Traditional doctors would have you believe that “eternal youth” is some kind of holy grail. But I’ll let you in on a little secret… it really isn’t.
As the population gets older, calendar age becomes less and less important, and biological age—that is, the general state of your health—takes center stage.
You can have one 70-year-old who looks and feels like a 40-year-old. And then another who looks and feels much older.
The truth is, even in medicine, age is nothing but a number. Which is exactly why I devote so much time to analyzing the metrics that truly matter, and implementing strategies that will keep you young—biologically.
Most of them are just plain common sense: Eat right. Exercise. Get adequate sleep. But some of them aren’t so obvious—at least, not to conventional medicine.
Because as much as most mainstream M.D.s like their tests, they’re not checking for half the things they should be.
A clinical work-up shouldn’t cut corners
Does this sound familiar? You feel “off,” so you go to your doctor. He or she orders a chemistry panel and a complete blood count. And when your results come back within normal ranges, the doctor chalks it up to the fact that “you’re just getting older,” and sends you on your way.
I hear this story all the time, from patients who turn to doctors like me because they know something’s not right. And they refuse to accept that their issues are simply an inevitable byproduct of aging.
But together, we find out exactly what’s wrong, nearly every time. How? Well, there are several tests that I run on my patients, simply as a baseline to see where they stand. And if they come in with a specific complaint, I run even more tests—some blood, some urine, some saliva, or a combination of all three.
It’s part of the reason the medical establishment is so afraid of doctors like me: Our testing may be more extensive (and, yes, expensive)—but our cures are a thousand times cheaper and more effective because they address the root cause without relying on Big Pharma’s band-aid solutions.
While there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about any of these tests—they’ve all been around for some time now—their results tell a critical story about the state of your health. Which is why adding them to your diagnostic work-up could, in fact, save your life. Or at the very least, help you live longer and healthier.
Unfortunately, most primary care physicians stick to the general standards of care, which don’t include many of these screenings. But that’s exactly why I want to share them with you today… so that you know what to ask for—and why.
Beyond “good” and “bad” cholesterol
As you know, blood sugar is vitally important. But because I already remind you on a regular basis to have your fasting blood sugar and your HbA1C (a marker of longer-term blood sugar control) tested routinely, today I want to focus on some other metrics… like cholesterol.
Let’s start with LDL. This so-called “bad cholesterol” is made up of large and small particles. And as it turns out, large and fluffy LDL particles are quite normal—even healthy.
Small, dense LDL particles (very-low-density LDL, or VLDL), on the other hand? Well, they can be problematic.
Studies show that people whose LDL cholesterol is predominantly small and dense have a three times greater risk of coronary heart disease.1 And other studies suggest that determining the number of small, dense particles in the blood predicts the risk of heart disease more accurately than simply measuring total LDL cholesterol.
Your overall VLDL level should be below 40 mg/dL. But there are actually three subclasses of VLDL particles—VLDL1, VLDL2, and VLDL3. VLDL3 is the smallest, most dangerous type, and your level should be below 10 mg/dL.
The same holds true for HDL—the “good cholesterol.” It is made up of both large- and small-size particles. Large HDL particles are called HDL2, and the small variety are called HDL3. HDL2 is the most protective form. So the more of them you have, the lower your risk for cardiac events. You want your levels above 10 mg/dL.
But as I’ve also mentioned here before, triglyceride levels are the most important part of your lipid profile. You want to keep them under 100 mg/dL.
Luckily, you can keep track of all of these lipids with one simple test, called the Vertical Auto Profile, or VAP test. Chances are, your doctor won’t order it for you unless you specifically request it. But the good news is, it costs about the same as a regular, routine lipid profile. And it’s covered by Medicare and most insurance carriers.
Don’t overlook your small intestine
As you probably know, especially if you’re a longtime reader of mine, I consider gut health to be the cornerstone of longevity and disease prevention.
I consistently see patients who complain of a variety of symptoms, some of which seem completely unrelated. And every time, I know an effective and permanent solution is going to hinge on rehabbing their gut health.
Of course, most of our discussions on this topic have revolved around your gut’s bacterial population—and most critically, nurturing a robust and diverse microbiome. But what a lot of people—conventional doctors, included¡ªdon’t consider is that bacterial overgrowth is also a problem. Especially in the small intestine.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) happens when bacteria from other parts of the gut start proliferating in the small intestine—causing inflammation, pain, digestive problems, and malabsorption, among other problems.
So if a patient shows up with complaints that look like leaky gut, SIBO is one of the first things I test for. And luckily, it’s easy—a simple breath test that looks for the presence of hydrogen or methane. These gases signal higher levels of atypical microbiota in the small intestine.
