Fun fact: bats have an average lifespan of 20-40 years.
This is 10x that of a similar sized animal like a rat. They also have a unique ability to survive deadly diseases like SARS and Ebola. How are these creatures able to dodge diseases and live remarkably long lives? And why is baseline talking about bats?
There’s a potentially valuable insight we can learn here that directly applies to our day to day living.
Researchers theorize the secret to bats’ longevity is directly linked with their ability to limit inflammation. According to an article on the topic in Science Daily, bats do not react to infection with the typical inflammatory response that often leads to pathological damage. In humans, while the inflammatory response helps fight infection when properly controlled, it has also been shown to contribute to the damage caused by infectious diseases, as well as to aging and age-related diseases when it goes into overdrive. Researchers found that the inflammation sensor that normally triggers the body's response to fight off stress and infection, a protein called NLRP3, barely reacts in bats compared to humans and mice, even in the presence of high viral loads.
So why are bats desensitized?
They are the only free flying mammals in existence. It is explained that the act of rapidly flapping arms in order to enable flight is highly stressful, and for any mammal this would trigger an extreme stress response sending the body into emergency mode. If the bat’s responses were triggered this way they would not be able to fly. The dampening of their inflammatory response actually enables them to fly, escape threats, and live significantly longer than their close relatives.
Boosting Your Immunity
Here’s the jumping off point where we go from the secret of bats to how we humans can live healthier existences. It’s everyday stress. Does stress take a toll on your body? Yes. If you experience chronic stress, the same chemicals produced to prepare your body for a “flight or fight” response can impede other body functions, including weakening your immune system. Chronic stress is developed from repeated exposure to situations that lead to the release of stress hormones. Many scientists think that our stress response system is not designed to be constantly activated.
Every being needs a stress response system, even bats. It helps us rise to meet challenges, sharpen our concentration, and prevail in urgent situations. In chronic stress, however, we tend to keep every event on full throttle, and lack the ability to manage the event based on what is really required. When we find ourselves frequently feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, it is time to take action and bring the nervous system back into balance.
Rebalancing is always good, especially during unpredictable times like what we are experiencing right now. If you find yourself in a pattern of chronic stress, consider taking a look at what you can impact -- how you relate to external factors (such as work, relationships, time, finances, etc.) and internal factors (negative talk, fear, pressures we put on ourselves, etc.) that may be contributing to this pattern. Managing lifestyle inputs such as diet, exercise and supplementation are key areas for change. The good news is that we all have the ability to create and support new, healthy structures for ourselves.
Baseline can't promise to teach you to fly, but we hope to play a small part in bringing you back home.