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Man in business suit gripping chest with red overlay indicating a heart attack or chest pain

More Than 800,000 Americans Suffer From Heart Disease Every Year. Learn The Symptoms Here:

If you knew you could change your lifestyle and diet and avoid heart disease and other things, you should do it.

Laila Ali

Each year, more than 800,000 people in the U.S. die from cardiovascular disease. This figure accounts for a whopping percentage of fatalities, making up one in three deaths. To put it into perspective, cardiovascular disease collectively claims more lives than all cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, or accidents. As many as 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, with one death occurring every 39 seconds.

Cardiovascular disease, the umbrella term referring to all types of diseases affecting the heart or blood vessels, encompasses coronary heart disease and stroke. Alarmingly, more than 10% of Americans have already been diagnosed with heart disease.[1]

Despite these grim statistics, there’s still tremendous hope for today’s adult population: heart attack and stroke are largely preventable. To prevent these diseases effectively, however, you must first be able to recognize the warning signs. Browse through this guide as we review some of the most critical information about the life-saving power of heart disease and stroke prevention.

Heart Disease & Stroke: An Introduction


Cardiovascular disease and heart disease are often used interchangeably. While the conditions share many of the same characteristics, the serious ways in which they affect the body can actually be different. Here is a helpful breakdown to help you remember these key terms.

Cardiovascular Disease

As mentioned above, this catchall refers to all types of diseases of the heart or blood vessels, including clogged arteries (heart disease) which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and congenital heart defects.

Heart Disease

Any condition affecting the heart’s function and structure is heart disease. While heart disease is a type of cardiovascular disease, and thus all heart diseases are also cardiovascular diseases, not all cardiovascular diseases are a form of heart disease.

Heart disease can encompass many different issues which are often related to atherosclerosis, or the formation of plaque along the artery walls. Heart disease can therefore lead to heart attack or stroke.

Stroke

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that feeds or is located within the brain becomes blocked or bursts. This starves the brain of blood and oxygen, causing brain cells to die. If too many brain cells die, the effects of a stroke can be permanent, but in cases where enough brain cells survive, injured cells can be repaired and impaired functions may improve.

While understanding the key differences among these conditions is important, cardiovascular diseases as a whole share many of the same causes, risk factors, early warning signs, and prevention tactics. Because of this, and the fact that heart disease and stroke are so closely related, we will focus on the characteristics of heart disease for the remainder of this guide.

Causes of Heart Disease


3D rendering of atherosclerosis, otherwise known as plaque buildup in the arteries. An illustration demonstrating the beginning of a blood clot as the bloodstream is slowed by thickened arterial walls

Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of heart disease.[2] As the plaque thickens along artery walls, it causes the walls to stiffen, which can prevent blood from flowing freely through your arteries to your vital organs and tissues.

Alarmingly, the signs of atherosclerosis may never be outwardly visible – that is, until a plaque ruptures or builds up to the point where blood flow is completely restricted. If you have atherosclerosis in your heart valves, you may develop symptoms such as angina (chest pain). The appearance of this symptom calls for quick action, however, as it often precedes a heart attack. [3]

The plaque development which characterizes atherosclerosis develops slowly over time. While the exact cause of the condition is unknown, experts strongly believe it can result from many different factors, such as:

While atherosclerosis is the most common cause of heart disease, it isn’t the only one. Heart arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), congenital heart defects, cardiomyopathy (thickening of the heart muscle), and heart infections can also lead to heart disease. Arrhythmias are caused by many of the same factors as atherosclerosis including high blood pressure, tobacco use, and smoking, but can also be brought on by excessive caffeine or alcohol use, illicit drug use, and stress.

In addition to the primary causes, there are many behaviors and other risk factors which can contribute to your likelihood for developing heart disease.

Heart Disease Risk Factors


What Are Your Risk Factors for Heart Disease?

Common risk factors associated with heart disease include: 

  • Age
  • Gender
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Poor Diet
  • Insulin Resistance/Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Genetic Factors
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Mental Illness

Age

Age plays an important role in raising the risk of heart disease. In men, the risk for heart disease begins to increase at the age of 45. For women, the age is 55. [5] While age-related behavioral factors, such as poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles, can contribute to heart disease risk, biological changes also factor in. For instance, the blood vessels naturally become less flexible as we age, which makes it more difficult for blood to pass through. 

Gender


For many years, heart disease was perceived to be commonly seen in men. Now, however, it has been established that it is the leading cause of death for both sexes. After the age of 65, men and women share roughly the same risk. With that said, the symptoms of heart disease in diabetic women tend to be less obvious than in their male peers. For example, women may only experience shortness of breath during physical activity, versus men who experience chest pain.[6]

High Blood Pressure


Your blood pressure measures the force of your blood pressing against your blood vessel walls. Having high blood pressure creates added stress on your heart and blood vessels causing them to work harder. High blood pressure also creates friction, which damages the tissues in your arteries, causing bad cholesterol to develop within the tears in the artery walls and prompting atherosclerosis.

High Cholesterol


Unhealthy blood cholesterol levels increase heart disease risk in the ways outlined above. Poor diet is one of the main culprits behind high cholesterol.

Poor Diet

Unhealthy, processed foods including fries, soda, chips, cookies, chocolate, donuts and candy sprawled out on a wooden counter

Saturated fats, commonly found in animal products, can raise your cholesterol levels. In particular, red meat and full-fat dairy could lead to increased cholesterol, but this is oftentimes a result from poor selection of raw materials. For example, grass-fed beef is leaner than grain-fed beef, and both meat and dairy from hormone-free sources are considered healthiest. Of course, genetic factors should be assessed to create a meal plan to support each patient’s unique needs. If an individual’s genetics do not make them susceptible to cholesterol increases, full-fat dairy and red meat typically needn’t be restricted.

On the other hand, commercially baked cookies, crackers, and other processed foods are problematic in that they often contain cholesterol-raising trans fat, and even when they don’t, they can contribute to inflammation, a common culprit behind chronic illness and a suspected causative agent behind heart disease.

Insulin Resistance/Diabetes


In diabetes, the body fails to produce ample insulin or cannot use insulin properly, causing blood sugar levels to spike. Over time, this increased level of blood glucose can damage your blood vessels, along with the nerves controlling your heart. Adults with diabetes face twice the risk of a fatal heart disease or stroke compared to those without.[7]

Limiting poor-quality carbohydrates that have a significant impact on insulin response is critically important to preventing insulin resistance, and subsequently, the development of type 2 diabetes.

It is carbohydrates – and in particular, high-glycemic index carbohydrates – which most substantially increase cardiovascular-related disease by modulating insulin and inflammation and causing a negative impact on the cardiovascular system.

High-glycemic index foods, including white bread, rice, and processed snacks such as breakfast cereals and packaged cakes or cookies, pose an especially concerning threat for patients with excess body fat and exercise limitations. Diets rich in these foods could place an individual at risk for diseases related to inflammation, including heart disease, especially when coupled with a sedentary lifestyle.

Obesity


Adults have a significantly increased risk of developing any form of cardiovascular disease if they are overweight or obese. Specifically, obese or overweight adults between the ages of 40 and 59 have an increased risk ranging from 21-85%, compared to normal weight peers.[8]

The relationship between heart disease and being overweight is complex, but most notably, carrying extra weight creates a ripple effect of damage on the heart as it is associated with hidden inflammation which can impede your heart’s ability to function properly.

Smoking


Smoking damages and constricts blood vessels, and has also been found to raise cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Moreover, it can prevent ample oxygen from reaching the body’s critical organs and tissues, thereby increasing heart disease risk.[9]  

Genetic Factors


Genetics can play a major role in determining risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, most individuals are unaware of specific testing that is available to establish a better understanding of individual risks. For example, Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) is a protein found in your blood that carries cholesterol and triglycerides to the liver, where they are removed from the blood and also impacts additional enzymatic functions that aid in the removal of these lipids.

There are 6 possible genotypes with 2 genotypes carrying a high risk for developing heart disease, 2 carrying intermediate risk, and 2 carrying normal risk. [10] Those with the highest risk genotype experience a 40X greater risk in developing cardiovascular disease than their normal risk counterparts. Not only does knowing your genotype determine your potential risk factors, but it also provides insight as to how effective clinical interventions with prescription drugs and lifestyle modifications can be.

Another inherited risk factor is familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) – a defect that affects how the body recycles low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol. The result is very high LDL levels, above 190mg/dL, and is known to be caused by a mutation in the gene for the LDL cholesterol receptor. According to the results from the 1999-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, roughly 1 in 250 adults have the FH genetic mutation. [11]

Lack of Exercise

Middle-aged man eating pizza and drinking beer while sitting on a couch

A sedentary lifestyle is a major cause of chronic diseases, including heart disease. Studies have even indicated that the increase in risk associated with reduced fitness is comparable to or greater than other clinical factors, such as smoking and diabetes.[12]

Exercise contributes to cardiovascular health in numerous ways. It controls blood pressure, increases “good” HDL cholesterol, improves circulation to prevent clots which can lead to heart attack and stroke, and aids in weight regulation

Mental Illness

Research shows up to 44% of people with heart disease also have major depression, and individuals hospitalized for heart attack are about three times as likely to have depression. While individuals with heart disease often face stress related to health issues, depression itself also appears to be a risk factor for heart disease. While the precise interplay is still unclear, experts believe both inflammatory and lifestyle changes related to depression can impact cardiovascular health.[13]

While calculating your risk for all cardiovascular issues, including heart disease and stroke, is an important foundational step in preventing a deadly cardiac event, it’s also critical to watch for the early signs of heart disease. Identify what to look for in the next section.