If results come back positive for SIBO, all it takes is a three-week course of rifaximin—an antibiotic that works only in the small intestine, so there’s no need to worry about an imbalance in the large intestinal flora. I’ve personally seen this work wonders on my patients who can’t seem to shake their leaky gut syndrome with diet alone.
Colon cancer screening from the comfort of your home
I’m sure you’ve seen this test advertised somewhere by this point. But I’m here to remind you that Cologuard really is a great colon cancer screening tool—especially if you’re worried about the risks of a colonoscopy, or are just plain squeamish about the procedure.
This test analyzes stool DNA and blood biomarkers to detect colorectal cancer and advanced adenomas (polyps). A similar non-invasive test is the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), which screens for any microscopic blood cells in your stool.
But while FIT is a worthwhile option, Cologuard takes it a couple steps further.
In a large clinical trial, Cologuard detected 92 percent of colorectal cancers and up to 69 percent of polyps. FIT screening, on the other hand, only detected 74 percent of cancers and 24 percent of polyps.2
The Cologuard test is covered by most insurance companies, as long as you aren’t experiencing any symptoms and are not considered at high risk for colon cancer. You take the test at home, and if it’s negative, you don’t have to worry about colon cancer for the next five years.
But let me be clear: It’s not a replacement for colonoscopy—especially in high-risk patients, like myself, whose dad and uncle both died of colon cancer. (Because of that, I go in for a colonoscopy every three years, and I never miss an appointment.)
And it goes without saying, you’ll still need to follow up with a colonoscopy if your results come back positive.
Hunt down autoimmunity with AVISE
There are close to 100 different types of autoimmune diseases in the books. (Some of the most common include rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes.)
These conditions are the result of an immune system that has gone “rogue.” Instead of protecting your body from foreign invaders, your immune cells turn on you and attack your own tissues.
Heredity appears to play a role in your risk of developing an autoimmune disease. But the truth is, autoimmune diseases are extremely complex, and no one is sure exactly how or why they start.
Treating autoimmune disorders can be a real challenge because of it. (Though I’ve helped dozens of patients battling autoimmune conditions live normal—even amazingly healthy—lives, in spite of their diagnoses.)
But AVISE testing helps to make a diagnosis, at least, simpler. It can help your doctor determine if you have any autoimmune diseases with one simple blood test.
AVISE looks at all autoimmune markers in one shot, down to the genetic level. And in my practice, it’s a must for patients with vague but persistent symptoms, or an elevated antinuclear antibody test (which the first and most basic step in identifying lupus and other autoimmune disorders).
How to find the hidden source of fatigue
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Adrenal burnout is as American as apple pie.
Your adrenal system is responsible for all of your body’s stress responses, both physical and mental. It does this by producing hormones—like adrenaline and cortisol. But when your adrenal switch stays “on” for too long, it can overwhelm these glands and cause them to shut down.
For instance, intense or prolonged stress, lack of sleep, frequent travel, noise and light pollution, a diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates… all of these are fixtures of a Standard American Diet and lifestyle.
So when I encounter a patient who’s struggling with anxiety, isn’t sleeping at the right times—or who, alternatively, is dealing with symptoms of a blunted stress response like fatigue and depression—I always start with an adrenocortex stress panel.
That’s because adrenal fatigue is often the underlying cause of many of these problems. And it can even result from these problems as well—a true Catch-22.
The adrenocortex stress panel is a simple saliva test. You simply collect samples throughout the day so your doctor can see if your body is releasing cortisol in the proper amounts at the proper times, the way nature intended.
And if it isn’t? Well, this is where my adrenal repair protocol—which features adaptogenic herbs and calming nutrients—comes into play.
I first detailed this strategy back in the April 2013 issue of Logical Health Alternatives, and have revisited the topic many times since—a quick search of the archives will turn up everything you need to know.
A urine test that could change your life
Strange, but true: I once had a patient who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. But it turned out to be a mercury toxicity from all the tuna and sushi he had been consuming.
The dangers of excessive mercury exposure really couldn’t get any clearer. But unfortunately, it’s a condition that easily falls through the cracks, with symptoms that mimic a long list of other common diseases. (We’re talking everything from memory loss and depression to joint pain, fatigue, and allergies.)
That’s one reason why I routinely test my patients for mercury toxicity. And believe me, positive results are not at all uncommon.
