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Dr. Ted Achacoso: You’ve gut to care about your health

Dr. Theodore B. Achacoso, medical director, BioBalance health and wellness institute, with the BioBalance medical team: Dr. Anna Cristina A. Tuazon, Dr. Rolando A. Balburias, Dr. Stanley A. Chua, and Dr. Paulita V. Baclig

You’ve gut to believe him when he talks about health and well-being. Doc Ted Achacoso travels the world over to bring the gospel of gut health, weight loss and longevity to everyone. At this healthy press lunch hosted by BioBalance at TWG, Shangri-La Mall Edsa, Doc Ted settles for a lean but mean plate of salad (make that two platefuls) as he regales “in our company and curiosity,” so he says. Now, we know why he’s slim and trim.

Seated next to Doc Ted is the gorgeous Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi who’s a walking advertisement of the health benefits one can reap from a BioBalance renewed lifestyle. Others who swear by optimized health include prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde who can still execute a flawless pirouette; celebrity photographer Sara Black who’s truly portrait-pretty; sports and fitness coach Andy Leuterio; and actor-businessman Albert Martinez.

During lunch, we’re subjected to a lifestyle/health check, where you find out what your nutrient deficiencies are.

Over his fresh greens, Doc Ted’s got a mouthful to say about “optimizing health as the key to longevity.” Let’s hear it from Doc Ted in this not-so-long interview.

No gut, no glory: BioBalance, which shows the way to gut health, has a new home at the lower ground level of Shangri-La East Wing Mall in Mandaluyong. For more information, call 650-4858 or visit www.biobalanceinstitute.com.

PHILIPPINE STAR: What do you mean by optimizing health? And how can we practice it in our day-to-day living?

DOC TED ACHACOSO: Health = A + B + C, where A is the absence of disease (the purview of Illness Medicine), B is the balance between the anabolic processes (pathways that build) and catabolic processes (pathways that break down), according to C, the cycle of life of an organism. For example, a growing baby is more anabolic, and an ambling grandpa is more catabolic.

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Health Optimization Medicine (HOMe), the clinical framework that I pioneered eight years ago, is the detection of borderline deficiencies and subtle toxicities in the intracellular metabolites (like hormones and nutrients) of an adult person, and correcting those imbalances to optimal levels, meaning pushing them to the levels seen in 21 to 30-year-olds. That’s the science. The art of the practice is remembering that the hormones and nutrients are in networks, and touching one node of the network moves everything connected with it.

When clients come to your clinic, what are the most common problems?

Lack of energy or “low batt” complaint is the most common. Frequent illness from infections, sleep disturbances, weight management, and sexual performance issues are also common.

What is gut health and what should we be eating to achieve this?

The gut (gastrointestinal tract) is now recognized as the “second brain” of the body (yes, your stomach has a mind of its own). Like the brain, which has a blood brain barrier that prevents the entry of certain molecules and infective agents, the gut also has a luminal barrier that performs the same function. One of the foundations of gut health is making sure that this luminal barrier is intact and not “leaky.” The gut is also considered to be the largest immune organ of the body. The gut bacteria teach our immune system what is “self” and “non-self.” For example, many children born by Caesarian section have asthma and immune dysregulatory diseases because of failure of inoculation of the gut by the vaginal bacteria from the mother. In fact, there is a three-way bidirectional communication now recognized among the gut bacteria, the gut, and the brain. New studies show the profound effects of gut bacteria on behavior, like depression and anxiety. In fact, with the most recent developments in the field, I cannot help but wonder whether or not we are really in control of our bodies or if our gut bacteria are, and we only have the illusion of control! I have a lecture in Berlin this coming Oct. 27 at the International Society of Microbiota World Congress on exactly this topic.

Tell us more about your Gut CARE program.

MEL GILLEGO: BioBalance has taught me that the gut affects not just digestive symptoms like constipation and bloating, but also non-digestive concerns like immunity, mood, and energy. Our Gut CARE program was designed by Dr. Ted and our other Health Optimization Medicine specialists to scientifically assess your gut health status first before any intervention takes place. Like all our signature programs, we start with gut tests that check absorption, bacteria balance, and presence of unwanted pathogens like yeast. Once we know your gut health status, our doctors recommend natural compounds to help in cleansing and restoring gut health. These include things like probiotics, prebiotics, and natural anti-fungals. Our program is a personalized and natural approach to restoring gut health.

