A fundamental principal of the Hypothesis is that we are all genetically programmed to function perfectly throughout our lifespans. Any other result would imply that evolution is either irrational or has made some grotesque mistake.
Since we are all programmed to function perfectly, the progressive loss of function that substantially all humans experience as they get older is a deviation from our genetic programming. Phenotype does not match genotype. To make clear that the mismatching of phenotype and genotype is a disorder, rather than merely an inevitable aspect of aging, the Hypothesis uses the term Functional Deviation Syndrome, or “FDS,” to refer to that disorder.
The symptoms of FDS are almost identical to what the scientists describe as the “aging process.” Both are characterized by the progressive physiological deterioration at the cellular level of all organs and systems in the body. The damage accretes so slowly that we hardly notice it. This physiological deterioration commences in most humans while they are still in their 20s. Over the years, this physiological deterioration progresses to the point where disorders or functional declines become apparent. Among the functional declines resulting from this physiological deterioration are longer reaction times, a lower metabolic rate, declines in homeostatic capacity, declines in memory and cognitive functions, declines in sexual activity, declines in kidney, pulmonary, and immune functions, declines in exercise performance and multiple endocrine changes.
At some point (which may be decades later), as the physiological deterioration leads to further and further impairment in function, an organ or system malfunctions to such an extent that the condition is recognized as one or more of the aging-associated diseases. Chronic degenerative diseases (cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, dementia, etc.) are generally the result of this accreting deterioration causing a progressive loss of function in all of the body’s organs and systems. Functional impairment starts at a very young age, but the condition is not recognized as a disease until a weak link fails. Inevitably, as a chronic degenerative disease continues to progress, there will be a catastrophic failure of some organ or system, and the subject dies.
Among the reasons that we know that FDS and chronological aging are not the same thing is that FDS can be accelerated, slowed down and reversed. Chronological aging is nothing more than the passage of time. Since certain cosmetic aspects of the aging process (gray hair, loss of teeth) do not appear to be reversible, the Hypothesis also avoids the term “aging process.”
There is another important reason to distinguish FDS from the aging process. Scientists and others who talk about the aging process tend to focus on the end result, which is death. They assume that if you can extend the ultimate termination date, you can somehow delay the onset of the chronic degenerative diseases. I have never been able to figure out how that works from a logical standpoint. I don’t see how delaying the effect (death) will necessarily delay the cause (accumulating physiological deterioration) or the other effect (chronic degenerative diseases). Adding to my confusion is the fact that the cause - the slow accumulation of physiological deterioration - typically commences in humans who are still in their 20s. Manipulating genes in order to extend expected lifespan from 85 to 100 may well be a worthy goal. But that is not going to have an impact on a disorder that commences 60+ years prior to that. The Hypothesis focuses on the cause of the disorder and the time of inception.
Differences between phenotype and genotype are caused by environmental factors. The major environmental factor is entropy. Entropy is the tendency of all matter and systems to break down over time. Entropy can be considered an immutable constant. But the effects of entropy can be accelerated by other environmental factors. Lack of sufficient food is the most obvious. Other environmental factors that tend to accelerate FDS (the deviation between phenotype and genotype) are all of the recognized environmental risk factors for chronic degenerative diseases – pollution, stress, smoking, etc.
A critical environmental factor is exercise. The recognized benefits of exercise – increased strength and endurance, improved circulation, stronger bones, etc., are merely examples of phenotype conforming better to genotype. Normal environment involves intense exercise on a frequent basis. Intense exercise activates the Growth Process, which is the body's mechanism for reversing the effects of entropy and preventing FDS. Unfortunately, almost no adult humans engage in that type of exercise, so all adult humans suffer from FDS.
For these purposes, it is critical to understand all that is encompassed by the term FDS. FDS doesn’t just cover death from natural causes. Nor does it refer only to the recognized diseases (osteoporosis, dementia, cardiovascular disease, etc.) that ultimately result from years of accumulated damage. Nor does it just cover the disorders that result from loss of function that don’t rise to the level of recognized diseases (loss of memory and diminished mental acuity, sexual disorders, urinary problems, reduced physical performance, etc.). Eradicating FDS means the elimination of all physiological deterioration at the cellular level. Moreover, bringing our phenotype to the level of our genotype doesn’t just mean making us as healthy (and strong and smart, etc.) as we ever were. It means making us as healthy (and strong and smart, etc.) as we ever could have been.