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Is Metabolism the Key to Disease and Aging?

By | Deepak Chopra MD | Founder at Deepak Chopra LLC

Medical research enjoyed a major breakthrough over the past decade when two factors were isolated that link almost every major disorder: inflammation and stress. Neither came as a total surprise. Inflammation was long known as a paradoxical process in the body. Disease and injured tissues need an added supply of oxygen and immune cells in order to heal, but taken too far, as in the case of severe burns, and inflammation can lead to shock and even death

Stress is more clear-cut, since it has always been associated with harmful effects in the body and is linked to many disorders from depression and anxiety to hypertension and lowered immunity. But a breakthrough occurred when it was suddenly realized that the culprits in disease and aging were not acute, dramatic instances of inflammation and stress. Instead, the damage to the body is low-level and steady, a chronic condition that does its damage slowly at the cellular level. It turns out that aging and chronic disease actually begin almost invisibly at the cellular level long before any symptoms appear, over a span of years or most probably decades.

Breakthroughs are conceptual, opening a door into new paradigms. What lies ahead is unknown and open to more breakthroughs. This is where modern physics enters the picture. At the quantum level, far deeper than medical research has explored, there is an exchange of energy, which is broadly classified as metabolism, from the Greek word for “change.”

The change is of energy that every cell needs to sustain itself. You might think that this is like stoking a furnace with coal, but such isn’t the case. There are many mysteries about metabolism that require a quantum explanation.

•         How do cells know how much energy they need?

•         How do cells communicate with each other to balance their energy needs and synchronize with one another?

•         What’s the secret of the complex molecular machinery that regulates everything happening in a cell?

•         Where is the timer or clock that moves energy through every phase in our bodies from sleep to waking to vigorous activity?

These turn out to be quantum questions for the simple reason that chemistry and biology can’t solve them using the time-honored metaphor of the body as a machine. At the basis of the laws governing energy is entropy, the tendency for heat to move from a hotter place to a colder one. Entropy is why a mother says, “Eat your dinner before it gets cold,” and why all the heat from the stars is being constantly dissipated in the cold void of space, whose temperature is near absolute zero.

The greatest mystery about metabolic energy, however, is negative entropy, the state where heat builds up rather than flowing away, and the human body is a miracle at doing this. Metabolism is a process of renewing every cell’s energy supply, not just offsetting the heat our bodies give off, but trapping energy to deploy it, not simply to keep us warm, but to accomplish the amazing processes behind hearing, seeing, and thinking.

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