Human Optimization

Understanding how our brains are wired and what keeps them running is a significant component of keeping an aging brain healthy.

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In Part 1 of our Aging Brain series, we covered contributing factors to the aging brain. In Part 2, we elaborated on how lifestyle choices affect the health of our brain as we age. In our final installment, we will look at the more technical side.

Out with the old, in with the new

There is a popular saying in neuroscience that goes, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Neurons are fundamental cells in the brain and spinal column, and we have between 86-100 billion of them! They act like electrical devices that are responsible for sensory input, sending motor commands, forming memories, and transforming many other signals in our brains.

Glia, or glial cells, are known as the neuron’s sidekick. They don’t produce electrical impulses, yet they maintain homeostasis so that neurons can do their job efficiently. Just as important as building synaptic connections between neurons, it is equally as important to break down neuronal connections that are no longer needed – and that’s what glial cells do! This is actually part of the learning process in our brains – in order to learn something new, we need to get rid of the old.

The health and function of our neurons and glial cells determine how aging will affect our brain. Some researchers even think that cognitive decline is not necessarily a consequence of old age. On page 13 of my book, The Longevity Equation, I mention that “in what researchers call ‘Blue Zones,’ people routinely live one hundred or more. Despite their advanced age, they remain virtually free from . . . age-related illnesses that take so many lives. At the same time, they retain their mobility, their sharpness of mind, and their zest for life.”

Use it or lose it

During a literature review, researchers found that learning creates neurogenesis, which is the ability to grow new neurons. They asserted that “Concurrent and synchronous activity provides a mechanism whereby the new neurons become integrated with the other neurons. This integration allows the present experience to become integrated with memories from the recent past in order to learn and predict when events will occur in the near future. In this way, neurogenesis and learning interact to maintain a fit brain.”

Here’s where the glial cells come in. Some of them can help to speed up signals between certain neurons. And as our bodies make new neurons, others, called microglial cells, break down old neuronal cells in a process called synaptic pruning. This allows our bodies to build new and stronger connections so that we can learn more.

It’s also important to pay attention to our thoughts and patterns. Synaptic connections that we use less get marked with a protein for removal and those same microglial cells search for that marker and prune the synapse. In other words, what you focus on, you get more of. In a literature review, researchers elaborated on this concept and stressed the significance on the part microglial cells in strengthening neurogenesis.

Communication is key

Neurotransmitters are molecules that play important roles in the nervous system. They are the body’s chemical messengers and are used by the nervous system to transmit signals to target cells, such as other nerves, muscles, or glands. They then attach to different receptors, which triggers action in those target cells.

There are more than 100 known neurotransmitters and they have different types of action. Some are excitatory, which encourage target cells to take action. Some are inhibitory, which decreases the likelihood that target cells will take action. And some are modulatory, which means they can send signals to many neurons at the same time.

A previous blog goes into detail on the intricacies of some of the more well-known neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, and others. A balance of neurotransmitters is necessary to prevent certain health conditions, especially degeneration in the brain.

Remember our cause for hope

To help with neurogenesis and neurotransmitter production, I’ve developed a state-of-the-art cognitive supplement perfect for anyone looking to enjoy crystal clear thinking, rapid memory, and a clear memory that won’t let them down.

Puromind provides you with the nutrients you need to maintain healthy, sharp, lifelong cognitive health. You will find an improved ability to recall the things most important to you, enjoy a heightened sense of well-being and peace of mind, and benefit from your mind operating better than it ever has. If you want to learn a new language, have a sharper wit, or simply want to stop dealing with those annoying ‘senior’ moments that interrupt your life, Puromind can give your brain the fuel it needs to function at 100%.

We manufacture each premium batch in an FDA-compliant, GMP-certified facility right here in the USA, and every bottle is tested for both purity and potency, so you can know that you are putting only the most nutritious, beneficial ingredients into your body. Puromind is crafted with the following five powerful, brain-boosting nutrients:

·         LION’S MANE MUSHROOM: In a clinical trial at Tohoku University in Japan, researchers found that the group of people who received lion’s mane mushroom ‘showed significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group,’ and had no side effects!

·       BACOPA MONNIERI: In a study published in the journal, Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers revealed that of the 76 adults aged between 40 and 65 involved in the study, the group that received 300 mg of bacopa daily had improved their memory recall and retention by 100%!

·         ALPHA-GPC:  A study published in the journal, Clinical Therapeutics, found that patients who supplemented with alpha-GPC experienced a dramatic improvement in their memory and ability to perform cognitive tasks.

·         HUPERZINE A: Huperzine A protects acetylcholine from being broken down by your body and can help you maintain healthy acetylcholine levels. A clinical trial performed at the Traditional Chinese Medicine Epicenter in Shanghai found that 58% of patients who took Huperzine A showed 36% memory improvements compared to placebo!

·         GINKGO BILOBA: Ginkgo biloba boosts cerebral blood flow and makes it easier for your brain to absorb Puromind’s other ingredients, magnifying their powerful effects and delivering maximum cognitive support potential. Clinical studies also show that ginkgo is able to dramatically boost blood flow to your brain and the rest of your body almost immediately after taking it.

(These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Puromind is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.)

How can The Institute for Human Optimization assist me?

At The Institute for Human Optimization, my team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional, and functional medicine to help our patients treat the root biological imbalances that cause aging. I believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·         Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·         Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·         Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·         Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

Let’s work together to make a long healthspan your reality!

Cognitive decline does not have to be a consequence of aging. There are ways to intercept and mediate our lifestyle to encourage the growth of new brain cells!

.  .  .

In Part 1 of our Aging Brain series, we showed how the accumulation of amyloid beta in the brain, the effects of oxidative stress, and the lack of a special nutrient called acetylcholine can all contribute to our brain degenerating over time. Today, we will delve into more ways that affect the health of our brain and functional cognition.

The inflammatory response

Both infectious and non-infectious stimuli activate inflammation in the body, which can be caused by pathogens, toxins, and damaged cells, among dozens of other reasons. The body perceives these as a threat and uses inflammation as a protective mechanism that triggers the immune system to remove the stimuli and initiate the healing process. In an acute situation, this inflammatory process works efficiently to bring the body back into balance. It is when the threatful stimuli become chronic that the inflammatory process becomes overly activated and eventually harmful.

As discussed in Part 1, the brain’s protective inflammatory response is to produce amyloid, which has repeatedly been shown to contribute to cognitive decline. This accumulates over time because of constant threats and assaults on the brain via the way we live our lives. And although evidence indicates that amyloid beta has antimicrobial effects and is made to initially protect our brains, it eventually overreacts and interferes with nerve synapses.

It is because of this accumulation that it is critically important to mediate inflammation by focusing on the foods we eat, moving our bodies, and other supporting ways to keep our brains healthy!

Insight on diet

On page 144 in my book, The Longevity Equation, I talk about how, “Many toxins found in food can cause long-term and irreversible brain damage. And it’s likely you have already encountered some of them. But as the old saying goes: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second-best time is now. Although you can’t undo the past, you can start to eliminate neurotoxic substances, optimize your neurotransmitter levels, and ignite the growth of healthy new brain cells for a healthier brain today.”

There is much evidence on the connection between a healthy diet and cognitive function. One pair of researchers found that the Mediterranean diet pattern and the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) are both “neuroprotective, with potential to delay cognitive decline.”

The European Food Information Council defines the Mediterranean diet pattern as “generally characterized by a high intake of plant-based foods (e.g. fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, and cereals) and olive oil, a moderate intake of fish and poultry, and low intakes of dairy products (mostly yogurt and cheese), red and processed meats, and sweets.”

The Mayo Clinic states that the DASH diet “encourages you to reduce the sodium in your diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium…The DASH diet include lots of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. [It] also includes some fish, poultry and legumes, and encourages a small amount of nuts and seeds a few times a week. You can eat red meat, sweets and fats in small amounts. [It] is [also] low in saturated fat, trans fat and total fat.”

Movement is essential

Physical exercise is known to have a protective factor for neurodegeneration. In The Longevity Equation, I state that “Exercise is the key to staying mobile well into old age. It’s also one of the most important things for reducing stress, relieving pain, and keeping your cells healthy.” (p. 116)

And on page 152 in my book, I explore how “a 2008 study literally states that ‘exercise is brain food.’ Though you don’t ingest it, exercise is one of the best things you can do to help keep your brain healthy. Physical activity completely changes the way your brain functions. It helps increase neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to create new synaptic connections…Exercise also helps reduce your risk of stroke and increase the hormones that support brain development, happiness, and overall cognition.”

