How Far Are You Away From Death?

Posted by James Bennett on

A New Way of Defining Health


“Aging should not be seen as the distance from birth. Rather, it's the estimated distance from death.” ~ David Sinclair


I think society has completely missed the point about what is healthy.


It’s not a salad, going for a run, or many hours of sleep.


Healthy cannot be found in a thing or set of things. For any thing can be had in excess so that it is unhealthy. We instinctively know this, so that if you press people on this point they inevitably say “oh yeah, balance. It’s all about the balance”.


While I think this does point in the right direction, it’s so vague and subjective as to be almost entirely unhelpful.


Healthy isn’t a property of a process or object outside of you. Healthy is a property of what happens inside you. The balance of food, exercise, and sleep so that you’re stronger tomorrow. That sounds like health to me.


And yet, we cannot always become stronger, for we are all walking through life towards an enfeebled old age, and ultimately our graves.




That’s why I think it’s time to reverse engineer healthy. Healthy is how far we are from our ultimate graves. The healthier we are, the greater the distance.


Healthy is the inverse of aging. Precisely what longevity science researcher Dr. David Sinclair spoke to at the beginning of this post. Healthy is your estimated distance from death.


I’m obsessed with longevity research. Understanding it better has led me down a path of understanding the body like I do a rainforest or economy. It’s a massive system of cooperating and competing entities. 


When you fast, your body eats itself like a forest in drought. Things shrivel and die off. So that the strong will rise again when the rain or feast reoccurs.


This protects the forest from thirsty parasites and weeds which cannot endure a dry spell. Similarly, the immune system rids itself of the weak and vulnerable when one goes without food for an extended period of time, only to regenerate a stronger force after the fast.


Allow me to analogise with an old coal-powered steam train. They require fuel to burn, to create a fire to then power the train. If a train driver ran out of fuel but had to get to the next station they could throw in parts of the train into the fire. The train is then eating itself, which is a process known as autophagy. Auto = self. Phagy = eating. The train driver is smart enough not to burn his brakes or transmission in the fire. Instead, they’re going to reach into the back carriage and rip out the old busted seats nobody sat on.

We are the result of billions of years of evolution. It stands to reason that we’ve evolved to deal with the occasional lack of food, and your body is just like the train driver. Old ineffective immune cells, cancerous cells, superfluous fat cells —Autophagy devours them all!


Fasting and feasting. A rhythm like the changing of the seasons. I agree, Health is all about balance. But don’t you dare shrug off a deeper investigation with that simple word.


Live long and prosper!


PsHere’s an article that probes fasting-induced immune regeneration.


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