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Is Chronic Illness An Unavoidable Part Of Aging?

Is Chronic Illness An Unavoidable Part Of Aging?

Scouring the internet for new knowledge and new perspectives as I do, I encountered a Joe Rogan podcast on which his guest was a gentleman by the name of Chris Kesser. Now to be honest, this guy has an agenda, and it’s an agenda that I have much antipathy towards – paleo. Now anyone who has read my writings before will understand that this is because in general, I don’t like zealots, and I find that paleo people are zealots.

Not only are they zealots, but they now also have warring factions, with different individuals seeking to say they are the keepers of the true paleo faith. Of course this is just par for the course for any human endeavour – there are always people who are dicks, and in a community of dicks the dicks are naturally going to be even more dicky.

Anyway, antipathy towards paleo aside, the core of paleo is actually something I agree with. That is, more fibre, more fruit and vegetables, less sugar and  processed foods is good for your health. It’s just a question of whether you are religious about these things or not. For example, If I want to eat a meat lovers pizza on a given day, I’m doing it. And I’m not giving up dairy, because I don’t see anything wrong with it. In fact, I believe that there are some great benefits to some dairy, such as Bulgarian Yoghurt. You see I’m not really good with people insisting that I stick to an orthodoxy, or people telling me what to do in general. So naturally, I don’t really make a good convert to any organisation.

But although I am never interested in dogma, I am always interested in results.  And what Chris Kesser spoke about was a tribe in Bolivia – the Tsimane – who have the best cardiovascular health in the world.

The point Chris Kesser made was an interesting one to us in the west, and and gave me food for thought. We consider chronic disease a normal part of aging. However, we only consider it normal because it is common – and common should not equal normal.

Now that was a lightbulb moment for me. My main goal is to extend my healthspan as far as possible; healthspan, as distinct from lifespan being the portion of your life where you are fit and healthy. Up until the time I came across this podcast, I had the standard western assumption that advancing years eventually meant declining health. Now I believe differently.

The thing is that the average Tsimane 80 year old has the heart health of the average American 50 year old.

The doctor who is the author of the study of these people said this:

We found that based on their lifestyle, 85 percent of this population can live their whole life without any heart artery atherosclerosis [hardening],” Thomas said. “They basically have the physiology of a 20-year-old.

Once again for emphasis – we in the west consider that hardening of the arteries is inevitable as we age. To find out that it is not is in fact a revelation to me.

Their health formula is quite simple and it’s one we in the west can emulate quite easily. Strangely enough its what I just said. High fibre diet with no processed foods or sugars.

And one other thing. Plenty of exercise. However, the exercise these people do is not high intensity, it is simply walking for most of the day. They average 17,000 steps a day.

I know that I want the heart health of someone 20 years younger than myself, so I’m prepared to emulate these people. If lifelong good health is of interest to you, it is something you should do too.

Also, and I cannot emphasise this enough. The main takeout for me is that western society has built in assumptions of decline as we age. I have been as guilty as the next person of accepting these assumptions. However, once you reject those assumptions, the world of health at any age opens up for you. If you stop saying can’t, you usually find that you can.

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