A new perspective

Professor Dale Bredesen, an internationally recognized expert in the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, challenged existing research in 2014 with a peer-reviewed medical publication entitled Reversal of cognitive decline: a novel therapeutic program. He shared how his unique approach led to the reversal of cognitive decline in nine out of ten patients. Several years later, Dr. Bredesen and his team published Reversal of cognitive decline: 100 patients in which they “describe 100 patients with cognitive decline treated with this multi-component, precision medicine approach, and showing documented improvement.”

The Bredesen Protocol “is based on over three decades of Dr. Bredesen’s laboratory research, resulting in hundreds of peer-reviewed publications that have uncovered the biochemical mechanisms behind the erosion of memory…He’s identified over 36 factors (metabolic derangement, poor nutrient status, lack of trophic support, exposure to viruses, etc.) that can trigger “downsizing” in the brain, all of which can be addressed by using the Bredesen Protocol® designed to prevent cognitive decline …”

Remember our cause for hope

In addition to controlling inflammation, diet, exercise, and the Bredesen Protocol®, I’ve developed a state-of-the-art cognitive supplement perfect for anyone looking to enjoy crystal clear thinking, rapid memory, and a clear memory that won’t let them down.

Puromind provides you with the nutrients you need to maintain healthy, sharp, lifelong cognitive health. You will find an improved ability to recall the things most important to you, enjoy a heightened sense of well-being and peace of mind, and benefit from your mind operating better than it ever has. If you want to learn a new language, have a sharper wit, or simply want to stop dealing with those annoying ‘senior’ moments that interrupt your life, Puromind can give your brain the fuel it needs to function at 100%.

We manufacture each premium batch in an FDA-compliant, GMP-certified facility right here in the USA, and every bottle is tested for both purity and potency, so you can know that you are putting only the most nutritious, beneficial ingredients into your body. Puromind is crafted with the following five powerful, brain-boosting nutrients:

·         LION’S MANE MUSHROOM: In a clinical trial at Tohoku University in Japan, researchers found that the group of people who received lion’s mane mushroom ‘showed significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group,’ and had no side effects!

·       BACOPA MONNIERI: In a study published in the journal, Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers revealed that of the 76 adults aged between 40 and 65 involved in the study, the group that received 300 mg of bacopa daily had improved their memory recall and retention by 100%!

·         ALPHA-GPC:  A study published in the journal, Clinical Therapeutics, found that patients who supplemented with alpha-GPC experienced a dramatic improvement in their memory and ability to perform cognitive tasks.

·         HUPERZINE A: Huperzine A protects acetylcholine from being broken down by your body and can help you maintain healthy acetylcholine levels. A clinical trial performed at the Traditional Chinese Medicine Epicenter in Shanghai found that 58% of patients who took Huperzine A showed 36% memory improvements compared to placebo!

·         GINKGO BILOBA: Ginkgo biloba boosts cerebral blood flow and makes it easier for your brain to absorb Puromind’s other ingredients, magnifying their powerful effects and delivering maximum cognitive support potential. Clinical studies also show that ginkgo is able to dramatically boost blood flow to your brain and the rest of your body almost immediately after taking it.

(These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Puromind is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.)

How can The Institute for Human Optimization assist me?

At The Institute for Human Optimization, my team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional, and functional medicine to help our patients treat the root biological imbalances that cause aging. I believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·         Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·         Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·         Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·         Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

Let’s work together to make a long healthspan your reality!

When you are young, your brain has 100 billion brand-new cells called neurons, and they help your brain hum like a well-oiled machine. But as you get older, things start to change.

. . .

Aging is the number one risk factor for chronic disease. Buck Institute asserts that maintaining cognitive function is the key to living better longer.

It is estimated that 45 million of currently living Americans will develop Alzheimer’s disease. One in three people will develop memory problems so severe they may die prematurely. Unfortunately, despite the billions spent every year on drug development, pharmaceutical companies have no drug that can cure severe memory loss at this time.

How the brain ages

A study published in Archives of General Psychiatry concluded that the minor memory lapses we have been told to accept as ‘normal’ age-related memory loss are actually signs of early-stage cognitive decline. Lifestyle factors such as lack of physical activity, excessive consumption of sugar, and stress can even accelerate this decline.

Typically after the age of 40, a certain protein called amyloid beta starts to accumulate in your brain. It forms into plaques that cause inflammation and damage your neurons from the inside. Some researchers have shown that this is a mechanism in the body to protect the brain from the effects of nutrient deficiency, chronic inflammation, and excessive toxin buildup, among other things. Yet there is general agreement that although this is this case, it still contributes to clinical cognitive impairment.

Another consequence of aging in the brain is oxidative stress. Your brain weighs only 2% of your body weight, but it uses 20% of your body’s oxygen, and oxygen is the primary catalyst of oxidation. Your brain also contains high levels of iron and copper, making it extremely vulnerable to oxidative damage. This slowly erodes your memory and makes you lose mental sharpness. Symptoms like forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, and brain fog have all been linked to oxidative stress.

Some say the main cause of oxidative stress is the consumption of refined carbohydrates from processed foods, like white bread, muffins, doughnuts, cakes, and so on. According to a study published in the journal, Behavioral Neuroscience, even otherwise healthy young people who ate lots of refined carbohydrates had impaired memory. Another study looked at folks over 65 and similarly found that the more refined carbohydrates were consumed, the worse their memory was.

An additional contributor to the aging brain is when your brain cells can’t communicate with each other, which threatens the brains of 95% of people over 50. Your memory neurons can’t just work by themselves – they have to be connected to other neurons, and it’s those connections that make your memory work.

One very important chemical your brain needs for these neuronal connections to work is acetylcholine (uh-seet-l-koh-leen). It acts as a communication line between your neurons and you need it to form new memories. If your brain is low on acetylcholine, your neurons can’t talk to each other, which means your memory recall will slow down, you’ll become forgetful, and lose the ability to focus. A study done at King’s College in London found that a lack of acetylcholine leads to severe age-related memory loss.

A cause for hope

Your brain has the ability to grow new neurons, which is a process called neurogenesis. Nerve growth factor (NGF) is one of a group of small protein-like molecules called neurotrophins that are responsible for neurogenesis. NGF acts like a protective bodyguard for all these new brain cells, as well as the ones you already have. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that NGF halts the breakdown and death of your brain cells as you age!

To help support this process in the body, I’ve developed a state-of-the-art cognitive supplement perfect for anyone looking to enjoy crystal clear thinking, rapid memory, and a clear memory that won’t let them down.

Puromind provides you with the nutrients you need to maintain healthy, sharp, lifelong cognitive health. You will find an improved ability to recall the things most important to you, enjoy a heightened sense of well-being and peace of mind, and benefit from your mind operating better than it ever has. If you want to learn a new language, have a sharper wit, or simply want to stop dealing with those annoying ‘senior’ moments that interrupt your life, Puromind can give your brain the fuel it needs to function at 100%.

We manufacture each premium batch in an FDA-compliant, GMP-certified facility right here in the USA, and every bottle is tested for both purity and potency, so you can know that you are putting only the most nutritious, beneficial ingredients into your body. Puromind is crafted with the following five powerful, brain-boosting nutrients:

·         LION’S MANE MUSHROOM: Lion’s mane mushroom supports the production of NGF, the fuel your brain needs to build new neurons. Researchers have found that Lion’s Mane mushroom is the only proven stimulant of nerve growth factor that Mother Earth gives us. In one Japanese study, researchers discovered that lion’s mane mushroom could replenish natural NGF levels, and it’s been shown to significantly improve the cognitive function of patients in just four months! In 2019, doctors and researchers at Johns Hopkins University reviewed eight different studies and three clinical trials. At the end of the review, they wrote that Lion’s Mane ‘may have a beneficial effect on cognitive impairment.’ There was also a clinical trial at Tohoku University in Japan, where researchers found that the group of people who received lion’s mane mushroom ‘showed significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group,’ and had no side effects!

