06/01/2010 11:33 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How Far Can You Go on a Tank of Gas?

You can trade in your car whenever you see fit, but you can't trade in the most important and unique vehicle you own...your body. We travel on this planet in a highly complex mechanism that none of us can fully explain how it came to be, and we are forever trying to figure out what it takes to maintain it.

Traveling in it requires that we keep it fueled, keep it tuned, and keep good treads on the tires. It is so appropriate to relate how we take care of our body to how we take care of our automobiles as they both require sophisticated maintenance. In our society we seem to treat our automobiles with more care and respect than we do our own bodies, and we need to turn this around. For some reason the functioning of our bodies is so highly taken for granted; that is, until we grow older or suddenly affronted with a catastrophic illness. It may be that we are more concerned about automobile parts than our own internal parts.

It is a law that automobiles on the American highways be safe and non-polluting to society. As law-abiding citizens, we abide by the environmental and safety standards that we as a society adopt. If a car is seen on the road spewing out smoke from its tailpipe, it can be cited for polluting the environment, and ordered to be fixed.

In the human body smoking is the cause, and in the automobile, smoking is the effect. We inhale smoke, we cause damage; cars emit smoke, signifying trouble; this indicates that the car is the more intelligent of the two. At least the car is trying to tell us something. The body that ingests smoke and nicotine inevitably signals that something is wrong by sending a red flag; the red flag could be cancer or stroke.

It is a luxury to have a good-working car at our whim to be free to travel anywhere at any time. We all know how confining and frustrating it would be to not have one, and only be able to rely on impersonal buses and trains. So the importance of getting to work on time and being able to run down to the corner store for bread on a rainy night lends us to be vigilant about the minor noise in the engine or the minor leak underneath, not to mention the intermittent maintenance we must do to prevent the horrific breakdown in the middle of nowhere.

People find it a necessary and preventive routine to have regular oil changes on their car; or rotating tires and aligning the front-end. It is so important for everyone to maintain their automobile so it can get them around for an extended amount of time, but how about the body that gets you around more than anything? A question to pose to the ardent automobile owners (which is a vast majority in the United States), those who cherish their cars for their utility, freedom of travel and commuting, and of course for a statement of identity, is: why not treat your body as well as you treat your car? Isn't that a fair enough thing to do? YOUR vehicle needs to work before your automobile will be of any use to you. The body deserves preventive maintenance. Why not clean your body out once a year? Why not keep it lubricated with the most adequate oil? Why not give it the proper fuel? Unfortunately, too many think they ingest the proper fuel, but really do not because of misinformation or temporary blindness to hang on to comfort foods.

Eat right, keep fit, and you'll still die. No matter what anyone tells you to do with your body, we all know that there is an inevitable end to our existence. Even by following rigorous nutritional diets, no one can dispute the fact that people still become sick with disease, some at younger ages than others, and even some of us who seem to treat our bodies with respect as opposed to those who abuse their bodies. The natural decline of nutrients happens in all of us over the years.

However, eating right and exercising play big roles in helping to prevent, alleviate or minimize what can happen to your body, whether it be inherited or acquired. Most importantly, proper health maintenance will afford you a better, more comfortable vehicle, in which to travel this planet while you are here on earth. It could mean the difference between living thirty years longer (especially in cases of heart failure, cancer) or, more realistically, maybe only five or ten. But most importantly, a nutritionally enhanced way of eating, along with exercise, will lead to a better quality of life in the years that we live.

Health is internal, external, physical, emotional and psychological. People invariably point to one thing, one cause, when they become ill, when instead people should search in each of these five areas to come to a more realistic reason. A person who contracts skin cancer may point to the sun for the cause. But in reality, this type of thinking needs to change because it is not the sun alone that creates a cancer within the body.

Why is it that some people get skin cancer and some do not? Our bodies are built with defenses, and some people have a better internal defense built up within than others; this defense is called our immune system. Without such things as white blood cells, antibodies, antioxidants, and T-cells circulating and patrolling within our body, we could not stay alive too long. So as the drivers of our own vehicle, our body, we must do all we can to keep its defenses up against intruders such as viruses, bacteria, toxins, free radicals, etc. The amount of harmful intruders entering our bodies is relevant to the amount of defenses stored within our bodies, our internal soldiers, so to speak. By building up our internal army, we can fight against disease. But for a person who smokes, drinks alcohol profusely, doesn't get enough sleep, ingests very little fiber, ingests large amounts of sugar and oxidized or trans fats, defenses will be destroyed on a daily basis by these substances, and the body will be left very mildly guarded. Lack of defense will surely let the invader enter. Put sugar in your gas tank, and find out what happens. The effect of sugar in your body can be eerily similar.

Nothing could be more important than monitoring the wellbeing of your body on a daily basis. Your car will run its best on the fuel that is made for its particular engine. Your body will run its best on the type of fuel it gets. The better the fuel, the better it runs; the higher the octane, the more energy you have.

For those who are ignoring the signs of a faulty engine or such, it's a good time to listen to your body so it can stay around as long as possible. If your body is out of tune, it's telling you to eat more nutritious foods, and stop clogging the filters with junk. It's telling you that it's doing all it can on its part to repair damage within, and that it's time you backed off consuming crap and gave it a break. It's your choice...your car or your health? Let me know where you leave the keys.