Every driver knows that you can’t get to your destination with one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brake. For safe, efficient travel you switch smoothly between these two pedals and you reach your goal effectively. But simple machines such as automobiles are fairly easy to operate. There aren’t that many options. The human machine, on the other hand, has an almost infinite number of possible operating modes. And the human machine doesn’t come with an instruction manual.
As an example, it’s obvious that your car won’t move forward if you’re riding the brake. But it’s not that obvious when you’re holding down the corresponding metaphorical pedal of your physical organism. At some point, most of us slow ourselves down in this way without knowing it. And the price we pay may be far more serious than that involved in the necessity of re-lining the brakes of our car.
What does “riding the brakes” look like for humans? What slows us down? What actions interfere with our ability to thrive, our ability to enjoy vibrant good health? Not eating a wide variety of nutritious food is a prime culprit. Our bodies are not designed to live on fast food, lots of simple carbohydrates, and a dearth of fresh fruits and vegetables.1,2 Another “brake” on good health is lack of vigorous physical activity. Our bodies were designed long ago for vigorous physical work, i.e., exercise.3
It’s really true that we’re not born with an instruction manual. Parents know this all too well, first when their kids are infants and toddlers and much later when the formerly cute preschoolers grow up to become too-worldly-too-soon teenagers. But such an instruction manual would be invaluable for all adults and all young people. Finally, we’d be able to have access to first-hand information on how to take care of ourselves.
As the most basic example, when we buy a new car the schedule of maintenance is clear. Check-ups and an oil and filter change every 5000 miles. Bigger systems overhauls every 15,000 miles, with specific diagnostics and possible replacements at 30,000 miles, 60,000 miles, and so on. Most cars have a built-in reminder that flashes when it’s time to go to the dealership. Everything’s laid out for us.
But with our bodies – very possibly our most precious possessions – such formal guidance is just not available. All we have to go on is folklore and guesswork. And so people ride their brakes, blithely cruising along and never giving a thought to how they’re really doing. But at some point a price must be paid and things begin to go wrong. At that point, it’s often very hard to recover.
Put simply, if we’re missing out on high-quality nutrition and plenty of exercise, we’re “riding the brakes” and may find ourselves “coming to a stop”. Hopefully we’ll notice in time that we’re “slowing down’. We can regain our normal “cruising speed” if we’re willing to take healthy actions on our own behalf. Fortunately, there are many things we can do to restore our good health. Regular exercise, eating a variety of healthy foods, and getting regular chiropractic care are three important actions that, done consistently, will keep our physical “machine” in peak condition.
1Jonnalagadda SS, et al: Putting the whole grain puzzle together: health benefits associated with whole grains–summary of American Society for Nutrition 2010 Satellite Symposium. J Nutr 141(5):1011S-1022S, 2011
2Weiss EP, Fontana L: Caloric restriction: powerful protection for the aging heart and vasculature. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 301(4):H1205-1219, 2011
3Valente EA, et al: The effect of the addition of resistance training to a dietary education intervention on apolipoproteins and diet quality in overweight and obese older adults. Cliin Interv Aging 6:235-241, 2011