·       BACOPA MONNIERI: Bacopa can help extinguish the oxidative damage that is damaging your neurons. An animal study published in the journal, Phytotherapy Research showed that bacopa both crosses the blood-brain barrier and has powerful antioxidant effects. When you clean the inflammation out of your neurons, it’s like you’re peeling away the curtain that’s been holding your brain back for all these years. Researchers in Thailand took 60 volunteers around 62 years of age and gave one group bacopa monnieri and the second group a placebo. At the end of the trial, the group who took 300mg of bacopa extract scored 20% better in working memory tests and their attention improved 33%! In yet another study published in the journal, Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers revealed that of the 76 adults aged between 40 and 65 involved in the study, the group that received 300 mg of bacopa daily had improved their memory recall and retention by 100%!

·         ALPHA-GPC:  Together with huperzine A (see below), alpha-glycerophosphocholine (alpha-GPC) works to boost levels of acetylcholine and help your brain cells communicate with each other. A study at Sapienza University in Italy showed it has a unique ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and directly raise acetylcholine levels, which protects your memory and gives you laser-sharp mental focus. A study published in the journal, Clinical Therapeutics, found that patients who supplemented with alpha-GPC experienced a dramatic improvement in their memory and ability to perform cognitive tasks.

·         HUPERZINE A: Acetylcholine is easily broken down by your body, so adding more of it is only the first step. The second step is making sure it remains in your brain to do its job. That’s where huperzine (hoop-ur-zeen) A comes in. Huperzine A is extracted from Chinese club moss. It protects acetylcholine from being broken down by your body and can help you maintain healthy acetylcholine levels. A clinical trial performed at the Traditional Chinese Medicine Epicenter in Shanghai separated older patients with severe memory loss into two groups. All patients were given memory tests after one group was given a placebo, and another huperzine A. At the end of the trial, 58% of patients who took Huperzine A showed 36% memory improvements compared to placebo! And when you combine Huperzine A with alpha-GPC, you get a powerful combination that can both help increase acetylcholine levels and prolong its memory-boosting benefits.

·         GINKGO BILOBA: Ginkgo biloba is sometimes referred to as a ‘living fossil’ because it is the last surviving member of an ancient type of plant. It boosts cerebral blood flow and makes it easier for your brain to absorb Puromind’s other ingredients, magnifying their powerful effects and delivering maximum cognitive support potential. Clinical studies also show that ginkgo is able to dramatically boost blood flow to your brain and the rest of your body almost immediately after taking it. For you, that means lightning-fast thinking and quicker memory recall.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Puromind is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

How can The Institute for Human Optimization assist me?

At The Institute for Human Optimization, my team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional, and functional medicine to help our patients treat the root biological imbalances that cause aging. I believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·         Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·         Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·         Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·         Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

Let’s work together to make a long healthspan your reality!

As people age, diet and lifestyle play more prominent roles in the development of diseases than do genetics. The study of nutrigenomics is helping us visualize and understand the subtle, yet the profound connection between our genetic blueprint and the food and nutrients we put into our bodies.

. . .

A long history

As far back as 400 B.C., it is believed that Hippocrates said to physicians: ‘Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal your patient with food.’ Today, Dr. Mark Hyman says, “Food is the code that programs your biology. You can literally upgrade or downgrade your biological software with what you choose to eat.” Every bite you eat is either fighting disease or feeding it.

It has long been known that individuals can differ in their requirements for a given nutrient. Back in 1956, Dr. Roger Williams coined the phrase and wrote the book, Biochemical Individuality, which illustrated how it “related to differing nutritional needs for optimal function among different people. He pointed out that even identical twins could be different in their needs for optimal function based upon the fact that they developed in different environments in utero. Although identical twins share the same genes, their differing nutrition and developmental environments can result in different expression of the genes as they grow older.”

When Williams’ book was republished in 1988, Dr. Jeffrey Bland, wrote in the forward, “. . . Dr. Williams [recognized] that nutritional status can influence the expression of genetic characteristics. Once again Dr. Williams foresaw this important concept in Biochemical Individuality and set in motion research and discoveries . . . that have transformed medicine.”

Some basic definitions

Genetics is the study of heredity and inherited characteristics. It often assesses single genes within congenital disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, etc.

The National Human Genome Research Institute defines genomics as, “the study of all of a person’s genes (the genome), including interactions of those genes with each other and with the person’s environment.”

According to Nature Research, nutrigenomics is “the study of the effects of food and food constituents on gene expression, and how genetic variations affect the nutritional environment. It focuses on understanding the interaction between nutrients and other dietary bioactives with the genome at the molecular level, to understand how specific nutrients or dietary regimes may affect human health.”

Why is this important?

We’re all aware that specialized supplements, natural products, and a healthy diet have been used over the years and have been effective for many people. What if you could find out which nutrients, from food and/or supplements, would be specifically indicated for you based on your genes? Wouldn’t that be valuable information to have?

On page 102 in my book, The Longevity Equation, I raise the point that there is no one-size-fits-all diet. Each person has a complex variation of genes that influence which diet is optimal to stay lean, feel energized, and avoid disease. It’s important to understand that diet and lifestyle choices have a significant impact on the way your genes function. While your genes themselves won’t change, which ones are activated and deactivated can change. The study of nutrigenomics focuses on the way genes and nutrition affect one another.

“For instance, with the variant 164A>C of the CYP1A2 gene, often, a person will have a high sensitivity to caffeine, which can lead to high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease. While most people won’t have a problem with caffeine, people with this gene will want to avoid it at all costs . . .

Since different diets produce different results for everyone, it’s vital that you determine the optimal diet for your specific biology. The only way to do this is to gain insight into what’s happening in your genetic coding. The best way to gain insight into your genetic coding is to do a genetic test.

In order for treatment to be specific and personalized, The Institute for Human Optimization looks at the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP – pronounced ‘snip’) within a person’s genome. A SNP is a DNA sequence variation that occurs when a single nucleotide (the building blocks of DNA) in the genome sequence is altered. SNPs do not cause disease, but they can help determine the likelihood that someone may develop a certain illness. SNPs largely influence our biochemical individuality, which is central to the practice of precision functional medicine. We assess the pattern analysis of a multitude of different SNPs.

Something like 99.6% of the human genome is identical in all people. This is true of everyone, regardless of race or heritage. However, it is at the SNP location that variation does take place. SNPs only make up a tiny portion of the genome (0.4%) but because the genome is so enormous, this equals over 12 million locations. It’s the differences at these SNP locations that make each of us unique.

There are many existing and new apps that measure single SNPs and make generalized recommendations, but they’re not personalized to the level that they should be. They are limited in what they can provide to customers legally, and their reporting is incomplete and broad.

What can the testing tell me?

Dr. Mark Hyman is known for using the phrase, “Genetics loads the gun, but lifestyle/environment pulls the trigger.” Our genes aren’t our destiny. The choices we make can determine how they are expressed. Even if we’re predisposed to a specific disease, we can potentially stop that from becoming reality by looking at SNPs and the specific pathways they affect.

In a 2007 research review, two doctors concluded that, “Effects of genetic diseases previously considered untreatable may now be ameliorated by administering higher amounts of the coenzyme(s) required for more efficient metabolic function. Through genetic and functional testing . . . risk factors may be identified and truly personalized interventions to improve health designed.”

The Institute for Human Optimization uses a test called GenomicInsight®, which combines today’s most advanced DNA testing with the powerful Opus23 Explorer® interface to produce the perfect combination of DNA testing, science, and current research.

Opus23 Explorer® scans over 20 peer-reviewed, evidence-based scientific databases, including metabolic pathways, etiological associations, and pharmacogenomic databases, and cross-references their information with the results of your GenomicInsight® raw data. This report summarizes important findings from your genomic data that will be curated by your clinical team into an easy-to-understand format.

How can The Institute for Human Optimization help me?

Using Opus23 Explorer® requires a highly-trained and specialized clinician to interpret and curate the data for the patient. Our clinicians will put your data in the appropriate context, taking into account your medical history, your stressors, your diet, your lifestyle, and so forth. So much data is available through this incredible analysis platform that your information will constantly be updated like a living document, as new research is done, new literature is published, and new discoveries are made.

