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You’re never the same – which keeps you alive

September 21, 2010

1.  A lot of you got replaced last night. Physically you’re a different person each time you wake.  And because we rebuild so quickly and completely, this represents a fantastic opportunity to rebuild your body the way you want.

Proteins are the complicated business end of life, creating enzymes, receptors, muscle.  They should last a long time, right?

Wrong. Most human proteins survive minutes to days.  The proteins pumping your blood may last 60 to 120 minutes – inside two hours they’re built, used, dumped, and recycled.

We can track these changes more easily in other species.  The average survival of proteins  in yeast – 43 minutes. Rat proteins survive mostly between 2 minutes and 120 hours.

Moreover, you completely replace new cells rapidly, all over your body.   Your entire gut lining may last a day.  Your brain is always rewiring, especially during sleep, when it grows new cells and remakes memories, changing your very consciousness and identity.  Large parts of you have been remade once you awake.

Not all, though.  Scaffolding proteins, like the keratin in hair, can last much longer. Compared to most of  your body, hair lasts a very long time.

So shouldn’t our information molecules, the DNA from which proteins and everything else ultimately comes, remain  stable and unassailable?

Guess again.

2. Even your information molecules mutate and change – a lot.

Last night I spoke with my brother-in-law, Cornell geneticist Michael Goldberg.  When I asked about the stability of  chromosomes and DNA, he explained there are not one, but dozens of ways that mutations occur in DNA –  quickly and all the time.

“Hydroxylation of purines occurs about 1000 times a day” in a liver cell, he explained. That’s one mutation process among many. Every hour there are hundreds of different mutations in each cell, all of which must be repaired and renewed. Information is life, and if there’s a physical place that makes you you, it’s your DNA. DNA expression changes second by second through what we do in our lives, but there are so many mutations that constant DNA surveillance is required for us to live.

Now multiply those mutations by the 10 trillion cells in your body.

3.Much of you is not human.

So where does all your DNA come from?  Lots of places.  Estimates vary , but  8-12% of human DNA is thought to originate in retroviruses – the group that includes the AIDS virus.

Much of our proteins’ variety doesn’t come from you, either.  There are at least 100 trillion critters – bacteria, viruses, fungi, rickettsia, and others, living inside and on you.  Some believe the number of bacteria in the gut alone is 10 times the total number of your cells.

Those gut bacteria are needed for survival. Many help digest your food, while others fight off gut bacteria that would otherwise kill you.  In animal models, infants lacking these bacteria don’t develop a usable gut.

So we require bacteria for our development and survival.  One reason may be that while humans possess perhaps 27,000 genes that produce separate proteins, our gut bacteria produce 3 million different kinds of proteins. Proteins that change how we digest food, our immune system, and how information between the immune system and brain is processed.

You are an ecosystem.  Not only does your body have far more cells from other species than come from you, but you need those foreign cells to live.

4. Health is not about the breakdown of the machine, but the effectivess of how your body rebuilds.

Your body parts do not last. Take away teeth, bone and hair, and much of you is gone in hours to days.

That’s what happens during “rest.”  Immobility is not inaction.  And this rebuilding represents a terrific opportunity – if you so much of you is remade, then more of you can be recreated more to your specifications. Give your body the right information and you can change the way you look, the way you feel, and the way you think.

That’s where active rest comes in.  Give the body the right conditions, and you can rebuild the way you want – under far more control than you may realize.

Because the right physical activity at the right time will make new brain cells.  Because connections with friends and family can prevent heart attack and stroke.  Because getting the right sleep can and does reset your immune system, preventing colds, flus, major infections, even tumors.

If you know how to actively rest, you can create an anti-aging program all your own. You have the chance to get smarter, bolder, wiser. You just need to know how to rebuild your body the right way.  Let me begin to show you that way.

Rest, sleep, Sarasota Sleep Doctor, well-being, regeneration, longevity, body clocks, insomnia, sleep disorders, the rest doctor, matthew edlund, the power of rest, the body clock, psychology today, huffington post, redbook, longboat key news

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