There was the time when someone slipped a shot of pure ethanol into my beer and I unwittingly drank it. Great joke. I ended up in a bit of a mess.
That will have taken a few years off my life. Oh, and the Ducados. As a student, my favourite brand of cigarette was OPs – Other People’s. But the time came when I graduated to buying my own, and when I went to live in Spain, I found Ducados, cheap and not very cheerful. Black, bitter tobacco, stronger and more addictive than anything I’d ever had.
Those will have taken a few more years off my life.
So now, decades later, I’m doing my best to claw those years back. In my idiotic youth (which I’m only just getting past), I assumed, looking around me, that as a person passed through life they stooped, stumbled, shrank, withered, wheezed, trembled, got very fat, got emaciated, coughed incessantly, needed thicker and thicker glasses and wore predominantly nylon clothes all as a matter of course.
And that state could last 20 years (nylon takes ages to wear out…). It’s called ‘extended morbidity’. In the wild, an animal’s morbidity – the moments when it is approaching its end – is brief. It is incapacitated and dysfunctional only right at the end.
With us, not so much. Medical science can keep us away from death’s door, but still in the porch, for a very long time. Maybe even a third of your life.
Our ancestors then, and wild animals now, are always active – they have no choice – and eat only what they are optimised to eat – again little or no choice there.
In illnesses that cause muscle wasting, there is a point at which the lean body mass can no longer support life. A loss of 40% of lean mass is fatal. When this happens over a couple of years, it’s a tragedy. When it happens over the course of a few decades, it just your average western ageing process.
Not enough activity. Too much insulin. These are the curses of our western lives. As we lose muscle mass, we lose the ability to stress our bones. Our bones lose density and become vulnerable. Maintaining muscle mass, keeping insulin low, and holding on to some of those vital fast-twitch muscles, the ones which disappear first as we age, are ways to stave off extended morbidity.
ZC/carnivory is the key to low insulin, we know this, and it is how our ancestors ate. High levels of animal protein feed strong muscles. Strong muscles, with some fast-twitch fibres retained, let you exercise harder and get into a positive cycle that keeps you hale and hearty till close to the end.
Low insulin and no PUFAs will mean lower or zero levels of global inflammation, another key indicator of the likelihood of coming down with chronic disease, ‘diseases of civilisation’.
And for god’s sake, train for strength. Make your glutes into boulders; make your quads into tree trunks, press things over your head, lift and carry heavy things. Strength training needn’t be too complicated. Stop with the jogging and the 15 lengths of breaststroke, it does nothing for your strength. Or your body composition, for that matter.
Train for strength. Keep your insulin low (just eat meat). Age gracefully.
Till next time.