Opus23 Explorer® assesses over 900,000 SNPs, but we only focus on 6,000 or so that have been clinically curated and shown to have an impact on disease progression and quality of life. Based on your genomic data, the platform allows our clinicians to assess the efficacy of natural products and foods that may be worthy of attention as potentially valuable therapeutic agents. The platform uses a combination of evidence-based medicine and your genomics to compile the most clinically applicable data that makes nutritional recommendations specific to YOU.

There is also another level to our testing that adds on microbiome analysis and integrates it with your genomic data. In an earlier blog we mention that your microbiome regulates 99% of your gene expression! The test will tell us how your body is integrating your lifestyle and environment with the genetic blueprint you were born with, and make recommendations accordingly!

The promise of precision medicine begins with your story. We provide the most comprehensive, data-driven approach to wellness. It is:

  • Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing for risk stratification and empowerment.
  • Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.
  • Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.
  • Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

Let’s discover your personalized nutrition plan together!

We’ve all learned of the importance of exercise to maintain a healthy body. Have you ever wondered why it’s so important, or considered what happens at the cellular level when you move your body? A very special enzyme with a four-letter acronym is behind it all!

.  .  .

First, a little background biology

Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is the primary energy source of all living organisms. Energy is captured from the food you eat and is stored in the form of ATP. It is then broken down and the energy is released into the mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of the cell (remember high school biology class). The mitochondria then convert the energy into a form that cells can use. Simply put, the end product is called adenosine monophosphate (AMP).

Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) – our above-referenced, four-letter acronym – is an enzyme that is biochemically activated in the presence of increasing levels of AMP (thus, the name) and decreasing levels of ATP. In my book, The Longevity Equation, I reveal, “If you want a bottomless supply of energy, activating AMPK is the #1 thing you need to do. AMPK is the body’s ultimate energy enzyme. This enzyme plays a huge role in the homeostatic control of energy balance. In other words, it helps regulate energy inflow [ATP] and energy outflow [AMP].” (p. 123)

What else does AMPK do in my body?

 Jeffrey Bland, PhD, calls AMPK the Chief Executive Housekeeper of the body:

When you cut calories or exercise, AMPK coordinates glucose and fat catabolism [breakdown] and anabolism [synthesis] to keep you going, and when you fast or lose weight, AMPK directs the sorting of cellular components for recycling or disposal in your metabolic waste bin. It oversees short-term energy usage as well as long-term energy regulation. In basic terms, cellular AMPK monitors levels of the energy molecules AMP and ATP . . . and communicates throughout the body to optimize their balance, exerting major influence over metabolic plasticity and cellular housekeeping functions.

I summarize in The Longevity Equation: “Along with controlling energy levels, AMPK also increases your metabolism, helps you melt away fat, cleans out old cells, acts as an antioxidant, and increases your overall blood flow. Most of all, it promotes longevity. In fact, research shows that AMPK activation can increase your lifespan by up to 15%! That could mean an extra 11.7 years.” (p. 123)

Activate AMPK with another four-letter acronym for exercise

Exercise builds muscle strength and flexibility, promotes cardiovascular health and encourages healthy lung capacity. But at the cellular level, exercise does so much more.

“If you have trouble finding energy during the day or you just can’t seem to get rid of that extra weight, chances are, you just haven’t figured out how to activate AMPK yet. But you’re in luck – activating [AMPK] is actually pretty simple. There’s one thing you can do today that will help “turn on” this enzyme almost instantly: exercise . . . This is because AMPK is stimulated by your muscle contractions. All forms of exercise will help activate this enzyme. However, research shows that high-intensity workouts produce the most significant results . . . The best way to do this is with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT uses short bursts of intense exercise, followed by a resting period . . . If you want more energy, you have to get your body moving and your muscles working.” (The Longevity Equation, p. 123-124)

“A lack of time might be the #1 reason why people don’t work out. But what if instead of spending 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes working out each day, you could get amazing results in WAY less time? Well, [the training coach of a Japanese speed skating team], named Izumi Tabata, developed a 4-minute workout (after warmup) that completely shatters the idea that workouts have to be time-consuming to be effective. In fact, one study showed that this workout method is even more effective than cycling for a full hour. If you want to build muscle, burn fat, and increase your endurance quickly and without lifting a single weight, you can’t go wrong with this workout.” (The Longevity Equation, p. 135)

The Tabata Protocol:

Step 1: Warm up the body for 5-10 minutes.

Step 2: Complete 8 sets of the following:

·         20 seconds of high-intensity action (sprinting, cycling, rowing, burpees, etc.)

·         10 seconds of rest

Step 3: Cool down.

Expanding on cellular housekeeping

In our blog on Cellular Senescence, we talked about autophagy [aw-tofuh-jee], your body’s built-in cellular recycling program. AMPK is involved in a selective form of autophagy called mitophagy. Dr. Jeffrey Bland continues to expand on this:

One of AMPK’s most important missions is responding to mitochondrial stress and injury caused by redox imbalance, oxygen tension, and mitochondrial toxins such as pesticides and microbicides. Upon these kinds of challenges, AMPK determines when to enact mitophagy to “part out” usable portions of damaged mitochondria and/or order production of new ones. This housekeeping role [is] a crucial aspect of healthy cell life cycles . . . Many of AMPK’s activities take place through an impressively broad communications network with many well-known signaling systems linked to biological aging . . . AMPK regulates glucose uptake, insulin sensitivity, fatty acid oxidation, protein and muscle synthesis, exercise capacity, and the inflammatory response.

In addition to exercise, evidence shows that caloric restriction/intermittent fasting increases lifespan and longevity by activating AMPK’s ability to initiate mitophagy. Research demonstrates that “among the effects of [caloric restriction/intermittent fasting], modulation of mitochondrial activity and a decrease in oxidative damage are two of the hallmarks.”

One more easy way to activate your AMPK

I have developed a potent blend of phytonutrients that can help stimulate autophagy and mitophagy by activating your body’s own AMPK. It’s the only supplement of its kind that works on a cellular level to help flush toxic cells out of your body and pave the way for fresh, new, rejuvenating cells to take their place.

It’s called Restori-Cell, and it gives you a way to rewrite the script and change the way you think about aging. It boosts mental clarity, promotes youthful, all-day energy, and supports a natural, healthy weight. Restori-Cell meets the highest standards of quality and features five highly specialized nutrients in scientifically-supported doses:

  • BERBERINE HCL (Berberis aristata) (root): Research suggests that “berberine displays beneficial effects in the treatment of diabetes and obesity at least in part via stimulation of AMPK activity.” South Korean researchers published a study that demonstrated how berberine activates AMPK. In fact, a study published in the journal Aging Cell found that it could extend the lifespan of mice by 16%! Berberine is such a potent cell-restoring nutrient that many people report that they can almost feel it working its magic.
  • HESPERIDIN (Citrus aurantium) (Citrus peel): Hesperidin is a special flavonoid extracted from the peel of bitter orange that has been shown to activate AMPK resulting in cellular regulation. A study was also published that “rigorously demonstrated [that] daily oral consumption of hesperidin . . . improved endothelial function, reduced circulating biomarkers of inflammation, and favorably altered lipid profiles in subjects with the metabolic syndrome.”
  • GYNOSTEMMA (Pentaphyllum) (leaf extract 20): Gynostemma is distantly related to the cucumber and native to Japan, China, and Korea, where it’s long been called the ‘little herb of immortality.’ That’s because inside its leaves are powerful plant flavonoids called gypenosides that activate AMPK and help supercharge your natural autophagy. There is evidence that shows gynostemma could have powerful effects on mediating weight gain. Another study indicated that gynostemma and activated AMPK can have beneficial effects on glucose and lipid metabolism.
  • QUERCETIN: A 2018 study implies that quercetin may be a therapeutic intervention for the treatment of cardiovascular disorders such as atherosclerosis and hypertension.” While another study suggests that, “AMPK activated by quercetin may be a potential target to enhance the resistance of neurons to age-related diseases.” Researchers have also suggested “the importance of [using quercetin to] modulat[e] AMPK pathway for improved therapeutic approaches to type 2 diabetes and associated disorders.”
  • FISETIN: There’s truth in the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Fisetin is a natural plant compound found in fruits like apples and strawberries. Fisetin is one of the most exciting anti-aging discoveries of all time. One profound study revealed that fisetin inhibits cancer cell growth and “activates AMPK to induce apoptosis [cell death] in multiple myeloma cells . . . inhibits . . . non-small cell lung cancer . . . and induces autophagy-mediated cell death by activating AMPK . . . in prostate cancer cells”

How can The Institute for Human Optimization assist me?