Early Signs of Heart Disease


Mature man leaning against treat in park while gripping chest and trying to breathe

Frustratingly, many of the early signs of heart disease mimic those seen in other health issues. Further, some of these symptoms are even ignored as signs of aging or inactivity. Yet, when they are intense or appear out of the blue, it’s worth taking note. Patients should always be mindful of any unfamiliar developments in their health and err on the side of caution, because by the time signs of heart attack manifest it is likely past the point of prevention.

Early signs of heart disease can include unexplained aches or pain. When the blood supply to the heart is blocked, it can cause significant strain and, subsequently, pain in the heart. Yet, this pain isn’t always experienced in the chest. It can also be felt in the arms, shoulders, back, or even the jaw or abdomen. Symptoms that occur with activity but fade with rest are especially important to note, as they can indicate heart issues.

Shortness of breath is another telling sign of heart problems. While it’s possible for anyone to become winded after exertion, climbing just a few stairs shouldn’t leave you out of breath. Extreme shortness of breath, accompanied by pressure or pain in the chest, dizziness or lightheadedness, extreme fatigue, pain in the regions described above, or extreme fatigue could indicate a heart attack, which demands immediate medical attention.

Additionally, heart palpitations, characterized by irregular or rapid beating, can signify heart issues. While they are often harmless and can occur with anxiety, caffeine, and dehydration, unexplained palpitations occurring while at rest should be investigated by a physician. Note how often they occur and what you’re doing when they happen.

Being mindful of these signs, along with your individual risk factors, can be helpful in preventing heart disease. With that said, the most comprehensive approach to prevention should incorporate the expertise of physicians who employ the next generation of medicine to stop heart disease before it even starts.

How to Prevent Heart Disease


Mature female patients smiling at male physician while looking over results

There are many preventive tactics within your reach, which you can begin implementing right away. Smoking cessation, diet and weight management, exercise, and blood pressure and cholesterol control are among the most powerful lifestyle changes you can make to prevent heart disease.

Yet, a key component of prevention is knowing your individualized risk for heart disease and stroke. Metrics such as blood pressure levels can only tell you so much, and without insights garnered from more advanced, comprehensive laboratory screenings, we only see a small portion of overall heart disease risk.

With its innovative Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention Program, Cenegenics provides life-saving testing, going beyond conventional screening to assess in-depth genetic factors, advanced lipid panels, laboratory markers for plaque formations, and assessments for inflammatory markers which contribute to cardiovascular disease.

By combining the expertise of three cardio-diagnostic leaders and implementing aspects from the nation’s two top laboratories screening for cardiovascular disease, we have developed an industry-leading program to provide the most specific and accurate cardiac health picture currently available.

The findings retrieved from your screenings allow our physicians to offer patient-focused, specific recommendations based on your unique needs. From prescribing nutritional adjustments such as sodium intake and nutraceuticals to tailoring exercise plans to encourage physical fitness that is both effective in reducing disease risks and safe for your current abilities, our clinical team takes an all-encompassing approach to not only supporting your heart health, but also your overall wellness.

And, because our experts remain at the forefront of age management medicine, all of our programs are tailored to accommodate age-related risk factors and concerns, thereby allowing you to minimize the risk of deadly disease and feel great through every decade of life.

If you’re interested in preventing heart disease, stroke, and other chronic illness while becoming the healthiest possible version of yourself, contact a Cenegenics location near you.

Next Steps on How to Prevent Heart Disease

FREE Consultation

Our world class physicians create a personalized plan to help you feel 10+ years younger. You'll be more energetic, lose weight, sleep better, have more libido, and think more clearly. Click below to schedule a free consultation with one of our physicians. It's quick + easy. 

About the Contributor

Rudy Inaba 
Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise

Rudy Inaba is Cenegenics’ Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise. He is a recognized fitness and sports nutrition consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in clinical exercise physiology and lifestyle management. After pursuing his Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Rudy joined Cenegenics where he leads 20 clinical locations nationwide in their advancements in kinesiology, nutritional biochemistry, and their analyses of industry research & market trending.

Key Resources

This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources: 

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 2: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

Textbook Authors:

Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT

Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.

Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS

Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.

References

[1] National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH). “Know the Differences.” Retrieved from URL: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/sites/default/files/media/docs/Fact_Sheet_Know_Diff_Design.508_pdf.pdf

[2] Mayo Clinic. “Heart Disease.” 22 Mar. 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353118

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Heart Disease Facts.” 28 Nov. 2017. Retrieved from URL: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

[4] Mayo Clinic, see above.

[5] NIH. “Coronary Heart Disease.” Retrieved from URL: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/coronary-heart-disease

[6] Resnick, Art, MD. “How Age and Gender Affect Your Heart.” Kaiser Permanente. 01 Mar. 2014. Retrieved from URL: https://wa.kaiserpermanente.org/healthAndWellness/index.jhtml?item=%2Fcommon%2FhealthAndWellness%2Fconditions%2FheartDisease%2FageAndGender.html

[7] NIH. “Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke.” Feb. 2017. Retrieved from URL: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke

[8] SS Khan et al. “Association of Body Mass Index With Lifetime Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Compression of Morbidity.” JAMA Cardiology. 1 Apr. 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29490333

[9] NIH, see above.

[10] Apolipoprotein E [PDF]. (n.d.). Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Heart Lab. 

[11] Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/causes-of-high-cholesterol/familial-hypercholesterolemia-fh

[12] Frank W. Booth, Ph.D., et al. “Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases.” Comprehensive Physiology. 23 Nov. 2014. Retrieved from URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241367/

[13] Morris, Nathaniel P. “Mental illness and heart disease are often found in the same patients.” The Washington Post. 18 Feb. 2017. Retreieved from URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/mental-illness-and-heart-disease-are-often-found-in-the-same-patients/2017/02/17/665e5dd0-ee1d-11e6-9973-c5efb7ccfb0d_story.html?utm_term=.88eb1b2db522

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of both men and women worldwide, learn how to identify risk factors such as smoking and chronic inflammation, Cenegenics can help you reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke with the Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention program

Healthy Heart: What is Heart Disease? Preventive Steps and Recognizing Symptoms

Wellness encompasses a healthy body, a sound mind, and a tranquil spirit. Enjoy the journey as you strive for wellness

Laurette Gagnon Beaulieu

What Is A Heart Disease?

Heart disease is a blanket term used to refer to coronary disease. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a broad term encompassing diseases of the heart and blood vessels, including:

  • Heart attack
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Congestive heart failure and 
  • Stroke

Because CVD is the number-one killer of both men and women worldwide, identifying risk factors and prevention strategies for CVD are important steps toward avoiding health problems.

Preventing Heart Disease


Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention Program banner from Cenegenics

In adults, heart disease causes 25% of all deaths in the United States each year. While some genetic factors can lead many of us to a predisposition toward heart disease, there are several lifestyle choices and patterns of behavior that can greatly increase your risk.

Of the critical risk factors that can contribute to the development of heart disease over the course of your life, the top four are:

  1. High cholesterol
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Smoking
  4. Chronic inflammation

Secondary factors that can impact the health of your blood vessels include:

  1. Obesity
  2. Poor nutrition 
  3. Inactivity
  4. Excessive alcohol intake
  5. Diabetes

If you've already been diagnosed with heart disease, there are many factors you can address to reduce your risk of a heart attack.

Reducing Your Risk of Heart Attack


Arterial damage doesn't mean that you are doomed to a heart attack in the future, but it does mean that preventing heart attack will need to become a focus of your daily habits if you want to improve your coronary future. The American Heart Association offers a thorough checklist of changes after your first heart attack, but there's no reason you can't implement them earlier!

  1. Quit smoking. Contact your physician for any medications you can safely take to help you reduce withdrawal pangs. Build a new habit to replace the time you spent smoking.
  2. Move more. Start small by parking further from the store, or taking one flight of stairs instead of the elevator.
  3. Manage your current illnesses obsessively. Don't let diabetes or high blood pressure get out of control.
  4. Find ways to de-stress. This may mean playing with kittens at the Humane Society or taking a painting class. Feed your inner child!

Stopping Heart Disease


In addition to the four steps listed above, making a change in our diet can reduce your risk of a major cardiac event in the future. Increasing dietary fiber by increasing your consumption of fruit, vegetables, and unrefined whole grains may lessen the risk of future arterial damage and increase your chance of long-term coronary health. While switching to a vegan diet may be too large a jump for some, a Mediterranean-style diet is an easier (and delicious) change.

Get Tested


If you have a family history of heart disease, detailed testing of your current cardiac condition and personal genetic risk are critical, both for yourself and your offspring. By studying your current condition, future risks and corrective options now, you can plan for a future of bountiful health.

Cenegenics offers a Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program for current and new clients. Visit Cenegenics.com and sign up for your complimentary consultation.

Next Steps to Preventing Heart Disease


FREE Consultation

Our world class physicians create a personalized plan to help you feel 10+ years younger. You'll be more energetic, lose weight, sleep better, have more libido, and think more clearly. Click below to schedule a free consultation with one of our physicians. It's quick + easy. 

About the Contributor

Rudy Inaba 
Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise

Rudy Inaba is Cenegenics’ Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise. He is a recognized fitness and sports nutrition consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in clinical exercise physiology and lifestyle management. After pursuing his Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Rudy joined Cenegenics where he leads 20 clinical locations nationwide in their advancements in kinesiology, nutritional biochemistry, and their analyses of industry research & market trending.

Global Health Leader Launches Uniquely Advanced Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention Program, Centered on Next Generation Medicine

LAS VEGAS, NV (PRWEB) JANUARY 24, 2012

Cenegenics® Medical Institute launched a unique Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention Program this month that sets a new benchmark for preventive health, announced the age management medicine global leader. Partnering with three cardio-diagnostic leaders—Panasonic Healthcare Group, Berkeley HeartLab and Cleveland HeartLab™—Cenegenics created the most advanced program, combining the best aspects of the nation’s top laboratories who screen for cardiovascular disease. No other practice does that.

