Category Archives for Weight Loss

Getting back on track with diet and exercise after a night or weekend of fun depends on your mindset, Staying motivated on a diet can be as simple as acknowledging that it was one meal and that it had little to no effect on the hard work your put in, You have to remember to keep moving forward

Getting Back on Track with Diet & Exercise: Staying Motivated

After a long, strenuous week, it’s Friday! The work week is over, and it is time to relax and leave some of the stress behind. During the week, you remained focused and diligent, not just on work, but on yourself. Your nutrition was spot on, and you hit the gym 3 out of 5 days. You are feeling great and motivated, and there is nothing that can slow you down!

Saturday comes along, and your friends invite you to a party. No big deal; socializing is part of a healthy lifestyle. When you get there, you are feeling confident that you have found balance and can enjoy yourself while maintaining the moderation that has gotten you here.

Immediately, the smell hits you. All of your favorite snacks are there along with pizza, subs, and all types of alcohol, like the world ends tomorrow. You try your best, but you give in, and 3 glasses of wine, 2 slices of pizza, and 2 cookies later, you’re on the couch in an immovable heap of a food coma. Now, there are a few scenarios that follow this.

  • You wake up the next morning, feeling guilty about your decisions the previous day, and decide to continue down that path. You figure, “I will just start again Monday,” and add pancakes to the mix the next morning.
  • You overreact and eat little to nothing the next day. You think this will help but, on Monday, you feel even worse than before, and your workout goes terribly.
  • You acknowledge that it was one meal and that it has little to no effect on all of the hard work you put in. You wake up the next morning, hydrate (you all know why), and you kick it back into gear.

Getting Back on Track with Diet & Exercise


One bad meal does not ruin all the progress you’ve already made, A healthy mindset can help you recover from slip-ups faster

When we hear the phrase “falling off track,” many of us see this as an insurmountable mistake. Not only have we fallen off track, but the train is cascading down a hill that creates a new uphill battle.

The reality of the situation is that one meal did not knock you off a cliff. One meal merely tilted you off one wheel for a small fraction of time. The only way for the train to fall completely off the tracks is for you, as the conductor, to allow this to happen.

Acknowledging that it was one meal, or a single night out, and not allowing yourself to use this as an excuse to continue down your current path makes a large difference. Tilt the balance back by waking up and eating a high quality, nutritious breakfast, and hit the gym for a satisfying workout!

Staying Motivated on a Diet & Exercise Program


Staying motivated and keeping on track can be difficult, but it is not remotely impossible. Much like anything in life, there will be bumps along the way that provide immense challenges. Having a plan going into these situations will turn this so-called disaster into an enjoyable and necessary social experience. Here are some tips to not only stay on track but to also keep moving forward!

Staying Motivated

Here are some tips to help you stay motivated & stay on track:

  • Workout Before Going Out
  • Eat & Hydrate Before Going Out
  • Workout Afterwards or the Following Day
  • Have a Motivation or Workout Buddy
  • Have Healthy Meals Planned for After a Social Event
  • Enjoy & Live in the Moment 

Workout Before Going Out and Socializing

  • Most of the time when we go out, it is not until at the very least the early afternoon
  • Take the time to wake up in the morning, eat well, hydrate a lot, and toss in a great workout
  • Working out before these events will increase your metabolism, increasing muscular demand for those potentially bad calories, and even reduce your cravings for them
  • Make good use of the calories to come, and start the day with activity and good decisions!

Eat and Hydrate Before You Go

Eat a nutritious meal and hydrate to stay on track before any social event
  • Most of the time when we go to social events, we typically plan to eat until it hurts
  • This is a huge mistake, because going into a social event hungry will increase cravings and the possibility of binging
  • On top of your morning workout, try to have as much high quality nutrition as you can before you go, including:
    • Lean protein such as chicken, fish, eggs and egg whites
    • Lots of vegetables
    • Healthy fats like avocado and nuts
    • Some fruit or low glycemic carbs such as quinoa or sweet potato
    • Lots of water
  • The more satisfied you feel going into the social event, the less likely you are to go all out

Workout Afterwards, or the Next Day

  • Working out as soon as you can, after a cheat meal or event, can help you immediately make use of the calories and steer you in the right direction
  • Instead of slamming down more bad food the next morning, get up and go to the gym
  • Even a light workout will help you release endorphins that help you think positively of the food you had, and allow you to carry on with your nutrition and exercise regimen right away

Have a Motivation Buddy

having a workout or motivation partner is one of the best ways of getting back on track with diet & exercise programs
  • Having someone with the same mentality as you can be very helpful
  • If you are going to a party or event with a spouse, friend, or family member, have each other’s back
  • Try to support one another by making realistic goals going in and sticking to them as best you can
  • Make plans together to go to the gym in the morning before or the morning after the event
  • Keep each other accountable, and you will succeed!

Have Healthy Meals Planned out for After the Social Event

ENJOY!

  • Life is about taking in these fun, slightly glutinous moments and appreciating them
  • Living in the moment is key here
  • By living in the moment, you can get what you need out of these less healthy decisions, and make them fit well into your lifestyle

All in all, enjoy life and maintain a balanced approach. No one can push you off the tracks. Staying on path is up to you, and these tools will make it much easier.

Finding Motivation – In Conclusion


We all live busy lives and aren’t always able to say no to socializing with friends and family, but “don’t’ get so busy making a life that you forget to live it”. Enjoy life, but remember to maintain a healthy balance.

If you are going out, be sure to plan ahead:

  • Enjoy a morning workout and a healthy breakfast
  • Keep hydrated
  • Have healthy meals ready for after
  • Always have a motivation partner
  • Don’t guilt yourself the next day

Having a healthy mindset and being able to recognize that one night does not ruin all of your progress is the best way to keep yourself on track and motivated. Your Cenegenics Nutrition & Exercise Counselor is also a great source of motivation when you are feeling overwhelmed by your choices from a night out.

Our customized nutrition and exercise programs are designed to help optimize your health & wellness, taking into account your current lifestyle. Your Cenegenics team is here to help you every step of the way. To learn more, contact your nearest Cenegenics location.

Next Steps to Staying Motivated with Cenegenics

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Key Resources

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

Joshua D’Alessandro MS, CSCS, CISSN 

Nutrition & Exercise Counselor at Cenegenics New York City 

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.

Greek yogurt with steel cut oats & berries is a great combination of healthy snacks, healthy snacks can help curb hunger and keep your metabolism functioning optimally, Junk food and low fat options are foods to avoid for weight loss and overall optimal health

Healthy Snacks to Get You Through the Day

In today’s society, being on-the-go is in everyone’s daily routine. Whether it is flying out the door to get to work on time or running late to pick up the kids from school, we are frequently moving from one event to the next. This leaves little time to stop for a full, nutritious meal, meaning we easily turn to fast food. If we don’t have time for even fast food, we will turn to snacks.

When we enter a convenience store, we are bombarded with options. It can get quite overwhelming, and this typically leads to us choosing the wrong item. These items include cakes, cookies, chips, processed bars, and candy. All of these foods are packed with sugar, additives, and preservatives that can wreak havoc on the insulin, blood sugar, gut microbiome, as well as energy levels.

Top 4 Sources of Healthy Snacks


There are many ways to make the right snack choice on-the-go; it just takes a little more effort. Here is a list of snacks to choose for most on-the-go scenarios, as well as foods to stay away from.

Sources of Healthy Snacks to Satisfy the Munchies (Guilt-Free)

Here are the top 4 groups of healthy snacks to grab on-the-go: 

  • High Protein Snacks
  • Low Glycemic Carbohydrate Protein Snacks
  • Healthy Fat Snacks
  • Combination Snacks

High Protein Snacks

Protein helps us maintain metabolism and muscle mass throughout the day. Getting 15-30 grams of quality protein multiple times throughout the day is a great way to curb cravings, maintain energy, and maintain muscle.

Low sugar beef jerky and turkey jerky are great high protein healthy snacks
  • Animal protein options:
    • Pre-sliced natural turkey, roast beef, and chicken (high in protein, no nitrates or nitrites)
    • Low sugar beef jerky
    • Tuna packets and salmon packets (wild caught if possible)
    • Low sodium cheese sticks (if not lactose intolerant)
    • Hard-boiled egg 2 pack
    • Greek yogurt—No high fructose corn syrup
    • Whey protein shake – Cenegenics® offers a whey protein sources from grass-fed, hormone-free dairy and is free of artificial colors, preservatives and sweeteners
hummus and roasted chick peas are great vegetarian/vegan healthy snacks
    • Vegetarian/vegan protein options:
      • Roasted chick peas
      • 3 bean salad (pre-made with vinegar and olive oil)
      • Hummus (with vegetables)
      • Vegan protein shake – Cenegenics® Pea & Rice Protein is a great option, additional suggestions can easily be made upon request

Low Glycemic Carbohydrates Protein Snacks

Carbohydrates provide necessary, long term energy to perform our most basic and most difficult daily life functions. Incorporating whole food carbohydrates throughout the day is a great way to minimize energy crashes.

Whole natural foods such as fruits and vegetables are great low glycemic healthy snacks
  • Sources include:
    • Whole fruit: Apples, peaches, berries, pears, oranges (fruits with skin have a higher fiber content)
    • Fibrous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery (great with hummus)
    • Roasted chick peas

Healthy Fat Snack Choices

Healthy fats are necessary to maintaining cell health, immune function, temperature regulation, and satiety. Adding healthy fats to snacks can make snacking easy and healthy.

