I was recently in California and, wandering around Venice, came across the Muscle Beach spectacle. Those of you who know me will note that I might be politely described as “wiry.” Those who do, and have a brutally honesty streak, might say I am “scrawny.” So maybe it should come as no surprise that when I asked one of the mesomorphic giants with muscles in places where I don’t even have places, why he was lifting weights in such a public place, he said “because I used to look like you.” With tendons that looked like steel struts, he certainly had the appearance of having a frame capable of withstanding lots of stress.
I have the privilege to regularly fly a sleek aircraft with a carbon fiber frame – a deceptively skinny frame that is capable of withstanding lots and lots of stress. Deceptively scrawny…maybe like me? Materials that we use to construct airplanes are important and the materials that are used to construct humans are also important.
Of course, we are all carbon-based life forms – it is one of the elements that are fundamental to life, and pretty much everyone knows that. But we don’t rush out to eat chunks of coal, although sometimes pregnant women have pica, the urge to eat odd stuff, of which coal has been a desired comestible; “Waiter, can I have some French fries with my lightly battered coal?”
Human beings contain a lot of water, seemingly more so at 10,000 feet when there is no red pee bottle on hand! Water, of course, is made of hydrogen and oxygen, yet we don’t often hear of people feeling a bit dry and having the desire to inhale some hydrogen!
Which is why I am perpetually bemused by the intense discussion related to – and wide availability of – metals and other elemental supplements to improve human health. First, before someone starts to pen me a vitriolic diatribe, let me state that I concur there are people who need them and that there may yet prove to be value in taking additional selenium, manganese, or kryptonite…oops, that one slipped out.
Like most Americans, I subscribe to a health insurance plan, attend docs for regular check-ups, and have the audacity to buy stuff online. As a result, I get barraged with email and snail-mail advertising and recommending all sorts of stuff for all sorts of situations. Just this week – and hence this article – I have been advised to increase my intake of 17 different elements that will doubtless help me lead a healthier and happier life. My central messages here are:
Regardless, although the folks at Muscle Beach may be overdoing it, they have the right idea – focus on exercise and a good diet and, just as pilots keep their planes balanced, keep your life in balance.