Optimizing Your Health Post 5
Homeostasis is the process of maintaining a stable internal environment in the face of changing external variables. Your body is oriented to homeostasis—it will always try and maintain a stable internal environment. It is an intricately designed, infinitely complex, finely tuned system that is remarkably resilient. It is very good at keeping you alive.
But it should also be good at orienting to your best health, and it once was.
Humans Are Designed to Be Healthy
As I described in the last post, things have changed that now lead us to pursue behaviors that feel good but are making us sick. Our remote ancestors did not have to be intentional about health. It was just part of their wiring. They wanted to survive and live and reproduce. They wanted their children to be well. Therefore, they tended to live their lives in such a way that they could experience their best health. This wasn’t intentional; it’s just the way it was. They did not have companies selling them products that were making them sick.
Of course, there were factors that influenced their health. They were exposed to infectious diseases and injuries, violence, and unpredictable environmental changes that could influence their lifespan. In addition, at certain points in human history, we had access to alcohol, and many would abuse it for purposes of intoxication.
I’m not stating that we were always perfectly behaved and did everything that would support our best health. What I’m stating is that human beings are designed to be healthy and thrive with the right information, and like all living creatures, we should have a natural orientation to what will promote our best health and survival. It’s an internal compass which should always, for the most part, point to the True North of health. If it does so, we become intuitive about health, and self-correct if something is making us sick. We should detect when information that is harmful begins to influence our body and be able to redirect ourselves. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
But over time, we have lost that skill. We continue to engage in the same routines and behaviors that are making us sick and causing us to feel so bad, and we cannot seem to change this. That’s why we must cultivate our higher mind and become very intentional about what we want because health is no longer intuitive or natural.
If you go with the flow, you will most likely become unhealthy and not feel well. You will be prescribed medications and have many doctor’s visits, which ultimately do not result in you experiencing your best health. This is just the way it goes.
So, you must be intentional and use your mind according to its design. Then you must give your body the opportunity to optimize, and that starts with homeostasis.
Homeostasis takes place no matter what you do. Your body is always attempting to maintain a stable and optimized state of health. That’s what it’s designed to do. Even when you’re potentially choosing behaviors that actually negatively influence your health, your body will still try to reduce the impact of this and improve your health. That’s why we’re able to go for as long as we can with habits that are so self-destructive. It’s fairly amazing how capable our bodies are of maintaining our life while dealing with many destructive exposures.
All of your cells, organ systems, and tissues work together in concert and communicate with one another to maintain this stable state. Over time, as the information your body receives changes, your systems adapt and do the best they can with it. If that information is helpful for the body and comprehensive in how it influences genetic exposure, a more robust, healthier version of you will be expressed. If the information is harmful and diminishes genetic expression, a sicker, less comprehensive version of yourself will be expressed.
This is how it works. Your body can only work with the information it is provided. Your genetic code is vast. It has many versions of you coded within it, but it can only express the most comprehensive and healthy version of you if it’s given the right information, and the wrong information is minimized. Most of the patients I see are dealing with a non-optimized physiological condition. Their bodies’ efforts at homeostasis have ultimately created physiological disruptions that are perhaps manifesting as diseases. I see this in the blood data and in their self-reported symptom questionnaires.
The body will do the best it can for as long as it can, but eventually it is overwhelmed and its compensating changes do result in the development of disease and aging at an accelerated rate.
On the other hand, simply providing the body with the minimal amount of right information will allow it to normalize function and minimize disease. Your body can use homeostatic principles to restore normal function and reverse or prevent the development of diseases.
That should be our first and most foundational goal, to give our body the information it needs to maintain stable health and prevent diseases.
However, that is not the same as an optimized state of being. An optimized state of being is to go beyond a normal state of homeostasis. It’s to provide your body with enough comprehensive and health-catalyzing information that you begin to express the strongest and most robust version of you. This results in an absence of disease and a slowing of the process of aging. This most likely results in a longer lifespan.
