Do you want to live to be 100 and join the centenarian club? Cool. You are going to have to start thinking differently about your health. Unless you think just like what I’m about to write, then keep thinking that way. The goal should be to live to a functional and well 100. So, let’s look at that path together.
Of the 3,700 diseases that you can be diagnosed with, there is only one commonality between all of them; Inflammation. To live a long healthy life, you will have to control inflammation. The easiest way to do that is to avoid sugar. Sugar consumption and a high refined carbohydrate diet promotes inflammation at the cellular level. This allows progression of disease where your body should be self-regulatory.
A hand full of really big ideas to promote longevity; breath clean air, drink clean water, eat clean food (as often as possible), and understand your stress response. Also, maintain a healthy sleep wake cycle, exercise moderately, find things that bring you joy, contribute to something greater than yourself and avoid prescription medications if possible. Oh, and chew your food.
Here is my father, Bevil. He is 86 years old. He takes no prescription medications, avoids sugar, eats three meals a day, exercises moderately three – four times a week, rescues Pekingese dogs and weaves rugs. He willingly takes a vitamin regimen outlined by blood work and clinical considerations to support his health and prevent disease. I’m not a betting man, but I’d bet on him reaching a healthy 100.
So, what is my dad’s secret? (He has a great Functional Medicine practitioner). Kidding. What about my fathers’ blood panel is different than what your doctor orders at your office visits? Maybe a lot, maybe not much. Let’s take a look!
There are blood tests that are considered biomarkers of life expectancy. Little pearls that tell you what might allow you to die sooner if you are not aware of them. (Here is a fun poke at the pharmaceutical industry—CHOLESTEROL IS NOT A BIOMARKER OF LIFE EXPECTANCY).
Here is a handful of tests that I like to run on my healthy patients to determine underlying hidden risk factors:
• Hemoglobin A1c This is a rather common test that measures blood sugar, diabetic risk and insulin resistance. Safe values between 5.0 and 5.3%. If higher, modification of diet and other factors may be warranted. A 5.7-6.4% is a pre-diabetic or increased risk range and 6.5 or higher is diagnostic for diabetes.
• Hs CRP (high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein). This test measures body repair and status of inflammation. Remember inflammation is linked to all disease. Best value is below 0.5mg/L. Elevated values require exploration and correction of sources of systemic inflammation.
• Hs Homocysteine (high sensitivity Homocysteine). This test gives me insight into methylation, cardiovascular risk and certain potentials of detoxification. I like to see these values between 6-7 umol/L. If high or low values turn up I will execute a 90-day nutritional protocol to manage risk and retest the blood to confirm correction.
• Vitamin D (25-OH cholecalciferol). Measuring vitamin D gives insight into many pathways but helps mood, brain function, immune function, bone density and absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Optimal levels between 65-75 ng/ml.
• GGT (Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase) is not listed as a biomarker of life expectancy but is an enzyme that is found in many organs throughout the body, with the highest concentrations found in the liver. An elevated GGT is an indicator of significant oxidative stress or free radical damage. This can be an indicator of pending cancer risk and so I will often add it to my blood panel.
I combine thorough evaluation of a CBC, Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, Vitamin B12 and the five tests above for a decent clinical picture of overall health. This information correlated with thorough medical history and exam gives the framework for the majority of corrective protocols outlined for my healthy patients to stay healthy.
Remember that your physician is there to serve your health needs. There is nothing wrong with asking for an “add on test” or two to the standard list that they run for you on a yearly exam. Just say “hey doc, I was reading about a few things and do you think we could check my” (drop the list on them). If they ask why, just tell them it is a list of Biomarkers of Life Expectancy and you just wanted to take a look.
If they are not willing to order your tests, fire them, there are many open-minded physicians who will be more than willing to walk the path of preventative health with you. The values for optimal range are listed above. Interpretation of values is very important. Just because the value is “within the reference range” does not mean that things are optimal. If there are concerns that are not being addressed find a Functional Medicine Practitioner to help you resolve the issues.
Health is a choice, you are probably reading this information because you think that way too. Being your own best advocate is imperative in todays’ society of insurance guided sickness care. Don’t be afraid to protect yourself with information and ask your doctor to go the extra step for you. That extra step will make it easier to achieve a healthy 100.