Category Archives for Clinical Excellence

Mature man and woman outside, smiling and looking into the distance

6 Healthy Habits to Practice Every Day

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then,

is not an act, but a habit.

Will Durant

If you’re like most people, your day moves quickly. It can be challenging to squeeze in all of your most pressing responsibilities during jam-packed weekdays, let alone make time for your health. Hours tend to move by as you stay firmly planted in your desk chair. By the time you do glance at the clock, you might figure that it’s best to simply stay put and finish the task at hand.

You’re not alone in this approach – in fact, it’s the same habit most individuals fall into. For most of us, productivity takes precedence over our own health and wellbeing. Thus, by the time you clock out for the day, you find yourself with an aching back, stiff hips, and throbbing shoulders. Your nutrition may have consisted of whatever you had time to reheat and a sip of water here or there. Unsurprisingly, your energy is zapped.

For those of us who are dedicated to our jobs, family responsibilities, or other tasks that take up most of our day, it can be tempting to put wellness on the backburner. Yet, our health deserves just as much attention as these other priorities. You might even say that it deserves more attention, because without your health, there’s no way to be productive.

6 Healthy Habits to Practice Daily


You can benefit from scheduling healthy habits into your daily routine – just as you would any other task. In doing so, you may be able to prevent chronic issues like aches and pains, depleted energy, and even disease risk. Add the following tricks to your day and you’ll feel benefits both immediately and over the long term.

1. Have Protein 3 Times a Day

Food on 2 cutting boards, including fried eggs, tomatoes, lettuce, with a fork and knife sitting on a wooden table

Protein is found in virtually every aspect of your body, from muscle and bone tissue to your skin and hair. It’s the foundation of the enzymes which power critical chemical reactions in the body, along with the hemoglobin that transports oxygen. This nutrient consists of at least 20 different amino acids, many of which must come from food. [1]

The National Academy of Medicine recommends roughly 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight. [2] Unfortunately, the standard American diet tends to prioritize carbohydrates and nutritionally poor foods over healthy protein sources.

Thus, to begin optimizing your health, one simple healthy habit to adopt is to eat protein three times a day. This could include eggs at breakfast, a protein shake for a snack, lean chicken on a salad during lunch, or a serving of fish or another lean protein at dinner.

2. Eat AT LEAST 2 Servings of Vegetables Each Day

Vegetables being splashed in water including cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and parsley

While macronutrients like protein are important for optimizing health, your body also needs micronutrients to perform its best. Vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, and many are also low in calories. For this reason, you should be eating at least two servings each day.

Two servings may sound like a lot, but there are many simple ways to incorporate more vegetables into each of your meals. For example:

  • Add peppers, spinach, or onions to an omelet for a veggie-packed breakfast.
  • Have a crisp salad with a variety of greens such as kale, spinach, or spring mix for lunch. To get even more vegetables in one meal, add carrot shreds, cabbage, cucumber, or tomatoes.
  • Grill, bake, or roast vegetables with olive oil, lemon, and garlic for a healthy side to your protein at dinner.

3. Have 1-2 Fruits a Day

baskets of berries including raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries

Like vegetables, fruits are great sources of vitamins. They’re also high in fiber, which aids in blood sugar regulation and helps to control hunger. Fiber has also been shown to reduce the risk of serious diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and diverticular disease. [2]

Having just one to two fruit servings each day is simple: just add an apple, orange, or pear to your breakfast, or make it a mid-morning snack.

4. Drink plenty of water

a clear mug of water with lime and a mint sprig in it with small daisies and strawberries sitting on the table next to it

Water is critical to survival and makes up roughly 60% of your body weight. It’s responsible for waste removal, temperature regulation, tissue protection, and joint lubrication. Even slight dehydration can zap your energy. [3]

It’s therefore critical that you get enough water each day. A great rule of thumb is to drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water each day. If you find yourself coming up short, set a timer on your phone to get up from your desk and head to the kitchen to fill up your glass or bottle. You can also look for an app that will send you timely reminders to keep drinking water.

5. Move every few hours

a mature smiling man standing outside stretching to the left

Speaking of timers, you might also set up a reminder to move often throughout the day. Sedentary lifestyles have been associated with:

Luckily, you can offset the dangers of sitting with some simple lifestyle changes. Start moving at work by getting out of your chair and stretching at least once every hour. Try standing while you’re talking on the phone, and walk to a coworker’s office instead of emailing them.

Take the stairs whenever possible, and use your lunch hour to take walks outside or around the building. You can even incorporate short bursts of strength or cardio exercises into your day, such as jumping jacks or planks.

6. Breathe deeply for 10 minutes

A woman outside looking toward the sun and with her arms outstretched

When possible, take 10 minutes to yourself to practice deep diaphragmatic breathing. Try to practice this either outside or in a quiet space. Take eight to ten deep breaths in through the nose, filling the stomach, then release slowly through the mouth. Doing so will reduce your blood pressure and bring your heart rate down, helping you to combat any stress you may be experiencing.

Adding Healthy Habits to Your Daily Routine - In Conclusion


Man and woman dressed in all white holding hands and walking on the beach smiling at each other

As you can see, you don’t need to revamp your entire daily routine to become healthier. Instead, small healthy habits, that interpret into healthy living, can be worked into even the busiest of schedules to deliver major wellness benefits.

Of course, your needs and lifestyle may look different from the next person’s. For this reason, your Cenegenics clinical team can work with you to design a program that optimizes your wellness without compromising your routine. To find out more about how our specialists can help you boost both your immediate and long-term health, contact your nearest Cenegenics location today.

Every Journey Starts with a Single Step - Next Steps

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 Author

Joshua D'Alessandro - MS, CSCS, CISSN
Nutrition & Exercise Counselor at Cenegenics New York City

My name is Joshua D'Alessandro and I am an Exercise and Nutrition Counselor for Cenegenics in NY. My passion for fitness began at a very young age and has manifested into a career filled with possibilities. The countries largest epidemic, and quite possibly the root cause of most issues, is diminishing health. In my career, I hope to do everything and anything I can to improve the well being and lives of the people around me! 

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] The Nutrition Source – Protein, Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/

[2] The Nutrition Source – Fiber, Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/

[3] Mayo Clinic Staff, (2017, Sept. 06)  Water: How much should you drink every day?  Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256

[4] Health Risks of an Inactive Lifestyle, (2017, June 27) Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/healthrisksofaninactivelifestyle.html

2 people, with only their legs and feet showing, sitting on a rock overlooking a beautiful valley

Healthy Living: 5 Keys for a Healthy & Productive Day

Life is not merely being alive, but being well.