Cardiovascular disease claims more lives ever year than all cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s or accidents, per the AHA’s 2011 Heart Disease/Stroke update. Cenegenics is targeting the disease head on with next generation medicine and an innovative program designed by four experts in the field: Dr. Robert D. Willix, Jr., a former cardiovascular surgeon and Cenegenics’ Chief Medical Officer; and three cardiologists, Dr. George Shapiro (Cenegenics New York City), Dr. Cesar Pellerano (Cenegenics Miami) and Dr. Ernst Schwarz (professor of Medicine, UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine).

“Up until now, Cenegenics has focused entirely on age management medicine and proactive health. Our new Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention Program with an advanced screening technology is our first endeavor to not only target an illness, but show how our Cenegenics program can reduce the development of disease,” Willix said.

Cenegenics’ Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention Program is available to everyone, patient or not, and is recommended for a wide age group.

  •     Critical for future health—if you have a family history of heart disease or stroke
  •     Avoid future events—if you’ve had cardiovascular disease or had bypass surgery, heart attack or stroke
  •     Life saving—for everyone regardless of age, from 13 to 60 or older

“Can you prevent premature death, a heart attack or stroke? Yes, but you’ve got to know the warning signs. Cenegenics helps you do that with our unique Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention Program, which includes genetic screening, advanced lipid panels, laboratory markers for plaque formation and assessments for inflammatory markers—a cause of cardiovascular disease leading to tissue damage, organ destruction, shift in the cellular matrix as well as potential blood clots and heart attacks,” Willix said.

 

Learn more about Cenegenics’ Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention Program by calling 888.412.8769.

 

Visit Cenegenics’ Facebook Fan page, follow them on Twitter and get patient celebrity blogs, health tips and news on their portal site, CenegenicsPost.

For more information about Cenegenics, please visit them online, where you can register for quick access to the online Cenegenics Healthy Aging Kit: informative Guide to Healthy Aging, Executive Summary and media excerpts.

Physicians can learn more about age management medicine directly by calling Cenegenics: Or visit the Cenegenics physician site to learn more about Cenegenics’ highly regarded, CME-accredited Physician Training & Certification in Age Management Medicine program.

About Cenegenics


Cenegenics® Medical Institute has forged a paradigm shift in medicine, developing a proactive medical approach for optimized health hailed as “next generation medicine” and garnering worldwide media attention. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Cenegenics serves over 20,000 patients globally—2,000 are physicians and their families. Cenegenics has 19 centers with others opening in the near future: Las Vegas, Nevada; Charleston, South Carolina; Boca Raton, Florida; Dallas, Texas; Arlington, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Beverly Hills, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Washington, DC; New York City, NY; Tulsa, OK; Jacksonville, FL; Atlantic City, NJ; Houston,TX; Denver, CO; Scottsdale, AZ; Boston, MA. Cenegenics also offers CME-accredited physician training and certification opportunities in age management medicine via the nonprofit Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation (CERF).More from our newsroom

cholesterol build up in arteries blocking significant blood flow

The Main Causes of High Cholesterol | Road Map to a Heart Attack

Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.

Winston S. Churchill

High cholesterol is very common in the U.S., but being commonplace doesn’t make it any less serious. While 95 million U.S. adults over the age of 20 are believed to have high cholesterol, it’s possible there are many more undiagnosed cases. [1] Oftentimes, people who have high cholesterol don’t know they have it. This is concerning considering the fact that high cholesterol is associated with serious health issues such as heart attack and stroke.

Despite its widespread nature, there are many things most of us don’t know about cholesterol. From understanding the differences between “good” and “bad” cholesterol to determining what you can do to improve your levels, there’s a lot to learn about this health phenomenon. Luckily, even if you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol or have a family history of the condition, there are many risk factors within your power to change. Explore what you need to know about high cholesterol below.

What is High Cholesterol?


Cholesterol is a waxy substance naturally produced by the liver. It’s a type of lipid which is crucial to the development of cell membranes, vitamin D, and key hormones. Yet, while it plays a critical role in these functions, having high cholesterol can be dangerous—particularly when there’s too much “bad” cholesterol. Thus, to understand the ways in which cholesterol can impact our health, it’s important to first explore the different types.

Types of Cholesterol

Because cholesterol can’t dissolve or move through blood on its own, it must be attached to proteins to be transported throughout the body successfully. The combination of cholesterol and proteins is referred to as a lipoprotein. There are two main forms of lipoproteins:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): Also known as the “bad” type of cholesterol, LDL carries particles of cholesterol through the blood. It can also accumulate within the artery walls, causing them to harden and narrow.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL): Commonly referred to as the “good” cholesterol, HDL carries excess cholesterol back to the liver. 

If your body has too much LDL, you could face an increased risk for serious health issues. Alarmingly, however, high cholesterol exhibits no symptoms, and the only way to test for high cholesterol is to have a blood draw.

Causes of High Cholesterol


Mature man eating donut while holding a second donut in his hand

The causes of high cholesterol span far and wide. Some contributing factors are within an individual’s control to change, while others are not. For example, while diet, weight, and exercise levels can influence HDL, factors such as age, gender, and genes can also contribute to LDL or HDL levels. Thus, the best way to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and thus support better cardiovascular health, is to focus on the factors within your control to change. Let’s take a closer look at the causes behind high cholesterol.

  • Diet: Cholesterol comes from two sources. While the liver produces all the cholesterol the body needs, we also take in cholesterol from foods derived from animals. This isn’t to say that eating meat or dairy products is bad for you. Foods with trans fats, however, cause the liver to produce even more cholesterol, which can lead to high cholesterol levels in some individuals. In addition to heavily processed animal products with trans fats, many baked goods can also trigger the liver to produce excess cholesterol. [5] 
  • Exercise Habits: Having a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to high LDL cholesterol. Regular aerobic activity, in particular, can help control LDL and in some cases promote healthy HDL levels. [6]
  • Weight: A large waist circumference and obesity are also associated with high cholesterol. [7]
  • Smoking: Smoking can lower your good HDL cholesterol, but it can compromise cardiovascular health in many other ways. In itself, smoking can increase the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels, damage the cells that line the blood vessels, and cause the vessels to thicken and narrow. [8]
  • Age & Gender: Cholesterol levels tend to rise naturally as we age. Prior to menopause, women’s total cholesterol levels tend to be lower than their male peers. After reaching menopause, however, their LDL cholesterol levels tend to rise, and HDL may also decrease. [9]
  • Hereditary Factors: Genetics play a role in the amount of cholesterol the body produces. High cholesterol can run in families, so individuals with relatives who have high cholesterol should be especially proactive in getting their levels checked.

Dangers of High Cholesterol


mature man gripping chest while sitting on couch in pain, mature man having heart attack on couch at home alone

Having high LDL cholesterol increases the risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. [2] Heart disease refers to a range of conditions which can affect the heart, many of which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Also known as hypercholesterolemia, high LDL increases fatty deposits within the arteries, thereby also increasing the risk of blockages. When cholesterol builds up on the artery walls, it forms what’s known as a cholesterol plaque. This plaque can restrict blood flow, also increasing risk for blood clot. Should a blood clot block the artery in the heart or brain, it can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

The good news is that high cholesterol can be treated with medication and managed through lifestyle modifications. First, however, you must know where you stand. Here is a general scale of LDL cholesterol numbers and what they mean.

  • Less than 100: optimal
  • 100-129: near optimal
  • 130-159: borderline
  • 160-189: high
  • 190 or higher: very high [3]

Keep in mind that in addition to having high LDL, having low HDL (again, the “good” cholesterol) can also put you at risk for heart disease. Thus, this too should be measured, with an ideal score of 60 or more. If HDL is less than 40, it could be considered a risk factor. [4]

The American Heart Association advises every adult over the age of 20 to have their cholesterol tested every four to six years, but these figures will vary based on the factors outlined above and on previous clinical indications.

Should high cholesterol be discovered in your blood test results, there are many ways to begin controlling it.

How to Lower Cholesterol Levels


Mature couple jogging and running outdoors in the city, Mature couple carrying reusable water bottles while jogging through the city

Lifestyle and diet changes are among the most effective ways to prevent and lower LDL. Additionally, if you’re a smoker and haven’t already done so, make a plan to quit. Here, we’ll explore some detailed changes that work well for lowering LDL cholesterol.

Dietary Changes

While there are many wise eating habits you can incorporate into your dietary plan to improve cholesterol levels, the lowest cholesterol levels are found in diets with the highest soluble fibers. [10] Diets high in soluble fiber often align with the typical anti-inflammatory diet, which emphasize foods like kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, and apples. Soluble fiber has the ability to reduce cholesterol absorption in the blood, making it a powerful nutrient for individuals with high LDL cholesterol. [11]

Additionally, eliminating trans fats found in margarine and store-bought, processed snack foods can help to reduce cholesterol. Individuals may also wish to incorporate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts, flaxseeds, salmon, and mackerel. While these foods won’t affect LDL cholesterol themselves, they do have other cardiovascular benefits, such as the ability to help reduce blood pressure.

Exercise

Regular physical activity can support better cholesterol by increasing HDL. [12] Generally, most individuals can benefit from 30 minutes of exercise five times per week, or 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise three times a week. With that being said, it’s important for each person to work with an experienced physician who can make exercise recommendations based on the individual’s starting physical health.

Losing weight is another helpful way to control cholesterol, which can often be achieved with a strategic approach to dieting and exercising. Reducing alcohol consumption may also help to control cholesterol levels.

In some cases, medications may be needed in conjunction with the lifestyle and dietary changes described above to control especially high cholesterol levels. Even if medications are needed, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help keep medication doses as low as possible. 