At The Institute for Human Optimization, my team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional, and functional medicine to help our patients treat the root biological imbalances that cause aging. I believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

  • Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.
  • Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.
  • Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.
  • Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

Let’s create longevity and lasting energy together!

Your health begins and ends with your cells. They are the foundation of all life – they make you who you are.

You start your life as just one tiny little cell, but by the time you reach adulthood, you have roughly 37 trillion cells inside your body. These cells help you carry oxygen to your lungs, digest food, transmit signals to the brain, and replenish your hormones.

When you’re young, your cells are constantly growing and dividing through a process called mitosis, which is when one cell divides and becomes two cells…which divide to become four cells…and on and on. This process of cellular division is the root of all life as we know it, and it keeps your body humming along – happy and healthy.

What happens as we age?

Our bodies have a built-in process that is believed to be a protective mechanism called cellular senescence. Senescence plays roles in normal development, maintains tissue homeostasis, and limits tumor progression. Jan van Deursen of the Mayo Clinic and Unity Biotechnology published an article showing evidence that “senescence guards against unrestricted growth of damaged cells” and that it “extends beyond tumor suppression into biological processes such as embryonic development, wound healing, tissue repair, and organismal aging.”

However, van Deuren and other researchers are finding that these senescent cells eventually start to wreak havoc as we age. In my best-selling book, The Longevity Equation, I point out that, “When your cells have had more than enough DNA damage, stress, and telomere shortening, they enter a state of growth arrest known as cellular senescence. This function is put in place to prevent damaged cells from turning into cancerous cells. However, in the process, it also stops allowing worn-out tissue to be replenished and rebuilt. Senescent cells often secrete inflammatory molecules that further damage the cellular environment, leading to chronic inflammatory conditions, including heart disease and osteoarthritis.” (P. 194)

A monumental discovery

The process of cellular senescence was discovered in 1961 by a young cellular biologist named Leonard Hayflick. Hayflick was studying how cells respond to viruses, but his experiments kept on running into a problem. Every time his cells would reach their fiftieth division, they would abruptly stop dividing. Initially, Hayflick thought that this was because his samples were contaminated, or he had made a mistake when he prepared the cells because, at the time, the scientific consensus was that human cells were immortal – that they could just keep on dividing forever.

Like every scientific breakthrough, Hayflick’s discovery initially caused a scandal because if he was right, it would upend everything scientists thought they knew about aging. Dozens of experiments were conducted to prove Hayflick wrong, but, in the end, they couldn’t do it, and eventually, the evidence was too great to be ignored. Everyone had to admit Hayflick had made a major discovery. Cells had a lifespan – a limited number of times they could divide – 50, to be precise – before they stop dividing forever. This became known as the Hayflick Limit.

Hayflick also discovered that when a cell reaches its fiftieth division, something strange happens. If you looked at your body under a microscope, starting at the very beginning of your life, you would see fresh, healthy, and young cells, but if we fast forward seventy years into the future and look again, we would see surprising changes in your cells. They’re called zombie cells, and even though they sound like something straight out of Hollywood, you probably have billions of them inside you right now. Zombie cells aren’t alive anymore, but they’re not totally dead yet either.  They are cells that have reached the end of their Hayflick Limit and can no longer divide, but they don’t go away. Instead, they get stuck inside you, in a state of suspended animation.

Again, from my book, The Longevity Equation, “Unlike other damaged cells, zombie cells don’t self-destruct or clear out of the way to make room for healthy cells. Instead, they stick around and interfere with the body’s natural rebuilding and replenishing mechanisms — which is a very bad thing for aging.” (P. 203) Zombie cells can turn surrounding, healthy cells into zombie cells, too. It’s like a toxic domino effect, and it means that the more zombie cells inside you, the faster you age.

Is there a solution?

Fifty years after Hayflick’s discovery, while studying aging in mice, Jan van Deursen and his colleagues at the Mayo Clinic found that one group of mice were showing signs of aging faster. When he looked closely, he found that the cells weren’t dividing like normal cells, but they weren’t dying, either. It was like they were trapped in a state of suspended animation. In other words, they looked just like the zombie cells Hayflick had discovered.

When van Deursen and his colleagues removed the mice’s zombie cells, mice that had been crippled by age suddenly began aging in reverse. Their bodies started to regenerate healthy tissue, their muscles stayed strong, their eyes were sharp and cataract-free, they could exercise for longer periods, and even their skin was plumper and more firm. It was like the longevity switch had suddenly been flipped ‘ON.’ In the nine years since van Deursen first published his findings, more than 32,000 additional studies have been conducted on zombie cells!!

What most people don’t realize is that your body actually has a built-in way to remove its zombie cells. It’s called autophagy [aw-tofuh-jee]. In Greek, it roughly translates to “self-eating.” Autophagy is your body’s own cellular recycling program. When a cell reaches the end of its Hayflick Limit and becomes a zombie cell, autophagy is supposed to break that cell down into its component parts and recycle it for use elsewhere.

When you’re young, this process actually works pretty well. Zombie cells are cleaned out of your body almost as soon as they appear, but the older you get, the number of zombie cells inside of you dramatically increases. And eventually, this overwhelms your body’s ability to clear them out.

Here’s the good news!

I have developed a potent blend of phytonutrients that can help stimulate autophagy and dramatically enhance the number of zombie cells that your body can eliminate. It’s the only supplement of its kind that works on a cellular level to help flush toxic zombie cells out of your body and pave the way for fresh, new, rejuvenating cells to take their place.

It’s called Restori-Cell, and it gives you a way to rewrite the script and change the way you think about aging. It boosts mental clarity, promotes youthful, all-day energy, and supports a natural, healthy weight. Restori-Cell meets the highest standards of quality and features five highly specialized nutrients in scientifically-supported doses:

·         BERBERINE HCL (Berberis aristata) (root): Studies have shown that berberine can lower unhealthy cholesterol and triglycerides, slash blood glucose levels and restore metabolic function, and protect human brain cells from toxic proteins that cause cognitive decline. South Korean researchers published a study that demonstrated how it activates a very special enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). It’s like the “autophagy master switch.” When your cells reach the end of their lifespan, AMPK tells your body it’s time to recycle the cell. It can help your body target the zombie cells that are sabotaging your health, flush them out of your body, and create space for healthy, fresh, and new cells to take their place. In fact, a study published in the journal Aging Cell found that it could extend the lifespan of mice by 16%! Berberine is such a potent cell-restoring nutrient that many people report that they can almost feel it working its magic.

·         HESPERIDIN (Citrus aurantium) (Citrus peel): Hesperidin is a special flavonoid extracted from the peel of bitter orange. It’s highly effective at helping you wipe away wrinkles and fine lines. That’s because zombie cells deplete your collagen, which is what keeps your skin firm, hydrated, and supple.  Hesperidin has been shown to stimulate the removal of those zombie cells and restore healthy collagen levels. It’s also been shown to strengthen your skin cells against environmental toxins, protect them from UV damage, and improve wound healing.

·         GYNOSTEMMA (Pentaphyllum) (leaf extract 20): Gynostemma is native to Japan, China, and Korea, where it’s long been called the ‘little herb of immortality.’ That’s because inside its leaves are powerful plant flavonoids called gypenosides that activate AMPK and help supercharge your natural autophagy. There is evidence that showed gynostemma could have powerful effects of weight gain associated with zombie cells. Another study demonstrated how gynostemma could improve nitric oxide production and help protect healthy cardiovascular function, support normal blood glucose levels, and promote a strong immune system.

·         QUERCETIN: Studies show that quercetin actually slows down the rate of cellular aging and can even rejuvenate old cells before they reach their Hayflick Limit. So, you might not even have to worry about zombie cells in the first place. Quercetin’s cell-protective benefits have been demonstrated to improve energy levels and increase exercise endurance. It’s also been shown to dramatically reduce pain. In a separate study, quercetin was even shown to reverse markers of chronic brain degeneration and improve performance on memory tests.