Marcus Valerius Martialis

In our fast-paced world, healthy living can feel elusive. Most of us are juggling responsibilities between our professional, family, and personal lives, and health often falls below the rest of our priorities. And, when we do try to focus on wellness, there are so many pieces of conflicting advice available today that knowing where to start seems overwhelming.

Luckily, we’re here to help you sort through the noise to share healthy living tips that actually make a difference. These strategies can help you to not only get your health on track if it needs some adjustments, but also prevent long-term illness and optimize health at every age. 

5 Strategies for Healthy Living 


Backed by our team of clinical experts, here are some impactful strategies you can use to lead a healthy day, every day.

Choose Whole Food Sources When Possible

A mature man and woman preparing a healthy meal and looking at a recipe together.

Whole foods consist of real, single ingredients. These are the types of foods humans have been eating since we’ve come into existence. They include produce such as fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, meat, and poultry.

In the 20th century, we saw an emergence of processed foods, and Western diets have since consisted predominantly of ready-to-eat meals that boast convenience. Yet, this convenience comes at the risk of compromising your health. Multi-ingredient foods are typically processed and may contain additives like excess sugar and salt, among other potentially harmful ingredients. Here are a few other points in favor of whole foods:

  • Eating whole foods provides the body with essential nutrients and fiber. They’re also better for your gut microbiome, contain powerful antioxidants to help you fight disease, and can help you control your blood sugar and triglycerides. [1]
  • Whole foods are also more convenient to fit into any diet. Whether you’re following a paleo, Mediterranean, or keto eating style, you won’t have to worry about confusing nutrition labels or whether ingredients are allowed in your diet, since most whole foods don’t even have a label.

There are few, if any, conditions in which a multi-ingredient food is better than a real, single-ingredient food. As often as you can, choose whole foods instead of processed alternatives.

Portion Control

A plate on a wooden table with a small portion of healthy food and a fork and knife on a napkin next to it.

Of course, the quantity of foods you eat matters, too. For example, while foods like nuts, oils, and other healthy fats help to balance a well-rounded diet, they’re especially high in calories and should therefore be limited to their recommended serving size.

Unfortunately, this is where healthy eating can become a bit tricky. Calories taken in versus those used will always determine whether a person loses, maintains, or gains weight. Yet, this can vary by factors that affect metabolism, such as age and hormone levels, along with activity levels. While exact numbers differ for every individual, however, the concept of portion control applies no matter what.

Food logging is a great way to track your portion sizes, and there are many apps and journals which make this practice simple and convenient. Yet, you must first start with a foundational knowledge of portion sizes.

To control your calorie intake, having at least a general awareness of portions will be extremely helpful. For whole foods, simply perform a quick web search of recommended portions if you’re unsure.

For example, while it might make sense to eat a whole apple or orange, determining how much chicken to eat might be a bit more challenging. In general, 5 to 6½ ounces of protein foods are recommended per day, but you may need to adjust based on your current weight, activity levels, and overall goals. [2]

Stay Hydrated

Smiling mature man with a neat beard pouring a glass of water

When we think about healthy living, food and exercise tend to get all the attention. Yet, fluid intake is an important aspect of maximizing nutrition because:

  • Proper hydration improves our ability to deliver nutrients throughout the body. It also helps to remove waste resulting from the breakdown of fuel sources.
  • Ample hydration also minimizes bloating and can reduce cravings.

Ideally, you should try to consume at least half of your body weight in fluid ounces every day. For instance, a person weighing 130 pounds would aim to take in 65 ounces of water each day. If you work out, you’ll also need to take in additional fluid before, during, and after your exercise. [3]

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

A couple, all in white, asleep in bed

Sleep is another frequently overlooked aspect of healthy living. While it doesn’t include to the food we eat, it does play an important role in how our bodies use nutrients.

The body’s recovery process takes place when we sleep. Yet, when we get too little sleep or our sleep is interrupted, fuel substrates remain in the blood stream, and cortisol levels elevate. High cortisol levels can lead to further breakdown, which can ultimately contribute to fat storage. It’s therefore essential to achieve proper sleep each night so our bodies can recover fully and make the most of our daily nutrition.

While barriers to restful sleep can vary from one individual to the next, here are a few general tips to help you achieve quality sleep:

  • Try to stick to the same bedtime and wake up time every day, even on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Keep your bedroom cool. Most people sleep best between 60 and 70°. 
  • Avoid using any electronic devices for at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Don’t have heavy meals, alcohol, or caffeine in the evening if you can avoid it.

Exercise Regularly

A final but important component of healthy living is regular exercise. While exercise needs vary for everyone, getting in at least a 30-minute workout on most days of the week can help you boost your metabolism and use fuel more efficiently.

Ultimately, increased physical activity will allow you to eat more, and do more with what you eat. You don’t have to be a competitive athlete to enjoy the benefits of exercise, either. Whether you choose short workouts through high-intensity interval training or moderate activity through long walks, your body will still be able to use its nutrition more effectively with exercise.

Let Healthy Living Turn Into A Healthier & Happier Life - In Conclusion


If these tips seem simple, it’s because they are. Here at Cenegenics, we know that the approaches to healthy living that deliver the best results are those that patients can stick to. While we provide tailored recommendations based on each individual’s unique needs and as clinically indicated, we don’t try to over-complicate the rules for a healthy lifestyle.

Eating whole foods in sensible portions, staying hydrated, promoting ample sleep, and exercising regularly are the key foundations for a lifetime of wellness.

If you’re interested in finding out how our clinicians can help you optimize your wellness by achieving long-term weight management, sleeping better, and feeling your best both now and into the future, contact your nearest Cenegenics location.

Next Steps: Healthy Living is Waiting for You!

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 Author

Joshua D'Alessandro - MS, CSCS, CISSN
Nutrition & Exercise Counselor at Cenegenics New York City

My name is Joshua D'Alessandro and I am an Exercise and Nutrition Counselor for Cenegenics in NY. My passion for fitness began at a very young age and has manifested into a career filled with possibilities. The countries largest epidemic, and quite possibly the root cause of most issues, is diminishing health. In my career, I hope to do everything and anything I can to improve the well being and lives of the people around me! 

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] Spritzler, RD, CDE, F. (2019, April 12). 21 Reasons to Eat Real Food. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/21-reasons-to-eat-real-food#section2

[2] Serving and Portion Sizes: How Much Should I Eat? . (2019, April 29). Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/serving-and-portion-sizes-how-much-should-i-eat

[3] Elkaim, Y. (2013, September 13). The Truth About How Much Water You Should Really Drink. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/09/13/the-truth-about-how-much-water-you-should-really-drink

Mature man and woman, smiling, running across a bridge

How to Lower Cholesterol Levels With These Easy Lifestyle Changes

While cholesterol is produced naturally in the body by the liver, having too much of it can put your health at risk. High levels of low-density lipoprotein, also known as LDL or “bad” cholesterol, can accumulate within the artery walls, increasing risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. [1], as well as stroke.