Understanding Your Risk for High Cholesterol – In Conclusion


Because it exhibits no outward symptoms, high cholesterol is a dangerous threat to health, which can have serious implications if left unaddressed. Its impact on heart health cannot be overstated, and while there are some factors which are beyond an individual’s control to change, many behaviors that influence cholesterol can be modified.

At Cenegenics, your individualized treatment plan begins with a comprehensive lab panel to test for underlying health issues, such as high LDL or low LDL cholesterol. Based on the findings, our clinical team devises tailored roadmaps to help you become healthier and enjoy a better overall quality of life. For instance, while our approach to healthy eating and exercise will certainly help to lower high cholesterol with ongoing compliance, it can also support weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, and reduced risk for disease. With the knowledge that the many measures of health are complex and often interconnected, we treat the entire patient, not just a single symptom or isolated condition.

If you’re interested in controlling your cholesterol and optimizing your wellness overall, contact your nearest Cenegenics location for more information.

Next Steps to Controlling Your Cholesterol

FREE
Consultation

Our world class physicians create a personalized plan to help you feel 10+ years younger. You'll be more energetic, lose weight, sleep better, have more libido, and think more clearly. Click below to schedule a free consultation with one of our physicians. It's quick + easy. 

About the Contributor

Rudy Inaba 
Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise

Rudy Inaba is Cenegenics’ Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise. He is a recognized fitness and sports nutrition consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in clinical exercise physiology and lifestyle management. After pursuing his Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Rudy joined Cenegenics where he leads 20 clinical locations nationwide in their advancements in kinesiology, nutritional biochemistry, and their analyses of industry research & market trending.

Key Resources

This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources: 

Textbook of Age Management Medicine Vol.1

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

Textbook of Age Management Medicine Vol.2

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 2: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

Textbook Authors:

Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT

Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.

Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS

Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.

References

[1] CDC, “High Cholesterol Facts.” 6 Feb. 2019. Retrieved from URL: https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm 

[2] CDC; see above.

[3] Cleveland Clinic, “Cholesterol Numbers: What Do They Mean.” 26 July 2017. Retrieved from URL: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11920-cholesterol-numbers-what-do-they-mean

[4] Cleveland Clinic, see above.

[5] American Heart Association, “Control Your Cholesterol.” 30 Apr. 2017. Retrieved from URL: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/about-cholesterol

[6] Bhatt, Ami, MD, FACC. “Cholesterol: Understanding HDL vs. LDL.” Harvard Health. 12 Apr. 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/understanding-cholesterol-hdl-vs-ldl-2018041213608

[7] Bhatt, Ami; see above.

[8] CDC, “Smoking and Heart Disease and Stroke.” 28 Jan. 2019. Retrieved from URL: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/heart-disease-stroke.html

[9] Cleveland Clinic; see above.

[10] Leake, Jeffrey Park, M.D., CPT and Greenberg, Todd David, M.D., CSCS. The Textbook of Age Management Medicine: Volume 1. 2015, Leake-Greenberg Ventures. (125)

[11] Mayo Clinic. “Top 5 lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol.” 11 Aug. 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/reduce-cholesterol/art-20045935

[12] Mayo Clinic; see above.

Mature male in business suit stretching his back as he sits at desk

The Link Between Chronic Inflammation & Deadly Diseases

Reduce inflammation to treat the root of many issues. If your gut isn't working right it can cause so many other issues.

Dan Millman

Acute inflammation is part of the body’s immune response and is a natural way to defend against harmful stimuli. Without it, wounds and infection wouldn’t be able to heal. Yet, there’s another type of inflammation which occurs on an ongoing basis –chronic inflammation – that has serious health implications.

Chronic inflammation is central to many chronic conditions and ailments – especially those that are more likely to develop with age. Thus, controlling inflammation is integral to maintaining a long, healthy life.

Although we have many bits and pieces of data on inflammation, we have yet to put the complex puzzle together. For instance, while we know inflammatory factors influence our health, we still don’t know the exact degree to which each factor affects us.

What we do know, however, is that inflammation is inextricably linked to disease, and that tools that can help resolve inflammatory issues are invaluable for improving our quality of life. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the critical implications of inflammation, as well as ways to control it.

The Dangers of Chronic Inflammation


Acute inflammation takes place when your body is exposed to toxins, injuries, and infections. The immune system releases inflammatory cells to heal tissue, and blood vessels leak fluid to the affected area. This results in the telltale symptoms of redness, pain, and swelling.

Mature man with beard gripping chest while support himself on mint green wall

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is systemic and affects a number of functions throughout the body. It’s characterized by inflammatory cells within the blood vessels, which allow dangerous plaque to accumulate. This spurs a vicious cycle in which the body sends more inflammatory responders (white blood cells) to combat the plaque.

The plaque continues to accumulate, thickening the artery walls and increasing the risk for heart attack or stroke. [1] One inflammatory protein in particular, interleukin-6 receptor, appears to be involved in the development of plaque in the arteries. [2]

Another biomarker of inflammation is high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, or CRP. This protein is produced by the liver when widespread inflammation occurs throughout the body. Large elevations of CRP are commonly related to acute responses in the immune system, but can also indicate disease. In specific, continuous, slightly elevated levels of CRP are commonly associated with chronic inflammatory risk factors.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that chronic inflammation also plays a role in the constituents of what has been termed “metabolic syndrome,” or the constellation of disorders that precedes the formal diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Metabolic syndrome is an intermediary state of one or more conditions which may include obesity, a trend toward insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Chronic Inflammatory Diseases


Beyond cardiovascular issues, inflammation raises concerns as a risk factor for other diseases. For example, in autoimmune conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, the immune cells attack the digestive tract, targeting even the healthy bacteria living in the gut. While experts remain unsure exactly why only certain individuals have this response, it appears to be a result of combined genetic, environmental, and dietary factors. Stress management and taking antibiotics may contribute to risk too.

When it occurs in the joints, inflammation can also cause damaging conditions such as psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Stiffness and pain can occur, and because the conditions are chronic; there is no lasting cure, although lifestyle management techniques may help.

Conditions of Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation contributes to the following damaging conditions: 

  • Psoriatic arthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Stiffness and pain

  • Increased risk of cancer

  • Weakened immune system

  • Breathing issues

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

  • Infection

  • Asthma

  • Periodontal disease

  • Alzheimer's disease

  • Lupus

  • Depression

Indeed, the potential implications of chronic inflammation span far and wide. A significant amount of research has been conducted exploring the link between inflammation and disease. Although further, more conclusive studies must still be done, here are some of the most noteworthy observations to bear in mind:

  • High levels of inflammation may increase risk of cancer. Specifically, inflammatory diets have been linked to a 63% increase in colorectal cancer risk. When immune cells produce inflammation it impacts the body’s ability to regulate the immune response, allowing diseases like cancer to thrive. [3]
  • When seen in the lungs, inflammation can cause serious breathing issues including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), infection, and asthma. [4]
  • Inflammation is seen in periodontal disease, which is also thought to be a precursor of heart disease. When inflammation occurs in the mouth, it’s typically a response to bacteria which can be found elsewhere in the body. [5]
  • Inflammation in the brain is believed to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Originally, it was believed that inflammation couldn’t affect the brain due to the blood-brain barrier. Now, however, scientists know that immune cells do infiltrate the brain when a person becomes distressed. [6]
  • Chronic inflammation has also been associated with a host of other conditions, including lupus and potentially even depression. [7]

Based on these insights, the case for controlling chronic inflammation is compelling. Yet, to know how to combat it, we must first understand where it comes from.

Where Does Inflammation Come From?

Unfortunately, identifying the precise factors that lead to inflammation and why some people appear to be more sensitive to them than others isn’t so simple. What is clear, however, is that diet appears to be one of the most significant influencers. In particular, inflammatory factors parallel glycemic load and insulin sensitivity. While glycemic load refers to carbohydrates’ impact on the body and blood sugar, insulin sensitivity is a measure of how sensitive the cells are to insulin.

Thus, the National Health Service’s finding that a diet with a high content of processed foods, such as soft drinks, refined grains, and processed meats, is correlated with inflammatory biomarker levels makes perfect sense. Processed foods are typically high in chemical additives, which is why low-inflammation diets prescribe avoidance of them.

It isn’t just food that can elicit an inflammatory response, however. Chronic stress, obesity, smoking, and alcohol are also thought to trigger inflammation. Long-term exposure to irritants, including pollution or industrial chemicals, can also contribute. [8]

With this in mind, we’ll review some effective ways to control inflammation in the next section.

How to Control Inflammation


What Can You Do to Control Inflammation

The body's inflammatory response can be regulated by the following: 

  • Improve diet

  • Quit smoking

  • Manage stress

  • Improve sleep quality

  • Exercise regimen

As mentioned above, not all inflammation is bad, but in the interest of wellness and disease prevention controlling chronic inflammation is essential. This often requires a number of lifestyle adjustments. Primarily, the following factors appear to have the most significant impact on regulating the body’s inflammatory response. 

Diet

Mature woman cutting peppers in home kitchen with colorful vegetables layed out in front of board

Today, there are many variations of low inflammatory diets. In particular, diets low in carbohydrates have shown to significantly reduce inflammation, especially in obese individuals. [9] Additionally, the Mediterranean and DASH diets can help to lower inflammation levels.

Anti-inflammatory foods such as those rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, including nuts and the spices ginger and curry, should be prioritized, while known pro-inflammatory foods including refined and processed foods (especially carbohydrates) should be avoided.

Smoking

Mature man in stripped business suit smoking a cigar

The impact of smoking on immunity is complex, with both harmful inflammatory responses and immune system suppression taking place. [10] The toxic effects of smoking are too far-reaching to list, which is why anyone who hasn’t already done so should develop a plan to quit.

Stress

Mature blonde woman gripping forehead due to headache

The body’s natural fight or flight reaction helped our ancestors respond quickly to threats, and it’s also what helps us perform well under pressure today. Yet, stress also triggers hormonal responses linked to inflammation, which is why chronic stress and inflammation go hand-in-hand. Thus, finding healthy ways to control stress is key in staying healthy and minimizing disease risk.

