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Young Adults: Shaping the Future


It is as a young adult that men and women begin sliding into the bodies that can either make them sick and depressed middle-agers or vibrant and joyful old souls. It is as a young adult that humans begin shaping their long-term future. Robin Marantz Henig and her daughter Samantha Henig describe it in their book Twentysomething:


“In 2000, when the Add Health (Adolescent to Adult Health) investigators did a new round of interviews, they found that study subjects who were now young adults aged 18-26, had slipped on 16 of the 20 standard indicators of healthy living. They had started smoking, stopped exercising, stopped eating breakfast, started eating junk food and getting fat, stopped going to the dentist and stopped getting annual check-ups. Compared to their behavior as adolescents, the twenty-something participants in the Add Health study engaged in more binge drinking, marijuana use and hard drug use and had higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases.”3



It is clear that the formative years after leaving the childhood home are a time when much good can be done through preventive strategies. These strategies can be especially effective when informed by biological insight and clothed in psychosocial wellness approaches. Another reason young adulthood is such an opportune time to intervene in the typical twenty-first century health deterioration process is brain maturation. Dr. Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, points out that through recent science, we now know that there are two growth spurts in the development of the brain. The first takes place in the initial eighteen months of life with the brain creating many more neurons than it can use.


Neurons: Cells that transmit nerve signals.


These are employed for learning skills like crawling, walking, speaking, and eating. Those that are not used to learn are pruned. The second growth spurt occurs from adolescence through at least the mid-20s. Most of these neurons develop in the frontal lobe, which is the seat of judgment, self-control, and intentionality. In the same way as before, the ones that are used to develop behaviors (good or bad) are kept, while those that are leftover are pruned.4 This makes young adulthood in particular, a crucial time to intervene with preventive strategies that lead young men and women onto a healthy.



These are employed for learning skills like crawling, walking, speaking, and eating. Those that are not used to learn are pruned. The second growth spurt occurs from adolescence through at least the mid-20s. Most of these neurons develop in the frontal lobe, which is the seat of judgment, self-control, and intentionality. In the same way as before, the ones that are used to develop behaviors (good or bad) are kept, while those that are leftover are pruned.4 This makes young adulthood in particular a crucial time to intervene with preventive strategies that lead young men and women onto a healthy.


This is why the last years of high school, the undergraduate college years, and the graduate student years are such an opportune time to help emerging adults create healthy habits. This is true whether or not we are talking about healthy nutrition and fitness habits, or healthy relationship habits. In both cases, in our 21st century American culture there are many

obstacles to achieving this. The lifestyle of processed and fast foods eaten, and screen-dominated sedentary lack of physical activity makes it exceedingly difficult for young adults to maintain a healthy physical state. In combination with that, the cultural message that for young people, sex should be engaged in casually and relationships avoided as a whole other layer of healthiness to an already self-destructive pathway. There are healthier and more intelligent pathways for emerging adults to travel that we plan to elaborate on in the following blog posts. We want to help them find this pathway that is guided by Biblical and it's corroborating scientific wisdom. Because this is the final development stage of the hardwiring of the brain, these habits will have a tendency to become permanent—for better or worse.




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