Hardwired: How Our Instincts to Be Healthy are Making Us Sick
For the first time in a thousand years, Americans are experiencing a reversal in lifespan. Despite living in one of the safest and most secure eras in human history, one in five adults suffers from anxiety as does one-third of adolescents. Nearly half of the US population is overweight or obese and one-third of Americans suffer from chronic pain – the highest level in the world. In the United States, fatalities due to prescription pain medications now surpass those of heroin and cocaine combined, and each year 10% of all students on American college campuses contemplate suicide.
With the proliferation of social media and the algorithms for social sharing that prey upon our emotional brains, inaccurate or misleading health articles and videos now move faster through social media networks than do reputable ones.
This book is about modern health – or lack of it. The authors make two key arguments: that our deteriorating wellness is rapidly becoming a health emergency, and two, that much of these trends are rooted in the way our highly evolved hardwired brains and bodies deal with modern social change. The co-authors: a PhD from the world of social science and an MD from the world of medicine – combine forces to bring this emerging human crisis to light. Densely packed with fascinating facts and little-told stories, the authors weave together real-life cases that describe how our ancient evolutionary drives are propelling us toward ill health and disease. Over the course of seven chapters, the authors unlock the mysteries of our top health vices: why hospitals are more dangerous than warzones, our addiction to sugar, salt, and stress, our emotionally-driven brains, our relentless pursuit of happiness, our sleepless society, our understanding of risk, and finally, how world history can be a valuable tutor. Through these varied themes, the authors illustrate how our social lives are more of a determinant of health outcome than at any other time in our history, and to truly understand our plight, we need to recognize when our decisions and behavior are being directed by our survival-seeking hardwired brains and bodies.