Disease is a mal-adaptation to stress. Most “stressed-out” people have a very limited view of the total number of agents that represent stress to an organism. Stress is triggered by far more things than bad marriages and money worries. The causes of stress comprise far more issues than those related to emotional issues including any condition or agent that unbalances and disturbs the normal equilibrium of the organism (homeostasis).
Disease is the failure of the organism to cope with the total load of stressors that have acted upon it in the past, including inherited stressors, as well as modern-day stressors.
A critical component of the homeodynamic property of living systems (defined as the effort of the body to maintain balance and equilibrium) is their capacity to respond to stress. In this context, the term “stress” is defined as a signal generated by any physical, chemical, or biological factor (stressor), which in a living system initiates a series of events in order to counteract, adapt, and survive.
Aging, on the other hand, is characterized by a decrease in the adaptive abilities due to progressive failure of maintenance.
In the early 1900’s, Dr. Walter B. Cannon, the famous Harvard physiologist, upped the ante in favor of the Vital Force concept with his Theory of Homeostasis. Homeostasis is, as I’ve stated, the balancing mechanisms of living organisms that maintain their constancy: their ability to remain the same or static. This phenomenon can be roughly translated as “staying power,” an example being thermostasis, the ability of the body to maintain a steady temperature.
Age-Related Decreases in Reserve Capacity
We’ve already seen that each of us was born with a limited amount of adaptation energy. Another way of expressing this is by the use of the term reserve capacity. This reflects a decline during aging in maximal work capabilities such as our ability to breathe in and use oxygen in the performance of muscular work. Also associated with the decline in reserve capacity is the rapid increase of diseases of aging such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypertension, heart and kidney failure, and cancer. The increasing prevalence of these diseases leads to organ failure and a limit in lifespan while causing a great deal of human suffering.