Always check serving size. Fats have the highest caloric content per gram, so be aware of what a serving is

Guacamole and certain nuts are great healthy snacks, Healthy fat snacks should be checked for serving sizes since fats have the highest caloric content per gram
  • Sources include:
    • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios
    • Guacamole
    • Nut butters (natural nut butter, no sugar or syrups added)
    • Dark chocolate (serving size!)

Combination Snacks

  • When possible, combine your macronutrients when snacking
  • Some examples include:
    • 3 ounces natural turkey, 1 apple, 15 almonds
    • Carrot sticks with 3 Tbsp. hummus
    • Vegan protein shake with 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter blended in
    • Turkey rollup
      • 2 slices turkey, 1 slice avocado, spinach, and some mustard
    • Tuna salad made with guacamole
    • 2 hard-boiled eggs and an orange
  • GET CREATIVE: Keep combining foods from each category to keep it interesting!

Foods to Avoid for Weight Loss & Optimal Health


Top 4 Foods to Avoid For Weight Loss

These are groups that you should skip while shopping or looking for healthy snacks: 

  • "Low Fat Options"
  • Foods with Any Kind of Syrup
  • Processed Junk Foods
  • Sugary Beverages

When searching for snacks, there are some things you should avoid at all times:

Foods to avoid for weight loss and overall wellness include processed foods and low fat options, foods with low fat options tend to be high in sugar
  • These include:
    • ​​​​​​​"Low fat options"
      • ​​​​​​​These foods, typically found in crackers, bars, and other high carb products, are very high in sugar, which has replaced the fat
    • Foods with any kind of syrup
      • ​​​​​​​If you see the word syrup on the nutrition label, PUT IT BACK!
      • These syrups are usually not natural and can spike insulin aggressively
    • Processed junk foods
      • ​​​​​​​Almost, if not all cakes, cookies, chips, cereal and cereal bars, candy, and pastries are processed and blood sugar bombs
    • Sugary beverages
      • Soda, juices, sports drinks, creamer based coffee drinks, and slushies are all massively high in sugar

Healthy Snacking – In Conclusion


Nutrition is often described as the most difficult part of weight management. As discussed in our Healthy Meal Prepping Ideas blog, often failing to prepare is preparing you to fail. Don’t go to the grocery store without a list and fall prey to the trap of convenience in the form of processed foods. Although they may look enticing, most of these foods are high in sugar, have very little nutritional value, and can lead to weight gain and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Whole foods (fruits & vegetables), animal and vegetarian/vegan protein, and combination snacks are often the most efficient for curbing appetite, maintaining energy, and helping to sustain a regular metabolic rate.  

Your Cenegenics® physician and clinical team work to provide custom tailored nutritional plans. They help make adjustments based on your lifestyle demands and they help you to effectively utilize your time. If you’re interested in learning more about optimizing your nutrition & overall wellness, contact us below for your free consultation.

Next Steps to Optimizing Your Nutrition & Overall Wellness

Key Resources

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

Joshua D’Alessandro MS, CSCS, CISSN 

Nutrition & Exercise Counselor at Cenegenics New York City 

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.

Pick one day to prep your food for the week, Following healthy meal prepping ideas can help you avoid eating processed foods and take-out when short on time, The following meal prep guide provides you with tips and recommendations to make the most of your time and make your meal prep effective & efficient

Healthy Meal Prepping Ideas

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Benjamin Franklin


One of the main reasons people struggle to maintain success with a nutrition plan is lack of preparation. Although there are healthy options to be had on the go, it is very tough to tell exactly which options provide what we truly need. Many foods at restaurants, pharmacies, etc., tend to have additives to increase flavor, such as sugar, salt, and other preservatives. The best way to know for sure you are getting what you need is to take matters into your own hands.


Preparation is the key aspect on any solid plan, nutrition based or not. Going into an endeavor without planning is the first step to feeling overwhelmed and falling off track. In order to make sure this does not happen, the effort needs to be put in before our hectic schedules get the best of us.

Meal prepping sounds challenging. Not many people want to waste their hard earned free time cooking loads of protein. However, there are many benefits to meal prepping that people do not typically acknowledge including:

These are just a few of the many benefits to getting ready for the week. Here are some suggestions on how to meal prep effectively to fit a busy lifestyle! I will also provide examples of meal prepping that go by specific nutrition requirements (vegan, low carb, etc.)

Meal Prep Guide & Tips


Healthy Meal Prep Tips

Here are a few suggestions to help you meal prep effectively, even with a busy lifestyle:

  • Pick one day to meal prep for the week
  • Prepare a shopping list
  • Buy food that you can store in the freezer in bulk
  • Buy large containers of healthy snacks
  • Purchase various container sizes
  • Stock up on spices
  • Get others involved!

Choose a Day to Prep That You Can Stick To 

  • Typically, meal prep will take a few hours
  • Choosing a day during the weekend or a day where you are off from work during the week is a great time to get the shopping done and prep as well
  • Use the time wisely, because this will also save you time preparing lunches, dinners, and snacks throughout the week
  • This is precious time that adds up, even if you don't notice it immediately
Choosing one day to meal prep is a healthy meal prep tip that can help make the most of your time

Make a List Before Going to the Store  

  • Having a list before going in will save you time and even money
  • By focusing in on the things you need and keeping out the things you don't, you will navigate the supermarket more efficiently and buy less "craving" food
Healthy Meal Prep Tips include making a list before going to the store, Having a list prevents you from hungry shopping

Buy Food in Bulk That You Can Keep in the Freezer

  • Certain foods you will have to buy 2-3 times a week, including fruits, vegetable, and other perishable foods
  •  With protein, frozen veggies, and other freezer friendly items, try to stock up. Being able to take this food right out of the freezer and defrost while at work is a great way to save trips to the grocery store

Buy Large Containers of Healthy Snacks

  • Investing in a large bag of healthy snacks can make eating throughout the day manageable
  • Healthy fats to buy in bulk
    • Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews
    • These foods maintain well, have good fat and fiber, and will keep you full
    • CHECK SERVING SIZE! These foods are calorically dense and need to be measured out
  • Healthy protein snacks in bulk
    • Low sugar beef jerky
    • Wild caught tuna packets
    • Vegan/whey protein tubs
    • Low sodium cheese sticks
  • Healthy carb snacks
    • Some whole fruits (apples, oranges, pears)
    • Steel cut oats packets

Buy Container Sizes

  • Buy various containers for lunches, dinners, and snacks
  • Portion out your meals and snacks in their respective containers
  • Label them as "lunch, dinner, snacks" to make them easy to grab
  •  Ziploc bags help quite a bit as well for packing snacks like fresh vegetables, nuts, and fruit

Buy Loads of Spices!

  • Load up on garlic salt, adobo, cumin, paprika, Himalayan sea salt, pepper corn, or whatever flavors you enjoy!
  •  This will help keep your food flavorful and help you avoid monotony

Make It a Family Thing!

  • Family time, or time with a spouse or friends, cannot be overstated
  • Get the whole family involved
  • Not only will it save you time, but it can also get everyone on-board with this very necessary, healthy habit!

Healthy Meal Prepping Ideas & Recommendations


General Guidelines: Low Glycemic Meal Prep

a great healthy meal prep is a low-glycemic option, lean protein and fresh vegetables are great options for a low-glycemic meal prep
  • 5-7 pounds of lean protein
    • Skinless chicken, lean ground turkey or chicken, whole roasted turkey, fish (salmon, mackerel, cod, tuna, WILD CAUGHT)
    • Ground chicken and turkey can be made into meatballs, burgers, meatloaf, or for Mexican style bowls (lettuce, guacamole, fresh pico de gallo, black beans)
  • 1-2 pounds of 3 different fresh vegetables
    • Squash, zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, Brussel sprouts
    • Be sure to cook down the cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage to avoid GI distress
    • Large bags of organic spinach, kale, arugula, cabbage mix, and spring mix
  • Healthy fats (choose 2-3)
    • 4-6 avocados
    • 1 large bottle of olive oil
    • 1 large package of unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.)
    • 1 jar of natural, no sugar added peanut or almond butter
  • Breakfast/miscellaneous
    • 1-2 dozen free range organic eggs
    • Turkey sausage (all natural)
  • Seasonings and additions
    • Himalayan salt, pepper, paprika, adobo, mint, etc.
    • Garlic
    • 5-6 lemons or limes (great for adding flavor to chicken and vegetables, use rinds as well)
    • Red wine vinegar
    • Stone ground mustard
    •  Hummus and guacamole (good for dipping)

Additional Guidelines for Whole Food Nutrition (Moderate Glycemic)

taking advantage of spices is a great tip from this meal prep guide, using spices to add flavor to meals can keep meals exciting vs eating the same meal daily.

For those consuming energy dense, moderate to low glycemic diets, the following recommendations can be followed in addition to the general guidelines listed above:

    • Moderate to low glycemic index carbohydrates (1 or 2 to keep variety)
      • ​​​​​​​2-4 pounds of sweet potatoes
      • 1 bag of organic quinoa (1 cup usually makes 2 to 3 servings)
      • 1 large bag organic brown or wild rice
    • 2-4 pounds of fresh fruit
      • ​​​​​​​Apples, oranges/clementine's, bananas, berries
    • Breakfast/miscellaneous
      • ​​​​​​​1 package of certified organic, certified gluten-free steel cut oats
      • 1 tub plain Greek yogurt

Additional Guidelines for Keto Style Meal Prep

Keto style meal prep includes less lean protein compared to a low- to medium-glycemic diet

If following a keto plan, limit your lean protein to 3-4 pounds, compared to the recommended 5-7 pounds for low and moderate glycemic plans. Try to limit to no less than 50 grams of carbs from vegetable sources a day to maintain ketosis.

