Take Control of Your Biological Age, Part 2
by Keith Wassung
Clearly genes are not destiny. It is up to you to take control of your biological age and determine whether you will age gracefully and enjoy your golden years or live a miserable existence trying to cope with degenerative disease. The human body can respond and adapt to just about anything it encounters provided it is in a state of homeostasis, a status which means it is able to send and receive nerve information. The central nervous system is the master control system of the body and every single function of the body reflects its activity. This means that keeping the central nervous system functioning at optimal levels and maintaining homeostasis is key to modulating the aging process.
Nerve impulses travel from the brain down the spinal cord and out through nerves to all parts of the body. Nerve impulses then return to the brain through return pathways. There are in excess of 100 billion neurons or nerve cells in the human central nervous system, and the number of possible connections is greater than the total number of electrons in the known universe.
Research has conclusively shown that even activity that occurs at the cellular and molecular levels is controlled and coordinated by the central nervous system. It is this system that regulates the aging process by providing healthy stress responses, and these healthy stress responses in large part determine longevity. Proper neurological signaling in the human body is the key to psychological, emotional, immune and hormonal health and longevity.
It is an astounding realization to learn that the quantity of communication in the human body is greater than all of the combined manufactured communication systems in the world, and the coordination and precision of neurological and biological communication is unparalleled. The entire body is wired for cell signaling so that it can repair, restore and coordinate physiological and psychological activities.
In Part 1 of this article aging was defined as gradual loss of the body’s ability to respond or adapt to its environment. We can take that a step further and state that aging is the breakdown of communication between the nervous, immune and hormonal systems of the body.
Cell signaling with growth factors is more fundamental to the body than is breathing. Cell signaling begins before birth and ends just before death. Loss of cell signaling underlies ineffective adaptation, and the inability to adapt is the pathway to death. To stay healthy as well as repair cell damage as the years go by, our cells continuously talk to each other to determine how to behave in context with the surrounding environment. Cell signaling is essential to coping with stress, the underlying component of functional aging.
The Role of the Nervous System in Lifespan Determination
Recent studies in diverse organisms have provided evidence that indeed the brain may control lifespan through signaling pathways involved in both central nervous system and peripheral stress responses and regulation of energy metabolism.
The brain controls neuroendocrine systems that are strongly implicated in aging. Its hypothalamic-pituitary system has a strong influence on how long we will live. A consistent feature of environmental and genetic factors that increase longevity is that they increase cellular resistance to stress. The brain coordinates the responses of the entire body to such stressors on both rapid and long-term time scales by modulating the activities of the neuroendocrine pathways and the autonomic nervous system. The responses typically involve a behavior response (fleeing a mugger or tiger), a vascular response (increased blood pressure and diversion of blood flow from the gut to the muscles) and a metabolic response (increased mobilization of glucose). An increased ability of an organism to escape from a potentially lethal stressor will obviously increase its probability of having a long lifespan, and this is one way the brain can determine average lifespan. However, the brain may also control maximum lifespan by its ability to stimulate signaling pathways that increase the resistance of cells to stress.
Vertebral Subluxation Wreaks Havoc With the Central Nervous System
The wisdom of the body has the central nervous system well protected by the vertebra of the spine. But the spinal column is moveable, and therefore susceptible to various stresses and forces which can cause vertebra to lose their proper structural position. These minor misalignments of the spine, known as subluxations inhibit normal spinal movement which causes nerve interference resulting in decreased nervous system function, improper healing and accelerated aging.
Chiropractic is a health care system founded on the premise that a proper functioning central nervous system is essential to overall health and function of the human body. Doctors of Chiropractic detect and correct vertebral subluxations by physically adjusting the spine. This restores the nervous system to optimal function and restores and maximizes the body’s inherent healing potential.
Chiropractic adjustments restore normal nerve function by improving spinal biomechanics including range of motion, reflex arcs and posture, each of which is essential to a properly functioning nervous system.
Doctors of Chiropractic are experts in spinal structure and body mechanics. Chiropractic adjustments restore and maintain the structural integrity of the body by correcting spinal subluxations. Chiropractors emphasize the importance of posture to overall health, a concept that has been often overlooked in traditional methods of health care.
Subluxations alter the optimal structure of the spine, weakening it and increasing degeneration. Vertebral subluxations are often referred to as the Silent Killer because they can be present for long periods without any evidence of pain or symptoms. This is similar to a cavity eating away at a tooth.