·         FISETIN: There’s truth in the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Fisetin is a natural plant compound found in fruits like apples and strawberries. Fisetin is one of the most exciting anti-aging discoveries of all time. Researchers have discovered that fisetin could destroy 50% of the zombie cells in mice!! More impressively, the mice in the study that started fisetin late in life still lived up to 15% longer than the control mice, and even though the mice were living longer, their physical health didn’t decline. Fisetin also boosts immune function, stimulates neuron growth, balances blood glucose levels, decreases age-related bone loss, and even reduces symptoms of low mood by increasing circulating serotonin levels.

At The Institute for Human Optimization, my team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional, and functional medicine to help our patients treat the root biological imbalances that cause aging. I believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·         Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing for risk stratification and empowerment.

·         Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·         Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·         Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

Let’s work together to make a long healthspan your future reality!

Biometric tracking is at the center of personalized medicine and can be used clinically to monitor useful, real time information about your health. Biometry literally means the measure of life, and in a broader sense, it designates the quantitative study of living beings. 

.   .   .

The first steps on your health journey

The Wall Street Journal states that, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls lifestyle-related chronic disease such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease the greatest health challenge of the 21st century. The CDC estimates that half of all adults in the U.S., or 117 million people, had one or more chronic health condition in 2012, accounting for 86% of all health-care spending.” That is a bold statement and a staggering number!

At The Institute for Human Optimization, our traditional, functional and precision medical approach gives us the ability to explore and ascertain the deep-seated biological imbalances that influence disease expression. We analyze all of the factors that contribute to this process and use this information to render personalized protocols.

We illustrate the connection between your genetic blueprint, your microbiome and your current state of health, which is measured by biomarkers. These all interweave and become a measurable, visual representation and expression of your life story at the molecular level.

Once we determine your individualized functional medicine protocols and your personalized wellness plan, the next step towards optimum well-being is supported with the use of biometric monitoring. We guide and facilitate your journey through this process with the added benefit of health coaching, so you will not have to make changes on your own. We find that this empowers individuals when they see the connection between the influences of their health decisions on their physical expression.

What is biometric monitoring?

Personalized medicine requires us to understand unique characteristics. With the use of biometric monitoring, The Institute for Human Optimization can establish biological parameters with data that would otherwise not be provided in a regular checkup. When answering clinical questions, physicians have historically had to rely on responses and not data.

Biometric monitoring tools are the foundation of an effective functional wellness program. The utilization of various health technologies to measure lifestyle factors that affect your health, such as nutrition, activity, mindfulness and sleep, allows us to establish a baseline picture of your state of wellness and provide specific recommendations to optimize your lifestyle.

We utilize wearable smart devices and mobile app technologies to clinically track and better understand the relationships between measurable biological processes and clinical outcomes. In other words, they provide a simplified way of understanding of how your body is responding to various lifestyle factors. With the cutting edge development of wearable technology, physicians and patients can come together with lifestyle interventions rapidly, rigorously, and seamlessly.

Using specialized HIPPA-compliant, cloud-based software, we are able to manage and integrate your personal information from the wearables and apps in real-time, which helps us objectively measure your progress. Our goal is to use this data to drive informed decision making and demonstrate how your behaviors influence your outcomes, like a cause-and-effect relationship. Using our longitudinal tracking tools, we are able to document your progress over time and identify areas where we can further optimize your health and fulfill your vision of well-being.

The importance of biometrics

Google, whose English dictionary is provided by Oxford Languages, defines data as “facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.” This is significant in regards to how biometrics helps to translate your life story.

Our platform makes it easy to synchronize data from popular apps and wearable devices. This includes the popular activity trackers, watches, weight scales and blood pressure cuffs, as well as data interchanges such as Apple Health.

According to Heads Up Health, one of our partners in managing and delivering your biometric results, “Health can only be measured with multiple data points, over a period of time, not just a snapshot…Using Heads Up you can track your daily glucose from Keto-Mojo, your steps from Apple Watch and your sleep from your Oura Ring.  Plotting all this data on a single graph helps you to truly see patterns of optimal health. By combining apps that track your lifestyle with your medical records, you can see how your lifestyle modifications (diet, sleep, exercise, stress etc.) truly affect clinical markers of health and disease as well as what action steps to take to optimize your well being.”

Robb Wolf, the Founder of Heads Up Health, says, “You cannot change what you do not track! In the modern world of ‘quantified self’ there are nearly limitless options for tracking of various biomarkers and lab values. What’s important? How does one make sense of it? Heads Up Health is unique in that it offers tracking capabilities that focus on the things that matter most. They offer a user experience that is intuitive and informative so you can track, understand and change those areas of your life and physiology that matter most.”

The following are only a few of the many app and device integrations are available through Heads Up Health:

·         Oura ring: Measures sleep quality, heart rate variability (HRV), resting heart rate, and activity levels

·         Biostrap: Measures similar biometrics to the Oura Ring, with the addition of blood oxygen saturation and respiratory rate

·         KetoMojo: Measures ketones, blood hemoglobin, hematocrit, glucose:ketone Index, blood glucose

By tracking your lifestyle and translating that data, it allows you to live in a proactive state, rather than a reactive state. You are able to make or tweak decisions with a calm, sound mind as you go, and possibly eliminate problems before they even appear; instead of waiting for something to happen and having to make sudden, panicked, sometimes life-threatening choices.

Why would I need a health coach?

It is well known that coaches can help improve quality of life, overall mood, and response to stress. And so it is interesting to point out that studies are also showing that health coaches are not only integral in helping to modify risk factors in healthy people, but also in helping to mitigate many common chronic diseases when working with health professionals.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to changing health habits. People do best with an individualized approach that meets them where they are and guides them to where they need to be. We call that approach person-first. It’s a comprehensive, person-centric, behavior-based primary coach model that integrates lifestyle and condition management, delivering better experience and real results.

The small-step behavior change model found within The Institute for Human Optimization’s Patient Journey is also fully integrated into our live coaching experience. Digital and live health coach support are completely interwoven on a single platform—making our approach unique.

How can The Institute for Human Optimization assist me?

The Institute for Human Optimization streamlines the process of collecting biometric data through a combination of on-site, in-clinic and at-home screening options for more convenience, access and engagement. And we oversee the whole process, so you don’t have to.

Biometrics help the Institute for Human Optimization to follow the precision medicine model of being predictive, preventative, personalized, and participatory. This act of engagement and participation in your health is the first step to achieving your health goals. It empowers you to manage what you can measure, and identify self limiting patterns of behavior that might be preventing you from achieving your fullest potential. It covers a wide range of applications with metric driven results, including weight management, nutritional adherence, exercise, tracking Qqq, and monitoring medication compliance.

We integrate biometric screening data into each patient’s health assessment automatically, saving time, and helping paint a more complete picture of health. The Institute for Human Optimization Access Network makes biometric screening services available to patients and allows for direct patient behavioral monitoring. This can be used to help promote goal-oriented long-term behavioral change towards longevity.

Optimization monitoring and tracking your biometric data is only one component of the advanced translational precision care provided at the Institute for Human Optimization. We provide the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·         Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·         Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·         Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·         Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

Let’s put it all together!!

We’ve talked about how your story begins with the fact that DNA determines an overwhelming amount of information about who you are, what you look like, and how certain environmental factors influence your overall health. We’ve also talked about how the state of your microbiome, which is the important and complex social network of microorganisms that coinhabit your body, contributes to the development of a strong immune system and your overall wellness.

.   .   .

Let’s continue to connect the molecular dots of your life story.

At The Institute for Human Optimization, understanding your story is a critical element in our approach to your healthcare. Genomic testing enlightens your predisposition to certain health vulnerabilities. Microbiome testing shines the light on how microbial imbalances in your body manifest in illness and disease. And last but definitely not least, comprehensive biomarker testing gives you a snapshot of your current state of health. This enables us to take a deep dive into your story and translate your unique book of life. We gain insights about you individually, and we learn how we can leverage this information to help influence clinical decision making.

Biomarkers, portmanteau for “biological markers,” are measurable substances, usually proteins encoded by DNA, which provide useful information about medical conditions or disease processes. They are found in blood, urine, saliva and various tissues.  They help establish a baseline health status, serve as an early warning sign of potential health concerns, and provide objective goals which can be clinically monitored and used to track your progress.

There are two main ways of assessing biomarker ranges.

The pathological range is used to diagnose disease. Typical reference ranges provided with laboratory testing results are reported in “pathological ranges.” They are generated in reference to all available laboratory results. These usually reflect any number out of this range as having an underlying potential disease process, and see the disease diagnosis as an endpoint in care.