National standards suggest that levels between 130 and to 159 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are considered borderline, and 160 and above qualify as high cholesterol.[2] Cenegenics, however, looks to achieve more optimal ranges to reduce disease risk and in many cases, aims for LDL levels near 100 or 120 mg/dL. 

How to Lower Cholesterol Levels 


Although medications are available to treat especially high cholesterol, there are many effective lifestyle changes you can make to bring your levels into a healthy range. Discover some of the most effective strategies below.

What Does a Cholesterol-Healthy Diet Look Like?

In general, the eating habits that support healthy cholesterol levels are also in line with dietary patterns that support long-term weight management and overall health. Specifically, here are a few items to incorporate into your diet to manage your cholesterol:

Four green olives next to a small glass bowl with olive oil being poured into it
  • Foods high in soluble fiber: Soluble fiber controls the amount of cholesterol your bloodstream absorbs. Fiber also helps you stay full, which can prevent you from snacking on nutritionally poor foods in between meals. While Cenegenics commonly suggests higher amounts, eating as little as 5 to 10 more grams of fiber per day can lower LDL cholesterol by 5 to 11 points on average, or possibly more. [3] Foods rich in soluble fiber include:
    • Whole grains, such as oat meal, barley, and quinoa
    • Lean protein, such as beans
    • Healthy fats, including avocado and chia seeds
    • Vegetables, such as cabbage, carrots, onions, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
    • Starchy vegetables, including green peas and sweet potatoes
    • Fruits, such as apples, bananas, peaches, and pears
brown basket on rustic wooden table with raw vegetables: red beets, turnips, tomatoes, spinach, yellow pepper
  • Polyunsaturated & monounsaturated fats: These fatty acids help lower LDL. Many plant-based oils are rich in these fats, including olive, avocado, and sunflower oil. In fact, swapping your low-cost butter out for olive oil can reduce your LDL cholesterol by as much as 15%, which is as effective as some low doses of cholesterol-lowering medications. [4] Fatty fish, including tuna, salmon, and mackerel, are also good sources of these key nutrients, as are nuts and seeds.
  • Whey protein: Commonly found in dairy products, whey protein can lower total and LDL cholesterol, as well as blood pressure. [5] Cheese, yogurt, and cow and goat milk contain whey protein.

Which Foods Should Be Avoided?

junk food including soda pop, French fries, hamburger, donut, candy, cookies, chips

While including cholesterol-lowering foods in your diet can help you achieve measurable differences in your levels, it’s important not to undo your progress with foods that can raise LDL cholesterol. In specific, steer clear of trans fats.

Although there has been pressure on the food industry to phase out these dangerous additives, they may still appear in food products and could be described as “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients list. Specifically, look out for them in:

  • Cakes
  • Pie crusts
  • Stick margarines
  • Frozen pizza
  • Cookies

Staying away from fried foods, baked goods, refined sugars and grains, and other heavily-processed foods is also essential to keeping cholesterol in a healthy range.

Will Exercising Help?

Three men with helmets on, smiling, riding 10-speed bicycles outside on a sunny day

While it’s impossible to compensate for a poor diet with exercise, regular physical activity could improve cholesterol by raising high-density lipoprotein, or the “good” cholesterol. [6] Ideally, you should aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week – with your doctor’s approval, of course.

Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine can also help you achieve long-term weight management, which supports healthy cholesterol levels as well. Here are some types of physical activity to consider:

  • Cycling, indoors or outdoors
  • Taking a brisk walk each day
  • Swimming

Are There Any Other Lifestyle Changes to Consider?


A woman seen from behind in black exercise clothes doing yoga next to a lake on a sunny day

In addition to diet and exercise guidelines above, here are a few more things you can do to lower your cholesterol levels:good HDL cholesterol​HDL cholesterol​​​

  • Minimize stress: Managing stress can be easier said than done, but it’s important to a number of health outcomes, including lowered cholesterol. Research shows chronic stress is associated with high LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol, so aim to manage your stress with calming techniques such as journaling, yoga, meditation, regular massage, or any other healthy tactics you prefer. [7]
  • Quit smoking: Smoking cessation can improve your HDL levels. Plus, within one year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is slashed in half. [8]
  • Reduce alcohol intake: Moderate alcohol intake has been shown to help boost good HDL cholesterol, but excessive drinking is associated with high blood pressure and stroke, among other serious health issues. If you drink, limit it to one glass a day, and if you don’t, continue to abstain – the benefits aren’t strong enough to support a defense for alcohol for people who don’t drink already.

It’s Easier Than You Think! – In Conclusion


Discovering you have high cholesterol may be alarming, especially when you consider the implications of allowing it to go unaddressed. Luckily, though, there are plenty of ways to control your cholesterol levels, many of which have added health benefits.

Eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising regularly, for instance, can also help you achieve long-term weight management. Reducing stress, reducing your alcohol intake, and quitting smoking are likewise beneficial for your cholesterol levels and overall health.

Although embarking on any new health goal can be daunting, the team from Cenegenics can help. Our trained clinical staff works with each patient to set specific goals based on their individual biomarkers.

Over time, they can help you reach and maintain optimal cholesterol levels, while also working towards any other short- and long-term health objectives you may have.

Next Steps to Lowering Your Cholesterol Levels

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. 

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.

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.

References

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

[2] 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

[3] National lipid Association, “Adding Soluble Fiber to Lower Your Cholesterol.” Retrieved from URL: https://www.lipid.org/sites/default/files/adding_soluble_fiber_final_0.pdf

[4] Ratini, Melinda, DO, MS. “Lower Your Cholesterol With These 11 Easy Tips.” WebMD. 12 Nov. 2015. Retrieved from URL: https://www.webmd.com/ahrq/11-tips-to-cut-your-cholesterol-fast#1

[5] 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

[6] Mayo Clinic; see above.

[7] NIH, “How to Lower Cholesterol.” 27 Feb. 2019. Retrieved from URL: https://medlineplus.gov/howtolowercholesterol.html

[8] Mayo Clinic; see above.

“Cholesterol” written on art pad with stethoscope and magnifying glass nearby

HDL Cholesterol | Everything You Need to Know

When it comes to cholesterol, the “bad” kind, or low-density lipoprotein (“LDL”) cholesterol, tends to get most of the attention. And, it makes sense – after all, high LDL cholesterol can lead to a number of serious health issues, including an elevated risk for heart attack and stroke.Yet, the “good” cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein (“HDL”) is also an important measure of heart health.

Find out what you should know about the causes, optimal levels, and methods for achieving optimal HDL cholesterol below.  

What Is HDL Cholesterol?


