The Age of Predictive Medicine
by Benedict Francis D. Valdecañas, MD, MSc, FPOA, FPCS
Medical Director, Aegle Wellness Center
There has been no other era in the evolution of medical science that has gone way back to basics than the one we all are in now. Medical nutrition is taking a look back at specific molecules in food. Sports and exercise medicine is taking a step back to reexamine the different biochemical processes in which our muscle cells produce energy. And preventive medicine has been identifying parts of the human genetic code that can be associated with all the diseases of mankind. In fact, I would even call this era one of predictive medicine, where we can now predict what diseases you can actually develop, to a certain degree of statistical accuracy, in your lifetime.
For decades, we have been robotically submitting ourselves to the annual checkups required by our employers or our insurance companies. These executive tests look for abnormalities in blood markers that signify existing disease. But that’s just it; the disease exists already, albeit sans symptoms. What’s interesting is that these diseases that we tend to develop in our lifetimes are brought about by our current, innocent lifestyles, and thus, are preventable—that is, if we know what to do to avoid them. From experience, a number of clients I see in the clinic have diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease because they do not know that what they are eating, how they are working, and how they spend their spare time contribute to the development of these diseases.
What would you give to be able to know what diseases you are most apt to develop as a result of how you are living your life? With the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, the entire human genetic code was determined. What to make of this information was the focus of the next few years; identifying where in this blueprint particular diseases reside. Over the succeeding 10 years, medical science was able to identify specific mutations or changes in the genetic code that cause diseases particularly activated by specific environmental exposures. And so today, we now have a lock and key combination of which genetic conditions lead to what disease and what it takes to unlock them.
In view of this, a better laboratory examination is a test that would tell your doctor what your genetic makeup is and what diseases are encoded in this genetic map. This is a newly developed branch of medicine called genomics. And the study of what environmental factors trigger these genetic predispositions to manifest in your life is called epigenetics. Coupled with your usual annual blood examinations, these can yield a powerful base of information that your doctors can use to devise a lifestyle modification program that can prevent all these diseases you are prone to developing.
Say, for example, your genomics test shows a high predisposition for developing diabetes. And although your fasting blood sugar has been within normal bounds for the past few years, your insulin levels have been steadily increasing. Your doctor can conclude that you are, based on your present lifestyle, headed towards developing diabetes even if your blood sugar is still not over the upper limits of the laboratory ranges. Then, your doctor can start you on a structured diet devoid of simple sugars that can prevent you from developing diabetes. All it takes is a thorough understanding by your doctor of how genomics can be applied in a clinical setting.
Therefore, a complete wellness package has to start with a genomic test to determine your genetic predispositions, a hormonal profile to check your present state of health and ageing, and the usual blood chemistry to assess your current organ system functions.
These should be done routinely to establish a basis upon which to design a lifestyle modification program geared towards improving your health status via the three pillars of wellness: nutrition management, personalized exercise, and customized supplementation.
These are easily achieved with Aegle Wellness Center’s routine comprehensive testing program, designed for predictive medicine’s paradigm shift: having the ability to predict what diseases you are predisposed to develop in your life, how far along you are on that path, and what we can do to turn it around and prevent the disease from developing.
All you have to do is start with our blood-based diagnostics. And your test results, through the help and guidance of our physicians, nutritionists, and exercise physiologists, can pave the way towards a healthier, disease-free future.
This article was originally published on Alphaland Atmospheres Issue No. 10
Dr. Valdecañas is a specialist in regenerative medicine research for both hospital-based programs and clinical applications. He utilizes the latest findings and innovations that molecular biology has to offer in optimizing health and human performance through customized micronutrient supplementation, personalized exercise programs, and careful attention to diet and nutrition.