Sleep

Mature man sleeping in bed with white sheets

Several pro-inflammatory markers are associated with sleep duration, and inflammation can result from even one night of missed sleep. For each hour of sleep deprivation, inflammatory markers increase by 8%. [11] The link between sleep duration and cardiovascular disease may be stronger than we previously thought, so diagnosing and addressing any sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is critically important to long-term health.

Exercise

Mature man and woman jogging in park while listening to music

One of the most critical pieces of the inflammation puzzle, exercise is perhaps the best tool we have alongside diet for reducing chronic inflammation. While fat is an inflammatory organ, muscle is an anti-inflammatory organ. Just 20 minutes of exercise per day can suppress the activation of pro-inflammatory agents in the body. [12] Working out consistently also reduces mortality, CVD, osteoporosis, and breast cancer risk, while also improving cognition.

Understanding and Controlling Chronic Inflammation – In Conclusion


It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the factors contributing to inflammation, and the many serious conditions to which it’s linked. Nonetheless, age management specialists like our clinicians at Cenegenics are committed to taking a comprehensive approach to help you manage your body’s inflammatory response.

With tailored exercise and dietary programs as well as robust blood panels and diagnostics, our experts pinpoint any concerns tied to inflammation and offer detailed, individualized solutions to help you optimize both your current health and long-term wellness.

If you’re interested in exploring how Cenegenics can help you combat chronic inflammation, contact your nearest center today.

Next Steps in Understanding Chronic Inflammation

FREE
Consultation

Our world class physicians create a personalized plan to help you feel 10+ years younger. You'll be more energetic, lose weight, sleep better, have more libido, and think more clearly. Click below to schedule a free consultation with one of our physicians. It's quick + easy. 

About the Contributor

Rudy Inaba 
Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise

Rudy Inaba is Cenegenics’ Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise. He is a recognized fitness and sports nutrition consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in clinical exercise physiology and lifestyle management. After pursuing his Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Rudy joined Cenegenics where he leads 20 clinical locations nationwide in their advancements in kinesiology, nutritional biochemistry, and their analyses of industry research & market trending.

Key Resources

This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources: 

Textbook of Age Management Medicine Vol. 1

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

Textbook of Age Management Medicine Vol. 2

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 2: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

Textbook Authors:

Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT

Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.

Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS

Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.

References

[1] DiCorleto, Paul, PhD. “Why You Should Pay Attention to Chronic Inflammation.” Cleveland Clinic. 14 Oct. 2014. Retrieved from URL: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-you-should-pay-attention-to-chronic-inflammation/

[2] Nadeem Sarwar, et al. “interleukin-6 receptor pathways in coronary heart disease: a collaborative meta-analysis of 82 studies.” The Lancet. 31 Mar. 2012. Retrieved from URL: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(11)61931-4/fulltext

[3] Fred K. Tabung, MSPH, PhD, et al. “Association of Dietary Inflammatory Potential With Colorectal Cancer Risk in Men and Women.” JAMA Oncology. March 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaoncology/article-abstract/2669777

[4] MacMillan, Amanda. “13 Ways Inflammation Can Affect Your Health.” Health.com 04 March 2015. Retrieved from URL: https://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20898778,00.html?slide=91725#91725

[5] MacMillan, see above.

[6] Cleveland Clinic, see above.

[7] Anft, Michael. “Understanding Inflammation.” Johns Hopkins Health Review. Spring/Summer 2016. Retrieved from URL: https://www.johnshopkinshealthreview.com/issues/spring-summer-2016/articles/understanding-inflammation

[8] Han, Seunggu, MD. “Understanding and Managing Chronic Inflammation.” Healthline. 27 Jul. 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-inflammation

[9] Y. Gu, et al. “Very low carbohydrate diet significantly alters the serum metabolic profiles in obese subjects.” Journal of Proteome Research. 6 Dec. 2013. Retrieved from URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24224694

[10] J. Lee, et al. “Cigarette Smoking and Inflammation.” Journal of Dental Research. Feb. 2012. Retrieved from URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3261116/

[11] Leake, Jeffrey Park, M.D., CPT and Greenberg, Todd David, M.D., CSCS. The Textbook of Age Management Medicine: Volume 1. Leake-Greenberg Ventures, LLC. 2015. p. 335.

[12] Stoyan Dimitrov, et al. “Inflammation and exercise: Inhibition of monocytic intracellular TNF production by acute exercise via β2-andrenergic activation.” Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Vol. 61, March 2017. Retrieved from URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159116305645

Doctor holding in hand Immune System

Immune System: An In-Depth Look into the Key Components

“Optimal functioning of the immune system, it turns out, is dependent upon feeling good.”           

Marcey Shapiro

Your immune system is your body’s natural defense against illness, and it also kicks in to lead charge over the healing process when you become injured. While we are born with many natural tools that support immune function, we can also strengthen it with tactics such as strategic lifestyle habits.

As the team which has pioneered the medical specialty of age management medicine, Cenegenics is committed to helping patients do everything they can to stay protected against serious illness. For this reason, we take a highly scientific approach to perfectly tuning the body at the cellular level, optimizing overall functioning, including the immune system. Find out more about how your immune system works below and what you can do to make it even stronger.

How Does the Immune System Work?


The core role of the immune system is to prevent against or control infections. It can differentiate among healthy cells and those that pose a threat with the ability to recognize danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). These cells may be dangerous due to infection or other types of damage, such as cancer. Infections, including viruses, also release signals called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs), which the immune system recognizes as well.

At the first sign of these issues, the immune system responds to combat the illness or other damage-causing agents. If it can’t activate properly, issues like infection occur. Yet, issues also develop if the immune system is activated when it shouldn’t be, as seen in conditions such as autoimmune disorders and allergies. The immune system must therefore function optimally to maintain health. [1]

Key Components of the Immune System


The immune system is complex and far-reaching, encompassing many different cell types which each have a specific role. With that being said, every immune cell originates from precursors in bone marrow and ultimately develops into a mature cell through changes which take place throughout the body. Here are the key players in the body’s immunity:

  • Skin: The first barrier against harmful agents, skin cells create antimicrobial proteins. Each layer of skin has its own specific set of immune cells.
  • Bone marrow: Stem cells, the powerful cells which can give rise to various cell types, are found within the bone marrow. The common myeloid progenitor stem cell can transform into innate immune cells, which act as the first-line response system against infection. Common lymphoid progenitor stem cells, on the other hand, give rise to adaptive immune cells, including B cells and T cells, which create responses to microbes which the body has encountered in the past.
  • Bloodstream: Immune cells travel via the bloodstream, staying on the lookout for issues. Physicians use blood drawings to look for white blood cells (immune cells), which can provide insights into overall immune system health.
  • Thymus: A small, specialized organ located in the upper chest, the thymus is the maturation site for T cells.
  • Lymphatic system: A system through which tissues and the bloodstream communicate, the lymphatic system features lymphoid organs, vessels, and tissues. Immune cells flow through the lymphatic system to meet in the lymph nodes, which have multiple locations throughout the body. In this central hub, immune cells share information, such as the recognition of a microbe, which can trigger a response of activation and replication.
  • Spleen: The spleen enriches immune cells, and if pathogens are present in the blood, they will activate in this key organ, which is located behind the stomach.
  • Mucosal tissue: Mucosal tissue in areas such as the respiratory tract and intestines house specialized immune hubs. The gut, for example, is home to Peyer’s patches, where immune cells assess samples to look for pathogens. [2]

What Can Affect Your Immune System?


In certain individuals, the immune system doesn’t work properly due to an immune system disorder. There are several factors that can impact immune system functionality, including:

  • Primary immune deficiency: a person is born with a weakened immune system
  • Acquired immune deficiency: a person gets a disease that weakens the immune system, such as HIV or hepatitis C [3]
  • Allergic reaction: an individual’s immune system overreacts, as seen in food and seasonal allergies
  • Autoimmune disease: the immune system turns against someone, as seen in rheumatoid arthritis [4]

Under normal circumstances, the immune system responds to issues like injuries and illness through acute inflammation. The blood vessels dilate, resulting in redness and swelling, so that white blood cells can swarm the affected area and promote healing. The damaged tissue releases cytokines, or emergency signals, which recruit immune cells, hormones, and nutrients to address the issue. As healing takes place, the acute inflammation fades.

Yet, if inflammation lasts too long or occurs when it’s not needed, chronic inflammation ensues. Also known as persistent, low-grade inflammation, chronic inflammation may have long-term effects throughout the whole body. It results in a consistent, low levels of inflammation which are detected by increases in system markers in the blood. Systemic inflammation has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and autoimmune conditions such as lupus. [5]

Aside from medical issues that prevent the immune system from working as it should, there are several other factors that impact immune system functionality and potentially trigger chronic inflammation, such as:

  • Stress: Researchers suspect chronic stress, spurring from issues such as relationships and work, can take its toll on the immune system, potentially contributing to issues like heart disease over time.
  • Diet: Like other systems in your body, the immune system requires sound nutrition to function well. Experts have witnessed altered immune system responses in test subjects with micronutrient deficiencies, suggesting an important link between diet and immune system health. This link appears to be particularly strong in older adults. [6]
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Neglecting physical activity and sitting too much can impede your body’s ability to fight infection. Inactivity has been shown to impair the immune system and lead to inflammation and chronic illness. [7]
  • Alcohol: Excessive drinking can impair the immune system’s ability to respond to pathogens. A major metabolite of alcohol, acetaldehyde, appears to impact the lungs’ ciliary function, leaving individuals more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections. [8]
  • Nicotine: Smoking both traditional and e-cigarettes increases cortisol levels and restricts the formation and response of B and T cells. [9]

Fortunately, just as there are many lifestyle factors that can impede immunity, there are also ways you can adjust your habits to boost your immune system.