Computer keyboard with green HDL Cholesterol button

Cholesterol is a waxy protein found in all of the cells. It has many important functions, including the ability to build the body’s cells, and plays a crucial role in the development of hormones and vitamin D.

LDL or “bad” cholesterol can eventually accumulate within blood vessel walls, and narrow passageways, potentially leading to a clot which can cause heart attack or stroke. HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, eliminates excess cholesterol in the blood by picking it up and transporting it back to the liver. There, the excess cholesterol is broken down and removed from the body.

People with higher levels of HDL cholesterol have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. [1] Having high HDL can have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. [2] Yet, because elevated LDL levels are known to pose a risk for serious health issues, doctors will often focus on LDL levels first. With that said, there is significant overlap among lifestyle recommendations for lowering LDL cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol. 

Optimal HDL cholesterol levels vary by age and sex. In general, the recommendations for healthy HDL levels are as follows:

  • Ages 19 or younger: >45 mg/dl
  • Men age 20 or older: >40 mg/dl
  • Women age 20 or older: >50 mg/dl [3]

What Causes Low HDL Cholesterol?


Junk food on one side, chips, candy, burger and fries, and healthy food on the other, tomatoes, lettuce, grapes, apple.

There are a number of factors which can affect HDL levels. Some of these factors are within your control to address, while others are not. Here are some of the most common causes behind low HDL:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes: Too much glucose in the blood, a common characteristic of diabetes, can lower your HDL levels, while also increasing LDL and triglyceride levels. Lifestyle modifications and medications can help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels.
  • Inactivity: A sedentary lifestyle could contribute to low HDL levels, along with many other health issues.
  • Poor diet: There are many foods which can affect cholesterol levels. Processed foods prepared with shortening, including cakes and cookies, as well as fried foods, often contain trans fats. These harmful substances can reduce your good cholesterol and raise bad cholesterol levels.
  • Being overweight: In addition to diet and physical activity, being overweight in itself can also impact HDL. Low HDL levels could be caused by carrying excess weight, especially if it’s concentrated to the waist area. [4]
  • Smoking: Smoking and secondhand smoke can cause HDL levels to drop. [5]
  • Certain medications: Blood pressure medications such as beta blockers, certain anabolic steroids and progestins, and benzodiazepines (sedatives used to treat anxiety and insomnia) could lower HDL levels in certain individuals. [6]
  • Genetic factors: In some cases, extremely low HDL levels could be passed down by family members. In specific, significantly low HDL levels may be attributed to Tangier’s disease and hypoalphalipoproteinemia.

How Can You Raise Your HDL Cholesterol?


Muscular middle-aged man in blue tank in kitchen cutting up a chicken breast

While there are medications available to help individuals control their cholesterol levels when clinically indicated, there are also many lifestyle habits you can adopt to raise your HDL levels. Here are some of the most impactful changes you can make to boost your HDL:

  • Following a Healthy Diet: While eliminating processed foods containing trans fats is a good place to start, people with low HDL cholesterol can also benefit from eating a rich blend of vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. In addition to controlling cholesterol, this eating style can also help to address high blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease. Eliminating foods with added sugars is another dietary habit to adopt for better overall health. [7]
  • Increasing Activity Levels: Regular exercise is an important way to increase HDL levels. In fact, you may witness benefits with just 60 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. [8] Because each individual’s physical fitness needs can vary, however, it’s a good idea to consult with a professional to develop an exercise plan tailored to your needs and heath goals.
  • Losing Weight: Exercising regularly and eating well will help you control your cholesterol, with the added benefit of allowing you to enjoy a healthy weight over the long term. And, because a higher waist circumference is associated with lower HDL levels, controlling your weight is important to keeping cholesterol levels in check.
  • Quitting Smoking: If you smoke, develop a plan to quit. In addition to reducing good cholesterol, especially in women, smoking can also cause triglycerides and LDL levels to spike. [9]
  • Controlling Alcohol Consumption: Up to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men 65 and younger has been linked to higher HDL levels, so if you normally drink more than this, be sure to limit your consumption. Excess alcohol could lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, and elevated triglyceride levels, so don’t start if you don’t drink already. [10]

How To Improve Your Good Cholesterol – In Conclusion


Although low HDL levels are a health concern which should be addressed, there are many practical ways to raise them. From exercising regularly to enhancing your diet to minimize processed foods and prioritize heart-healthy choices, the lifestyle habits you use to achieve healthier cholesterol levels will also lead you to greater overall wellness.

And, with the help of the Cenegenics team who can offer tailored recommendations based on your comprehensive health evaluation, you can have the peace of mind in knowing you’re making the best choices to optimize your cholesterol levels and your health. 

To learn more about both the bad and good types of cholesterol and how they affect your health, read our full-length blog – Causes of High Cholesterol​.

Next Steps in Maintaining Healthy Cholesterol Levels

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. 

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.

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.

References

[1] Mayo Clinic, “HDL cholesterol: How to boost your ‘good’ cholesterol.” 24 Oct. 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/hdl-cholesterol/art-20046388

[2] K Mahdy Ali, et al. “Cardiovascular disease risk reduction by raising HDL cholesterol – current therapies and future opportunities.” British Journal of Pharmacology. Nov. 2012. Retrieved from URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3504986/

[3] NIH, “HDL: The ‘Good’ Cholesterol.” 18 Apr. 2019. Retrieved from URL: https://medlineplus.gov/hdlthegoodcholesterol.html

[4] NIH; see above.

[5] NIH; see above.

[6] NIH; see above.

[7] NIH, “DASH Eating Plan.” 25 Apr. 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://medlineplus.gov/dasheatingplan.html

[8] Mayo Clinic; see above.

[9] Mayo Clinic; see above.

[10] Mayo Clinic; see above.

Interior of artery with red blood cells, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and other miscellaneous cells

What Is LDL Cholesterol & How Can You Control Yours?

Oftentimes, we hear about the importance of lowering our cholesterol levels, without really understanding what cholesterol even is or how it affects our overall health. Yet, for 95 million adults in the U.S. over the age of 20, high cholesterol is a reality which demands attention – and in some cases, medical intervention.[1]

Left unaddressed, having too much LDL cholesterol could lead to serious issues, including heart attack and stroke. Discover what you need to know about this widespread issue and its potential implications on your health below.

What Is LDL Cholesterol?


blue block with “L”, red block with “D”, and yellow block with “L”

Cholesterol is a waxy lipid generated by the liver. Although it plays a crucial role in the development of cell membranes, hormones, and vitamin D, having too much cholesterol can lead to a number of health issues.

You may have heard that there are two types of cholesterol: the “good” kind and the “bad” kind. LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is associated with the “bad” cholesterol. Because cholesterol can’t dissolve or move through blood on its own, this protein carries particles of cholesterol through the blood. It can also accumulate within the artery walls, causing them to harden and narrow in a condition known as atherosclerosis. 

