We live in an interesting time. Science and technology has allowed our species to progress in leaps and bounds across a multitude of disciplines. The evolution of Homo sapiens is an amazing tail of perseverance and exploration across the entire globe. Our kind managed to spread around the world and survive just about every kind of climate there is – this is pretty astounding! Something happened during our evolution which allowed our brains to take a major step forward in cognitive development – what many think is the singularity for our advancement away from the other great apes and our hominin ancestors. Through time, we’ve had the golden age of philosophy and science, the industrial revolution, the scientific revolution and enlightenment, and recently the technology revolution. Within only a few generations, the technological age has allowed many humans around the world a life that no one, not even the worlds richest, could have attained. The average person in a developed Westernised country now enjoys lavishes that would seem like magic 100 years ago. We have the entire database of human knowledge in our phones, we can contact people on the other side of the planet, there is food abundant that most never go hungry, and so much more. Medicine especially has advanced to the point that people who would have not survived past infancy can now live a long and fulfilling life. Life for Homo sapiens is pretty amazing right now! It would seem as if we are moving toward an era of a Utopian future where we can all live our most optimal life.
So why is it then, that chronic disease around the world seems to be increasing at alarming rates?? What are being called diseases of affluence are now becoming a major threat to not only the global economy but our species at large. With all our advancements in medicine and technology, we are now seeing for the first time a drop in the life expectancy. Kids today are now estimated to have shorter lives than their parents – this is ludicrous! Type 2 Diabetes is now affecting children in the single digits. Cardiometabolic diseases we used to see in elderly are now in children and teenagers. Autism, autoimmunity, allergies, heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease and more are all increasing.
With all our technological and medical advancements, how could this possibly be happening? The problem is that our medical system is not a healthcare model, it’s a disease-care model. Medicine was created around a system designed to diagnose and treat acute and infectious disease – one condition, one treatment or drug. And it has worked amazingly well for that purpose! Unfortunately, for chronic diseases, this simply does not work. Chronic diseases are multi-factorial, which means there are many potential causes. Therefore, we cannot address them with a single drug. Furthermore, much of the conventional model of pharmaceuticals does not often treat the underlying cause of the dysfunction in the first place. It simply seeks to mask symptoms. If we want to change the trajectory for the health of current and future generations, we need to address the underlying causes and seek to prevent disease from happening at the root. We need a preventative model of health care, not a reactive model of disease care.
“The absence of disease does not equal health”
So why does the medical model seem to be so far off from addressing this problem? The first and most important aspects is that they are not even looking at the right systems. All of biology, including human biology, is shaped by evolution. To understand how a species came to be and how they are meant to be healthy, we must understand how they evolved with their environment. When the species phenotype (the physical expression of their genes) no longer matches something in the environment to the point that it cannot cope with said environmental input, potential dysfunction follows. This “evolutionary mismatch” (Discordance Theory) is what has been proposed to be a key driver of disease in the modern world. The world around us is so extremely different than what we evolve around, that our bodies no longer know how to cope. Unfortunately, many within the medical and political spectrum still do not fully understand or believe in evolution, or are simply not approaching medicine from this perspective, so continue to run through the rabbit hole blindly trying to “treat” symptoms. Without fully understanding how our genes and physiology react and adapt to stimulus, we can never correct the underlying issues. This is the movement of Evolutionary Medicine, a key focus in my approach to improving and optimising health and performance. I will write more about this burgeoning area of medicine in a later post.
“Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution”
- Theodosius Dobzhansky
The holes don’t stop there unfortunately. Our current medical model fails to address much of chronic disease because it also derived of a very reductionist view of the human body. However, to address these complex problem within the context of a complex biological system – us – we need a more comprehensive approach. This is where Systems Biology provides us a better framework to work from. Systems biology appreciates the fact that to understand a biological system it is not sufficient to look at its constituent parts but we must look at the whole and the many interactions across them. A simple way of outlining this is looking at the body holistically, understanding the psychosocial stresses affect the body physically, and that the hormonal system will have affects on the gut and vice versa. Functional Medicine recognises this complexity and need for a holistic approach to treatment. Taking that a step further, we can also use precision medicine techniques like genetics and genomics, functional testing like comprehensive stool analysis or microbiome testing, organic acid testing and much. Combining these strategies into a person-centric approach that focuses on the individual and their needs and goals we can now personalise treatments specifically to that persons unique biochemical and psychosocial needs. This is the future of healthcare!
Now with the advancement in this type of care in combination with the amazing advancements in technology, we can go even further into optimising health and performance with biohacking. The purpose of biohacking is better living through science – using the latest in technology, medicine, nutrition and supplementation and so much more to live the best life possible. Like I said, we live in a pretty amazing time!
We can have all the energy we want, the mental clarity to tackle any daily tasks, the ability to create the life we want. Now I don’t know about you, but that life sounds a whole lot better than the disconcerting life encumbered by chronic disease. We just need to wake up and take control of our lives. All the tools are here, we simply need to start incorporating them. This is part of my purpose with my practice and this website, to bring more information about how to live the most optimal life possible. There is so much information out there on this topic, and I hope to bring some value in getting this information out to the public. Looking forward to kicking off 2020 with plenty more content coming out!
Here’s to living your best life possible!
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