Additionally, you can choose 3-4 healthy fats, instead of limiting it to 2-3 as the low and moderate glycemic plans do. Organic coconut oil and unsalted ghee/butter can be used as additional sources of healthy fats within the keto style meal prep.

Low-Glycemic vs Whole Food vs Keto – Which One Should I Choose?  


Low-glycemic plans is ideal for individuals trying to lose weight, manage prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, as well as prevent chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease [1].

Whole foods (moderate glycemic) plans follow most of the same guidelines as a low-glycemic plan, but allows for a little more flexibility of additional carbs such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, and organic brown or wild rice. It eliminates the risk of processed foods, and helps you feel full longer.

Keto meal plans are often used for individuals trying to bulk up. It has been found to be effective in weight loss, since it forces the body to use fat instead of carbs are a source of energy. There is evidence that a low-carb keto diet can reduce body mass without the negative impact on strength and power [2].

The above guidelines are based on general recommendations of popular meal plans. For custom, individualized meal plans contact your nearest Cenegenics location to discover how Cenegenics can help you live well, longer.

Choosing The Right Meal Plan For You – In Conclusion


Choosing the right nutritional plan is truly dependent upon your individual goals, medical history and current lifestyle. Cenegenics is focused on treating the individual and helping to optimize overall health and wellness.

Our physician and clinical team will perform a comprehensive health evaluation, including analyzing key biomarkers to determine if any deficiencies exist. Customized nutrition plans are then formed to help ensure your body receives the nutrients it needs to function optimally, both now and in the long term.

If you are interested in learning about nutrition and meal prepping beyond the basics, contact your nearest location today.

Next Steps to Receive Individualized Nutritional Plan

Key Resources

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

Joshua D’Alessandro MS, CSCS, CISSN 

Nutrition & Exercise Counselor at Cenegenics New York City 

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] Augustin, L. S., Kendall, C. W., Jenkins, D. J., Willett, W. C., Astrup, A., Barclay, A. W., . . . Poli, A. (2015, September). Glycemic index, glycemic load and glycemic response: An International Scientific Consensus Summit from the International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26160327

[2] Greene, D. A., Varley, B. J., Hartwig, T. B., Chapman, P., & Rigney, M. (2018, December). A Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet Reduces Body Mass Without Compromising Performance in Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting Athletes. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30335720

* Disclaimer: These are general recommendations based on popular nutrition plans. If you are interested in plans specific to your goals, please contact Cenegenics to learn more about our individualized programs.

Insulin resistance occurs when the body does not respond to insulin as it should, Causes of insulin resistance include genetics and obesity, insulin resistance treatment options include weight management and medications to manage high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels

Could You Be at Risk of Developing Insulin Resistance?

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas which helps glucose, or blood sugar, make its way into cells throughout the body’s muscle, fat, and liver to be used for energy. Glucose is found in various amounts in different types of food. Blood sugar levels spike after you eat, prompting the pancreas to release insulin. Thereafter, insulin regulates blood sugar levels.

When the cells in your body no longer respond to insulin as they should, it impedes their ability to take glucose from the blood. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood. The pancreas goes into overdrive, producing even more insulin in response. This phenomenon is known as insulin resistance.

Insulin sensitivity is one of the most important markers of overall wellness. Insulin resistance is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes and is ultimately associated with the cascade of events that can cause metabolic syndrome, a cluster of disorders that increase the risk for stroke and heart disease, as well as premature cardiovascular-related deaths. [1]

Here, we take a closer look at insulin resistance to help you determine your risk and actively prevent against this serious condition. Additionally, patients who have already been diagnosed with insulin resistance will find treatment options below. 

How is Insulin Resistance Diagnosed?


Insulin resistance is often tested with a blood test or HOMA-IR score

If the pancreas is able to produce enough insulin to combat the cells’ weakened insulin response, blood glucose levels will stay within a healthy range. Thus, while diagnosing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes is fairly straightforward, testing for insulin resistance isn’t always as simple.

Laboratory tools such as the Homeostatic Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance, or HOMA-IR score, can be used to detect insulin sensitivity. A HOMA-IR score of less than 1.0 indicates healthy insulin sensitivity, whereas a score between 1.7 and 2.4 suggests insulin resistance.

A score of 2.6 is the cutoff for prediabetes. [2] A series of other diagnostic tests, combined with a review of the patient’s medical history and symptoms, may also be used to help doctors diagnose insulin sensitivity.

When the blood glucose levels are elevated but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes, patients are diagnosed with prediabetes. This occurs when patients have some insulin resistance or the pancreas isn’t producing enough insulin to keep blood sugar at a normal level.

Excess glucose therefore builds up in the bloodstream instead of being used by the cells, and 15-30% of people with prediabetes will be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within 5 years. [3]

The good news is that with both insulin resistance and prediabetes, it’s possible to make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay diabetes and other serious health conditions. We’ll discuss insulin resistance treatments in an upcoming section, but first let’s examine the causes of insulin resistance.

What Are the Causes of Insulin Resistance?


one of the major causes of insulin resistance is being overweight or obese, Storage of excess body fat in the abdomen can cause chronic inflammation and factors into insulin resistance

Experts have yet to develop an exact understanding of the mechanisms behind insulin resistance and prediabetes, but a few major factors have been established as playing a role in the conditions.

Being overweight or obese, for example, is an important cause of insulin resistance. Storing excess fat around the abdomen, known as visceral fat, is an especially noteworthy contributing factor. For men, a waist measurement of 40 inches or more has been linked to insulin resistance, whereas 35 inches or more becomes concerning for women.

This is likely due to the fact that abdominal fat can produce hormones which contribute to chronic inflammation. [4] Inflammatory factors parallel insulin sensitivity. [5]

In addition, insulin resistance has been attributed to leading a sedentary lifestyle, as it’s suspected that exercise spurs bodily changes which help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Physical activity has been shown to decrease insulin resistance in previously sedentary adults. [6]

Risk Factors

Beyond physical inactivity and having excess visceral fat, populations with certain genetic or lifestyle risk factors may face an elevated risk for developing insulin resistance. 

Risk Factors of Insulin Resistance

Excess abdominal fat and lack of physical activity largely contribute to insulin resistance. Additional factors include:

  • Being over the age of 45
  • Having a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • Elevated cholesterol or blood pressure levels
  • A history of heart disease or stroke
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Certain medications, including antipsychotics and drugs for HIV
  • Hormonal disorders, including Cushing’s syndrome
  • Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea

With these risk factors in mind, let’s explore some of the possible symptoms of insulin resistance.

What Are the Symptoms of Insulin Resistance?


Diagnosing insulin resistance becomes further complicated by the fact that patients typically exhibit no symptoms. When the condition progresses to the point of prediabetes, patients may notice darkening of the skin in certain areas, such as the armpit or neck. Skin tags may also develop.

In some cases, patients may experience fatigue, weight gain, excessive thirst, and excessive urination. Nonetheless, these symptoms typically don’t manifest until the condition has surpassed the levels of insulin resistance and prediabetes or type 2 diabetes have developed.

The absence of symptoms can indeed complicate the ability to diagnose and treat insulin resistance. Nonetheless, whether you suspect you could be at risk for insulin resistance or you’ve already been diagnosed, the following lifestyle changes can benefit everyone.

Insulin Resistance Treatment Options


The most effective insulin resistance treatment is weight management, the incorporation of a heathy diet and regular exercise may decrease risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

One of the most effective insulin resistance treatments is for overweight or obese patients to reach a healthy weight. This can be achieved both through diet and exercise.

Although low-fat diets were advised for weight loss in the past, experts now recommend the modernized and more effective approach of incorporating healthy fats into the diet, along with nutritionally dense yet low-calorie foods such as vegetables and lean protein.

Most importantly, minimizing intake of processed foods and increasing foods with a low glycemic index can make positive changes towards a healthier insulin sensitivity. [8] Glycemic index measures the ways in which the blood glucose levels are impacted by the food product. Foods such as white breads and pastas tend to have the highest glycemic index scores.

Exercising regularly can also spur weight loss, and is believed to support the metabolism which may help to control or prevent insulin resistance. [9] Certain types of exercise, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), tend to reduce visceral fat specifically. [10]

Finally, controlling any other risk factors, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, may help to prevent the development of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Insulin Sensitivity as an Indicator of Overall Wellness – In Conclusion


Without an in-depth analysis of a patient’s biomarkers, conditions such as insulin resistance can be easily overlooked. Yet, like many other precursors for serious disease, insulin resistance is most effectively addressed in its early stages. It’s therefore critical that at-risk populations, including adults over the age of 40, overweight or inactive individuals, and people with a family history of type 2 diabetes, have their insulin sensitivity routinely tested.

At Cenegenics, our clinicians remain focused on disease prevention by addressing any current warning signs while also giving patients the tools they need to optimize their health moving forward. T

hrough comprehensive lab work, patient-oriented treatment approaches encompassing individualized meal and exercise plans and ongoing vigilance, our specialists help patients navigate conditions such as insulin resistance and prediabetes successfully. The end result is better health and vitality, both now and into the future.

If you’re interested in discovering how Cenegenics can help you unlock the healthiest version of yourself, contact your nearest location today.

Next Steps in Understanding Insulin Resistance

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] Leake, Jeffrey Park, M.D., CPT, and Greenberg, Todd David, M.D., CSCS. Textbook of Age Management Medicine: Volume 1. Leake-Greenberg Ventures, 2015. p.43

[2] Leake, Jeffrey Park, M.D., CPT, and Greenberg, Todd David, M.D., CSCS; see above.