The functional range is used to assess risk for disease before it develops. The Institute for Human Optimization uses this information to help identify and prevent specific conditions using a proactive, preventative approach. We not only asses your basic, conventional biomarker standards, but we take it a step further towards health optimization and disease prevention. Jeffrey Bland, PhD, FACN, FACB, considered the Father of Functional Medicine by many, states in an IMCJ article, “In the functional medicine model, the word function is aligned with the evolving understanding that disease is an endpoint and function is a process.” This is a significant distinction that illustrates the importance of connecting those molecular dots throughout your life and how your life journey resulted in your current state of health.

What can my biomarkers tell me?

The Institute for Human Optimization uses advanced biomarker and functional medicine testing to assess how an individual responds to personalized treatment for various health conditions. Providing precise, targeted therapy can be utilized to support physiological pathways and be used to enhance favorable gene expression to promote health and wellness.

We offer over one hundred advanced biomarker tests that can be used to optimize your health.

Here are some examples:

BLOOD LIPID MARKERS – Assessing cholesterol particles helps evaluate heart health and hormonal influences. An example of one of these biomarkers is very low-density lipoprotein (vLDL).  University of Michigan Health Library explains that the main purpose of vLDL “is to distribute the triglyceride produced by your liver. A high vLDL cholesterol level can cause the buildup of cholesterol in your arteries and increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.”

COMPLETE BLOOD COUNT – Red and white blood cells are foundational to wellness. While problems are rare, they often go undetected. Hemoglobin, which measures the total amount of the oxygen-carrying protein in the blood, is one level that is checked with this test panel. If the level is low, it can indicate anemia, which according to The University of Rochester Medical Center, “can be caused by blood loss, decreased production of red blood cells, or increased destruction of red blood cells.” The complete blood count also helps us identify and evaluate your overall health, as well as detect a variety of diseases and conditions, such as infections and blood disorders.

COMPREHENSIVE METABOLIC PANEL – We don’t overlook the basics. These standard markers help us flag problems. This panel evaluates your liver, kidneys, electrolytes, blood sugar and more to provide a picture of your overall health. For instance, in addition to other minerals, potassium is one of the important mineral/electrolytes included in this panel, as it helps to keep fluid balanced in your body. UW Health indicates that, “A potassium level that is too high or too low can be serious. Abnormal potassium levels may cause symptoms such as muscle cramps or weakness, nausea, diarrhea, frequent urination, dehydration, low blood pressure, confusion, irritability, paralysis, and changes in heart rhythm.”

HEAVY METALS AND ENVIRONMENTAL TOXIN MARKERS – If your body is storing harmful toxins, we test for common culprits like mercury, lead and arsenic. Vibrant Wellness, one of our testing partners, asserts that, “Heavy metal toxicity is under-represented as a root cause of illness and disease in humans, is thought to affect over 1 million individuals annually, and can affect virtually all biological systems within the human body.”

INFLAMMATORY MARKERS – Chronic inflammation is harmful to many areas of your wellness. We test for levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is made in the liver when there is inflammation in the body. This can be protective, but research shows that prolonged excessive inflammation can indicate infection or higher risk of disease.

DIABETIC MARKERS – We look for early warning signs and make adjustments to your diet and lifestyle to ward off disease development. One of the ways we do this is by measuring your Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), which shows the average amount of glucose present in the blood within the past 2–3 months. Research has determined that, “HbA1c is an important indicator of long-term glycemic control…HbA1c not only provides a reliable measure of chronic hyperglycemia, but also correlates well with the risk of long-term diabetes complications.”

HORMONE MARKERS – Hormones are involved with everything – including the way you look, the way you feel, and the energy that you have. Identifying dysregulated patterns can be the missing link in your health. Cortisol, well-known as the “stress hormone,” is a glucocorticoid that plays a key role in our body’s response to stress and glucose metabolism, and modulates many physiological and psychological processes. Studies show that chronic elevation of cortisol can result in depression, abdominal obesity, and mineral loss from bone, among a long list of other effects.

VITAMINS AND MINERAL MARKERS – Vibrant America, another one of our testing partners, shares this information about the importance of measuring your body’s vitamins and minerals: “Your genetics, aging, lifestyle, chronic illness, and medications all affect your cellular nutrient absorption. The intracellular portion of [our] micronutrient test takes all the above factors into consideration to identify [your] cellular nutrient absorption status. This test can reveal a person’s functional nutritional status over a [4-6 month time period].”

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACID INDEX – Your balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats is important for heart health and inflammation. Great Plains Laboratory, which runs our essential fatty acid testing, points out that, “Many studies have shown that people with higher (vs. lower) omega-3 index levels are at decreased risk for a variety of diseases. These include heart disease, stroke, dementia, and depression to name a few. These people even live longer than those with lower levels.”

How can The Institute for Human Optimization assist me?

Understanding the relationship between measurable biological processes and clinical outcomes is vital to expanding our arsenal of targeted treatments for all diseases and for deepening our understanding of normal, healthy physiology. There are a number of advantages to using biomarkers to gauge your progress towards your health goals.

Biomarker testing allows The Institute for Human Optimization to make more precise diagnoses and prescribe more effective, personalized treatments. It also helps us predict disease and take preventive measures to avoid unnecessary treatment. When we combine that with what we know of your unique genetic blueprint and how it’s being expressed, you’ll be able to optimize your health like never before!

We provide the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·         Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·         Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·         Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·         Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

Let’s connect the next dot together.

WHAT’S THE STORY WITH YOUR MICROBIOME?

The human microbiome is a fascinating, emerging area of science and clinical research. Assessing the microbial diversity throughout your body holds promise in looking at how our body’s cohabitants work in synergy with or parasitism against its host.

.   .   .

Your life story is one of your most valuable assets. It contains everything you need to navigate your health and wellness. When you take the time to look at it, your story also connects all of the dots that make you, YOU! You are made of not only the genetic blueprint you were born with, but your environment, your experiences, your choices, and yes, the state of a little-known, hidden organ:  your microbiome. Let’s find out how!

What is my microbiome?

Do you know that your body is home to around 100 trillion microscopic organisms living and working in delicate balance? To put that number in perspective, the height of a stack of one hundred trillion (100,000,000,000,000) one dollar bills measures 6,786,616 miles – this would reach from the earth to the moon and back 14 times!!  These microorganisms even outnumber your human cells 10 to 1! In fact, you have more foreign microbes within your body than human cells, and when you consider DNA, only 1% of your body’s gene expression is performed by human genes. The rest is by your unique microbiome!

These diverse, complex communities of microbes live on your skin, in your mouth, in your intestines and elsewhere. It is estimated that there are over 10,000 different types of microorganisms living within our bodies, and each of us carry a distinctive manifestation of microbial diversity, just like a fingerprint!

Your unique microbiome started as soon as you were born and is continually influenced by your diet, your experiences, what you’ve been exposed to and where you live. You depend on these complex social networks of microorganisms to help break down nutrients and produce important vitamins and enzymes in your digestive system, which in turn strengthens your immune system. Are you starting to see how important your microbiome is to your life story?

What happens if my microbiome is out of balance?

When this healthy community of microorganisms gets tipped out of balance, certain types of bacteria can grow out of control, causing illness. It’s easy then to see how the microbiome is being linked to so many areas of health, including obesity, autoimmune disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, colorectal cancer and more! It’s also the reason why dieting might not have worked for you in the past. Scientists have even identified that your microbiome influences your mood and behavior via bacteria and other microbes signaling pathways throughout your body, which influences your brain chemistry.

There is a plethora of research out there, so let’s look at some quick details to give you an idea of how this imbalance can show up in your story:

Obesity and Gastrointestinal Disease

Obesity, metabolic syndrome, and gastrointestinal disease are all influenced by our gut microbiome. Studies have indicated that the health of our microbiome can influence how our body uses energy from the food we eat. It can also have an effect on our genes that regulate how that energy is utilized and stored.

Autoimmune Disease

Our microbiome controls our immune system more than we realize. In one surprising study, researchers found that bacteria in the small intestines of mice and humans can travel to other organs, where they may trigger an autoimmune response.

Diabetes

Our gut microbiome is associated with both type I and type II diabetes and the complications that come with it. The TEDDY study, which is looking for the environmental causes of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in children, suggests that early microbiome influences may contribute to T1D risk and disease progression.