Strengthen Your Immune System


Futuristic immune system protection with glowing low polygonal shield, virus and bacteria cells.

While your body already has lines of defense in place to ward off illness, you can still strengthen the immune system with the following simple practices.

  • Get ample sleep. Lack of sleep interferes with the production of white blood cells, so aim for at least 7 hours per night. [10]
  • Eat a nutritious diet. Give your body the nutrients it needs by incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats into your meals.
  • Perform moderate, regular exercise. Strenuous exercise practiced on an ongoing basis can exhaust the body, leaving it more susceptible to infection. [11] Instead, stick with consistent, moderate physical activity, which reduces your risk of catching viruses. [12]
  • Find healthy stress management practices. Develop relaxation techniques, such as taking a walk, meditating, or journaling, to alleviate cortisol-inducing stress. 
  • Practice good hygiene. One of the simplest but most effective ways to control germs is washing your hands frequently, including before meals. Avoid touching your face whenever possible.
  • Regularly disinfect household objects. Wipe down key surface areas such as doorknobs, countertops and tables, and remote controls.
  • Consider supplements. There are a number of key nutrients which support optimal immune system functionality, including C, D, and E, vitamins, among others. Introducing a nutraceutical regimen into your routine at the discretion of a trusted physician could help to strengthen your immune function.
  • Limit alcohol. If you drink, do so only in moderation.

Understanding the Importance of a Healthy Immune System - In Conclusion


Optimal immune function is critically important to keeping you protected against everything from the common cold to serious illness. Cenegenics patients have the unique advantages of working closely with their physician and clinical teams to improve biomarkers that influence immunity, including those related to chronic inflammation, insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular and pulmonary function, and more.

By improving these metrics, incorporating the lifestyle factors mentioned above, and utilizing nutraceuticals that include, but are not limited to, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, zinc, and Vitamin C, Cenegenics strengthens patients’ immune function to prepare them for seasonal and other illnesses.

Within just 30 to 60 days on our program, patients begin to feel dramatically better. Their biological age is rebalanced to where it was in their 20s and 30s, and they become better equipped to fight off illness both now and into the future. In fact, so many people trust our ability to optimize their wellness that a quarter of our patient base is made up of doctors and their family members. One of our doctors has even written the textbook on age management which other physicians now study. See what all of our patients have to say about their experience with the program by visiting the Cenegenics reviews page, or call your nearest location to discuss our exclusive Elite Health Evaluation, Cenegenics cost, and benefits of the program.

Next Steps – Reinforce your Immune Health

FREE
Consultation

Our world class physicians create a personalized plan to help you feel 10+ years younger. You'll be more energetic, lose weight, sleep better, have more libido, and think more clearly. Click below to schedule a free consultation with one of our physicians. It's quick + easy. 

About the Contributor

Rudy Inaba 
Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise

Rudy Inaba is Cenegenics’ Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise. He is a recognized fitness and sports nutrition consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in clinical exercise physiology and lifestyle management. After pursuing his Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Rudy joined Cenegenics where he leads 20 clinical locations nationwide in their advancements in kinesiology, nutritional biochemistry, and their analyses of industry research & market trending.

Key Resources

This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources: 

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 2: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

Textbook Authors:

Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT

Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.

Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS

Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.

References

[1] Overview of the Immune System. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Derived from: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/research/immune-system-overview

[2] See above. Derived from: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/research/immune-system-overview

[3] The Many Causes Of Immune Deficiency. German Society for Immunology. Derived from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090914111540.htm

[4] Immune System Disorders. University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester, NY. Derived from:  https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=123&ContentTypeID=134

[5] What Is Inflammation? Szalay, Jessie. LiveScience. Derived from: https://www.livescience.com/52344-inflammation.html

[6] How to boost your immune system. Harvard Medical School. Derived from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system  

[7] Sedentary Behavior and Adiposity-Associated Inflammation The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. A. Allison, Matthew MD, MPH, Jensky, Nicole E. PhD, Marshall, Simon J., PhD, Bertoni, Alain G. , MD, MPH, and Cushman, Mary MD. National Institute of Medicine. Derived from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3244676/

[8] 9 Surprising Ways You’re Weakening Your Immune System. Dallas, Mary Elizabeth and Marcellin, Lindsey MD, MPH. Everyday Health. Derived from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/9-surprising-ways-youre-weakening-your-immune-system/

[9] See above. Derived from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/9-surprising-ways-youre-weakening-your-immune-system/

[10] Sleep deprivation effect on the immune system mirrors physical stress. National Sleep Foundation. Derived from: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-deprivation-effect-immune-system-mirrors-physical-stress

[11] The immune system and overtraining in athletes: clinical implications. AC Hackney and Koltun KJ. National Institute of Health. Derived from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23540172

[12] Evaluation of immune response after moderate and overtraining exercise in wistar rat. Zahra Gholamnezhad, Abolfazl Khajavi Rad, Mohammad Hossein Boskabady, Mahmoud Hosseini, and Mojtaba Sankian. National Institutes of Health. Derived from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3938879/    

red-haired middle aged woman smiling into camera

Menopause: Symptoms, Complications, and What You Can Do

They say that age is all in your mind.  The trick is keeping it from creeping down into your body.

Anonymous

Hot flashes, insomnia, and mood changes: chances are, if you’re a woman in her 40s or 50s, you’ve recognized these symptoms as the telltale signs of menopause. Of course, there are many other, seldom talked-about symptoms which can also disrupt your routine, from diminishing libido to cognitive changes and a decline in mental acuity. All of these factors can significantly impact your quality of life. Unfortunately, in many cases, women simply push through and deal with the discomfort.

With Cenegenics, that doesn’t have to be the case. We’re the pioneers behind the medical specialty of age management; in fact, one of our physicians even wrote the book on it, which other doctors use to study optimal health through aging. We’re therefore exceptionally well-versed in the aging processes — including menopause. Fortunately, this also means we know how to control its frustrating symptoms. Discover more about what menopause is and the symptoms it causes below.

What Is Menopause?


Menopause is the natural end to a woman’s menstrual cycles. By medical standards, a woman is considered to have “hit menopause” once she’s gone 12 months without any periods. Yet, there can be months or even years leading up to this timeframe (called perimenopause), during which you experience a litany of uncomfortable symptoms. The average age for menopause in the U.S. is 52, but it can occur any time during a woman’s 40s or 50s. [1]

Menopause occurs as a result of the natural decrease of reproductive hormones by the ovaries. In specific, estrogen and progesterone production declines, resulting in a loss of fertility and variations in menstrual periods. Undergoing a hysterectomy can also prompt menopause, especially if the ovaries are removed in addition to the uterus (considered a total hysterectomy). In such cases, the symptoms of menopause may be severe, as hormonal changes are brought on abruptly instead of over the course of years. [2]

In a way, the frustrating part about menopause is that it isn’t considered a disease or disorder; rather, it’s a natural process. Yet, its symptoms can feel very much like that of a chronic disease, stretching on for seven to 14 years. [3] In our opinion, that’s far too long to live uncomfortably — especially with the body-wide symptoms that can accompany menopause, described below.

The Symptoms of Menopause


Menopause can impact women and their heath including mental, physical, and emotional levels, leading to symptoms such as:

  • Irregular menstruation
  • Vaginal dryness and discomfort
  • Hot flashes
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Weight gain, especially in the abdominal area
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia
  • Racing heart
  • Increased urination
  • Breast tenderness or soreness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive challenges, including difficulty with memory or concentration
  • Changes in hair color, volume, and texture
  • Hot flashes
  • Dry skin
  • Joint stiffness and pain [4]

What Are Potential Complications of Menopause?


In addition to the symptoms described above, there are some potential complications associated with menopause. Following the cessation of menstrual periods, a woman’s risk for some medical conditions increases, including:

  • Osteoporosis: Women’s bones tend to be thinner and smaller than men’s. During the onset of menopause, the decrease in estrogen levels can lead to bone loss, as the hormone protects bone tissue. Roughly one in two women over 50 will experience a fracture due to osteoporosis, and an estimated 80% of the people who experience the condition are women. [5]
  • Cardiovascular disease: Decreases in estrogen levels is also linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in both women and men. [6] Estrogen is believed to aid in blood vessel flexibility, allowing them to support proper blood flow. When production of this important hormone drops, the risk of heart attacks goes up. [7]

    While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may not be prescribed for women specifically for improving cardiovascular health, it is a powerful benefit of treatment. Research published in the BMJ indicates a significant reduction in heart failure, myocardial infarction, and overall mortality following HRT after menopause. [8]

  • Urinary incontinence: With the decrease in key reproductive hormones also comes the loss of elasticity in the pelvic floor. The tissue in the vagina and urethra may weaken, leading to urinary incontinence and increased urinary tract infections. Pelvic floor exercises may reduce some of these symptoms; or, HRT may help alleviate the vaginal changes tied to incontinence. [9]

Quality of Life During and After Menopause – In Conclusion


middle aged woman jogging and smiling into distance

The long list of symptoms and potential complications above only provides a glimpse of what menopause is really like. For anyone who’s living it, the discomfort can become difficult to bear. While menopause is a natural process, you shouldn’t have to live with the discomfort of its symptoms.

Cenegenics is here to help. We specialize in the health, wellness, and hormone imbalances and help your body reverse its biological clock to rebalance your levels and restore the energy, cognitive function, and physical wellbeing you had in your 20s or 30s.

We take a highly scientific approach to get your body perfectly tuned at a cellular level, taking into consideration your unique needs based on specific biomarkers and making tailored recommendations to promote ideal function. Some aspects of our program include lifestyle factors such as nutrition and exercise, as well as prescriptions for nutraceuticals or HRT when clinically indicated.

