December 31, 2018

 With the new year upon us, we are going to continue to look at new ways to change our outcomes as they relate to human health and longevity. In my mind, it is no longer ok to sit back and wait for a diagnosis to occur where a prevention strategy is potentially available. We are going to continue to share relevant cutting edge data on prevention and lifestyle changes that maximize your health, your vitality and your telomere length.

I think of a recent case where a teenage patient had elevated markers of autoimmune thyroid disease without symptoms. She was sent by her pediatrician to an endocrine specialist for evaluation.

The result of this consultation was a diagnosis of impending thyroid disease. The treatment course was to wait for symptoms and thyroid burnout to start supplemental thyroid hormone for life. At first glance, this seems like a reasonable approach based on historical precedence, however, newer approaches are showing us that we may be able to reverse this process when caught early enough. Therefore, that is what we are looking at.

I think of emerging research in the field of evolutionary anthropology that is helping us understand why we need to physically move a lot everyday. January's Scientific American has an article written by Herman Pontzer that details the science behind these adaptations. It is beautiful to understand the why which then allows for the do and then the benefit of longevity. He deftly states that no human trait evolves in isolation. If you are skinny and fast, there was an advantage to that genetic change that persisted in your ancestors down to you. Genetically speaking, you are adapted to be able to acquire higher calorie food more easily. This allows you to have lots of energy for reproduction, survival and to feed your brain's insane metabolic demand. It also turns out that movement turns on genes that increase brain transmissions, increase glucose utilization and so much more. The key to this discussion is the understanding of your unique genetic makeup. When we understand the root of your phenotype via the genotype, then we have an understanding of your roadmap to health.

This year I am going to relook at heart disease, the killer of Americans, as it relates to us all but through my personal lens. I have spent the better part of the last decade trying to understand my risk and that of my children based on our genetic and ancestral history. This will be a very important multipart discussion as atherosclerosis starts right out the gate in children and is near and dear to my heart. Time with the disease is one of the major risk factors. You cannot stop aging, so we better control what increases risk from a modifiable perspective, i.e. diet, exercise, etc...

What else comes to these pages this year is anyone's guess as I am not privy to the research before it is published. Suffice it to say that it will be science based, ethically grounded and dedicated to keeping your kids healthier and happier. Here is to 2019, the future, but most importantly the present. Today is a beautiful day.

 

Happy New Year,
Dr. M