Having too much LDL cholesterol in your blood increases the risk for heart disease, the number-one cause of death in the U.S.[2] Heart disease is the collective term for a number of conditions that affect the heart, many of which can cause heart attack or stroke. When cholesterol accumulates on the artery walls, it can lead to what’s known as a cholesterol plaque. Over time, this plaque can impede blood flow, preventing the heart or brain from getting the oxygen needed to function. If the blood flow is blocked completely, a stroke or heart attack can ensue.

Ideally, your LDL cholesterol level should fall below 100. Yet, many individuals fall within the following range:

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

What Causes High LDL Cholesterol?


A faceless woman in a white t-shirt holding up broccoli with one hand and a donut with pink icing and sprinkles in the other

As with many conditions, the causes of high cholesterol are vast. While some factors are within your control to change, others, such as age and family history, are not. Here’s a closer look at some of the most common causes for high LDL cholesterol.

  • Diet: Cholesterol comes from two sources: the liver and a regular consumption of poor food choices. Foods with trans fats, including heavily processed meats, 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, many baked goods also contain trans fats and should therefore be avoided. [4]
  • Exercise Habits: Inactivity can contribute to high LDL cholesterol. While any exercise can support optimal health, regular aerobic activity, in specific, can help control LDL levels. [5]
  • Weight: Obesity and excess abdominal fat are associated with high cholesterol. [6]
  • Age & Gender: Cholesterol levels tend to rise naturally with age. Prior to menopause, women’s total cholesterol levels tend to be lower than their male peers. After reaching menopause, however, their LDL cholesterol often rises.
  • Family History: Individuals with a family history of high cholesterol, heart attack, or stroke should begin having their cholesterol tested at a young age, as they could be at a higher risk for elevated LDL levels. While younger adults should have their levels tested every 5 years, men should begin testing annually at the age of 45, and women at the age of 55. [7]

In addition to these factors, cigarette smoking and certain medications could raise LDL levels.

How Can You Lower Your LDL Cholesterol?


A brown-haired woman in neon orange shirt and man in black running clothes running together

Fortunately, there are many ways you can take control over your LDL cholesterol. While individuals with especially high levels may be advised to take cholesterol-lowering medication, there are many lifestyle changes you can pursue to lower your cholesterol as well. Outside of medications, here are a few of the most effective ways to lower your LDL cholesterol:

  • Following a Heart-Healthy Diet: In addition to limiting trans fats, eating a rich blend of vegetables, fruits, and lean protein can help to control cholesterol, while also lowering high blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease. Eliminating foods with added sugars is another dietary habit to adopt for better overall health. [8]
  • Exercising Regularly: In general, it’s recommended that individuals get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most, if not all, days of the week. Yet, it’s also possible to break total exercise time down into shorter, more intense bursts of exercise, called high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or to make workouts lengthier but low-impact. Ultimately, the exercise plan you’re most likely to stick with is the best one for you to follow, and a physical fitness expert like those from the Cenegenics team can help create a plan to meet your unique needs and preferences.
  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Exercising regularly and eating well will help you control your LDL cholesterol, but you’ll also be able to enjoy a healthy weight over the long term as an added bonus. And, because higher LDL is associated with obesity and a larger waist circumference, controlling your weight is important to keeping cholesterol levels in check.

Take Control of Your LDL Cholesterol – In Conclusion


While finding out you have elevated LDL cholesterol can be worrisome, the good news is that there are plenty of ways for you to turn your levels around. From exercising regularly to refining your diet to include heart-healthy eating patterns, the lifestyle habits you use to achieve healthier cholesterol levels will also lead you to greater overall wellness. And, with the help of the Cenegenics team to offer prescriptive guidance based on the results of your extensive health evaluation, you can rest assured you’re making the best choices to optimize your health and enjoy a richer quality of life.

To learn more about both the bad and good types of cholesterol and how they affect your health, read our full-length blog, The Main Causes of High Cholesterol.

Next Steps to Begin Lowering Your LDL 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: 

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

[5] 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

[6] Bhatt, Ami; see above.

[7] NIH, “LDL: The ‘Bad’ Cholesterol.” 4 Dec. 2017. Retrieved from URL: https://medlineplus.gov/ldlthebadcholesterol.html

[8] NIH, “DASH Eating Plan.” 25 Apr. 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://medlineplus.gov/dasheatingplan.html

3D Rendering of chromosome with emphasis on the telomere tips

Telomere Function in the Aging Process

Genes are like the story, and DNA is the language

 that the story is written in.

Sam Kean

Imagine if we had the power to predict patient lifespan based on a snapshot of current health. Doctors could then use this information to make individualized recommendations to help you optimize your wellness, reduce the risk for serious illness, and lead a more fulfilling life at every age. While modern science hasn’t yet allowed us to precisely predict longevity just yet, we’re getting closer.

Now, forward-thinking physicians are using an important biomarker of aging, telomere length, to monitor patient health and make more informed treatment decisions and lifestyle recommendations. These insights can also help pinpoint risk factors and aid in prevention efforts for serious conditions such as heart disease. Ultimately, looking at telomeres can allow doctors to encourage behaviors that shape a more rewarding future for their patients. If you’re new to the world of telomeres, find out more about these powerful measures of health below.

What Are Telomeres?

Telomere health loss concept with loss of telomere length

Every cell throughout the body carries genes, which are unique to each individual person. These genes dictate what cells should do and when. Comprised of DNA, these genes are connected in strands known as chromosomes. Within each cell, there are 23 pairs of chromosomes. Telomeres are sections of genetic material located at the end of each chromosome.

Telomere Function | What Do They Do?

Telomeres function as a protective cap meant to prevent the fraying of chromosomes when cells replicate. Telomeres have a vast number of DNA sections included within them, but when cells divide, the telomeres become a bit shorter with each time. 

When they become critically short, telomere function becomes compromised, and they no longer possess the capability to protect chromosomes. Cells die as a result, which is a natural component of the aging process – but only when it occurs at a natural pace. Accelerated cell death caused by unusually shortened telomeres is linked to a number of health issues, which we’ll explore below.   

What Is the Link Between Telomeres and Aging?

Mature couple laughing outside near hiking trail

Because telomeres shorten each time a cell replicates, telomere length is an important biomarker of aging. In particular, the rate at which telomeres shorten could hold powerful insights into the pace of aging, and potentially disease. Accelerated telomere shortening, in specific, is associated with certain age-associated diseases, as well as reduced overall lifespan. [1]

Telomerase, or the enzyme which replenishes telomeres, has the ability to add telomeric repeats to the ends of chromosomes. While this enzyme is present in certain renewing cells, such as stem cells, it is either extremely low or absent altogether in most normal cell types.