Browse through our Cenegenics reviews and you’ll quickly see that we have a proven track record of helping patients navigate the changes that come with age. In fact, we’re the “doctor’s doctor,” trusted by the physicians and their families who make up a quarter of our patient base. Most patients feel better within 30 to 60 days of starting our program.

If you’re ready to see how we can improve your life during and after menopause, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about Cenegenics cost and the included Elite Health evaluation, or with any other questions you may have about getting started.

Next Steps - Don’t Suffer Needlessly from the Symptoms
of Menopause

FREE
Consultation

Our world class physicians create a personalized plan to help you feel 10+ years younger. You'll be more energetic, lose weight, sleep better, have more libido, and think more clearly. Click below to schedule a free consultation with one of our physicians. It's quick + easy. 

About the Contributor

Rudy Inaba 
Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise

Rudy Inaba is Cenegenics’ Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise. He is a recognized fitness and sports nutrition consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in clinical exercise physiology and lifestyle management. After pursuing his Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Rudy joined Cenegenics where he leads 20 clinical locations nationwide in their advancements in kinesiology, nutritional biochemistry, and their analyses of industry research & market trending.

Key Resources

This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources: 

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 2: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

Textbook Authors:

Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT

Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.

Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS

Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.

References

[1] Menopause. Mayo Clinic. Derived from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397?page=0&citems=10

[2] See above.

[3] What Is Menopause? National Institute of Aging. Derived from: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-menopause

[4] Complications. Derived from: https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause#complications

[5] What Women Need to Know. National Osteoporosis Foundation. Derived from: https://www.nof.org/preventing-fractures/general-facts/what-women-need-to-know/

[6] See above.   

[7] Menopause and Heart Disease. Derived from: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/what-is-cardiovascular-disease/menopause-and-heart-disease

[8] Effect of hormone replacement therapy on cardiovascular events in recently postmenopausal women: randomised trial. Derived from: https://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e6409

[9] See above.

Middle aged couple dressed casually walking away from a private plane and smiling

Take Control of Your Biological Age with Cenegenics

Life is about growing old and feeling young.

Anushka Singh

While chronological age counts the number of years you’ve been alive, biological age tells a more comprehensive story about your health. It assesses specific physiological measures to establish an individual’s wellness relative to their chronological age. For example, a healthy individual in their 40s may have a lower biological age than someone of poorer health in their 30s, despite having a higher chronological age. In other words, biological age tells us how well our bodies are functioning – and how likely we are to develop age-related conditions – based on key biomarkers.

Researchers have looked at many factors when attempting to come up with a widely-accepted measurement for biological age. Some believe that it should be measured based on molecular markers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein. [1] Others feel biological age encompasses mortality, the ability to function, and the need for therapies and interventions to extend health (or lack thereof). [2] Others still feel that biological age is marked by bodily changes which take place, including persistent, low-grade inflammation despite a lack of any known pathogens, dysfunction at the cellular level, stem cells’ impeded ability to repair tissue, and cells’ decreasing ability to proliferate. [3]

Science-Based Biological Age Management


Most recently, Yale School of Medicine researcher, Morgan Levine, PhD, and her team have come up with nine biomarkers which appear to have the greatest impact on lifespan, including:

  • blood sugar levels
  • immune and inflammatory measures
  • kidney and liver measures

When plugged into an advanced algorithm, these metrics yield a biological age reading which acts as a “highly robust predictor of both morbidity and mortality outcomes.” It does more than just tell you the rate at which you’re aging, however; it can also determine the therapies and lifestyle interventions that can be introduced now to lower your risk for serious diseases such as cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. As a result, understanding your biological age can pave the way for not only a longer lifespan, but also an extension of the health span, which translates to an improved quality of life at every age. [4]

As leaders in age management, Cenegenics has closely looked at biological aging for the past 23 years. One of our physicians has authored the textbook used to teach physicians Age Management; in fact, we pioneered the concept as a medical specialty. We therefore firmly support Yale Medical School’s standpoint that there’s plenty you can do to take control of your biological age. Here are just a few ways we can help you reduce the rate at which you’re aging.

Maintain a Healthy Weight


Many experts agree that chronic inflammation is a characteristic of a higher biological age. In people who are obese, fat tissue acts as an active endocrine organ, contributing to the production of TNF-alpha proteins, a biomarker of low-grade, systemic inflammation. This inflammation appears to explain the link between obesity and many co-morbidities, including:

Fortunately, Cenegenics helps patients lose weight if needed and maintain a healthy weight over the long term. We analyze specific biomarkers and perform in-depth body composition analyses, understanding that health is about more than just one number. We then provide tailored recommendations to help our patients control their weight. With this highly scientific approach to work toward getting your body perfectly tuned at the cellular level, we prompt ideal function and thus improve biological age.

Improve Sleep Quality


Sleep deprivation, too, is linked to inflammation which could increase biological age. In studies, individuals whose sleep was restricted by 25 to 50% of a normal eight-hour cycle experienced inflammatory cytokines, which are directly linked to an elevated risk for metabolic syndrome. [6] The prevalence of metabolic syndrome increases with chronological age, but it’s also linked to increased biological age as well. It bears a strong link with an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. [7]

Promoting quality sleep is one of the pillars of the Cenegenics program. We believe that sleep is important at every age, and supports not only optimal physical health, but also strong brain function and emotional wellness.

Sleep deprivation can affect the body’s insulin response, increase the risk of obesity, and impede immune system functionality. [8] This is critical, considering the fact that some experts believe immune system changes have a direct role in the pace of biological aging. [9] Fortunately, the Cenegenics team helps patients develop targeted sleep management strategies to improve both the duration and quality of their slumber.

Tailor to Unique Biomarkers


To some degree, genetics are also believed to play a role in the rate of biological aging. After all, some people are naturally predisposed to certain conditions based on hereditary factors. While we can’t change our genetic profile, we can arm ourselves with as much knowledge as possible about genetic factors and make strategic choices to support the best possible outcomes with these factors in mind.

For instance, Cenegenics offers genetic testing options which can assess for everything from Alzheimer’s risk to food sensitivities. Our clinicians can then prescribe lifestyle modifications that can help to control your risk of developing serious conditions and give you the power to take a comprehensive, preventive approach against disease. 

Maintaining Healthy Hormone Levels


Hormone health is also related to biological age. At Cenegenics, we employ strategies to help patients achieve optimal hormone levels, reversing the biological age by rebalancing the body to where it was in their 20s and 30s. While the aging process is complex and still being studied, we know that many of the changes that take place in the body are influenced by declining hormone levels.

Fortunately, minimizing the risk of disease, frailty, and disability is possible through healthy lifestyle practices that promote hormone optimization, including:

  • stress management
  • regular physical activity
  • nutritious dietary choices
  • effective sleep practices

When clinically indicated, our physicians can also recommend hormone replacement therapy options to pursue hormone balance and improved overall health in specific populations.

Let Cenegenics Reverse Your Biological Age - In Conclusion


middle aged man in very good shape running out of the ocean

It isn’t a coincidence that these very factors are the pillars of the Cenegenics program. Not only do our experts take a research-based approach to help our patients reach and maintain a healthy weight, improve their sleep quality, and optimize their health in many other important ways, but we also look at each individual’s biomarkers for a better understanding of their biological age. In doing so, we tailor recommendations to your precise needs, allowing you to feel your best both now and at every age. 

Although it’s impossible to turn back the chronological clock, Cenegenics can give you the tools to take control of your biological age, and thus the future. By promoting improved health across a number of key areas, including sleep, diet, and lifestyle habits, our clinicians help patients make wiser, future-focused health decisions that help them feel better both now and years down the road.

All of this is included in the Cenegenics cost of program membership, along with the many other benefits that come with being one of our patients. But don’t take our word for it – see what other satisfied patients have to say on our Cenegenics reviews page. As you’ll see, most patients begin to feel dramatically better within 30 to 60 days on the program. We’re also the doctors who other doctors trust, with physicians and their families making up 25% of our patient population. Once you’re ready to start taking control of your biological age, contact your nearest location for more information.

Next Steps - Why Wait to Turn Back the Hands of Your Biological Clock

FREE
Consultation

Our world class physicians create a personalized plan to help you feel 10+ years younger. You'll be more energetic, lose weight, sleep better, have more libido, and think more clearly. Click below to schedule a free consultation with one of our physicians. It's quick + easy. 

About the Contributor

Rudy Inaba 
Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise

Rudy Inaba is Cenegenics’ Global Director of Nutrition & Exercise. He is a recognized fitness and sports nutrition consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in clinical exercise physiology and lifestyle management. After pursuing his Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Rudy joined Cenegenics where he leads 20 clinical locations nationwide in their advancements in kinesiology, nutritional biochemistry, and their analyses of industry research & market trending.

Key Resources

This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources: 

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation  

The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 2: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy

Click to purchase

Textbook Authors:

Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT

Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.

Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS

Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.