[3] Pletcher, Peggy MS, RD, LD, CDE. “What’s to know about insulin resistance?” MedicalNewsToday. 17 Feb. 2017. Retrieved from URL: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/305567.php

[4] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “Insulin Resistance & Prediabetes.” Retrieved from URL: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance

[5] Leake, Jeffrey Park, M.D., CPT, and Greenberg, Todd David, M.D., CSCS; see above; p. 29.

[6] Leake, Jeffrey Park, M.D., CPT, and Greenberg, Todd David, M.D., CSCS; see above; p. 313.

[7] NIDDK; see above.

[8] Leake, Jeffrey Park, M.D., CPT, and Greenberg, Todd David, M.D., CSCS; see above; p. 29.

[9] Donson, Laura. “Insulin Resistance Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.” VeryWell Health. 03 Jan. 2019. Retrieved from URL: https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-insulin-resistance-2242260

[10] Leake, Jeffrey Park, M.D., CPT, and Greenberg, Todd David, M.D., CSCS; see above; p. 136

Constantly monitoring your blood pressure may be one of the recommended treatments for metabolic syndrome based on your symptoms of disease progression, A special diet for metabolic syndrome may be required to help reduce blood pressure and assist with weight management, Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increase your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes

What is Metabolic Syndrome? Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Metabolic syndrome is a constellation of disorders which increase the risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Patients who have these conditions together face greater odds of developing future cardiovascular disease than any single factor alone. Nearly a quarter of the adult population is living with metabolic syndrome – a serious concern when considering the life-threatening complications with which it’s associated. [1]

Moreover, the number of individuals with metabolic syndrome increases with age, making it a particular concern for adults in their middle ages and older. More than 40% of people in their 60s and 70s have the condition, though age isn’t the only factor correlated with increased risk. [2]

To help you better understand your risk and develop an effective prevention plan, this guide examines the causes and complications of metabolic syndrome. We’ll also explore treatments for individuals who have already been diagnosed, thereby helping to prevent life-threatening cardiovascular events.

How Is Metabolic Syndrome Diagnosed?


The cluster of conditions comprising metabolic syndrome include obesity, high blood pressure, and a trend toward insulin resistance, among others.

Clinical Diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome

A clinical diagnosis of the condition is given when a patient exhibits three or more of the following criteria: 

  • Fasting glucose of 100 mg/dL or greater
  • Systolic blood pressure of 130 mm HG or greater; or, diastolic blood pressure of 85 mm HG or greater (also the criteria for hypertension stage 1)
  • HDL cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL for men or 50 mg/dL for women
  • Triglyceride level of 150 mg/dL or greater
  • Abdominal obesity, defined as a waist circumference of 40 inches or more for men, or 35 inches or more for women [3]

Having a single one of these conditions doesn’t mean you have metabolic syndrome; likewise, it’s also possible to have metabolic syndrome without exhibiting all of the above signs. For example, some patients who do not meet BMI criteria for obesity have metabolic syndrome. Ultimately, having any one of these conditions can increase the risk of serious disease, and having more than one likely increases risk even more.

Causes of Metabolic Syndrome


The primary underlying causes of metabolic syndrome are being overweight or obese and leading a sedentary life. In addition to weight and physical inactivity, aging also contributes to the disorder. Genetic factors, such as ethnicity and family history, may also play a role. [4] Thus, while some of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome are controllable, others are not.

One other important, and oftentimes controllable, factor for the condition is insulin resistance. Insulin sensitivity is one of the most important markers of overall health. The hormone insulin regulates blood sugar levels; thus, when the body fails to respond to insulin as it should, sugar builds up in the blood.

Insulin resistance typically precedes diabetes and metabolic syndrome but often does not exhibit any symptoms. High glycemic index foods, including carbohydrates and especially processed varieties, may contribute to insulin resistance. [5] 

Additional Risk Factors

Women are more likely than men to develop metabolic syndrome than men, the causes of metabolic syndrome can range from obesity to sleep-related breathing issues

The causes behind metabolic syndrome listed above tend to act together. Beyond these underlying causes, however, there are also some shared characteristics researchers have observed among many patients with metabolic syndrome: excessive blood clotting and constant and low-grade inflammation.

It is presently unclear whether these conditions play a role in the disease’s development or whether they worsen it. Additionally, researchers are also studying other factors which may contribute to metabolic syndrome, including:

Additionally, a family or personal history of diabetes faces an increased risk for diabetes. Women are also more likely to develop the condition compared to men, as are Mexican Americans compared to Caucasians and African Americans. [7]

With these causes and risk factors in mind, let’s explore some of the reasons why preventing and controlling metabolic syndrome is so important.

The Dangers of Metabolic Syndrome


Complications of Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome increases risk of developing:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes

Many metabolic risk factors exhibit no signs or symptoms. While being overweight or obese is an obvious sign, factors like high blood pressure often go unnoticed. For this reason, metabolic syndrome is especially dangerous.

Having metabolic syndrome increases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, the condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries. This causes hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels, which typically precedes heart attack or stroke. It also elevates risk for developing type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition with its own host of possible complications including nerve, kidney, and eye damage, among others. [8]

Nonetheless, being diagnosed with metabolic syndrome doesn’t mean you’re destined for serious illness or cardiovascular event. In fact, many of the conditions that make up metabolic syndrome can be combated with lifestyle adjustments, medications, and other forms of treatment, if needed.

Treatments for Metabolic Syndrome


When treating metabolic syndrome, the primary objective is to address the most serious concerns first. This encompasses reducing the risk for ischemic heart disease, in which the heart arteries are narrowed, and preventing or controlling type 2 diabetes. [9]

Typically, treatments for metabolic syndrome are first directed at controlling cholesterol and high blood pressure, which may necessitate the use of medications depending on the patient’s levels. With that said, lifestyle changes are of equal importance for improving health over a long-term basis.

Some of the behavioral changes patients with metabolic syndrome are encouraged to make include smoking cessation, adopting healthy stress management practices, and achieving and maintaining a healthy body composition. This is supported by both physical activity and heart-healthy eating.

The Best Diet for Metabolic Syndrome


The best diet for metabolic syndrome eliminates processed foods and incorporates more whole foods, the goal of a diet for metabolic syndrome is to help reduce high blood pressure and assist in weight management

Diet is one of the most important factors for controlling and preventing metabolic syndrome but also for supporting health overall. Thus, the optimal diet for metabolic syndrome patients is built on sensible healthy eating practices the population as a whole should follow. This includes avoiding simple, refined carbohydrates.

Minimizing carbohydrate intake can help individuals lose weight and improve blood sugar control while also contributing to the prevention of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. [10]

The most practical way to avoid simple carbohydrates is to steer clear of processed foods including breads, baked goods, desserts, and packaged snacks. White bread, rice, pasta, and flour are also considered processed carbohydrates.

Beyond carbohydrates, individuals with metabolic syndrome should also avoid trans fats. In fact, trans fats should be avoided even in patients without any metabolic risk factors as they are linked to unhealthy cholesterol levels, type 2 diabetes, and an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. [11]​

Trans fats are found in margarine, packaged cookies, deep-fried foods, frozen snack foods like pizzas and French fries as well as frozen dinners, crackers, nondairy creamers, and cake mixes and frosting, among other sources.

Diet for Individuals with High Blood Pressure

For anyone with high blood pressure, reducing sodium intake may also be advised. In this case, soy sauce, canned foods, table salt, prepared pasta sauces, certain types of cheese, cured meats, and salty snack foods should be avoided.

In addition to avoiding certain foods, a healthy diet for metabolic syndrome should also prioritize certain elements of nutrition. Lean protein sources and vegetables are among the healthiest options for controlling the set of conditions. Fiber-rich foods, including beans, fresh vegetables, and fruit can aid in regulating blood sugar and cholesterol. [12]

Other essential nutrients, including potassium and omega-3 fatty acids, also help to support heart health. Grapefruit, black beans, tomatoes, yogurt, and collard greens are rich sources of potassium, while flax seeds, olive oil, avocados, and many types of nuts are high in healthy fats.

Understanding Metabolic Syndrome – In Conclusion


Even with the dietary guidelines listed in the previous section, preventing and controlling metabolic syndrome can seem daunting. The questions of exactly what to eat and when, how to structure a heart-safe yet effective fitness routine, and when and whether further treatments should be implemented loom over patients who are at risk or have been diagnosed with one or more of the conditions making up metabolic syndrome.

With the primary goal of reducing the risk for serious disease in adults, Cenegenics helps patients prevent or control metabolic syndrome through our comprehensive approach to wellness. Upon joining our program, each patient undergoes rigorous testing to indicate any specific health concerns, including those that exist presently as well as those the patient is at risk of developing down the road.

This gives our physicians, nutrition and exercise specialists, and additional clinicians the guidance needed to craft a highly personalized wellness map incorporating dietary and fitness recommendations as well as any nutraceuticals or medications as needed. We then take an agile approach to maintain continuous improvement, optimizing all aspects of health to prevent or control disease for a better quality of life both now and into the future.

If you’re interested in learning how Cenegenics can help you control or prevent the conditions that make up metabolic syndrome, find a center near you to get started.

Next Steps in Managing Metabolic Syndrome

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] American Heart Association. “About Metabolic Syndrome.” 31 Jul. 2016. Retrieved from URL: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/metabolic-syndrome/about-metabolic-syndrome

[2] Cleveland Clinic. “Metabolic Syndrome.” 11 Feb 2015. Retrieved from URL: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/10783-metabolic-syndrome

[3] American Heart Association; see above.

