Hypothyroid has been covered to death before. I’m particularly fond of The Healthy Skeptic’s coverage – check out Chris Kresser’s ongoing series (possibly before you read on) for some great information on the thyroid. Carnivorous Danny Roddy did a good piece on it last year as well. As such, I won’t be redoing or rehashing an “intro to thyroid.” Instead, I’ll give a brief overview and then discuss why I think some of us may be looking at thyroid “dysfunction” in the wrong light.
The thyroid is a complicated little bugger wielding a lot of influence over the metabolism, and it seems like just about anything has been fingered as a trigger of its dysfunction. Lack of carbs in the diet, too few calories, too much iodine, too little iodine, too many grains, intermittent fasting, excessive cortisol, and multiple other factors have gotten the blame. Unraveling the multiple potential triggers for its dysfunction can be tough. But is dysfunction always the right way to describe a slight reduction in thyroid hormones? I’m not so sure.
If you’ve been reading recently you know I’ve been on a hormone kick recently. That sexy looking molecule to the right and the hormone du jour: testosterone. Testosterone is the principal anabolic and sex hormone in humans, responsible for sexual desire and function, muscular hypertrophy, densification of bones, and hair growth. Compared to females, males famously produce about ten times the amount of testosterone, but females are far more sensitive to its effects. Though testosterone is largely responsible for those traits and characteristics that are considered “masculine” – physical strength, body hair, dominance, and virility – both sexes require it for proper sexual and physical development. In mammals, males secrete it primarily from the testicles (about 95% of the total amount, in fact) and women secrete it from the ovaries. A modicum is produced in the adrenal glands in both sexes.
People are exceedingly mobile these days. We can jet halfway across the world at a moment’s notice, check email on our phones, hop in the car and be in another state in five hours, conduct business from anywhere, transfer schools, and shave while reading the paper on the morning commute. Social mobility, financial mobility, spatial mobility, information mobility. Mobile workforce, mobile phone, Google Mobile. Yeah, clearly, mobility is highly prized.
What about joint mobility?
Too many people discount, or even outright ignore, this crucial aspect of physical fitness. Raw strength, speed, and stamina are all important, especially to athletes or weekend warriors, but everyone of any age or fitness level needs the ability to move their limbs and joints through their full range of motion as ordained by nature. That goes for grandmothers, teens, and couch potatoes alike. Though not everyone will be picking up barbells or running sprints or long jumping, we all have to function in a three-dimensional world. We all have space and gravity with which to contend if we’re planning on enjoying and experiencing all life offers, and that’s accomplished by moving through spatiality and against gravity. To thrive in this environment, we require the full, unfettered use of our limbs, joints, and muscles. Losing the shoes is a big step; so is getting strong and fit. One of the biggest, in my opinion, is regaining and maintaining maximum joint mobility.
I mention the distinction between thriving and surviving quite often on this blog, but I’m not sure I make it often enough, or explicitly. So, here it is: surviving is not thriving. There’s a massive difference, and though the two states of being ideally concur, we too often conflate the two as a rule, to our ultimate detriment. In my opinion, life’s true barometer is experience gained, rather than raw time accrued. What’s the point of living to a ripe old age if you never taste the fruit? Longevity coupled with happiness and experience, good. Sheer longevity for longevity’s sake, miserable, diseased, and decrepit? Bad.
So, you’re 56 – or 36. Maybe 27 or 42. Perhaps 68. (You get the idea.) Your driver’s license says it all (whether you want it to or not). But the buzz lately says there’s age and then there’s “Real Age.” Yes, your kitchen cabinets, weight set, medicine cabinet, diploma, car, even your speed dial apparently tell the real story your driver’s license (or dear mother) can’t.
The real story here is your “real” biological age as supposedly determined by your responses to approximately 150 questions. They run the gamut – from exercise routine to driving habits to nutrition to stress factors. At the end of the quiz, you receive a number as well as a rundown of practices that added to or reduced your biological age. According to the site, the quiz was based on “125 different factors that can influence the rate of aging” as determined by review of 25,000 medical studies. Some 27 million people have taken the quiz.
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