What I am about to describe is a cluster of disorders that are highly interrelated. The problem is common among many Americans but I am of the opinion McDonald’s have increased risk and prevalence and therefore we have to be more vigilant and more aggressive in prevention and treatment.
- Metabolic syndrome: Large waist circumference, high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol increased blood pressure and elevated fasting blood sugar.
- Chronic inflammation.
- MTHFR genetic defect ad determined by genetic sequencing such as 23 and me ancestry and health.
Each of the above exacerbates the others and thereby worsens and accelerates the damage caused.
These conditions can be treated and perhaps cured ( meaning that all values can be brought into the normal healthy range with changes in behavior and lifestyle and some special supplements if caught early and addressed aggressively. At more advanced stages the behavior and lifestyle and supplement changes may need some help from prescription medications.
The damage from the disorders above is cumulative and ultimately they result in severe illness that includes heart disease, stroke, peripheral nerve damage, chronic joint problems, cancer and cognitive decline.
Successful efforts to cure or minimize these disorders significantly enhances quality of life and “health span”. Health span refers to what Suz and I call the number of “good years”, that is years during which your ability to function allows you to enjoy life in whatever way you choose.
During your first visit with your Functional Medicine practitioner, you should discuss tests that will allow you to determine if you suffer from the list above. If you already know you have some of the conditions above you might want to discuss a game plan for behavior, lifestyle and supplement approaches you can add to whatever medical treatment you are now employing.
Some tests to discuss:
High sensitivity CRP test for inflammation (HSCRP)
Many doctors stop with A1C testing for diabetes/pre-diabetes. A two-hour glucose tolerance test with insulin measurements will provide much more useful information.
Cholesterol testing by itself is close to meaningless. A more thorough lipid panel with particle size and count is more meaningful.
An ultrasound of your carotid arteries (CIMT) can detect blood vessel damage that is predictive of blood vessel damage elsewhere in your body.
A liver ultrasound for fatty liver and cirrhosis.
An abdominal ultrasound for abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Blood testing for B12 is close to useless. Gut bacteria can produce a counterfeit form of B12 that confounds the blood test.
Vitamin D levels are extremely important. you probably need to supplement but to get the dose right and consequently the blood level right you need to know your starting point.
Body composition testing to establish a baseline and yearly follow-ups to track progress.