Ultimately, this is one of the most critical tests in my arsenal. Because whether or not you eat tuna and/or sushi for lunch every day, we’ve all been exposed to more mercury and other heavy metals than we realize (in water, soil, food, and any number of other products, from high-fructose corn syrup to dental fillings to flu shots).
I definitely suggest finding an experienced practitioner to diagnose you properly and, if testing warrants it, to guide you through the chelation treatment process. Generally speaking, this isn’t the kind of thing you want to treat at home. And while oral chelation formulas are widely available, they simply don’t work as well as IV treatments with EDTA or DMPS—two chelating agents. (I typically use a combination of products.)
That said, mainstream medicine has been slow to embrace chelation as a valid treatment in all but the most severe cases of heavy metal poisoning.
Which means you may need to find a natural medicine practitioner to help you. (As always, the American College for Advancement in Medicine is a great resource. You can use their search engine at www.acam.org to find a doctor near you.)
This also means you may bear the financial brunt of getting tested and treated for mercury toxicity. But I can assure you it’s well worth every penny.
Expensive tests, invaluable information
Organic acid testing and essential amino acid testing evaluate the levels of every organic acid and amino acid in your body to determine if your balance is correct. And that’s just for starters.
These tests can look at oxidative stress, the functioning of your mitochondria, and how effectively you’re detoxifying, as well as essential elements you might be missing or have too much of.
In the interest of full disclosure, these two tests are very expensive—but well worth it, in my opinion. They’re basically a road map to precisely what’s going on in your body. In fact, they give so much information that I could dedicate an entire issue to each one. (And absolutely bore you to tears in the process, so I won’t.)
But I will say this: As part of a recent study, researchers pinpointed more than 150 different biomarkers, which they then narrowed down to 14—all of which had independent ties to overall mortality.
These biomarkers included a comprehensive collection of critical amino acids—which, like many of the markers in this article, most mainstream doctors are likely to overlook. And results showed that these biomarkers were able to accurately predict risk of death within the next five to ten years.3 And the best part? These biomarkers are all accounted for in these two screenings.
That’s an incredible degree of insight from a simple blood test.
Here’s the bottom line: If you want to live a long and healthy life, you must know the biochemistry of your body. It’s the only way you can make the necessary course adjustments that are right for you. (And not for the “average” patient.)
When it comes to true longevity and health, this knowledge is power. Period. All of the tests mentioned above are simple and non-invasive. But the information they deliver is priceless.
For more ways to “age younger”—and feel better—every day of your long, healthy life, be sure to check out my Ultimate Anti-Aging Protocol. This new, innovative protocol outlines all of my recommended strategies for feeling better than ever, with every passing year. I’m putting the finishing touches on it now, so stay tuned for its much anticipated release!
At a glance: The eight tests to add to your annual doctor’s visit
1.) Vertical Auto Profile, or VAP test. This test keeps track of your lipids, and you’ll want to aim for the following results:
- Overall VLDL level: Below 40 mg/dL, with VLDL3 levels below 10 mg/dL
- HDL2 levels: Above 10 mg/dL
- Triglycerides: Below 100 mg/dL
2.) Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). This is a simple breath test, and you’re looking for negative results. If you receive a positive result, I typically prescribe a three-week course of rifaximin.
3.) Cologuard. This test screens for colon cancer in the comfort of your own home, for patients who are not considered at high-risk. If results come back negative, you don’t have to worry about colon cancer for the next five years. But if results are positive, you’ll still need to follow up with a colonoscopy. And for high-risk patients, I recommend getting a colonoscopy every three years.
4.) AVISE. This is a simple blood test that screens for autoimmune diseases.
5.) Adrenocortex stress panel. This is a simple saliva test to help determine if you suffer from adrenal fatigue. It helps determines if your body is releasing cortisol in the proper amounts, at the proper times.
6.) Mercury toxicity. This is a urine test that looks for levels of mercury exposure. If you receive positive results, I recommend finding an experienced practitioner to guide you through the chelation process.
7.), 8.) Organic acid testing and essential amino acid testing. These are two simple blood tests that look at several biomarkers—all of which access your overall mortality.
- Lamarche B, et al. “Small, dense low-density lipoprotein particles as a predictor of the risk of ischemic heart disease in men. Prospective results from the Quebec Cardiovascular Study.” Circulation 1997; 95(1): 69-75.
- Imperiale TF, et al. “Multitarget Stool DNA Testing for Colorectal-Cancer Screening.” N Engl J Med. 2014 Apr 3;370(14):1287-97.
- Deelen J, et al. “A metabolic profile of all-cause mortality risk identified in an observational study of 44,168 individuals.” Nat Commun. 2019 Aug 20;10(1):3346.