Going Beyond Improving Just Your Lifespan
We can make no promises about lifespan because they’re subject to so many circumstances beyond our control. My focus isn’t really on lifespan. Longevity is part of the conversation, and we’re all interested in getting to experience this world for as long as possible, but our primary focus is the healthspan—how healthy we are throughout that lifespan. It gives you the best opportunity to experience the fullness of human function for as long as possible. That’s what we’re after with optimization.
Optimization means that you have fine-tuned the information you’re giving your body to give it a chance to express the highest version of you. These pieces of information involve your circadian rhythms, restorative sleep, how you manage thoughts, feelings, and emotions, how you use your body physically and the demands you place on it, what kinds of foods you eat, the water you drink, the air you breathe, and the environment you live in.
The list of influencers of this expression is far longer than I can state here, but generally speaking, it’s the ones I’ve just described. The more that we vary the information in a positive way, the more comprehensive version of ourselves we’ll experience.
Realizing Your True Potential
I described in the first post of this series the full potential of a human being; the ability to dive deep into the ocean and not breathe air for minutes at a time, the ability to climb mountains, our cognitive abilities, our social abilities. That’s what we’re talking about, realizing those types of potentials.
I can tell you that I’ve been on this journey. I do not believe I have arrived at its end point, nor do I think I ever will arrive. All I know is that, for the most part, my daily habits are oriented to fostering the healthiest version of myself. I do this by monitoring many different data points and being open to whatever habits I need to change to further improve my health. I can tell you as an individual who’s been on this journey that you can’t really describe the experience you have.
As you enter into the process of optimization, and experience what your body and mind can provide for you, it truly becomes euphoric. You feel so good that you never want to trade it back again for habits that take your health from you. I continue to look forward to this journey because I anticipate that I will continue to amplify this euphoric experience. I can also tell you that after working with other individuals to help them optimize their health, they report the same to me. They feel so good they never want to go back. They’re completely invested in their good health because of what it gives them. They’re not obsessive. They fully enjoy life. But they enjoy life in a way that honors their design so that they can have their best health.
It’s amazing to see, and I want this for everyone.
That’s why I’m writing these blogs and the books that I have published. I want everyone to know these truths and be able to take the actions that can give them this experience.
Your body can only work with what it’s been given. Ultimately you do get to choose most of the information you provide your body. You can’t choose everything. We can’t always control our environments. Our air is not as clean as it used to be. Our soil is not as healthy, and our water is not as clean. But there are things we can still do to influence these variables. There are things under our control, and there are things we can do to help our body deal better with some of the exposures that are not as helpful for us. In addition, we can become advocates for our environment and for the health of our fellow human beings. We can use our influence and resources to demand that the marketplace and policy makers give every human being the opportunity to experience the fullness of health and flourish. That’s how we will flourish as a human community.
I’ll also tell you that a common experience of those who begin to enjoy optimized health is that their emotional life becomes very healthy. Because they feel so good, they tend to be oriented towards joy and gratitude and sharing with others. They tend to become generous and want others to experience good health. When we develop a healthy mind, we tend to become less judgmental and more self-empowered. We take responsibility for our lives and our situations. We don’t blame shift. We look for the best in others and have compassion for them just like we need compassion directed toward us. Good health creates a better human community.
Simultaneously, bad health will do the opposite. We become sick and de-energized. Our resources become challenged. We tend to blame others and feel that circumstances are beyond our control. We become self-protective, stressed, and fearful. This is not true of everyone; many of my sickest patients have been the most inspiring to me. But as a general principle, it’s true.
My main point is that you have to understand this principle of homeostasis. This is how your body is working. It works with the information it receives and does its best to give you back a version of yourself that can survive. We have to go beyond just the basics of maintaining life and move toward what it could mean to give our bodies the information they need so that we can become our optimized selves.
We’ll explore what this looks like in the post to follow.