Our "Normal" Environment
A significant conceptual component of the Hypothesis is the following: As predicted by the Theory of Evolution, humans have the genetic potential to function perfectly throughout their lifespans. The infirmities and diseases that are associated with aging are the result of phenotype deviating from genotype. That deviation is caused by our modern civilized environment differing from our natural or normal environment.
It is universally accepted that environmental factors cause phenotype to deviate from genotype. That’s why people diet; that’s why we exercise; that’s why we try to reduce stress. If we were all fated to exactly match our genotype, such behavior modifications would be pointless. But we know that they do make a big difference. Substantially all of the behavior modifications we engage in are based on the unstated assumption that our phenotype isn’t matching our genotype. In other words, everyone already knows that evolution has designed us to be better than we are. But the medical establishment, and especially the geneticists, choose to act as if we are exactly what we were designed to be.
To the extent that scientists consider variations between phenotype and genotype, they look at things such as variations between identical twins. Those variations tend to be relatively small, because twins tend to be subject to the same environmental factors.
The Institute would suggest a different way of looking at the issue. Can chickens fly? The answer is that all chickens have the genetic potential (genotype) to fly. They just don't (phenotype). In almost all organisms there is a significant difference between phenotype and genetic potential. All organisms, including humans, were designed (have the genetic potential) not to suffer any infirmities of aging. All chronic degenerative diseases are the result of phenotype deviating from that genetic potential.
So what environmental factor causes our phenotype to vary from our genotype in such a dramatic fashion? Many have asserted that various aspects of the modern environment "cause" various aging-associated diseases. The problem with that assertion is that the ancient Egyptians suffered from all of the major aging-associated diseases. For years, we’ve been demonizing various types of food, but no solid evidence has been developed that could possibly connect any particular type of food to FDS. So if it's not what we eat, and it's not anything else that we can identify, why is there such a drastic deviation between genetically-designed perfection and the infirmities of aging?
The Hypothesis points to intense exercise as the big deviation between civilized environment and the evolutionary environment. So what does occur in the wild? What is normal from an evolutionary perspective? Or, more specifically, when the original mammals were evolving, did they engage in intense physical activity on a frequent basis? Were they more like the founder, or more like the people who don’t frequently exercise with intensity?
It’s important to keep in mind what is meant by intense exercise. It doesn’t mean running marathons or burning a specified number of calories. It means that if you’re moving, you’re moving with as much energy as you can muster. That’s the type of movement that raises levels of Complex X in the blood which in turn activates the Growth Process. It’s how wild animals and children move instinctively.
For animals subject to the forces of nature, there was no option. In the natural world, there is no choice to be made. The very essence of the natural world is to compete for energy and reproductive opportunities. A lazy or slow animal is a dead animal. It will starve unless the predators kill it first. The evolutionary precursors to humans were forced to engage in frequent intensive physical activity. The alternative was to die. Because there are no predators that attack modern humans, and we do not have to compete for food, modern humans and domesticated animals can make the choice not to engage in all-out activity. In fact, the modern norm is the opposite of the natural norm. Adult humans have to make a conscious behavioral choice to engage in intense physical activity on a regular basis, and the vast majority chooses not to.
The functional declines that are associated with aging never appear in the wild. Only humans and animals that are removed from the forces of nature by humans exhibit signs of aging. In the words of one prominent biogerontologist: “Aging occur in animals removed from the wild and protected by humans even when that species has not been known to experience aging for thousands or millions of years.”
A number of elements were constantly available in the evolutionary environment and thus are necessary for human development and maintenance. Among these are food, air, sunlight and exercise. An insufficient amount of the right kind of any one of those elements will result in phenotype varying from genotype. On a scale of 1 to 10, most modern Americans are in the 8 to 10 range with respect to the first three items. With respect to the last item, intense exercise, substantially all adults are in the range of 0 to 2. But the medical establishment ignores this element while devoting an enormous amount of attention to the first element, and acknowledging the importance of the second two.
The Hypothesis posits that we are genetically designed to function perfectly throughout our lifespans and that functional declines are the result of phenotype (what we are) not matching genotype (what we are genetically designed to be). It is universally accepted that the variation between phenotype and genotype is the result of environmental factors. Intense exercise is such a critical aspect of life in the wild that frequent intense exercise must be considered a part of our normal environment.