[4] National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). “Metabolic Syndrome.” Retrieved from URL: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/metabolic-syndrome

[5] Leake, Jeffrey Park, M.D., CPT, and Greenberg, Todd David, M.D., CSCS. Textbook of Age Management Medicine: Volume 1. Leake-Greenberg Ventures, 2015. p. 25.

[6] NHLBI; see above.

[7] NHLBI; see above.

[8] Mayo Clinic. “Metabolic Syndrome.” 06 Mar. 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/metabolic-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20351916

[9] NHLBI; see above.

[10] Iftikhar, Noreen, MD. Healthline. “Metabolic Syndrome Diet.” Retrieved from URL: https://www.healthline.com/health/metabolic-syndrome-diet#foods-to-avoid

[11] Iftikhar, Noreen, MD; see above.

[12] Iftikhar, Noreen, MD; see above.

the dangers of high blood pressure include increased risk of heart disease and stroke, the causes of high blood pressure can vary but risk factors can include obesity and poor diet, treatments for high blood pressure include altered diet and exercise regimens

Causes of High Blood Pressure: How to Prevent Hypertension

High blood pressure, also referred to as hypertension, is an epidemic in the U.S. Affecting nearly half the population, many individuals don’t even know they have this condition. [1] Blood pressure measures the amount of force exerted against artery walls as blood flows through. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to many serious health issues.

Yet, by some estimates, only roughly half of the people who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure have it under control. [2] Fortunately, there are solutions available to prevent high blood pressure, as well as treatments to help patients regain control if their blood pressure is already high.

Of course, effective treatment and prevention are built on an in-depth understanding of blood pressure. Whether you’re unsure of your risk for developing hypertension or you’ve already been diagnosed, here’s what you need to know about the “silent killer.”

Which Blood Pressure Levels Are Considered Healthy?


When your blood pressure is taken, you’re given two numbers. The upper number represents your systolic blood pressure, or the pressure blood exerts against the artery walls with each heartbeat. The second number is your diastolic blood pressure, which measures how much pressure blood exerts against the artery walls at rest in between beats.

Blood Pressure Categories

Here's the breakdown of the current blood pressure categories and their ranges (measured in mmHg):

  • Normal: systolic <120; diastolic <80
  • Elevated: systolic 120-129; diastolic <80
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) stage 1: systolic 130-139; diastolic 80-89
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) stage 2: systolic 140 or higher; diastolic 90 or higher
  • Hypertensive crisis: systolic >180; diastolic >120 [3]

Individuals with normal blood pressure should have their blood pressure tested at least every two years; all other patients should follow their doctor’s recommendations for testing, which may include at-home tests.

The Dangers of High Blood Pressure


High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, two of the most common causes of death in the U.S. [4] The added pressure on artery walls can damage blood vessels and organs throughout your body. The longer the condition goes uncontrolled, the more damage can occur.

High blood pressure can harden and thicken artery walls, leading to the condition called atherosclerosis which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke risk. High blood pressure is also linked to heart failure, aneurysm, kidney complications, vision problems or loss, dementia, and vascular dementia.

Furthermore, high blood pressure is a major cause of erectile dysfunction. As stated above, high blood pressure can lead to atherosclerosis which, in men, can keep arteries from dilating properly in order to bring blood to the penis; this prevents an erection from occurring.  It is for this reason that erectile dysfunction is a potential indicator of an underlying disease – such as heart disease. 

Dangers of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is known as the "silent killer" as it can quietly damage your body for years without the patient presenting with any symptoms. Complications of high blood pressure include: 

  • Atherosclerosis & Increased Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Dementia
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment
  • Kidney Failure
  • Nerve Damage
  • Sexual Dysfunction

Additionally, hypertension is encompassed by metabolic syndrome, the cluster of disorders including high triglycerides and high insulin levels, among other symptoms, associated with increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. [5]

It is therefore no surprise that physicians implore their patients to be vigilant about high blood pressure prevention and control, as well as watching for possible symptoms.

Hypertension Symptoms


The dangers of high blood pressure are that symptoms are often masked and do not appear until you are experiencing a hypertensive crisis, symptoms of high blood pressure can range from headache to heart palpitations and breathlessness

As mentioned above, high blood pressure is often referred to as “the silent killer,” mainly because it’s often asymptomatic – even when blood pressure reaches dangerous levels. In some cases, patients may experience headaches, nosebleeds, or shortness of breath.

However, patients are most likely to experience the following symptoms only upon experiencing a hypertensive crisis, at which point immediate medical intervention is needed:

  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Heart palpitations
  • Breathlessness [6]

Because symptoms of high blood pressure may not manifest until levels are dangerously high, it’s critically important for individuals to understand the condition’s causes and contributing factors.

Causes of High Blood Pressure


For most of the population, there is no single, discernible cause of high blood pressure. This is called primary or essential hypertension and is believed to develop gradually over time. In secondary hypertension, high blood pressure is directly caused by an underlying medical condition, such as:

  • Kidney problems
  • Adrenal gland tumors
  • Thyroid issues
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Congenital defects in blood vessels
  • Certain medications
  • Illegal drugs, including amphetamines and cocaine [7]

Risk Factors


Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure

Although there is no single, distinct cause of high blood pressure, the following increase the likelihood of developing high blood pressure:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Family History
  • Obesity
  • Chronic Conditions
  • Lack of Physical Activity
  • Tobacco Use
  • High-Sodium Diets
  • Poor Diet
  • Stress
  • Alcohol Consumption

Despite the fact that essential hypertension may lack a single established cause, there is strong evidence linking certain risk factors to an increased likelihood of developing high blood pressure. These risk factors include:

  • Age: Risk of high blood pressure increases with age. Men are more likely to experience hypertension until age 64; thereafter, it is more prevalent among women.
  • Race: High blood pressure occurs more often in African Americans than white individuals.
  • Family history: Hypertension often runs in families.
  • Being overweight or obese: The more a person weighs, the more blood is needed to transport vital nutrients to tissues. When the volume of blood increases, it also increases pressure against artery walls.
  • Chronic Conditions: People with certain immune system conditions such as psoriasis have a higher risk of high blood pressure. High blood sugar, a characteristic of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, is also linked to hypertension. [8]

Lifestyle Risk Factors

  • Physical inactivity: Lack of exercise is linked to higher heart rates, which forces the heart to work harder and therefore increases blood pressure.
  • Tobacco use: Smoking and chewing tobacco elevates blood pressure immediately and can cause long-term damage to artery walls.
  • High-sodium diets: People who eat less salt have been found to have lower blood pressure than those who consume it in excess.
  • Poor diet: The relationship between fat and blood pressure has long been studied. While high-fat diets were once considered a causative agent behind hypertension, experts have begun to warn against the type of fats – not the volume – being consumed. Specifically, trans fats found in processed foods pose the greatest threat to both blood pressure and overall health.
  • Stress: Researchers have linked mental stress with high blood pressure, especially when stress is experienced over the long-term.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Systolic blood pressure levels are roughly 7 mmHg higher in individuals who drink regularly than those who abstain from alcohol.

With these risk factors in mind, let’s explore some of the ways elevated blood pressure, as well as more advanced stages of hypertension, can be treated.

Treatments for High Blood Pressure


Recommended treatments for high blood pressure vary based on the patient’s stage and condition, some typical recommendations are to make lifestyle changes such as limiting the number of drinks you consume or to quit smoking

Recommended treatments for high blood pressure vary based on the patient’s stage. For example, if high blood pressure is elevated, lifestyle changes may be enough to bring levels down within range. Regular exercise (burning more than 1,500 calories per week) has been shown to reduce hypertension by 27%. [9]

In general, individuals who exercise 30 to 60 minutes per week can expect to reduce their blood pressure by 4-9 mmHg. Weight loss is likewise effective for reducing blood pressure, with some research suggesting even losing ten pounds can make a significant impact in controlling high blood pressure. Moreover, medications used for controlling high blood pressure are typically more effective when patients are at a healthy weight. [10]  

Treatments for High Blood Pressure

Recommended treatments for high blood pressure may vary based on the patient's stage. However, the following are typical treatments: 

  • Weight Management
  • Exercise Regularly
  • Optimized Nutrition Plan
  • Quit Smoking
  • Reduce Sodium in Diet
  • Stress Management
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption

Of course, the challenge of losing weight lies in improving both exercise and dietary choices. Eating a diet rich in lean protein, vegetables, and fruits can lower blood pressure by up to 11 mmHg for patients with hypertension. [11] Limiting sodium intake can also help but, most importantly, processed foods should be avoided as many contain inordinate amounts of sodium. [12]

If needed, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet may also be recommended by some physicians to help control portion size, cholesterol, and sodium intake, while also promoting an overall balanced diet.

Managing stress and following a cleaner lifestyle by minimizing alcohol intake and quitting smoking are also lifestyle changes which can help with early stages of hypertension. Additionally, optimizing your sleep schedule may also contribute to improving blood pressure.

Understanding High Blood Pressure – In Conclusion


High blood pressure is a serious though largely preventable condition. With so many means to control it, patients have a variety of options to work towards a healthier range or maintain normal blood pressure levels if they’re already at an ideal level. Yet, many individuals remain unaware of their risk and precisely what can be done to preserve their health both now and into the future.

Cenegenics gives adults the tools they need to optimize wellness at every age. Our program prioritizes weight management, nutrition, improved sleep and, when needed, hormone optimization, to help patients achieve their healthiest life. Reduced blood pressure is a natural byproduct of participating in the highly personalized program, which takes into consideration each patient’s current health, genetic risk factors, and lifestyle.

