Few people recognize that natural infections, especially early in life, can actually be beneficial as they serve to build a very strong and resilient immune system for later life. In the days before vaccination, people’s immune systems were allowed to become strong in just such a way.
This means that, as they aged, people in previous generations were significantly stronger and less likely to die of disease than today. I was startled when I was taught that in days past the average lifespan was 40 years of age or less.
This actually is a bit of deception. When we combine all the people who died in infancy, childhood, and early life with older deaths, the average life span was quite low. But for those who survived the calamities and diseases of early life, many lived just as long or longer than we do today.
It has been noted that there are a growing number of people living in their 100s, implying modern life is healthy.
Yet we must remember these people were mostly living in rural areas and small villages where life was hard, diets were mostly natural and modern medicines were rarely used until the extremes of age. It is our early years which determine how healthy we will live in our later years. Their early life was during a time when most of modern medicine didn’t exist.
If modern diets and medicine are so bad, why are people living longer than ever? There are at least two parts needed to answer to this question.
First, these are people who were minimally vaccinated, ate better diets, mostly avoided medicine until absolutely needed, had strong family and social bonds and worked very hard all their lives.
Second, when they developed sickness, such as heart failure, medicine could keep them alive artificially by using machines, electronic gadgets, powerful medicines and other techniques.
That is, they were very ill, but we had ways, for example, to force their diseased, weakened hearts to pump years longer.
Not that this is a bad thing — it is a very good thing to have when diseases overwhelm us. Yet, our older populations are in general very sick people.
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