Who has Optimal Health? We all see those commercials with fabulous looking supermodels who encourage us to get healthier by trying a new supplement or weight loss program. Those models certainly look “optimized,” but are they healthy? Is that what optimal health looks like? Is that even a thing? To be in optimal health? Well, yes. Actually, it is. Though my definition of optimal health is different than your definition of optimal health for yourself. I would bet our definitions were different ten years ago and our personal definition of optimal health will be different in ten years, too.
Our health is a dynamic state, just as we are biologically active at all times. At any given time, the mitochondria in our trillions of cells is churning away to send signals to other cells. These signals are coded by our environmentally modifiable genomes, which are subjected to signals from our ever-changing microbiome. What does that have to do with optimal health? Well, everything actually.
Your primary care doctor may be measuring your BMI with your LDL and HDL cholesterol annually when you have that brief and cursory “annual health exam” that is covered with your insurance mandated preventive healthcare plan. The government and your insurance companies may be using this data for a population health study but these metrics have little to do with your personal, optimal health.
The biometrics that I review with my patients when working as an age management physician are highly personalized. We use a precision health model in the field of age management medicine. The practice of precision medicine is centered upon a fundamental principle: Healthcare choices are personal risk management decisions. Your dynamic risk for having heart disease, stroke, dementia or colon cancer is actively monitored and managed to customize a highly personalized, predictive and preventive plan of medical care. The plan is then titrated to wellness, it is adaptive to your lifestyle and your optimal health goals. This is vastly different than the model of care practiced by most physicians who have been asked to follow population-based healthcare protocols by insurance health plans and accountable care organizations (the large physician and hospital groups that contract with insurers and government).
What is your personal risk of heart disease based on your genomic markers, family history, lifestyle and lab data? The predictive laboratory tests which detail the density and morphology of the lipoproteins which sit on your cholesterol molecules coupled with genomic analytes are much more predictive for assessing your personal risk of heart disease. You may be on a statin medication for having a high LDL when your advanced cardiogenomic markers would put you in a lower risk category. Why take an unnecessary medication with many side effects? Generic statins prescribed by the millions have been shown to cause liver inflammation, increase blood sugars and have unfortunate neurological side effects.
How is your sleep? Are you getting the deep sleep required to restore your adrenal and growth hormone secretion on a daily basis? Many of my patients are desperate to break this cycle of being “tired and wired,” on a never-ending cycle of sleep deprivation, insulin resistance, weight gain and eventual depression as we lose the vital hormone balance that preserves our sexual, cardiac, bone and neurologic health.
What are your fasting glucose and insulin levels? Have your doctors ever checked these when you mention you can’t seem to lose those 20-30 pounds? These tests can be helpful in determining if you have insulin resistance, a treatable condition. When insulin resistance is identified early, we can intervene and start medications to reverse a patient’s eventual progression to the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, which is now present in up to 30% of US adults. Forget about advanced sub-fractionated lipids for assessing your risk of insulin resistance preventively…Insurance companies won’t cover these work-ups and even if they would, your physician may be working within an “Accountable Care Organization” which heavily discourages the practice of personalized health and favors “value based healthcare.” With these statistics and the epidemic of obesity in our country, I can only determine that health insurance companies are offering “complacency” health plans.
I have digressed. This happens after 18 years of treating patients in the emergency room for end stage complications of these preventable diseases. Insurance companies haven’t asked me (yet!) if CPR was medically necessary. Your largest personal emergency health problem isn’t to be found in the emergency department. Your largest personal health emergency is to proactively identify and practice an optimal health plan for yourself.
So, back to the root question. What is Optimal Health?
Optimal Personal Health starts with getting to the core of your patterns as a human being: how you sleep, wake, feed, engage, and move your body from day to day.
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. We are pretty data-driven people. Let’s start measuring the biometrics that predict how many years of your life you will live in good health: your personal health span. These biometrics don’t have to be part of a huge and costly work-up. Many biometrics can be identified by a standard and proper medical history that a physician learns from his/her patient. What runs in your family? What do you eat? How do you sleep? Who do you live with? What do you do for work? How are things going? What is your “WHY?”
Why do you want to be in Optimal Health? Was there a time in your life you experienced Optimal Health? This gets really personal. Most patients tell me their “why” is for family, for strength, vitality, energy, happiness… for a sense of empowerment during a life of eventual mortality. To optimize healthspan is to compress the morbidity of one’s lifespan. We may all have a different definition of which metrics predict our overall wellness and state of health. Define health for yourself, assign metrics to your personal definition of health. Measure these biometrics diligently and start your journey to optimal personal health.
Titrate to Wellness!
To learn the biometrics that are measured in my practice for your Optimal Personal Health, schedule a personal health consultation with me and my team. I see patients in the Chicago area and can also work with clients via virtual consultation.
Your healthspan is your lifespan.
Dr Catherine Johnson, MD
Board Certified Emergency Physician
Personal Optimal Health Consultant,
Member of Age Management Medicine Group
Precision Medical Care, LLC