Our physicians also perform a robust patient analysis, going far beyond blood pressure tests, to achieve an accurate and detailed picture of disease risk and health. This sets the foundation for a comprehensive treatment plan which addresses any immediate concerns, such as high blood pressure, while also taking a preventive approach to chronic disease for long-term wellness. Ultimately, we don’t simply help patients achieve a specific measure for normal blood pressure but instead enable sustainable changes for a healthier, more vibrant life overall.

If you’re interested in learning how Cenegenics can help you control your blood pressure and achieve a better state of wellness for the long term, find a center near you to get started.

Next Steps in Avoiding the Dangers of High Blood Pressure

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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]American Heart Association. “Monitor Your Blood Pressure.” 30 Nov. 2017. Retrieved from URL: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure#.WK7OgBKLSV5

[2] CDC. “High Blood Pressure.” 13 Feb. 2019. Retrieved from URL: https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/index.htm

[3] American Heart Association. “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings.” 30 Nov. 2017. Retrieved from URL: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings

[4] CDC; see above.

[5] Mayo Clinic. “High blood pressure (hypertension).” 12 May 2018. Retrieved from URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410

[6] Stephens, Carissa, RN, CCRN, CPN. “What’s to know about high blood pressure?” MedicalNewsToday. 28 Nov. 2017. Retrieved from URL: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/159283.php

[7] Mayo Clinic; see above.

[8] Stephens, Carissa, RN, CCRN, CPN; see above.

[9] Leake, Jeffrey Park, M.D., CPT, and Greenberg, Todd David, M.D., CSCS. Textbook of Age Management Medicine: Volume 1. Leake-Greenberg Ventures, 2015. p. 224.

[10] Stephens, Carissa, RN, CCRN, CPN; see above.

[11] Mayo Clinic. “10 ways to control high blood pressure without medication.” 09 Jan. 2019. Retrieved from URL: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20046974

[12] Leake, Jeffrey Park, M.D., CPT, and Greenberg, Todd David, M.D., CSCS; see above.

Chronic inflammation can cause increased stiffness and pain, chronic inflammatory diseases include risk of cancer and heart disease, Cenegenics Elite Health Evaluation can help explain how to control inflammation based on your individual risk factors and history

Chronic Inflammation and Its Serious Health Implications

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.

Chronic inflammation increases risk of heart disease and stroke, Arthritis and COPD are listed as chronic inflammatory diseases, ask your doctor how to control inflammation to reduce your risk of chronic diseases

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

low inflammatory can be how to reduce inflammation in your body, avoiding processed foods can reduce your risk of chronic inflammatory diseases

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

Smoking increases your risk of chronic inflammation, Quitting smoking can be how to control inflammation in your body

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

Stress is shown to cause chronic inflammation in the body, Managing stress appropriately may be how to control inflammation in your body, stress can contribute to chronic inflammatory diseases such as depression and Alzheimer’s

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

Increased sleep can help control chronic inflammation in the body, sleep deprivation increases inflammatory markers and proliferates risk of chronic inflammatory diseases

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

Exercise is one of the best tools we have to reduce chronic inflammation, Excess adipose tissue and visceral fat increases your chance of developing chronic inflammatory diseases

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

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] 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

Cenegenics Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program helps patients recognize the early signs of heart disease, cardiovascular disease kills more than 800 thousand people in the U.S. each year, recognizing how to prevent heart disease may reduce your risk of death by cardiovascular disease

Can You Recognize the Early Signs of Heart Disease?


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


Atherosclerosis is one of the most common causes of heart disease and can lead to heart attack and stroke, plaque build-up and wall stiffness are one of the early signs of heart disease, Reducing risk factors such as smoking and obesity may be a suggestion on how to prevent heart disease

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:

  • High blood pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Obesity
  • Inflammation
  • High triglycerides [4]

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

A diet high in processed foods can increase risk of heart disease and stroke, understanding how to prevent heart disease begins with a healthy diet

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

lack of exercise can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, exercise can be one of the best methods on how to prevent heart disease

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


Early signs of heart disease can manifest as chest pain but can also result in shortness of breath and fatigue, ask your doctor how to prevent heart disease and what the early signs of heart disease are so that you can be proactive, ignoring the early signs of heart disease can lead to heart attack and stroke

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


Speak with your Cenegenics physician to learn more about how to prevent heart disease as well as understanding the early signs of heart disease, the Cenegenics Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention program takes an in depth look at your current risk factors as well as gives your physician the information necessary to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke

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


Key Resources

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

Rudy Inaba

Director of Nutrition & Exercise, AMMEF Nutrition & Exercise Instructor 

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

Essential amino acids play critical roles in reducing disease risk and eliminating weight, One benefit of antioxidants is treating blood pressure and heart failure, This guide will help you discover the answer to what are the best sources for micronutrients

Essential Amino Acids, Antioxidants and Vitamins for Overall Wellness

As discussed previously, a large portion of adults in the United States are considered overweight or obese. When majority of people pursue their weight loss goals, they often attempt fad diets which promise the greatest results in the shortest amount of time. However, fad diets are often extremely restrictive and can leave large nutritional gaps, which when not addressed can result in a diminished state of health.

Although macronutrients are a large portion of daily consumption which are necessary for energy production and cellular functioning, micronutrients are often overlooked and underrated. They play a large role in essential functions and are only needed in small amounts.

Simple deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D can have minor to devastating effects from symptoms such as weak or soft bones, to serious conditions like breast, colon and prostate cancer.

What Are The Best Sources of Micronutrients?


While neither vitamins nor minerals, the following micronutrients are all essential in unique ways and are therefore also deserving of attention when it comes to pursuing weight loss and optimizing overall health:

  • Asparagine – eliminates waste created during the breakdown of proteins
  • Glutamine – acts as building block for protein synthesis, and is essential for immune health
  • Serine – essential for brain and central nervous system functioning
  • Oleic Acid – helps reduce disease risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid – beneficial for individuals with type 2 diabetes, helps reduce blood pressure
  • Coenzyme Q10 – improve immune function, combat chronic fatigue, and lower high cholesterol
  • Cysteine – essential for detoxification and metabolic functioning
  • Glutathione – reduce oxidative stress and damage
  • Selenium – helps combat free radicals, and defend against heart disease and cancer
  • Chromium – important in the fight against diabetes by reducing insulin resistance
  • Choline – crucial for DNA synthesis
  • Inositol – used for nerve pain, panic disorders and other neurological issues
  • Carnitine – plays a role in energy production

Essential Amino Acids


The following amino acids play critical roles in optimize your health including:

  • Eliminating waste
  • Acting as a building block from protein synthesis
  • Assisting in immune function
  • Reducing disease risk
  • Participating in the production of energy

Asparagine

This non-essential amino acid is involved in the biosynthesis of glycoproteins. It also carries and aids in the elimination of ammonia, which is a waste product created during the breakdown of proteins to amino acids. A deficiency is rare in individuals with normal eating patterns, and the only true deficiency is genetic and known as Kegg disease.

As an amino acid, it can be found in almost any food containing proteins such as:

  • Dairy
  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Asparagus
  • Potatoes
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Seeds
  • Soy

Glutamine

Glutamine is an amino acid produced by the body but also found in abundance in foods. It is a multifaceted amino acid in that it acts as a building block in protein synthesis but is also critical for immune function and digestive health. It can be taken as a supplement as well but should be taken with the amino acid L-Alanine to avoid being broken down completely by the stomach.

Glutamine can be found in:

  • Meats
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Fermented foods

Serine

An amino acid synthesized from other amino acids, glycine or threonine, serine is essential for the biosynthesis of purines and pyrimidines and acts as a precursor to other amino acids. It is essential for proper brain and central nervous system functioning as it helps to form the phospholipids needed for cell creation. A deficiency is a result of a neurometabolic disorder that affects the synthesis of serine itself.

Foods dense in serine include:

  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Dairy
  • Carob seeds
  • Soy
  • Peanuts
  • Asparagus
  • Lentils

Oleic Acid

A non-essential fatty acid, oleic acid is linked to reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure. It may also improve mood, slow aging, and potentially aid in cancer prevention. Oleic acid may also aid in controlling inflammation and pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, as well as chronic nerve pain. Because it is prevalent in western diets, a deficiency is quite rare. In fact, there is a concern over consuming too much oleic acid. The body needs to maintain a balance of omega 3, 6, and 9 acids, and too much oleic acid can significantly increase omega 9s, thereby impacting the ratio. An imbalance could contribute to a number of diseases, and too many omega 9s could lead to a deficiency in the other conditionally essential fatty acids (3 and 6).

This monosaturated fat is found primarily in:

  • Oils:
  • Olive
  • Almond
  • Peanut
  • Grapeseed

Cysteine

Cysteine is a non-essential amino acid containing sulfur. It can be used to form taurine or cystine. It is involved in protein synthesis, detoxification, and a host of other metabolic functions. Cysteine crosslinks proteins (making them more rigid) and helps to protect against protein breakdown when necessary. Deficiencies are identified as inherited metabolic disorders, which are typically associated with impaired antioxidant defense, decreased ability to metabolize drugs and toxic compounds, and depressed immunity.

The nutrient is found in:

  • Soy
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Oats
  • Pork
  • Fish
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Legumes

Carnitine

This nutrient is an amino acid with a primary function of transporting fatty acids to be broken down for energy in the mitochondria. Carnitine supplementation is useful in individuals with deficiencies. With that said, deficiencies are extremely rare so it isn’t necessary for most people to supplement with carnitine. Although carnitine supplementation is deemed unnecessary unless there is a deficiency, it may be useful for increasing androgen receptor sensitivity (Carnitine Tartrate) and improving cognitive function (Acetyl-L Carnitine).  

