Thesis #55 – Once this switch to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle among older adults has become widespread, further changes that would enhance human health at later ages can be discovered using evolutionary research tools, such as experimental evolution with model organisms and the molecular genetic analysis of human evolutionary history.
In the previous ten theses, I have presented the scientific case for a particular type of dietary and lifestyle intervention that, I contend, should give some health benefits to a large number of middle-aged and possibly older adults. In the case of those with hunter-gatherer ancestry, the benefits from this switch could be spectacular.
But even so, this is only the start of a revolution in human health that I expect to occur during this century. The cold grey grip of the reductionist biomedical establishment will be progressively weakened by the onslaught of reductionism-killing genomic data. That establishment is like the Aristotelian natural philosophers who were mainstays of the Catholic establishment during the Renaissance, full of power, prestige, and support. But dead wrong, even as they received funding for their indulgences. As the Procrustean dogmas of twentieth century cell biology are killed off, we will be able to transform human health using tools afforded to us by the burgeoning new biology, a biology that is better equipped to handle the exponentially-growing onslaught of “omic” data, whether genomic, proteomic, transcriptomic, metabolomic, or other-omic. This new biology will be founded on formal theoretical tools, especially an upgraded evolutionary genetic theory that has been refined and strengthened by access to the genome-wide data that it has long needed.
With the new genomic biology, we will discover how our metabolisms need to be re-tuned in order to slow our aging and even end it earlier. With further advances in stem-cell technology and nanotechnology, we will become steadily better at replacing cells and repairing tissue matrices that have become worn or acutely damaged. Larger-scale structures, like livers or spleens, will be re-built from our own stem cells, so that they can be replaced without long-sustained immune suppression.
Over time, the chronic diseases that make our later lives so miserable will become as controlled and limited as contagious disease is in our time. Many still die of infections, but contemporary medicine now has the tools to rescue most of those with infections whom it can attend to in a timely fashion, providing it is given adequate resources. By the end of this century, the same will be true of most of our chronic disorders, like those of the cardiovascular system. In the year 2100, death from aging-associated disease will seem as unusual as death due to infection now is in affluent industrialized countries. It will still happen, but it will not terrorize us as it does now.
But achieving this salubrious outcome will require that the presently entrenched forces of the biomedical establishment be overthrown. Overthrown not by the naïve or the self-deluding, but by those who see clearly the scientific failure of the twentieth century biomedical reductionism which fuels the prestige and the profits of the medical-pharmaceutical industrial complex. Fortunately, this revolution does not need to be fed first by the blood of protesters, but by the simple act of thinking twice before reaching for the brightly colored packages on supermarket shelves.