References

[1] Overview of the Immune System. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Derived from: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/research/immune-system-overview

[2] See above. Derived from: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/research/immune-system-overview

[3] The Many Causes Of Immune Deficiency. German Society for Immunology. Derived from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090914111540.htm

[4] Immune System Disorders. University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester, NY. Derived from:  https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=123&ContentTypeID=134

[5] What Is Inflammation? Szalay, Jessie. LiveScience. Derived from: https://www.livescience.com/52344-inflammation.html

[6] How to boost your immune system. Harvard Medical School. Derived from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system  

[7] Sedentary Behavior and Adiposity-Associated Inflammation The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. A. Allison, Matthew MD, MPH, Jensky, Nicole E. PhD, Marshall, Simon J., PhD, Bertoni, Alain G. , MD, MPH, and Cushman, Mary MD. National Institute of Medicine. Derived from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3244676/

[8] 9 Surprising Ways You’re Weakening Your Immune System. Dallas, Mary Elizabeth and Marcellin, Lindsey MD, MPH. Everyday Health. Derived from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/9-surprising-ways-youre-weakening-your-immune-system/

[9] See above. Derived from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/9-surprising-ways-youre-weakening-your-immune-system/

[10] Sleep deprivation effect on the immune system mirrors physical stress. National Sleep Foundation. Derived from: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-deprivation-effect-immune-system-mirrors-physical-stress

[11] The immune system and overtraining in athletes: clinical implications. AC Hackney and Koltun KJ. National Institute of Health. Derived from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23540172

[12] Evaluation of immune response after moderate and overtraining exercise in wistar rat. Zahra Gholamnezhad, Abolfazl Khajavi Rad, Mohammad Hossein Boskabady, Mahmoud Hosseini, and Mojtaba Sankian. National Institutes of Health. Derived from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3938879/    

businessman looking out window at city skyline

Biological Age versus Chronological Age: How Old Are You Really?

“Let us never know what old age is.  Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years”

Ausonius

At the simplest level, aging is the process of becoming older. For most people, age itself is an uncomplicated matter: it’s the number we see on our birthday cakes – the difference between the current year and the year of our birth. Yet, from a scientific standpoint, age is far more than just a number. It’s also defined as the progressive deterioration of a living thing, in which the risk of mortality increases exponentially. [1]

This definition may seem a bit morbid, but now, experts are exploring new ways to look at aging. We know, for example, that one 65-year-old may not be as healthy as the next, just as 40-, 50-, and even 25-year-olds can have varying degrees of health. To get a better understanding of how health differences can be so vast among individuals of the same chronological age, experts are looking at biological age instead.

Science Supports Biological Age Management!


In particular, Yale Medical School researcher, Morgan Levine, PhD, recently published findings on the matter, in which they developed an equation to combine an individual’s blood measures with advanced algorithms. Called DNAm PhenoAge, this process yields a biological age reading which they call “a new epigenetic biomarker of aging.” The test reveals predictions for age-related outcomes, such as all-cause mortality, physical functioning, cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease, determining age at a cellular level. [2]

Because not everyone of the same age faces the same risk for these conditions, evaluating risk on a more individualized basis can provide a telling account of where you stand in terms of both current and future health.

As pioneers in age management, Cenegenics has remained at the forefront of closely studying biological aging factors and helping our patients reduce this critical measure for 23 years. In fact, we pioneered the medical specialty of Age Management, and one of our physicians even wrote the textbook used to teach other doctors the key theories behind optimal health through aging. We therefore support Yale Medical School research in their findings and believe that biological aging is one of the most important factors for individuals to understand and address. Here, we discuss the principles behind biological age and why they’re essential for telling the true story of our health, no matter what our birth certificates say. 

What Is Biological Age?


Biological age combines specific physiological measures to determine a person’s status of health relative to individuals of a certain chronological age. For instance, if a person is 30 years old chronologically but their biomarkers bear a closer resemblance to those of the average 40-year-old, it would indicate that the individual is aging at a quicker rate than the norm. [3] Biological age therefore looks at the pace at which we’re aging, and ultimately determines our current levels of health while helping to predict our lifespan.

While most experts agree that measuring biological age has its benefits, there have been challenges in terms of reaching an agreement on which factors to look at when assessing it. For example:

  • Some researchers define biological age as a marker of “aging, stress, and frailty,” in which factors like molecular markers of inflammation (including C-reactive protein), sleeping difficulties, and smoking are analyzed.[4]
  • Others state that the three aspects of aging should encompass survival or mortality, one’s ability to function, and the need for therapies or interventions to extend one’s health span. [5]
  • Others still claim that biological aging includes four key bodily changes:
  • Persistent, low-grade inflammation which occurs without any known pathogens
  • Dysfunction at the cellular level, including DNA damage, dysfunctional telomeres, and protein aggregation
  • Stem cell changes which impede the ability to repair or replace tissue
  • Cellular senescence, in which cells’ ability to proliferate and certain metabolic activities are altered. [6]

Clearly, finding a single measurement for biological age is much more complex than simply counting years, as we do for chronological age. Researchers have posited that, regardless of which factors are used to measure biological age, to be considered viable, they should:

  • Produce measurements which are realistic and are within the limits of a recorded lifespan
  • Be able to identify individuals who are at risk before they contract a disease
  • Predict age-associated biological and functional outcomes more effectively than chronological age
  • Predict remaining longevity and mortality in populations of which 90% of individuals are still alive. [7]

Most recently, Yale Medical School’s publication has emerged as perhaps the most comprehensive and well-researched approach to biological aging. The research drew on data from 10,000 participants in a study which ran from 1988 to 1994 in which they sought to identify the key metrics that could forecast life expectancy most accurately. Based on those findings, they created a subsequent study of 11,000 people, which ran from 1999 to 2010. After looking at 42 different clinical measures, they ultimately pinpointed nine biomarkers with the greatest influence on lifespan, including inflammatory, immune, blood sugar, kidney, and liver measures. [8]

Obviously, biological age is an area of interest which draws many researchers across various disciplines. But the question remains: Why is biological age such a hot topic?

What Is Chronological Age? 


Chronological age is the number of years for which you’ve been alive. It’s a straightforward calculation which has been the gold standard for estimating the risk of certain ailments and conditions in individuals. For example, the risk for chronic and neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease, and most types of cancer increases with chronological age. Increasing chronological age also corresponds with increased risk of geriatric syndromes, such as immobility, frailty, and diminishing physical resilience. [9]

Yet, while we know that disease risk increases with chronological age, and that physical and mental function declines with it, the rate at which these changes take place can differ significantly from one person to the next. This is because numerous factors make up the aging process, and can be impacted by influences such as lifestyle, the environment, and genetics. To measure the rate at which aging takes place for a more concrete idea of where a person is on the trajectory of aging (versus simply how many years they’ve been alive), experts have developed biological age.

Why Is Biological Age So Important?


Understanding the breakdown of biological ages within a certain population can give us some information about the group’s future. For instance, an aging population will most likely require increased health care support. Yet, chronological age only tells us one piece of the story. With a look in to biological age, we can better understand the pace of aging to determine whether we’re becoming healthier as a population, or if our choices are actually aging us at a faster rate.

For instance, while fewer people in the U.S. are smoking now than in the 1980s, obesity rates have more than doubled within the same time frame. [10] No matter how you choose to measure it, factors like obesity and smoking are sure to have an effect on biological age, as both have body-wide implications.

In fact, one of the main reasons studying biological age is so important is because there’s a good chance many factors that impact it are within our control to change. While we can’t change our genetic factors, for instance, lead Yale researcher Morgan Levine explains that the newest equation for biological age can give patients a concrete idea of what they can do to reduce their risk for disease and “show you how you can reduce your risk because you can plug all the numbers in to see how the risk drops if they bring their glucose down, for example.” [11]

Similarly, telomeres, the end of chromosomes which aid in the regulation of cellular aging, can be affected by habits and factors such as:

  • Stress
  • Exercise
  • Diet, and
  • Sleep patterns[12]

Moreover, traditional medicine often comes up short in terms of accurately predicting serious disease risk in populations with no prior signs of disease. This isn’t the fault of medical practitioners; after all, treating issues after they emerge has been a standard in medical care for decades. Yet, blood pressure and similar readings aren’t always enough to determine who could be at risk for heart disease in groups who are presumably healthy. Detecting biological age is therefore more than just a way to determine who’s aging quickly and who isn’t; it’s also a powerful means of determining who is at risk for diseases which may have otherwise gone undetected. Yale’s study is the first to determine that biomarkers of biological aging are “highly predictive of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease,” for instance. With these findings, interventions such as lifestyle changes can be introduced long before disease actually develops. [13]

What Can Be Done to Control Biological Age?


With the help of Cenegenics, it’s entirely possible to start reversing your biological clock now. While the aging process is complex and still being studied, we know that minimizing the risk of disease, frailty, and disability can be achieved through healthy lifestyle practices, including:

It isn’t a coincidence that these very factors are the pillars of the Cenegenics program. Not only do our experts take a research-based approach to help our patients reach and maintain a healthy weight, improve their sleep quality, and optimize their health in many other important ways, but we also look at each individual’s biomarkers for a better understanding of their biological age. We take a highly scientific approach to work toward getting a body perfectly tuned at the cellular level so that it functions ideally, thereby reversing your biological age and rebalancing your body to where it was in your 20s or 30s. We tailor recommendations to your precise needs, allowing you to feel your best both now and at every age. 

You Can Feel Younger Than You Think - In Conclusion


Man on sailboat

As you can see, there’s more to think about when it comes to age than your chronological age alone. Understanding where you fall on the trajectory of aging allows you to make the choices that can preserve optimal health no matter what your chronological age may be, and in some cases, may even allow you to slow or reverse the aging process. In doing so, you can minimize your risk for disease, stave off geriatric conditions such as frailty and diminished physical resilience, and enjoy a richer quality of life.

Yet, to achieve these goals, you need the help of experts who not only understand but actually specialize in age management. Read through Cenegenics reviews and you’ll discover stories about how we’ve helped countless patients feel years younger. In fact, our patients feel dramatically better within 30 to 60 days on the program. That’s because we’re giving them the tools and guidance they need to improve their health at a cellular level, thereby prompting better wellness now and into the future. We’re even the physicians most trusted by other medical providers; we’re considered the “doctor’s doctor,” as 25% of our patient base is made up of doctors and their family members. So, whether you have questions about Cenegenics’ cost, are wondering what our exclusive Elite Health Evaluations include, or you’re simply ready to find out how our team can help you slow or reverse your biological clock, don’t hesitate to contact your nearest Cenegenics location for more information.

Next Steps – Turn Back the Hands of Time Now