Carnitine is found in:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Some vegetables

The Benefit of Antioxidants as a Micronutrient


These antioxidants or micronutrients with strong antioxidant properties are beneficial for weight loss and optimize overall health, as benefits can include:

  • Lowering blood sugar
  • Treating blood pressure and heart failure
  • Improving immune function
  • Reducing oxidative stress and damage

Alpha Lipoic Acid

An antioxidant that has shown to be beneficial in lowering blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, alpha lipoic acid also reduces symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Due to its strong antioxidant properties, it may also deliver benefits in terms of reducing inflammation and decreasing hepatic fibrosis, though it is not commonly used for either.

It can be found in foods such as:

  • liver
  • broccoli
  • potatoes
  • yeast

Although alpha lipoic acid is found in some food, it is most commonly taken as a supplement.

Coenzyme Q10

This micronutrient is a naturally-occurring nutrient with strong antioxidant properties. It is regarded as beneficial in treating high blood pressure and heart failure. Coenzyme Q10 can also improve immune function in immune disorders, improve symptoms such as chronic fatigue, and lower high cholesterol. Symptoms of an acute deficiency include muscle or joint pain and frequent headaches. The symptoms of a chronic deficiency can resemble those seen in heart failure.

The nutrient can be found in:

  • organ meats
  • fish
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • oranges
  • strawberries
  • legumes

It is also taken as a supplement and is best taken with fats as it is a fat-soluble nutrient.

Glutathione

This antioxidant encompasses three amino acids: cysteine, glutamate, and glycine. It is made in the body but declines naturally as a result of stress, age, and exposure to toxins. Interestingly, one of its greatest abilities is its power to reduce oxidative stress and damage. While it can be found in a few foods containing sulfur, including broccoli and cauliflower, it is also effective to supplement in the diet. One way to supplement for this antioxidant is to take N-Acetyl Cysteine, as it acts as a precursor to glutathione production in the body.

Selenium

Another antioxidant that helps to reduce oxidative stress, selenium also fights free radicals and may help defend against heart disease and cancer. Selenium is also needed for thyroid and immune functioning as well. A deficiency is primarily observed in the thyroid and manifests as symptoms of hypothyroidism including fatigue, mental slowing, goiter, cretinism, and recurrent miscarriage. If ingesting too much, toxicity is possible and can lead to nausea, vomiting, hair loss, nail discoloration, irritability, and “garlic breath.”

It can be found in:

  • seafoods
  • lean meats
  • eggs
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • soy

Other Essential Micronutrients for Optimizing Health


Although these micronutrients are neither antioxidants nor amino acids, they play a critical role in:

  • Reducing insulin resistance
  • DNA synthesis
  • Treatment of nerve pain and neurological issues

Chromium

A mineral required in trace amounts, chromium reduces insulin resistance and is directly involved in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. A deficiency impairs the body’s ability to use glucose and raise insulin sufficiently. Deficiencies are very rare, as it is found in many food sources including:

  • meat
  • seafood
  • vegetables
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower

It is also available as a supplement but should not be taken in excess, as it could lead to low blood sugar, gastrointestinal distress, and potentially even kidney or liver damage.

Choline

Choline is a water-soluble nutrient and is a source of methyl groups needed for metabolic processes. It is used to create phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, two major phospholipids, which are major components of cell membranes. Choline is also needed for DNA synthesis as well as homocysteine reduction (homocysteine buildup is seen in the serious condition, liver cirrhosis). Inadequate choline intake may lead to fatty liver, a precursor to cirrhosis or death. Choline can be found in:

Some forms of choline can have a profound effect on neurological functioning as they increase levels of acetylcholine, which functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain.

Inositol

Mainly used to treat nerve pain or panic disorder and other neurological issues, this nutrient has a host of cognitive benefits. It is a vitamin-like substance found in plants and animals, but it can also be produced synthetically. Inositol can be commonly found in many types of:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Leafy greens
  • Whole grains

Although it has many different benefits, among its most notable strengths is its abilities to reduce anxiety and address mental health issues by balancing chemicals leading to mental health conditions. While deemed safe, it does carry potential side effects including nausea, tiredness, headaches, and dizziness.

How Cenegenics Micronutrient Testing Can Make the Difference You Need


Cenegenics Micronutrient Food Allergy Testing is a blood draw that tests multiple allergens to assess what symptoms are being triggered by food, food allergies can cause immune system responses that range from a runny nose to life-threatening anaphylaxis

With so many different micronutrients – and their respective roles – to consider, it’s easy to see how deficiencies could be impacting your health. Unfortunately, these deficiencies are very hard to detect and pinpoint without specific testing.

Whether it is in your quest to lose weight or to simply become healthier, in many cases the smallest factors can make the biggest difference. That’s precisely why Cenegenics offers micronutrient testing that encompasses all of the nutrients listed above. In addition, we also measure fructose sensitivity, glucose-insulin metabolism, total antioxidant functioning, and immune response score through SpectraCell to determine if there are any other underlying barriers impeding your journey towards optimal nutrition.

Upon taking the test, you will be paired with a Cenegenics physician who can go over your results in detail and develop a plan to correct and account for any deficiencies that are present. A noticeable improvement could be made by simply changing some aspects of your diet or adding supplements to make up for missing nutrients. Whatever the case, you can’t identify any potential gaps in your diet without help. Take the first step in becoming a healthier version of yourself today – contact your nearest Cenegenics location to get started.

Next Steps to Schedule Your Micronutrient Food Allergy Test

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Key Resources

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

Austin Zechman MS, CSCS

Nutrition & Exercise Counselor at Cenegenics Dallas

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.

The Role of Vitamins and Minerals as Micronutrients

Article at a Glance

  • Micronutrients are required in small amounts for normal functioning and a deficiency can manifest as a number of symptoms including: fatigue, depression, and a weakened immune system.
  • Micronutrient deficiencies can be caused by dietary choices or food allergies.
  • Cenegenics Micronutrient Food Allergy Testing can help you determine which foods you should be avoiding and if supplementation may be required.

Micronutrients, as previously discussed, are chemical elements/substances required in small amounts for normal functioning.

Micronutrient deficiencies can manifest in a large array of symptoms and are often attributed to other health issues or even simply lifestyle factors, making it easy for a deficiency to go unnoticed.

Below, we identify key micronutrients and their critical roles to help you develop an in-depth understanding of them and to showcase just how far-reaching and complex the impact of your dietary choices can be.

Essential Vitamins and Their Role as Key Micronutrients

MicronutrientRoleSymptom of Deficiency
Vitamin A
  • Maintain teeth, skeletal tissue, mucus membranes, and the skin
  • Produces pigment in the eye
  • Night blindness
Vitamin B1
  • Supports brain and central nervous functioning
  • Significant contributor to proper digestion
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Numbness in the extremities
Vitamin B2
  • Breaks down macronutrients
  • Maintains the body’s energy supply
  • Weakness/fatigue
  • Dry skin around the nose and mouth
  • Skin rashes
Vitamin B3
  • Nicotinic Acid: used to treat high cholesterol and heart disease
  • Niacinamide: used to treat type 1 diabetes, skin conditions, and schizophrenia
Pellagra (condition that causes):

  • Skin inflammation, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and fatigue
Vitamin B6
  • Healthy brain development in children
  • Supports overall function of individuals
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Cracked or sore lips
  • Sore or glossy tongue
  • Mood changes
  • Weakened immune system
  • Tiredness or low energy levels
  • Tingling or pain in extremities
  • Seizures
Vitamin B12
  • Keeps nerve and blood cells healthy
  • Contributes to creation of DNA
  • Helps prevent megaloblastic anemia
  • Tiredness/ Weakness
  • Constipation and/or weight loss
  • Nerve problems
  • Depression/ Confusion
  • Balance issues
  • Anemia
Vitamin B7
  • Helps convert food into energy
  • During pregnancy: plays crucial role in fetal development
  • Supports healthy skin, nails, and hair
  • Can cause metabolic disorder
  • Lead to more than 140 different genetic defects
Vitamin B9
  • Helps develop red blood cells
  • Aids in synthesis and repair of DNA and RNA
  • Anemia
Vitamin B5
  • Red blood cell production
  • Metabolizing food/macronutrients
  • Similar to B6 and B3 deficiencies
Vitamin C
  • Protects cells against free radicals
  • DEFICIENCIES ARE RARE
Vitamin D
  • Promote bone growth
  • Proper hormone functioning
  • Softer bones
  • Breast, colon, prostate cancer
Vitamin E
  • Reduce free radical damage
  • Slow the aging of cells
Vitamin E OVERDOSE:

  • Diarrhea, headache, fatigue, weakness, blurry vision, problems with reproductive organs

Vitamin E DEFICIENCY:

  • Disorientation, vision problems, muscle weakness
Vitamin K
  • Essential for blood clotting
  • Reverses arterial stiffness
  • Easy bruising, excessive bleeding
  • GI bleeding, heavy periods
  • Increased prothrombin time

Vitamin A

This vitamin is fat soluble which means it is absorbed in the small intestines and stored in the liver and the body’s fat deposits. Water soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are easily absorbed into the body and when consumed in excess, will be secreted instead of stored. Vitamin A helps to maintain teeth, skeletal tissue, mucus  membranes, and the skin. It also produces pigment in the eye. Night blindness is typically the first symptom of a deficiency.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B1

Also known as thiamine, vitamin B1 supports brain and central nervous functioning. It is also a significant contributor to proper digestion. Loss of reflexes and numbness in the extremities are associated with deficiency.

