I think we don't know the full answer because it's really complex and will be aresult of what you're born with (genes and envrionment e.g wealth and support) and what happens to you and the life you lead. I don't think there are any surprises there.
What I wanted to put out there is a general principle that interests me. I believe very strongly in the principle of 'use it or lose it' when it comes to your body. I've seen for years those people who use their mind or their physical abilities are generally the ones who will have these abilities for a long time. Those who don't bother often lose them. I can't prove this. That's the problem but I do notice reports from coroners that during autopsies the signs of disease most common in older people are becoming more common in those much younger.
The main thing I keep coming round to is looking at my life from 3 angles.
- Energy + Materials
Energy and Materials
I could have just stated energy which is often how food is calculated but that misses the point that carbs, proteins and fats are basically building blocks right from dna, through to cell walls and items inside cells, through to entire structures such as muscle which is largely the proteins Actin and Myosin. So to categorise it just is wrong.
That said food and water are a hot topic. I feel some people focus too much on it at times. I think it's important to get things in the right quantities and fro the right sources but I also feel our bodies are built to adapt above all things. They have numerous ways to adjust so that they get just what they need from what they're given. As long as they get enough. Like I said, not too much and not too little.
so what is enough. Well it's hard to say accurately right now without writing a thesis. What I will say is that you're body is well designed to figure this out for itself. The thing it needs for this is:
For me that is Physical, Mental and Spiritual. Any one who knows a little about mental and physical training will understand that the process of training itself generates a demand from within the body that it stay in good shape. Generally the more stimulus the better but this is quite simplistic because you can give too much and there are lots of different kinds of stimulus. For example each muscle can be trained in many different ways for differeent results; fast, slow, statically, full range of motion, concentrically, eccentrically. The list goes on. Mental training is the same. you can train concentration, problem solving, anger management, memory, perception and lots more.
Spiritual training is hard for me to explain to be honest. I'm coming from the angle of explaining things through the mind, body and soul therefore spiritual seems like a good term. This may be dealing with your emotions, dreams and fears and basically many of those areas that transcend the mind and the body.
A common theme among research I read and experience I have had and I've heard from others is that without these kinds of stimulus we as humans don't grow and often wither. Each challenge is often difficult for us to go through but it's also what keeps us growing or maintaining the strength and condition we're used to.
Nature is amazing that it has built machines that can repair themselves. It's kind of obvious really. If left long enough every system needs work done to it. Sometimes to repair cracks, other times to bring it up to code because things have moved on.
That's what happens in real life. Your body is a working machine whether you push yourself hard or not. It's constantly preparing for famine while hoping for feast and it makes decisions constantly about whether to shed muscle and tissue to save fuel (calories) or maintain the status quo for a little while. Just like our road and rail network where (atleast in milton keynes) much of the work is done during quiet periods such as over night when everyones asleep, our bodies face the same challenge. They can't fix an injured muscle while we're running away from a lion. No we wait until we're safely at home and we know we're safe.
Well research I'm reading and opinions I'm hearing lead me to wonder if the reason for high coronary heart disease levels in the UK and other western nations is that we never stop running any more. When adrenalin and it's related hormones of the fight or flight response are present in tells the body not to repair itself. We're told that coronary heart disease occurs because fats gets lodged in damage tot he arterial walls. It hit me recently, why is the damage not being fixed. Our bodies are higly adapted to the way we live and are much better the current medical science at fixing themselves. What is it that's stopping the body fixing this itself. That's just a thought and an observation.
So basically I feel of the three angles I've described I feel it's most important to make sure all three are being taken care of and focussed on rather than any one in particular. I feel those that are healthiest will have adopted a life that embraces this. And I also think that we're born to want to keep these 3 in balance but the pressures of life and the social situations often encourage otherwise.
I don't want to go into all the other observations that for me make a strong case. I just want to see what other people think. Maybe I'm missing the point. I like to learn from other peoples opinions. So let me know what you think.