When a Little Poison Can be Good for You
Too much of a good thing can be bad for you, like sugar and exercise. But can you believe that a little of something bad can be good for you?
We all know that excessive exposure to radiation and toxins from smoking and mercury are dangerous to your health. But did you know that a little exposure to toxic substances or stressors may actually give you health benefits?
Hormesis is the process which theorizes that organisms exposed to low levels of toxins and other stress agents develop a resistance towards tougher challenges. Thus, a toxin showing hormesis has the opposite effect when administered in small doses than in large ones.
An example of this theory is an experiment wherein mice were exposed to small doses of gamma rays before irradiating them with very high levels of gamma rays, which decreased the occurrence of cancer. A similar effect was achieved when rats were given dioxin.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has been practicing osteopathic medicine for over 20 years, defines hormesis as the biological phenomena where an otherwise adverse or detrimental influence is beneficial when applied at low levels, enough to set something into motion.
Scientists have been trying to find a connection between hormesis and aging. It has been thought that cells may have an adaptive or hermetic response that are anti-aging when they are exposed to mild stress like heat shock, irradiation, pro-oxidants, hypergravity, food restriction and even exercise.
Dr. Mercola also cited another study which showed that mice whose food intake was reduced by 40 percent but whose diet included fish oil lived 300 percent longer than mice that ate as much as they wanted and fed with omega-6 oils.
The significant implication of the experiment showed that calorie restriction has a bigger influence on longevity than adding fish oils. But while he concedes that calorie restriction does work, he does not advocate it because human populations that consume low-calorie diets restricted in proteins and micronutrients tend to have short stature, late reproductive maturation, impaired fertility and impaired immune functions.
What Dr. Mercola recommends is eating according to your nutritional type, which involves shifting the amount of proteins, fats and carbohydrates you consume because he believes that optimal health may depend on the percentage of each food you consume, and not with the type of the food you are eating.