“Oh, I’m too old for that.” Too old for…what? Bungee jumping? Okay, that may be true. Helicopter snowboarding in Alaska? Yeah, maybe. But too old to be healthy? No way!
We’re designed to be healthy – it’s that simple. The genetic code built into every cell of our bodies is programmed to move toward health.
Every Bite We Take
Every day, every moment, with every decision or action we make, we are moving toward health or away from health. This is based largely on the lifestyle choices or behaviors we choose to engage in (or choose not to engage in). This ebb and flow is happening literally on a day-to-day and moment-to-moment basis. This is true of children and adults alike.
Every cell in our body – approximately 100 trillion of them – has been genetically programmed to strive toward health, toward optimal function. For example, when a person stops smoking, although there may have been decades of toxic stress on the body in general and the lungs in particular, the body will immediately begin the move toward healing the cells and tissues of the body that have been damaged from the years of abuse. Lung tissue begins cleaning out the build-up of tar and nicotine that has accumulated over the years, and the microscopic hair-like cilia within lung cells begins to reappear. The body’s drive to be healthy and to heal itself is nothing short of miraculous.
Once we understand that the body has a built-in drive to be healthy, we can leverage that tendency by simply choosing appropriate lifestyle behaviors that support the body’s efforts, and avoiding ones that undermine our health – and here’s the best part: this can be done at any age, and as Dr. Kratka is fond of saying, “It’s never too late to do the right thing.”
Three Critical Concepts:
1. A decision not to live a life of known healthy habits is a decision itself to be unhealthy. Yes, that’s a strong statement, but it’s also very true.
2. Wellness is a process of ongoing lifestyle behaviors or habits that support the body’s move toward health. Wellness is not defined or determined by going to doctors, getting checkups or having “preventative” diagnostic tests performed. Having a colonoscopy or EKG does not make a person healthy – it simply allows for early diagnosis.
3. Both health and disease are additive or cumulative processes. This means that just because you don’t have an immediate consequence to choosing right or wrong lifestyle behaviors doesn’t mean those lifestyle choices are not creating positive or negative changes within your body’s physiology – they are; they just might take months or years to manifest. In the case of right behaviors, this is what we call Compounded Wellness.
The Choice is Yours
For example, to choose to drink optimal amounts of pure water every day is a decision that moves the body toward being healthy, no matter what your age or current state of health. To choose nutrient-poor, processed food over nutrient-dense, fresh food is a decision that moves the body away from health. By the way, “away from health” means toward disease. These are two great wellness lifestyle choices that people of any age can make every day.
Effort and Payoff
Yes, it takes effort to consistently engage in health-promoting lifestyle choices. Yes, it takes time to develop new, good habits (good habits are just as hard to break as bad habits). Yes, some days we don’t feel like “working out.” Yes, there are times when we want to reach for convenient die-fast food. But, what’s the trade-off? Talk to people with terminal diseases – they’ll always say the same thing, “I’d give anything to have my health back.” You don’t have to give anything – just your effort.
If you don’t take time to be healthy, you’ll have to take time to be sick.