I was introduced to this Anti-Fragile Ideology a year or so ago and it constantly bubbles up into my thought process. One, because it is a really cool word, and two because it is a universal principle to work by in any health sector. Make the system more robust so when the big bad wolf comes around that bad-ass foundation doesn’t budge.
Helping athletes become Anti-Fragile is one of our main goals with our training clients. Essentially, we want to bullet-proof the vehicle as much as possible. This stems from the fact that we have helped a lot of athletes and people that we don’t have full control over. In other words, they come to see us because something is wrong with their vehicle, we start to put things back together, and then some other coach (high school, college, or otherwise) is going to start whipping donuts in the parking lot.
Coach Davis has a great post on this Anti-Fragile Ideology as it relates to athletes and all of us here.
“As we age we seek out comfort. Life without disorder. This leads to fragility…The goal as we age is to seek a bit of disorder. To challenge our body, mind, and soul – and not lose the ability to adapt.”
I get really frustrated in the Functional Medicine world because I see patients who have bags of supplements but aren’t sleeping, aren’t eating enough food, aren’t taking time for themselves, and are over stressed and/or overtraining, all while living with the mindset that they are sick and broken. Many times they are suffering with this or that infection. I have taken multiple deep dives into GI infections and viral infections and I always come back up for air with the same thought process and questions – most likely every one of us has infections. Here, I could scare you with stats like, it is estimated that 80-90% of people have a GI infection, 50% of Americans over 60 have H. Pylori, 50% of the world population has Herpes Simplex 1 and 20% has Herpes Simplex 2, 89% of 19 year olds have antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus, see I’ll stop now.
But, why are some patients so symptomatic?
Because they are fragile.
Viruses, Bacteria, and Fungal species are opportunistic organisms. If the host is weak they can come on board and take up residence. Think Star Trek. The shields are down and some weird life form transports its way on board and is sitting in the air ducts waiting for some other weird shit to go down. Then as the immune system becomes suppressed for whatever reason, lack of vitamin D, a traumatic event (divorce/car accident), not sleeping, nutrient deficiencies (AKA crap food), etc etc the viral, bacteria, and/or fungus takes a firmer hold and starts creating more problems and more dysregulation loops.
To continue with the Star Trek analogy, maybe the ship is under attack and nd the crew’s attention is somewhere else now those three eyed stowaways come out to play and start pushing all the buttons on random control consoles. AKA there are less dudes in tight suits walking around with phasers on decks 5 though 19. These opportunistic stowaways then further weaken the ship from the inside out and now the ship is fighting a battle on 2,3, maybe 4 fronts.
And these patients become more fragile and more symptomatic.
Now common foods start lighting them up and they can’t walk down the perfume aisle at Macy’s. Their GI system is constantly pissed off and they can’t concentrate. Their sex drive goes bye bye and even tight suited Star Trek people don’t do it for them anymore.
So how do we break this loop and get me to stop talking about Star Trek?
Well, we have to win the battles which may take time and, yes, some nutraceuticals or even pharmaceuticals, BUT we have to address the heart of the matter, why did the shields go down in the first place?
The fundamentals were off line.
Bob Rakowski has a simple saying, “Healthy people don’t get sick.”
Dr. Bob is also one of my favorite practitioners in this space because he is so aggressive with the fundamentals. You haven’t been eating vegetables for 20 years? Here take 20 scoops of this greens powder. How much does it cost? I don’t know and I don’t care – take it.
Here are his Magnificent Seven
- Eat Right
- Drink Right
- Move Right
- Sleep Right
- Talk Right
- Think Right
- Poop Right
Dial them in all the time and see what happens. Maybe you will start to break the cycle and create some positive loops, i.e. winning more battles with Romulans, blasting the sh&t out of opportunistic free loaders, bringing the shields and warp drive back online, and even getting a little turned on by those tight fitting nerd suits again.