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Health & Exercise Forum

Darwin’s Origin of Species Offers Insight to Health, Wellness and Longevity

Feb 10, 2020

…and is the framework for positive social evolution!

Dr. Paul Mackarey in the Galapagos with Charles Darwin.

As many of you may know, I love to travel. Also, I am a Charles Darwin enthusiast, as it provides for me, a logical framework for life…physically and socially. My wife, Esther, and I just returned from a trip to the Galapagos Islands in January. In addition to the beauty of the people, islands, plants, animals and birds, it was inspiring!

For 100 years Darwin’s THEORY of evolution was the source of great controversy and dissention. However it is important to remember, in 1959, upon the discovery of DNA by Watson and Crick, the THEORY has been proven to be scientific FACT…as much as we have come to accept Galileo’s scientific principles, that the earth is not the center of the universe.

Last year, the scientific community proudly marks the 160th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. Born on February 12, 1809, in the small town of Shrewsbury, England, Charles Darwin circumnavigated the globe on the HMS Beagle at the young age of 22to make keen observations and document findings in unparalleled detail. He spent the next three decades analyzing his data to support a thesis and published his findings in arguably the most controversial book ever written.

In medicine, the possibilities are unlimited. “His central idea, the simplicity of which is exceeded only byits stunning profundity, would shake social convention.His insights and clear unassuming prose would bringorder to the chaos of biology, expose the mechanisms that underpinlife's diversity, and illuminate the origins of our species,” according to James Evans, MD, PhD, The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2009 on the 150th anniversary.

The growing field of genetics supports this claim. According to geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." He purports that if evolutionary biology is the foundation for biology and biology is the foundation of medicine, than the two must coexist if one is to discover the true cause of a disease. Darwin’s impact on contemporary medicine is far reaching and is predicted to have an even more powerful impact in the future.

Social evolution has also demonstrated similar profound enlightenments based on the scientific evidence for evolution and DNA. In simple terms, we must adapt to change in order to survive and thrive. This is just as true socially as it is physically. Two, there is only ONE race…the human race. Evolution and DNA have proven this to be fact. Regardless of the color of your skin (which adapted to change over time based on environmental need), the god or gods you worship, the food you eat or the place you live, we all share the same DNA. Remember, to be different is not bad, in fact, it may allow you to thrive and survive!

Others in medicine offer another perspective to support Dawin’s influence in patient care. William Meller, MD, author of Evolution Rx, states that in spite of our anxiety about healthy foods, toxins in the environment and prolific diseases such as cancer, human beings were designed to heal. He feels that this is supported by a million years of evolution and natural selection that has influenced us to be powerful, healthy and self-healing. In spite of germs, toxins, and pollution we continue to thrive. Today, there are 80,000 centenarians in the United States and it is expected that by 2050 there will be 800,000.

However, if your gene pool is questionable like most of us, don’t use that as an excuse.  There are things you can do to live longer and healthier.

10 Healthy Habits to Improve Your Chances of Living to be 100 Years Old

  1. Do Not Retire – Studies show that when people stop working abruptly, chronic disease and obesity rises significantly. While one may retire from their profession, it is important to maintain some regular work through a career change or volunteerism. For example, in the Chianti region of Italy, where they boast a high percentage of centenarians, those retiring from their jobs spend most of their day working on their farms and vineyards.
  2. Floss Daily – It is important to floss, not only to keep your teeth healthy, but also to reduce the bacteria in your mouth from spreading to your bloodstream. Bacteria in your bloodstream can lead to inflammation in your arteries and lead to a major risk factor for heart disease, and more recent research suggests a link to Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Exercise – Research provides endless support for exercise as a method to improve your health: mentally and physically. With age, it retards loss of balance and endurance, muscle and bone atrophy, heart disease, and cognition. Brisk walking, 30 minutes a day and mild/moderate resistance training 3/week is still the gold standard.   
  4. Fiber-Rich Breakfast – Studies show that a serving of whole-grains for breakfast maintains stable blood sugar levels throughout the day and reduces the incidence of diabetes. Diabetes accelerates the aging process.
  5. Sleep – Sleep has been found to be necessary to recharge the body to regulate and heal. Some studies suggest a minimum of 6 and most recommend 8 hours to fully benefit.
  6. Healthy Diet – Whole foods, high in the nutrients selenium, beta-carotene, vitamin C and E, far exceed the benefits of supplements in pill form. For example, one tomato offers hundreds of carotenoids and flavonoids. Also, experts agree, it is important to avoid nutrient lacking white foods such as white bread, flour and sugar. Instead, chose fruits, vegetables, and dark whole-grain breads and cereals.
  7. Manage Stress – Most centenarians have a positive outlook and do not internalize or dwell on their problems. Find an effective method to handle stress: meditate, exercise, pray, and play.
  8. Be Spiritual – Remember, studies also show that those who are faithful and spiritual live longer. The average life expectancy of a Seventh Day Adventist is 89 years old. They believe that their bodies are on loan from God and tend to eat a vegetarian diet with fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts. They exercise regularly and avoid alcohol and tobacco.
  9. Routine – Centenarians as a group are much more routine-oriented than most people, according to the literature. They go to bed and wake up the same time each day. Their diet, social and physical activities remain constant and consistent, maintaining a state of equilibrium.
  10.  Be Social – When comparing habits of centenarians from all over the world, one commonality was the daily contact with family and friends. This is true in the coal regions of NEPA and the small rural villages of Kenya. Maintain strong, healthy and meaningful relationships with family and friends. It will not only improve your longevity, it will add to the quality of your life.

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

 Keep moving, eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and live long and well!

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.