Vitamin B2

Referred to as riboflavin, B2 breaks down macronutrients and maintains the body’s energy supply. Deficiencies are characterized by weakness/fatigue, dry skin around the nose and mouth, and skin rashes.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3, or niacin, has two forms: nicotinic acid (used to treat high cholesterol and heart disease), and niacinamide (used to treat type 1 diabetes, skin conditions, and schizophrenia). Symptoms of a deficiency, when severe, can include pellagra, a condition associated with skin inflammation, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and fatigue.

Vitamin B6

Pyridoxine, a lesser-known name for vitamin B6, is needed for healthy brain development in children and to support overall function in all individuals. It aids in the production of the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine. A deficiency can lead to seborrheic dermatitis, cracked or sore lips, sore or glossy tongue, mood changes, weakened immune system, tiredness or low energy levels, tingling and pain in the extremities, and seizures.

Vitamin B12

An essential nutrient that must be consumed through food sources or supplements, vitamin B12 assists in keeping the nerve and blood cells healthy and contributes to the creation of DNA. B12 is essential in preventing megaloblastic anemia, in which the bone marrow produces abnormal and unusually large red blood cells, causing weakness and tiredness. B12 requires intrinsic factor, also referred to as gastric intrinsic factor (GIF), a glycoprotein produced in the stomach, to be absorbed. A deficiency can produce a series of significant symptoms, ranging from tiredness, weakness, and constipation, to weight loss, nerve problems, depression, confusion, balance issues, and anemia.

Vitamin B7

B7 or biotin, like other B vitamins, helps convert food into energy. It is even more important during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as it plays a crucial role in fetal development. Biotin is also known for its ability to support healthy nails, skin, and hair. A deficiency is extremely rare. A deficiency in the enzyme biotinidase is considered a metabolic disorder in which biotin cannot be released from proteins during digestion. It can lead to more than 140 different genetic defects.

Vitamin B9

Folate, or vitamin B9, is often seen in its synthetic form, folic acid. Because folic acid has a better bioavailability in the body, it is often used in processed foods and supplements. It is an important contributor for developing red blood cells and also aids in the synthesis and repair of DNA and RNA. Deficiencies, while rare, most often lead to some form of anemia.

Vitamin B5

Also known as pantothenate or pantothenic acid, vitamin B5 is necessary for red blood cell production and metabolizing food/macronutrients. Symptoms of a deficiency are similar to those seen in B6 and B3.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C: Sometimes referred to as ascorbic acid, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant which protects cells against free radicals, which are produced when we convert food into energy and are also found throughout the environment. Deficiencies are rare. It is believed that vitamin C can help prevent immune deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal issues, eye diseases, and skin wrinkling.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D: This vitamin is available in two forms, D3 and D2. D3 is better absorbed and utilized by the body and is, therefore, more commonly seen. The body also requires vitamin D to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. It is also required for adequate hormone functioning. A deficiency would lead not only to weak, softer bones (a condition called Rickets in children), but can also lead to breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Other complications associated with vitamin D deficiencies include heart disease, depression, and weight gain. Our bodies can produce vitamin D but only with adequate sunlight exposure. It is therefore essential to ensure you are taking in enough vitamin D through diet or supplementation, if necessary, or if living in a northern state where there is limited sun exposure.

Vitamin E

A powerful antioxidant which can reduce free radical damage and slow the aging process of cells, vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be found in foods such as seeds, nuts, leafy greens, oils, and swordfish. It may also protect the skin against aging, inflammation, and sun damage. Potential side effects of a vitamin E overdose include diarrhea, headache, fatigue and weakness, blurry vision, and problems with the reproductive organs. A deficiency can cause disorientation and vision problems as well as muscle weakness.

Vitamin K

An often-underrated vitamin, K is essential for blood clotting and reverses arterial stiffness by preventing the calcium buildup that causes it. A vitamin K deficiency can cause easy bruising, excessive bleeding, heavy periods, GI bleeding, and increased prothrombin time (a measure of how quickly your blood clots). Vitamin K is found in many leafy green vegetables as well as fish, liver, meat, and eggs.

Role of Minerals as Micronutrients

MicronutrientRoleSymptom of Deficiency
Calcium
  • Development of healthy bones and teeth
  • Produces pigment in the eye
  • ​Hypocalcemia (condition that causes):
  • Confusion, muscle spasms, numbness, depression, hallucinations, weak/brittle nails, and weak bones
Magnesium
  • Facilitates over 300 different chemical reactions
  • Regulating muscle & nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure
  • Muscle twitches/cramping
  • Mental disorder
  • Osteoporosis
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Irregular heartbeat
Manganese
  • Supports formation of connective tissue, bones, blood clotting factors, and sex hormones
  • Fat and carbohydrate metabolism
  • Calcium absorption
  • Blood sugar regulation
  • Normal brain and nerve functioning
  • Poor bone growth and skeletal defects
  • Slow/impaired growth
  • Low fertility
  • Low glucose tolerance
  • Abnormal fat/carbohydrate metabolism
Zinc
  • Proper function of immune system
  • Cell division and growth
  • Wound healing
  • Carbohydrate breakdown
  • Proper hormone function
  • Acne, eczema, xerosis, seborrheic dermatitis, and alopecia
  • Impaired vision, sense of smell and taste, immune function, appetite, and cognitive function
Copper
  • Red blood cell formation
  • Maintains healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function
  • Supports iron absorption
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Frequent sickness
  • Weak/brittle bones
  • Memory/ learning impairment
  • Pale skin
  • Difficulty walking
  • Premature gray hair

Calcium

A mineral essential for the development and health of bones and teeth, calcium also plays vital roles in cell signaling, blood clot formation, and muscle/nerve functioning. A deficiency in the mineral, known as hypocalcemia, could lead to a vast array of symptoms such as confusion, muscle spasms and cramps, numbness and tingling in the extremities, depression, hallucinations, weak and brittle nails, and bones that fracture easily. While most dairy foods are rich in calcium, they aren’t the only source of it. Calcium can also be found in seafood, leafy greens, legumes, certain fruits, and even dairy substitutes such as almond milk.

Magnesium

Another mineral, magnesium, facilitates more than 300 different chemical reactions in the body. It is important for regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. It also contributes to the development of bones, proteins, and DNA. A magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle twitches or cramping, mental disorders, osteoporosis, fatigue and muscle weakness, high blood pressure, asthma, and irregular heartbeat. Foods containing high amounts of magnesium include leafy greens, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, and seafood. There are many variations of magnesium supplements, so it is recommended to speak with a health professional to determine which is best for you.

Manganese

This mineral supports the formation of connective tissue, bones, blood clotting factors, and sex hormones. It can also be a contributor in fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Manganese could also play a role in calcium absorption, blood sugar regulation, and normal brain and nerve functioning. Deficiency symptoms include poor bone growth or skeletal defects, slow/impaired growth, low fertility, impaired glucose tolerance, and abnormal fat/carbohydrate metabolism. Manganese is found in whole grains, nuts, leafy green vegetables, and tea.

Zinc

Zinc is a mineral which is required by the immune system for proper functioning but also plays a role in cell division and growth, wound healing, carbohydrate breakdown, and hormone function. In addition, zinc supports the senses of smell and taste. Some symptoms of a deficiency may be acne, eczema, xerosis, seborrheic dermatitis, and alopecia. It can also impair vision as well as the sense of smell and taste, immune function, appetite, and cognitive function. Zinc is found in meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy, eggs, and whole grains. When supplementing with zinc, it is critical to avoid overdose. When taken in excess, zinc can suppress copper and iron absorption and may also lead to nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, cholesterol issues, and flu-like symptoms.

Copper

A metal/mineral that is incorporated into proteins and metalloenzymes to support essential body functions, copper is used in conjunction with iron to form red blood cells. It also maintains healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function while simultaneously supporting iron absorption. It is suspected that consuming ample copper may aid in preventing cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, which is no surprise given its function in the domains of the body affected by those conditions. Some symptoms of a deficiency include weakness and fatigue, frequent sickness, weak or brittle bones, memory and learning impairment, pale skin, difficulty walking, and premature gray hair. Copper can be found in oysters and other shellfish, beans, nuts, potatoes, dark leafy greens, and dried fruit, such as prunes. Like zinc, however, it can be dangerous if consumed in excess. If used as a supplement, it is important to take copper in safe amounts.

The Importance of Vitamins and Minerals as Micronutrients

The role of micronutrients is often overlooked, since macronutrients receives so much of the world’s attention in regard to nutrition and weigh loss. However, the severity of symptoms caused by deficiencies, and sometimes vitamins or minerals taken in excess, can be the reason you can’t achieve optimal health.

Micronutrient food allergy testing through Cenegenics can give you the boost you need to meet your personal goals. Performed under the direction of a clinician, this blood analysis tests for 35 vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids inside the body, which are important to its optimal functioning. Don’t let a simple imbalance, caused by a food allergy or fad diet, get in the way of your personal health goals!

Next Steps in Understanding The Role of Micronutrients

Register for your complimentary phone consultation.

We hope the information above assisted you in your research process.

Key Resources of Micronutrients

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

Austin Zechman MS, CSCS

Nutrition & Exercise Counselor at Cenegenics Dallas

The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation

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

Available for purchase here

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

Available for purchase here

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 Education 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.

Additional Information on Micronutrients

What is Cenegenics?

What is Age Management Medicine?

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Low Energy: How the Cenegenics Program Boosts Energy & Combats Fatigue

The Dangers of Processed Foods

Understanding Mental Acuity: Improving Focus, Memory and Concentration with Cenegenics

How Cenegenics Can Help Relieve Stress in Executives & Professionals

How Weight Loss on the Cenegenics Program Differs from Your Typical Weight Loss Program

Building a Nutritional Plan: Food for Weight Loss

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