According to research, introducing telomerase, or a telomere repeat sequence, to the end of telomeres has been shown to extend cells beyond their normal finite lifespan of divisions. This ability to maintain cells in a useful state holds significant potential in terms of research and medical applications, though researchers have yet to tap into the full potential of the enzyme. [2]

Risk Factors of Shortened Telomeres

While telomere length decreases naturally with age, it is also believed to be affected by a number of other factors:

These factors are all likely to contribute to the rate of telomere loss. [3] In particular, smoking, poor eating habits, obesity, chronic stress, and other unhealthy lifestyle factors are linked to shorter telomeres. And, it’s therefore no surprise that shorter telomeres are associated with a lower life expectancy and increased rates of chronic disease. [4]

Indeed, shorter telomeres can unlock insights into specific diseases or disease risk within certain individuals. At least 5,000 to 10,000 Americans have conditions associated with shorter telomeres, but the prevalence could be far higher than that. [5] For example, shorter telomeres are associated with a higher mortality rate due to heart and infectious diseases. [6] Telomeres which appear to be shortening at an accelerated rate are also linked to the early onset of other age-associated conditions, including:

  • Heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Increased cancer risk

Ultimately, older adults with shorter telomeres have three times the risk of dying from heart disease, and eight times the risk of dying from an infectious disease. [7]

While this news may seem grim, studying telomeres actually presents a huge area of opportunity to improve patient outcomes. Because telomeres are affected by many lifestyle habits within our control to change, identifying telomere length not only gives us an idea of the conditions for which we might be at risk, but it also gives us control to optimize our overall health and minimize the impact of aging. One powerful way this is done is through telomere testing.

What Is Telomere Testing?

test tube with blood sample for telomere test, biological age prognosis via blood test

Telomere testing is an assessment which gauges the length of telomeres. Currently, there are a few ways to undergo telomere testing, including web-based orders which can direct patients to local labs. Yet, one-time tests only provide one piece of the puzzle: the current length of telomeres. Further testing and monitoring are needed to paint the full picture of telomere function. Experts are performing tests at one, three, five, and ten-year intervals, but this timeline can vary significantly based on many different factors which make up a patient’s individual risk profile. [8]

Some doctors are already using telomere testing as a means of informing treatment decisions for patients with certain conditions. For example, a group of heritable conditions characterized by bone marrow failure and lung scarring are linked to significantly shortened telomeres. Johns Hopkins professors have begun measuring telomere length in populations with these symptoms and known genetic mutations linked to telomeres.

Their findings helped physicians uncover new insights about telomere defects, and in some cases, led them to explore different treatment options. Because patients with short telomeres may be more susceptible to side effects from procedures and medications, for instance, discovering shortened telomeres has prompted doctors to use less aggressive therapies for certain patients. [9]

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that shortening telomeres don’t guarantee imminent disease, just as longer telomeres don’t mean a person will be able to avoid disease altogether. What these tests can do, however, is provide patients with an accurate insight into telomere status, which could serve as the wake-up call needed to kickstart a healthier lifestyle – no matter your age.

What Are the Best Ways to Safeguard Telomeres?

Mature couple exercising outside on urban sidewalk

A physician with insights into your individual patient profile will have the best advice for promoting healthy telomere function, and therefore helping you optimize your wellness at every age. With that being said, there are a few general guidelines which could help maintain optimal telomere length: 

  • Quit or avoid smoking: Smoking increases oxidative stress, which ultimately accelerates aging and telomere shortening. By some measures, the wearing of telomeres caused by smoking a pack a day for 40 years is equivalent to 7.4 years of life. Smoking cessation and avoidance are important not only for telomere length, but for promoting better overall health. [10]
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise can help to minimize excess body fat and expedite the process of waste elimination, which can reduce oxidative stress and help to preserve DNA, including telomeres. Athletes have been shown to exhibit elevated telomerase activity and reduced telomere shortening, compared to individuals who do not exercise regularly. With increased telomere stabilizing protein, people who exercise regularly may be able to enjoy a slower aging process and a reduced risk of age-associated diseases.  [11]
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity has been linked to increased DNA damage, and BMI actually bears a strong correlation to the biomarkers of DNA damage regardless of a person’s age. In fact, the effects of obesity on telomere length appear to be even worse than smoking, with a telomere loss equivalent to 8.8 years of life in obese individuals. For this reason, maintaining healthy eating habits and exercising regularly are critical components of a healthy life. [12]
  • Follow a nutritious diet: In addition to long-term weight management, diet in itself may also influence telomere length. Researchers believe portion sizes, antioxidant-rich diets, and healthy protein sources are all important to promoting longevity and wellness. Each individual has unique dietary needs, so working with your physician can help you find the eating style that best fulfils your specific nutrient requirements. 
  • Control stress: It’s unrealistic to assume anyone can avoid exterior stressors altogether, especially for busy professionals, individuals with family responsibilities, and other people with demanding lifestyles. Yet, finding healthy ways to cope with stress may be important to avoiding oxidative damage to DNA, which could contribute to early onset of age-related health issue. If you feel as if you’re consistently stressed, talk to your doctor about healthy stress management practices. 

Should You Get Your Telomeres Tested – In Conclusion

The more you know about your health and your individual patient profile, the better informed you are for making the right decisions to promote wellness. The physicians at Cenegenics stand by this belief, which is why each patient undergoes comprehensive clinical testing at the conception of their program. This allows our wellness optimization specialists to uncover key insights into current health status, risk profile, and key biomarkers that help shape effective treatment decisions and lifestyle management recommendations.

If you’re interested in learning more about your DNA to better your health, don’t hesitate to contact your nearest Cenegenics location. Their physicians will help you uncover details about your health you’ve never been able to access before. Armed with this information, you can collaborate with your Cenegenics physician to make the most appropriate and beneficial choices that allow you to feel your best at every age.

Next Steps to Schedule Your Telomere Test

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] Shammas, Masood A. “Telomeres, lifestyle, cancer, and aging.” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. Jan. 2011.

[2] A.G. Bodnar, et al. “Extension of life-span by introduction of telomerase into normal human cells.” Science. 16 Jan. 1998.

[3] Shammas, Masood A.; see above.

[4] Harvard Health Publishing. “Can this DNA test help predict your longevity?” April 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-this-dna-test-help-predict-your-longevity

[5] Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Accurate Telomere Length Test Influences Treatment Decisions for Certain Diseases.” 26 Feb. 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/accurate-telomere-length-test-influences-treatment-decisions-for-certain-diseases

[6] R.M. Cawthon, et al. “Association between telomere length in blood and mortality in people aged 69 years or older.” Lancet. 1 Feb. 2003.

