Our Body’s Natural Adaptive Stress Response
Each of us has access to a highly centralized biological system, regulated by our genes, that largely controls our susceptibility to disease and how rapidly we age—a system so precisely designed that it could only have developed along with us. This system is the body’s genetic response to environmental stress, or adaptive stress response.
Adaptive Stress Response is the Body’s Genetic Response to Environmental Stress
No, it’s not the sort of stress that we try our best to escape (perhaps by heading to a sandy beach to unwind), but a more beneficial kind that triggers an adaptive stress response and forces the body to marshal its natural resources. These positive stressors—exercise, severe calorie restriction, and certain bioactive compounds in food, just to name a few—kick the body’s cellular maintenance functions into high gear, so our cells take care of themselves more efficiently and thoroughly than they would ordinarily. This also happens to be how they maintained themselves when we were young and at the peak of health.
This phenomenon, known as the adaptive stress response, is astonishingly precise and powerful. With cellular maintenance on overdrive, our bodies can continue to protect themselves from chronic inflammation, which causes a vast assortment of serious illnesses, not to mention overall aging.
The adaptive stress response is a survival mechanism—a vestige of our hunter-gatherer ancestry, when 99.9% of the genes that make us human took shape. In other words, our bodies are designed to respond to the types of stress that our hunter-gatherer forebears would have encountered.
Our Modern Diet & Lifestyle Works Against Our Adaptive Stress Response
But marked changes in our lifestyle and our food supply—particularly the overabundance of empty, easily available calories in affluent countries—have removed many of these beneficial stressors from modern existence. Twenty-first-century conditions not only deprive the body of adaptive stress, they actually drive the needle in the other direction toward overactive inflammation and the overweight and obesity, poor health, and premature aging that go along with it.
To give an example, over 70 percent of our calories come from foods that would have been unrecognizable to our ancestors. Our food supply contains far fewer polyphenols, bioactive compounds that regulate the genes that keep us healthy. Polyphenols are a casualty of modern agricultural practices—much like fiber, another bioactive that’s all but stripped from processed foods. Still other bioactive compounds, like the omega-3 and polyunsaturated fat concentrations in our meat and fish, are radically different than they would have been 100,000 years ago. At the same time, we are getting way too many of the wrong types of calories (mostly from sugar and high-fructose corn syrup) and getting much less (and the wrong type of) exercise than our ancestors did.
Trigger the Adaptive Stress Response
The Gene Smart Anti Inflammatory Diet & Exercise Program triggers your body’s adaptive stress response to work with your genes to reduce whole body inflammation and promote healthy active aging through five simple diet & exercise principles.