the next stage of disease, pathophysiology.
Pathophysiology: In this stage, malfunction begins to occur. Because the body is imbalanced, it has to create compensatory mechanisms to try to restore balance. As a result, the structure (and therefore function) of cells and organs begins to change.
Pathomorphology: In this stage, physical changes to the structure of the body occur. Symptoms may begin to emerge.
Symptomatology: During this stage, the malfunction manifests itself as noticeable symptoms that can no longer be ignored. Failure to address the underlying cause of the dysfunction can result in degenerative disease or death.
Death: When the body’s compensatory mechanisms are exhausted, there will be permanent cessation of vital function - either of an organ, bodily system or, ultimately, the entire person.
Here’s the thing: Most people first head to the doctor when they reach stage 4. But, as you can see, they are already 80% of the way through the disease process.
Rather than waiting to treat disease once it has progressed so far, we can consider switching the paradigm to disease prevention and maintenance. If you are paying attention, you can catch disease processes as early as stage 1 or 2.
To do this, it’s important to a) be in tune with your body to notice any early-stage deviations and b) to get regular health checks to monitor any physiological markers of early-stage disease. You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so stay informed about your health. Be observant, be consistent, be data-driven.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Preventive maintenance starts before disease takes hold. [And yes, the body is extremely resilient so it’s totally possible to recover from life-threatening diseases like heart disease, cancer and even dementia. People do it all the time. However, it’s often at huge cost - physically, emotionally and financially - and may leave permanent physiologic scars. Save yourself the burden. Start early, monitor often. You can’t always catch everything, but you’ll be giving yourself the best chance you can...and that’s all you can really do. Do your best...and then trust.]