[7] Shammas, Masood A.; see above.

[8] Harvard Health Publishing; see above.

[9] Johns Hopkins Medicine; see above.

[10] Shammas, Masood A.; see above.

[11] Shammas, Masood A.; see above.

[12] Shammas, Masood A.; see above.

Conceptual 3D Rendering of cells in bloodstream

What is Methylation and Why Should You Care?

While weight loss is important, what's more important is the quality of food you put in your body - food is information that quickly changes your metabolism and genes.

Mark Hyman

The process of methylation is more important than you may think. It can impact everything from fat metabolism, to energy production, and even contributes to DNA production. So, let’s explore what methylation is, and why you should even care.

What is Methylation?

Simply put, methylation is the chemical process of transferring one carbon and three hydrogen atoms from one substance to another. Although methylation may sound foreign of scientific, you’re much more familiar with the process than you might think. It’s happening at a cellular level in your body, and in fact, occurs in every cell and tissue.

The process of methylation is critically important. It changes the way proteins behave, thereby impacting enzymes, hormones, and genes.

Why is Methylation Important?

The process of methylation contributes to all of the following: 

  • DNA production
  • Neurotransmitter production
  • Detoxification
  • Histamine metabolism
  • Estrogen metabolism
  • Eye health
  • Fat metabolism
  • Cellular energy
  • Liver health

In most healthy individuals, methylation takes place freely. Our bodies have a universal methyl donor called SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) which readily contributes its methyl group to support the body’s ability to perform the aforementioned functions. Yet, this becomes complicated by the fact that SAMe production is dependent upon 5-MTHF (methyl-folate), a B vitamin. In itself, this isn’t a problem, but the bad news is that up to 50% of the population has a genetic mutation, the MTHFR gene variant, which makes it difficult for the body to create enough 5-MTHF. [1] When we can’t initiate the methylation process, it impedes our ability to create a significant number of molecules, including:

  • Glutathione
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Melatonin
  • Serotonin
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine
  • L-Carnitine
  • Cysteine
  • Taurine

What Happens When Methylation is Impaired?

Disruptions of Methylation

Disruptions of methylation can contribute to the following conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cancer
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Inherited genetic disorders
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Pregnancy or fertility complications
  • Decreased energy production
  • Decreased recovery

Because it contributes to detoxification, impaired methylation can allow toxins to build up in the body. As a result, a host of issues can arise. For example, researchers have established a link between abnormal DNA methylation and autoimmune disorders, such as lupus. [2] Disruptions in methylation have also been associated with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), [3] cancer, muscular dystrophy, and several inherited genetic diseases. [4] It can also contribute to conditions such as stroke, dementia, depression, and pregnancy or fertility complications.

Beyond contributing to disease, however, methylation impairment can also take its toll on wellness even in disease-free individuals. Methyl groups control energy production, inflammation response, the repair of cells damaged by free radicals, and the production of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant. These factors can make you feel as if your energy is depleted and your body is unable to recover as quickly as it should.

How to Improve Methylation in Your Body

Middle aged businessman eating salad in restraint while talking on his cell phone

Individuals with a healthy diet take in a variety of B vitamins, especially from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and bok choy. Dark leafy greens, asparagus, almonds, fish, and eggs are also rich in the B vitamins the body needs to support methylation. Yet, even the healthiest diet is likely to have some nutritional gaps, and it may be difficult to get enough B vitamins through food alone every day to support optimal methylation. Moreover, B vitamins found in food may not be in an optimal form for our bodies to use them most efficiently. When coupled with the prevalence of genetic issues, it’s no surprise why B vitamin deficiencies are seen so commonly.

To some degree, methylation can be promoted through many of the lifestyle adjustments you’d make to support overall health, such as reducing stress, alcohol intake, and exposure to toxins. These toxins burden the liver, which plays an essential role in methylation. Yet, in people with MTHFR gene variants or other issues inhibiting methylation, these behaviors alone won’t be enough to provide the body with enough 5-MTHF. Thus, getting tested for a deficiency is a good starting point for most individuals. If you are, you will likely be recommended for supplements.

What Active Forms of Vitamins are Essential for Improved Methylation

There are some vitamins and nutrients which can be supplemented to increase B vitamin levels, and subsequently methylation. It’s important to note, however, that with these vitamins, it is imperative that patients use the active form, which in most cases is already methylated. The non-methylated form, on the other hand, is less effective for raising 5-MTHF levels in the body.

For this reason, Cenegenics offers a special methylation formula which empowers the body by raising vitamin B levels to support methylation. It contains five ingredients which are essential to the methylation process, starting with 5-MTHF, the vitamin responsible for making the primary methyl donor SAMe. It also contains an optimal amount of methylcobalamin (B12), riboflavin (B2), and pyridoxine hydrochloride (B6). Finally, the last ingredient is known as betaine (trimethylglycine), which also acts as a methyl donor. Ultimately, these ingredients combine to return your B vitamins back to their peak for healthy methylation.

The Benefits of Methylation Supplements

Supplement pills in wooden spoon again grain background, herbal supplement in pill and capsule on wood table with green leaves

In addition to helping to keep autoimmune disorders at bay, methylation formula can facilitate overall healthy aging. It supports:

Methylation also protects the body’s telomeres, or the tails on DNA and chromosomes which can accelerate aging if not protected. This impacts the body not just physically, but mentally as well. Thus, methylation slows overall aging, in terms of both bodily function and mental acuity. This, combined with hormone regulation, boosted energy, reduced inflammation, and detoxification can help you feel better not just shortly after taking the supplement, but also far into the future.

Plus, as with all of our nutraceuticals, our methylation formula is manufactured in the U.S.A. and without any harmful additives. Because supplements aren’t nearly as heavily regulated as pharmaceuticals, it’s critically important to make sure yours come from only trusted sources. Our clinical nutraceuticals are pharmaceutically-tested and far surpass the quality of low-cost, generic retail supplements. That’s because we believe that what goes into the body directly influences the quality of health outcomes.

If you feel sluggish, achy, or otherwise under the weather, you could be suffering from the genetic defect that affects methylation. To find out more about what you can do to start feeling like the best version of yourself, contact your nearest Cenegenics location.

Next Steps in Understanding Methylation

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] The Permanente Medical Group, 2015. Retrieved from URL: https://mydoctor.kaiserpermanente.org/ncal/Images/GEN_MTHFR_tcm63-938252.pdf

[2] Richardson, B. “DNA methylation and autoimmune disease.” Clinical Immunology. Oct. 2003. Retrieved from URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14585278

[3] EA Vucic et al. “DNA methylation is globally disrupted and associated with expression changes in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease small airways.” American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology. May 2014. Retrieved from URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24298892

[4] Robertson, Keith D. “DNA methylation and human disease.” Nature Reviews Genetics. 01 Aug. 2005. Retrieved from URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/nrg1655

3D illustration of thyroid gland in human body

What is Hypothyroidism | Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Keep your vitality. A life without health is like a river without water.

