Homeostatic capacity—a concept analogous to resilience, strength, buffer, robustness, antifragility, and antifrailty—is the efficiency of an autoregulatory system to maintain functional homeostasis against ubiquitous stressors and entropy. The interaction of homeostatic capacity and stressors determines health. We envision a model for healthy, functional longevity based on evaluating and improving homeostatic capacity.
Homeostasis is a relatively stable state of equilibrium. Homeostatic capacity (or allostatic capacity, buffering capacity, compensatory capacity, or autoregulatory capacity) is the efficiency of an autoregulatory system to maintain functional homeostasis. The interaction of homeostatic capacity and stressors determines health. We envision a model for healthy, functional longevity based on evaluating and improving homeostatic capacity.
Speech delivered at the inaugural annual meeting of the National Academy of Medicine exhorting the members of the Academy to take the moonshot to re-imagine healthcare through the lens of restoring our innate homeostatic capacity to solve aging and usher in the era of Health 3.0.
The first Keynote: “Hiding in Plain Sight – Massive Trends Missed by the Masses”, was given by Dr. Joon Yun, a renowned investor and Managing Partner and President of Palo Alto Investors, LLC, a hedge fund founded in 1989 with over $1 billion in assets under management. The audience was captured by his talk on e.g. aging and the ability to remain stable or remaining the same. “When we are young for instance we can be rebound from a bad night’s sleep quickly, when we are old, it can take days to recover. When we are young, our eyes adjust to changing focal length, when we are old, the focus never quite rebalances“, said Yun. The original “health system” is our inborn, adaptive homeostatic capacity, endowed by nature and shaped by evolution. Once humans reach reproductive senescence by their mid-40s, however, a progressive erosion of innate homeostatic capacity begins, manifesting in the panoply of aging diseases. Our proposal for 21st-century healthcare is a paradigmatic revolution—restoring homeostatic capacity instead of restoring homeostasis—as a way to end aging. If we can put homeostatic capacity, and thus health, back in the body, healthcare costs could contract dramatically. The feed-forward relationship between health innovation and increasing future consumption—a vicious cycle that threatens aging economies everywhere including Europe and the United States—would finally be decoupled. Median lifespan could telescope to a number of years that might have once seemed unimaginable. Human capacity would finally be fully unleashed.
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