Our body has been designed to be survived. So, don’t kill yourself
Each one of us is born, for a limited time, to undertake a long and complex life’s journey. All are born with a unique genetic blueprint, carried from our biological parents. Though 99% of genes among ourselves are the same but they manifest with a huge variation as we grow. The genes we carry from our parents make every individual unique.
There are estimated to be around 20,000 to 25,000 human genes. We all have two copies of each gene, one inherited from each parent.
Most genes are the same in all people, but less than 1 percent of the total genes are slightly different between people. Our bodies may harbour harmful genes for serious illnesses like cancer, but they may lie dormant throughout our lifespan.
We humans are the product of extremely slow process of evolution. It has taken millions of years for humans to evolve into what we are today We have been evolved from ape like ancestors through natural selection.
Natural selection is a key process, through which various human traits have been developed and evolved, over a period of hundreds of thousands of generations.
Charles Darwin (1809- 1882), English naturalist and biologist was the first to explain theory of evolution by way of ‘survival of the best’. This is how humans and their traits have been designed/evolved for their immediate needs.
Only those humans’ characteristics have eventually survived which were best suited for our survival and reproduction.
Hence, it is why we are so physically and physiologically fit. We are meant to be survived even under highly stressful, adverse and extreme circumstances.
We humans have been evolved to protect our bodies during times of adversity by activating our survival mechanism. Dr. David A. Sinclair, a Professor in the ‘Center for the Biology of Aging’ at Harvard Medical School, USA has done pioneering work on aging – why we age and how to slow its effects.
He has identified 3 main longevity pathways. If we are able to activate these pathways then we are able to be healthier, disease-resistant, and live longer.
Earlier scientists’ thought that once a person achieved maturity, ‘aging genes’ began to direct its progress toward the grave. But this idea has been discredited, and conventional wisdom now holds that aging really is just wearing out over time because the body’s normal maintenance and repair mechanisms simply wane.
This repair mechanism can, very well, be activated by us – through our lifestyle.
We keep adding years to our life span:
There are some who have been able to live even beyond 115 years. The longest living person so far has lived up to 122 years. Now the number of living centenarians (above 100 years of age) has been increasing steadily.
Thanks to multiple revolutions that humanity has been witnessing, our life expectancy is rising sharply. Even India’s life expectancy has risen to 68.7 years, as per National Health Profile 2019. Global life expectancy in 2016 was 72 years.
Every year our life expectancy increases by 3 months. For those who have crossed 60, life expectancy during their lifetime has increased by 15 years. The largest increase in healthy years after age 65 came in the last decade. People could expect to live 80 percent of their lives without major disability, including well over half of their years after age 65. It’s a huge gain in our life span.
According to one study, for every year of added life that has achieved in last 30 years, only 10 months is healthy’. Nearly half of people aged 50 or more suffer from some chronic illness or disability. In this way, we are adding more years to our life but these additional years are not necessarily healthy.
As we become older, we get more prone to serious illnesses which generally lead to death. In developed countries, 75% of deaths from cancer, 90% from pneumonia, 90% from flue and 80%from all causes occur in people 65 years of age or older (Bill Bryson in The Body, 2019).
We should remember that no one dies from ‘old age’. We die from some illness like heart stroke, organs failures, cancer etc.
Is the world really sick?
You may be surprised to know that less than 5% of people worldwide are healthy, means they are not suffering from any health-related illness.
Merely one person in 20 had no health problem, with a third of the world’s population experiencing more than 5 illnesses, as per the Global Burden of Disease Study of 2013. Sicknesses are becoming widespread.
The vast majority of deaths, nearly 92% are due to natural causes.
The remaining deaths are due to non-natural causes such as accidents, natural calamities, and violence/killings.
We live in sub-optimal Health
We are fragile humans, highly prone to fall ill. We can potentially suffer from 315 types of diseases and injuries. Besides, there can be around 250 causes of death. Every day, 1.51,000 people (56 million in a year) die in the world.
About 20% of all deaths are sudden because of heart stroke or fatal accident. Another 20% of people die after short illnesses. The remaining 60% of total deaths are as a result of a long illness or protracted decline. More importantly, we lose about 31% of healthy life due to various diseases.
The maximum health loss is due to lower back pain, depression, neck pain, dental issue, and hearing loss. People living in sub-optimal health are increasing steadily.
Our life style is killing us
It’s interesting to know that now in the present-day world, more people die from non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, etc. Comparatively, very few people now die of infectious diseases, due to bacteria, viral and fungal infections.
Nearly one hundred years back, the top 3 causes of death were infectious diseases, that is pneumonia and flu, tuberculosis, and gastrointestinal infections.
Now the leading causes of death in the modern age are cardiovascular disease, lung, and respiratory diseases, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. These are called lifestyle diseases, which are affecting around 75% of the population.
We may or may not be leading a healthy lifestyle. But we all know how to live healthily. Social media is full of educative material suggesting us in many different ways to lead a better lifestyle.
Everyone knows that smoking, excessive alcohol, drugs, fried, salty and sugary food items are bad for us. Even then we take them frequently due to lack of willpower, ignorance, or discount their harmful effects in the future. Pleasurable items, no doubt, give us joyful moments when we use them but however, it is difficult to control their intake/use.
We need more and more pleasure from those things. So, we must experience them in a balanced way. To remain healthy, we can’t effort to ignore 3 things; first, to be physically active, second, to eat balanced and healthy food, and last, to sleep well.
The way life expectancy is rising steadily in the recent time is an indication that we are not far away where people will cross 100 years with greater ease. Presently, in every 3 years, our life’s expectancy increases by one year.
The way medical sciences are working and researching, in fact, sooner than 2 decades, in every one year, our life expectancy will increase by a year. But, the greater challenge before us is how to increase the share of healthy lifespan (out of total increased life’s span), especially beyond 60 years. Today’s 60 will be tomorrow’s 90.
Meaning thereby, people at the age of 90 years will exhibit the same fitness as we currently have at the age of 60. Irrespective of these developments, our responsivity to ensure healthy and positive aging will continue to rise in view of modern age maladies.
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