Maxime Lagacé

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the neck. Despite its small size, however, the thyroid plays an important role in many key processes throughout the body. It influences metabolism, helps to regulate body temperature, and aids in growth and development.

Under normal circumstances, the thyroid secretes optimal levels of two hormones, thyroxine or T4, and triiodothyronine, or T3. Outside the thyroid, in organs such as the liver, kidneys, and brain, T3 is also converted from T4. Both T3 and T4 are stored in certain amounts within the thyroid, and when it is needed by the body, the gland secretes the hormones into the bloodstream to meet the cells’ metabolic needs. [1]

In certain cases, the thyroid is unable to produce sufficient critical hormones. Known as hypothyroidism, this condition can spur a chain reaction in which a number of body-wide symptoms arise. Here, we take a closer look at hypothyroidism, including its causes and treatments.    

What Is Hypothyroidism?


Illustration of healthy thyroid gland with anterior and posterior views

At the most basic level, hypothyroidism refers to an underactive thyroid. In individuals with hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland cannot produce enough thyroid hormone to keep the body functioning normally. Doctors can confirm hypothyroidism based on symptoms and blood test results. Blood tests may measure thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is used as a messenger from the pituitary gland to tell the thyroid how much thyroid hormone to produce. When TSH is low, it signals the thyroid to slow down hormone production. This essentially slows down all of the body’s functions, causing you to experience a number of seemingly unexplainable symptoms. [2]

What Are Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?


Mature male businessman wearing suit holding the bridge of his nose with closed eyes, Tired businessman suffering from cognitive/mental fatigue

The symptoms of hypothyroidism can develop slowly over time. In many cases, patients experience weight gain, despite maintaining a regular diet or even eating less than normal. Because the thyroid regulates body temperature, another common symptom of hypothyroidism includes increased sensitivity to cold. Fatigue, dry skin, hoarseness, constipation, and muscle weakness may also ensue.

Since the hormones produced by the thyroid have body-wide effects, symptoms are rarely isolated. Some of the other widespread symptoms patients tend to notice include:

The thyroid is also a part of the endocrine system, which includes the ovaries in women and the testicles in men. With hypothyroidism, symptoms such as heavy or irregular periods may occur. The condition can also lead to fertility issues, as improper hormone levels could affect ovulation.

The challenge with hypothyroidism lies in the fact that the signs and symptoms may be difficult to notice at first, and can vary based on the condition’s severity. Symptoms such as fatigue and weight gain may creep up slowly, and are often attributed to the natural aging process. Nonetheless, symptoms tend to become more pronounced as the metabolism continues to slow.

In some cases, the root cause of this chain reaction is easy to pinpoint. Thyroid surgery, for example, will likely lead to diminished production of hormones by the thyroid. There are other potential causes behind hypothyroidism, however, which are discussed below.

What Causes Hypothyroidism?


Stethoscope and tablet with blue screen and white letters stating HYPOTHYROIDISM

While there are many potential causes behind hypothyroidism, the most common is autoimmune disease. In particular, an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common reason behind an underactive thyroid. In this condition, the immune system attacks the thyroids, resulting in inflammation of the gland and an inability to produce sufficient hormones. While it is unknown why certain individuals produce antibodies that target the thyroid gland, this condition often runs in families. It tends to occur in middle-aged women, but it can affect individuals of any age, including men and children. [3] Another autoimmune disorder that can affect the thyroid includes atrophic thyroiditis.

As mentioned above, thyroid surgery can also result in hypothyroidism. If all or a large portion of the thyroid is removed, it typically results in a lifelong need for thyroid hormones. Radiation therapy to treat cancers of the head and neck may also lead to hypothyroidism.

In addition, there are some cases in which medications can contribute to hypothyroidism. For one, patients being treated for hyperthyroidism, in which the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone, may over-respond to medications. Radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications are implemented to restore normal thyroid function, but in pursuit of correcting hyperthyroidism, it’s possible to lower thyroid production too much, causing hypothyroidism. In addition, lithium, which is commonly used to treat psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder and mania, can also cause hypothyroidism.

Causes of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism can be caused by the following:

  • Autoimmune disease
  • Thyroid surgery
  • Radiation treatment
  • Certain medications
  • Failure of the pituitary gland
  • Pregnancy
  • Iodine deficiency

While rare, hypothyroidism can also result from other conditions. For example, congenital hypothyroidism, in which a baby is born with a missing or defective thyroid gland, can occur. Most states require thyroid screening in newborns to assess for this condition. Failure of the pituitary gland, which may be a result of a benign tumor, can also lead to insufficient TSH, and subsequently, hypothyroidism. Some women also experience hypothyroidism during or after pregnancy. Finally, the condition can also be caused by an iodine deficiency. Although rare in many parts of the world, the addition of iodine to table salt has almost altogether eliminated the deficiency in the U.S.

Certain populations face an increased risk for hypothyroidism, including women and individuals over the age of 60, as well as people with a family history of the condition. Other autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, appear to be associated with a higher risk for hypothyroidism as well. [4] 

How Is Hypothyroidism Treated?


Diagnosing and treating hypothyroidism is important, as leaving it unaddressed can lead to a number of complications. In an attempt to prompt the thyroid to produce more hormones, the pituitary gland will make more TSH. This constant stimulation can lead to an enlargement of the gland, known as a goiter. While not typically uncomfortable, a pronounced goiter may lead to swallowing or breathing difficulties.

In individuals with an underactive thyroid, increased levels of low-density lipoprotein, also known as the “bad” cholesterol, may occur. This can increase the risk for cardiovascular complications, including heart disease and failure. Depression and peripheral nerve damage may also occur. A rare but life-threatening condition caused myxedema can also result from prolonged, untreated hypothyroidism, and is characterized by severe drowsiness, intolerance to cold, and potentially, unconsciousness.

Luckily, treatments are available to combat hypothyroidism. Typically, the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine is used daily to restore hormones to their appropriate levels. This hormone is identical to the hormone the thyroid produces naturally. It can also help alleviate or reverse the signs of hypothyroidism. Finding the right dose may require some trial and error, so medical professionals perform further blood tests a few weeks after introducing hormones. [5]

In addition to using medications, certain lifestyle changes, including adopting a diet for hypothyroidism, may help control symptoms.

The Best Diet for Hypothyroidism


Birdseye view of food including green grapes, grapefruit, blueberries, black cherries, strawberries, who grain crackers, cheese, shish kabobs