Integrative medicine aims to promote balance and self-healing across all body systems. It is a lot more efficient at preventing multifactorial diseases such as cancer, rather than conventional medicine which remains almost arrogant and stubborn in trying to find a cure for it. In order to better someone’s health we must take into consideration all microorganisms that live within and outside us. This is why it is crucial to have a more holistic approach that aims to assess the whole of our environment, as well as assessing our own biology. This will enable us to further understand the interdependence between our microbiome, genetics, environment, nutrition and current health status, to help you reach long-term wellness.
In my book ‘Cracking your Health code’ I describe 7 key biological processes that are crucial to your health as a starting point. We look at those seven key areas of health optimisation and give an example of related genes, as well as what we can do about it. Here is a quick recap on the key areas we go through in detail:
1. Heart health and essential fatty acids
2. Methylation (DNA Repair)
5. Oxidative stress
6. Insulin resistance or sensitivity
7. Bone health
There is a lot more to be added to prevent complex diseases but this is a good start. By exploring how these pathways work for you and in learning the power of deep nutrition, we can build personalised mini habits and implement changes that count. It provides a kick-start to optimising your health and in turn reversing those alarming trends and the ever-increasing burden it causes to our health systems. Allowing yourself to reboot and optimising your body’s ability to self heal is the journey to health optimisation. It isn’t a quick fix, but a sustainable approach to wellness.
Here is a 3 step approach to assess your health and to get you started with a more personalised and scientifically validated approach to your health.
Step 1: Lifestyle assessment
In order to assess the potential change or adjustments that need to take place, we need to understand the context in which someone lives. Too often the source of underlying health issues can be due to continuous exposure or repetitive habits that are ingrained into our lifestyle. Unfortunately a GP will only have 7 minutes on average per consultation and therefore will not be able to properly assess someone’s lifestyle or environment.
By getting to know you via self-assessment questionnaires covering all areas of your health and well-being, we will help you identify your health priorities and recommendations.
Step 2: Genetic assessment
Our generation has received a fantastic gift, we have cracked the code of life and now have the ability to understand what makes us unique. We are all 99.9% genetically equal. It is only one-hundredth of one percent of genetic material that makes the difference between any one of us. The question is, what is the 0.1% that makes you different?
I like to tell the amazing story of the very, very big in the very, very small to explain this further. If you have read my first book you may have come across this but I will share it again, I can read this everyday and still find it fascinating!
We have 37.2 trillion cells in our body. Not millions or billions, but trillions! To give you a perspective, if we take all the cells out of your body, throw them in the sky, there will be more cells than there are stars in the Universe! That is how big the world inside you is! So let's turn the lens inwards and zoom in further within this exciting and gigantic world that makes you unique. Now because of its size, let's zoom in to one cell. Inside we find what we call the nucleus and zooming further still, is the human Genome: 23 pairs of chromosomes. Now if I zoom in on one chromosome, we will find this elegant double helix - our DNA (short for Deoxyribonucleic Acid). The blueprint of life, this is your instruction manual where all your biological and physical instructions lie. If I zoom in further we find the base pair, the genome alphabet, composed of its 4 Nucleobases letters: A, C, G and T (short for Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine and Thymine). This ‘Book of You’ contains approximately 3.2 billion letters, arranged in sentences of different shapes and sizes called genes. It would take you over 100 years to type a copy of the ‘book of you’ and the book would be approximately 600,000 pages long! We have approximately 24,000 genes that are coding for something and there are another 120,000 that do not code for anything we know of yet. Some scientists talk about quantum genetics, and others of ‘junk’ genes. Personally, I believe they are here for a reason, just yet to be discovered.
Now, to give you a perspective of how big this is, you have around 6 feet (1.83 m) worth of instructions in each and every single cell of your body. You have around the size of Leonardo Di Caprio in data, wrapped up meticulously, in each and every cell of the 37.2 billion cells you have in your body! That is enough DNA to go to the moon and back 6000 times! Only 0.1% of this genetic material differs from the surrounding people. The most common type and point of variation is a single base change at a particular position – this variation is called: Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, or SNP (pronounced SNIP). 0.1% still represents a lot of data.
Now, what does this mean for us? The world has completely changed in our lifetime since scientists decided to sequence our DNA. They completed sequencing it in 1998, taking almost 20 years and it cost $3.2 billion USD. We are now able to do the same job within a few days and it now costs less than $1000 USD. The price has fallen 100 million times! That’s the equivalent of you filling up your car with petrol in 1998, waiting until 2011, and now you can drive to Jupiter and back - twice!
This means we can now un-code ourselves. We now have access to these instructions to find out what the story of the ‘book of you’ is, what makes you different. All the bits that make you so unique, all the answers are within you; encrypted and well-preserved, wrapped up optimally in your genome, inside your cells.
The age old saying of one size fits all is definitely irrelevant now – we know that. Now you can be empowered by discovering all the information that makes you unique, the information that is relevant to you! DNA testing will give you a wonderful insight of who you are and what your strengths and weaknesses are and which key health areas could be of priority for you. This, combined with your lifestyle assessment, can be very informative in providing a personalised health optimisation plan based on a gene-diet that is in harmony with your own biology.
A DNA test is a fantastic tool to help you start being proactive towards your health in a more informed manner and implement simple habits and non-costly solutions.
Step 3: Functional test assessment
Functional tests are a very important part of the equation in determining and getting a better understanding of your current physical health (what’s happening inside your body right now). Where the Genetics test will indicate susceptibilities, weakness, strengths and traits, functional tests will aim at a more definitive insight.
For example, what is your current gut health, what is your gut microbes composition, could it lead to an imbalance and or potential illnesses, such as non-celiac gluten sensitivity etc.? How does exposure to toxins affect you, or exposure to environmental pollutants? Knowing about your exposure profile to the most common environmental pollutants will tell you how they might affect your body and where they might originate from, helping you to reach a safer body and environment. How can you keep or achieve hormonal balance? Looking at different biomarkers that can help understand the root cause of hormonal imbalances could help provide a very efficient protocol to eradicate many root cause of symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, low libido, premenstrual syndrome, mood swings, sleep issues, mood disorders, prostate issues in men and more.
In summary, assessing properly across all body systems in combination with your lifestyle, environment and genetics will give you the most accurate overall picture of your health to later help in implementing a more targeted approach to your health optimisation goal.
We are complex beings and nothing within us works in isolation. With this understanding, this is why we have worked hard at Omnos to create a pioneering and innovative approach to contextualising and linking various data points across those 3 assessment steps, enabling us to provide you with the most accurate, targeted and personalised recommendations.
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