There is no one variable, no single magic bullet, miracle food or diet, exercise program or supplement that is a panacea for what ails us
America is a land of opportunity and of a promise for a better life. Inherent in those possibilities is the idea that a better life is also a healthier life. So a time where we debate the role of our government, our individual responsibilities, and our collective place in international affairs, is a perfect time to also look into the mirror -- literally.
People often turn to the increasing life expectancy of our population and assume that if that number increases, we must be getting healthier because we are living longer. But that is a bit of statistical deception. The capacity for longevity has not really increased. There are many ancient and more recent records of persons living into their 100s. That currently seems to be the limit. Since we have more people surviving into that range, the average life expectancy rises. The ability for any individual to achieve the century-plus mark has not really changed.
If our maximum capability has not increased, why are more people living longer? There are several reasons. Childbirth, both to mother and offspring, is a substantially safer undertaking. Through vaccination, many scourges like smallpox have been largely eradicated. When was the last time you actually saw someone with the mumps? Expansion upon the natural pharmacopeia has allowed for the treatment of potentially deadly pathogens. Sanitation has played a huge role reducing potential exposure to these agents of disease. Knowledge of how to treat physical injuries, garnered from battlefields throughout recorded history and before, substantially increase survival odds.