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Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers…. The ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of Stress

zebras and ulcers

“If I had to define a major depression in a single sentence, I would describe it as a genetic/neurochemical disorder requiring a strong environmental trigger whose characteristic manifestation is an inability to appreciate sunsets.”
― Robert M. Sapolsky, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

If you haven’t read Robert M. Sapolsky‘s book Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress Related Diseases, and Coping, then our advice is to get a copy immediately!

Sapolsky is a witty and engaging writer, who takes complex biological processes and makes them not only readable and understandable, but utterly fascinating with many laugh out loud moments along the way.

A mix of cutting edge research, humour, stress triggers and coping strategies, the origins of stress, what works and why – all dispensed with a Prachett style wit.

“Everything in physiology follows the rule that too much can be as bad as too little. There are optimal points of allostatic balance. For example, while a moderate amount of exercise generally increases bone mass, thirty-year-old athletes who run 40 to 50 miles a week can wind up with decalcified bones, decreased bone mass, increased risk of stress fractures and scoliosis (sideways curvature of the spine) their skeletons look like those of seventy-year-olds.

To put exercise in perspective, imagine this: sit with a group of hunter-gatherers from the African grasslands and explain to them that in our world we have so much food and so much free time that some of us run 26 miles in a day, simply for the sheer pleasure of it. They are likely to say, “Are you crazy? That’s stressful.”

Throughout hominid history, if you’re running 26 miles in a day, you’re either very intent on eating someone or someone’s very intent on eating you.”
― Robert M. Sapolsky,

As a taster watch these videos which are equally educational and fun.

“A large percentage of what we think of when we talk about stress-related diseases are disorders of excessive stress-responses.”
― Robert M. Sapolsky

And if you want more…

Looking at humans….

 

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