When it comes to genetics and how long we live, many still believe they’re predestined to have whatever disease their parents or grandparents had. The science of today takes into account the field of epigenetics which is the environmental factors that turn off and turn on your genetic expression. The foods you eat, the foods you don’t eat, the supplements you take, toxins you may be exposed to, your stress levels, exercise and sleep, all of these epigenetic factors are constantly and dynamically instructing your genes what to do.
Research like the Danish Twin Study have shown that over 90% of how long we live is determined by the choices we make, not our genetics. Sure, people can have a genetic predisposition for a disease, or a specific gene for a disease, but that gene may not be expressed if it is not triggered by these epigenetic, lifestyle, controllable factors. This is a revolutionary message of health empowerment and responsibility. The Okinawa study showed there is no reason why the majority of us can’t live at least 100 disease-free, healthy years.
In reality, there is a lot we can do to actually reverse accelerated aging today. Knowing your bio markers for accelerated aging and disease is the first step of your journey of healthy vitality.
These are some of the lab tests that I recommend for patients to give them insight into their overall health:
1. Vitamin D
This nutrient (hormone) is responsible for hundreds of different genetic pathways in the body. Vitamin D deficiencies are linked to chronic disease, and optimal levels are linked to an actual preservation of our telomeres, the part of your chromosomes that maintain our youth! Vitamin D should be paired with other fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin A and K2.
Optimal Range: 50-60 ng/mL
2. C-reactive protein
It has been discovered that chronic, low level inflammation is a driver of almost every chronic disease known to man. CRP is a known marker of total body inflammation and elevated levels lead to increase incidence of heart disease, autoimmune disease, depression and accelerated aging
Optimal Range: < 0.5 mg/L
3. Fractionated lipid profile
Just knowing your HDL and LDL numbers does not give you enough information to determine your overall health risk. It is common to hear LDL called “bad cholesterol” but this is a simplistic and inaccurate view of cholesterol. LDL particles can be both large and fluffy or small and dense. It is the small and dense LDL particles that are the most atherogenic and lead to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. (of note it is not fat or dietary cholesterol that increase small particle LDL, it is carbohydrates and sugar).
Optimal Range: Small particle LDL < 200 nmol/L
Homocysteine is an amino acid and breakdown product of protein metabolism that, when present in high concentrations, has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and cognitive decline. To lower homocysteine levels I recommend increasing your intake of B vitamins, particularly folate, moderating stress and cutting back on animal proteins
Optimal Range < 7 Umol/L
5. Hgb A1C
This is a 2-3 month average of your blood glucose level which is used as an indicator for pre diabetes or diabetes. High Hgb A1c levels have been linked with higher rates of all-cause mortality in patients with diabetes.
Optimal Range: < 5.3%
6. Fasting insulin
When it comes to early detection of metabolic disorders fasting insulin is a great test. When your body breaks down carbohydrates, and to a lesser extent, proteins into glucose, your pancreas secretes insulin to bring down your blood sugar. High levels of insulin in the body is an early sign of insulin resistance which has been linked to numerous metabolic disturbances that in turn accelerate the aging process
Optimal Range: < 3 ulU/mL