Any force the body cannot adapt to can cause a vertebral subluxation. Such examples include auto accidents, work related stress, sports, repetitive movements and unequal use of both sides of the body. Even the birth process can result in subluxation. Vertebral subluxations are devastating to a person’s health and longevity and are well documented by leading health authorities.
Posture, Longevity and You
Posture and normal physiology are interrelated. Posture affects and moderates every physiological function from breathing to hormonal production. Abnormal posture is evident in patients with chronic and stress related illnesses. Homeostasis and nervous system function are ultimately connected with posture. Despite the considerable evidence that posture affects physiology and function, the significant influence of posture on health is not addressed by most physicians.
The Chiropractic Lifestyle
Health care is slowly changing from a symptom and disease based system to a function and performance based system in which the structure of the human body must be restored and maintained. Correction and maintenance to the structure of the spine is coming to be viewed as critically important in the pursuit of optimal health and longevity.
In his book The Wellness Revolution economist Paul Zane Pilzer predicts that wellness will become the next trillion-dollar industry. According to him, wellness is “not about a fad or trend, it’s about a new and infinite need of infusing itself into the way we eat, exercise, sleep, work, save money, age and almost every other aspect of our lives.”
Wellness incorporates all the elements for preventive health care – nutritious diet, aerobic conditioning, good posture, strength training, rest and periodic spinal adjustments. Wellness is a program that must involve all aspects of a person’s life. Although millions of people have experienced relief from back and neck pain through Chiropractic care, the focus and intent of Chiropractic is far beyond the elimination of symptoms. Rather it is in the correction of subluxations in order to ensure a properly functioning nervous system.
Elderly patients derive quality of life benefits from chiropractic care. A study conducted by the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research found that elderly chiropractic patients report better overall health, have fewer chronic conditions, spend fewer days in nursing homes and hospitals, are more mobile in their communities and are less likely to use prescription mediations than non-chiropractic patients.
1. Nathaniels, P. (1999) Life in the Womb, Ithaca, NY
2. Taub, E. (1996) Balance Your Body, Balance Your
Life. NY, Kensington Books
3. Sapolsky R. (April 20, 2000) “All in the Genes”
4. Koop, C. www.drkoop.com
5. Sperry R.www.rogersperry.com
6. Caranasos, I. Gait disorders in the elderly,
Hospital Practice, 1991; June 15:67-94.
7. Edwards, J. (1994, August)”Nerve dysfunction &
Tissue healing” Journal of Neurological Science
8. Scott, J. & Dawson, T. “Cell communication: The
inside story” Scientific American, June 2000 p. 73
9. Mattson, MP, The role of the nervous system in
lifespan determination. Ageing Research Reviews
(2002) 155-165 160
10. DeRoeck, R. The confusion about chiropractors,
Impulse Publishing, Danbury, CT (1989)
11. Seyle, Hans, The Stress of Life, (1978) McGraw-
12. Lennon, J. American Journal of Pain Management,
13. Pilzer, P. The Wellness Revolution, (2002),
Wiley and Sons, NY
14. Hadley, L “Anatomical & Roentgenographic
studies of the spine”, Thomas, 1981
About The Author:
Keith Wassung is a nationally known author and speaker in the field of health education and research. A former national drug-free weightlifting champion, Keith turned to Chiropractic health care after being diagnosed with a near fatal health condition. His recovery led him to research, write and lecture about the scientific principles of Chiropractic.
Keith has authored over 100 health education and research articles and has been featured in periodicals such as Iron Man, Men\’s Health, Muscle and Fitness, Milo, Muscle Mag, Pediatric Journal, ICPA journal, Today’s Chiropractic, Get Up, ICA Journal, In-Practice as well as many others.
Keith has spoken at Chiropractic colleges and Chiropractic seminars all over the United States. He has been honored as “Layman of the Year” by Sherman College of Chiropractic, “Man of the Year” by the Federation of Straight Chiropractic and “Humanitarian of the Year” by the Southern Chiropractic Association.
In addition to writing and lecturing, Keith has assisted in the building and development of hundreds of private Chiropractic practices all over the United States. His community outreach projects include the development and implementation of the Health Jeopardy program that is used in elementary schools as well as the Natural childbirth lecture series performed at Bradley classes and the nationwide Blockbuster Free Chiropractic documentary videos.
Keith is married and lives with his wife Peggie and their six children in Goose Creek, SC. They are a home school family and are active in their community.