Mental Health

Our gut microbiome has been shown to influence depression, cognition, behavior, and neural development. Studies are beginning to demonstrate the importance of the gut-brain axis and suggest that triggers for a variety of neurological diseases can be found in the microbiome of the gastrointestinal tract.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Microbes are involved in the development of Alzheimer’s pathology. Researchers have found evidence that bacteria can influence Alzheimer’s symptoms by triggering and sustaining inflammation pathways in the brain.

Parkinson’s Disease

Our gut microbiota has been linked to Parkinson’s disease. In studies with mice, researchers have found that changes in the microbiome may set off Parkinson’s disease by negatively affecting the brain and triggering motor symptoms.

Heart Disease

Certain bacteria have been linked to atherosclerosis, an all-too-common heart condition. Evidence is starting to show that variations in our microbiome can affect high blood lipid levels, such as triglycerides and cholesterol, which leads to cardiovascular disease.

Colorectal Cancer

Shifts in the makeup of our gut microbiome are associated with colorectal cancer. Animal and human studies have shown that dysbiosis in the gut microbiome has been found in patients with colorectal cancer, which resulted in pro-inflammatory pathogens and a decrease in butyrate-producing bacteria, which helps to protect the mucosal lining of our intestines.

What can my microbiome tell me?

Enhanced microbial species biodiversity is associated with overall wellness. Assessment of the state of your microbiome can aid in the identification of the ideal macronutrient ratios of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats for your diet. It can also help determine the foods that are most compatible with your body, which can assist in compiling an individualized dietary and supplement recommendation that will help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, increase your energy and focus, and contribute to your overall well being.

Microbiome testing identifies the microbial species associated with disease and poor health so that an effective, personalized treatment plan can be made. It can diagnose dysbiosis disease states, including small intestinal (fungal/bacterial) overgrowth. We can then cultivate beneficial (but missing) bacteria with probiotic supplements and identify prebiotics that enhance the growth of beneficial microbes and promote metabolite health. This process downregulates toxic metabolites and enhances assimilation through optimized digestion and absorption.

How can The Institute for Human Optimization assist me?

The Institute for Human Optimization is exploring the genetic code of the microbiome and is seeking to better understand how the microbiome promotes wellness or enables disease, and how that knowledge can be harnessed to enhance the practice of precision medicine. We are finding new ways to keep the microbiome healthy, repaired, and use its power to prevent and treat disease.

The testing technology we offer is used routinely in clinical and academic research because it provides highly-accurate quantification, as well as high levels of sensitivity and specificity. This information allows us to make early diagnoses and design new and more effective personalized, preventive therapies to optimize your life.

The promise of precision medicine begins with your story. We provide the most comprehensive, data-driven approach to wellness. It is:

  • Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing for risk stratification and empowerment.
  • Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.
  • Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.
  • Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

And so, here’s where our stories converge. Let’s begin a new chapter together.

Your DNA determines an overwhelming amount of information about who you are, what you look like, and how certain environmental factors influence your overall health. This is why at the Institute for Human Optimization, we aim to be a wellness intelligence partner for our patients, using the latest genomic testing to empower them to reach their full human potential. By generating your unique comprehensive genomic profile, we are able to gain insight into your genetic makeup and help you take your health into your own hands. In this week’s post, we’re discussing the human genome, and how we help our patients use this knowledge for the prevention, early diagnosis, and personalized treatment of complex, chronic conditions.


In virtually every cell of your body is a complete copy of the three billion DNA base pairs that make up the human genome.

The study of the human genome is different from the study of genetics in that it focuses on the entirety of the genetic makeup and tries to sequence it. This is an ongoing research subject, mainly carried out by the Human Genome Project. But why is this important to you and your personal health journey?

Everything starts in the genome- from what you look like, to what disorders you’re predisposed to, to what foods you should and shouldn’t eat, it’s all there. And thanks to decades of research, we now have advanced molecular testing that can predict how genes are behaving by assessing their structural makeup and biochemical expressions.

At the Institute for Human Optimization, we utilize what we refer to as a “genotype to phenotype approach”. Your phenotype is the physical expression of the genome. It’s the way your genome produces blue eyes instead of brown, or curly hair instead of straight. It’s the way your genes influence your resting heart rate, blood pressure, or response to stress. These traits can be measured and therefore, manipulated.

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine describes how our genes are marked by experience. There are molecular “tags” that influence gene expression, even to the effect of “turning up or down the volume” on specific genes. For example,

“Men whose grandfathers were exposed to the Swedish famine in Överkalix before puberty tend to die at an earlier age from various common diseases than men whose grandfathers were not exposed to the famine. Both the Dutch Hunger Winter and the Great Leap Forward of China involved mass starvation of the population, and in both cases, fetal exposure to famine during the first trimester of gestation was associated with an incidence of schizophrenia in adulthood that was twice as high as the incidence among adults who had not been exposed during gestation.”

N Engl J Med 2018; “The Key Role of Epigenetics in Human Disease Prevention and Mitigation”
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMra1402513

By combining individualized genomic blueprint analysis and phenotypic biomarkers as well as biometric data tracking over time, the Institute is able to help us guide your health decisions, behavioral patterns, and therapeutic interventions. In return, there’s the potential for improved health outcomes, quality of life, and longevity. 

Your life choices affect how your genes are expressed, and the only way to find out how to hack this system is with genome testing.

How We Test

As an institution that prioritizes hard data over trial and error, we use advanced molecular testing to map out your personal genome and apply this data into what we call a “Personalized Prescriptive Performance Program“. Your genetic makeup, lifestyle, and goals are not the same as the next person’s, so why should your healthcare strategy mirror theirs?

To get the basis for your program, we rely on the cutting edge software developed by Dr. Peter D’ Adamo, Opus23. It uses a sample of your DNA to generate a report detailing any genetic discrepancies you may have. There are distinct polymorphisms that can occur within the genes that change the way those genes are expressed. We covered this in a previous blog post, “Epigenetics: How to Control Your Gene Expression”.

Genomic testing is used to evaluate common genetic variations known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The presence of specific SNPs may indicate a predisposition for health vulnerabilities. SNPs may be assessed in multiple functional areas including cardiovascular, detoxification, methylation, immune modulation, and estrogen metabolism.

By understanding your genetic foundation, we can recommend vitamins, supplements, and therapies to truly optimize your health. This information can give you insight into how your genes are behaving and how to tackle possible health problems at their root cause before they begin. Prevention is always better than a cure.

The platform we use reports on over 5,200 SNP variants and their influence on:

The Future of Healthcare

The Institute for Human Optimization operates on the principles of integrative and functional medicine. We believe the future of healthcare lies in educating patients on how to live their lives in a way that promotes health and builds up resiliency so old age is not synonymous with disease and chronic illness.

Using a variety of testing methods as well as a detailed client intake process, we create a Personalized Prescriptive Performance Program for your unique genome and goals using the following:

  • Nutrigenomics – the way your genes dictate how your body metabolizes vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. For example, a polymorphism in the BCO1 gene can cause a person to not metabolize vitamin A correctly. Supplementing with extra vitamin A may be helpful in negating health consequences from having this genetic polymorphism.
  • Pharmacogenomics – Offers insight into predicting drug responses and clinical outcomes. It can be used to reduce adverse events, and select the correct dosing and timing of administration of medications. This is largely due to the metabolizer status of the individual.
  • Microbial Genomics – the way our genes influence our resident microbiome population and biodiversity. For example, FUT2 gene variations influence an individual’s sector potential of placing an H antigen oligosaccharide on the intestinal mucosa which acts as both an attachment site and a carbon source for intestinal bacteria.
  • Longevity Genomics – the study of longevity genes is a developing science. It is estimated that about 25 percent of the variation in the human life span is determined by genetics, but which genes, and how they contribute to longevity, are not well understood. A few of the common variations (called polymorphisms) associated with long life spans are found in the APOE, FOXO3, and CETP genes, but they are not found in all individuals with exceptional longevity. 

By detailing your genome, we can often predict what will happen before it does. We can understand how your body is functioning and what we need to do to optimize your health from the genome to the phenome.

To schedule a consultation with the Institute for Human Optimization or find out more about genome testing and the Opus23 software, click here.