You mentioned healthspan and lifespan in your earlier talk. What’s the difference?

Lifespan is the number of years of life of an organism. Healthspan is the number of years of high quality health of an organism. Illness Medicine is after lifespan. Health Optimization Medicine is after healthspan. It would be great to have both, but if I were to choose only one, then it’s healthspan. I don’t want to life a long life with chronic disease and pain. Well, unless I can download my consciousness into a non-organic, robotic body with  push-button features.

Who are the healthiest people on the planet and why?

There are areas in the world called the “Blue Zones” where there is a high number of healthy centenarians. Okinawa (Japan), Ikaria (Greece), Sardinia (Italy), Playa Nicoya (Costa Rica), and Loma Linda (California) are all of them. They eat a high diversity of foods. For example, Okinawans eat about 120 different types of food items in a week. This strengthens their gut microbiota. They also move a lot — not going to gyms, but actually doing work in the garden or at home. They have close-knit families and have relatively stress-free relationships.

I funded an eight-part docu-series entitled The Human Longevity Project which will be released in 2018. The film deals with the Blue Zones and the lifestyles of the people who live in those zones. I am anchoring the series in the clinical framework of Health Optimization Medicine (HOMe) as the modern way of adapting the Blue Zone lifestyles to the present-day world. HOMe is the detection and correction of imbalances in the metabolites of the body. Episode 1 of the series will be premiered at the World Mitochondria Society World Congress in Berlin this Oct. 24.

Some say we do not need to take supplements/vitamins as long as we eat right. What do you think?

How do you know you’re eating right? Now that the technology (called Clinical Metabolomics) exists, we can measure the levels of micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and co-factors inside your cells. Why not get tested? I abhor these fights about this vitamin being good for you or that mineral being bad for you. Get your levels tested. If there is too much, then remove. If there is too little, then add. What’s the argument there?

If you can only take one kind of supplement, what should this be?

Not a supplement: Organically grown, rainbow-colored food!

 In terms of supplements,  you said  there’s no “one size fits all.” What’s best for the elderly, aged 60 and up?

Get your levels measured and we can assemble a protocol bespoke to you. The levels will differ from person to person even in the same age cohort. The era of personalized pharmacology is already here.

You said you had a patient with stage 4 cancer who was helped with supplements.  What supplements can reverse cancer?

Perhaps the better question is what supplements can prevent or treat cancer. Curcumin, for example, has been used for years as a chemotherapeutic agent in some major cancer centers. Supplements that improve mitochondrial function are useful for up to about 80 percent of cancers. Supplements that down-regulate the glucose metabolism and up-regulate fatty acid metabolism are also extremely useful.

Is sexual health a big concern, too, among your clients? How do you help them?

Yes. This is where hormone balancing shines. After testing for their levels, I don’t give whopping doses of the hormones as you would if there is overt disease. I just shift the major network of hormones to the younger age of 21 to 30. When I do that, the sexual problems usually go away. In fact, I have two lectures on Sexual Health Optimization Medicine coming up in London on Oct. 28 and 29.

Your newest program is weight loss and longevity. What’s the secret to losing weight and keeping it off? And what is your idea of longevity?

I am not a proponent of weight loss. I am a proponent of fat loss. We all need our muscles to old age, and muscles are heavy!

The secret to fat loss and to keeping it off is the same as preventing chronic diseases: embrace a lifestyle that minimizes molecular inflammation. For example, get your sensitivity to various foods tested. Eating foods that bloat you inevitably inflames you. Get your micronutrient levels tested. You may think you may be eating right, but you can see your actual deficiencies that can be addressed by proper food or supplementation. Get your gut bacteria profiled in your stool. Gut bacteria preprocess everything that we eat. Some bacteria have been shown to have more efficiency in extracting calories from your diet, and if you have more of those bacteria, they may contribute to weight gain. Mind your sleep. Lack of sleep can raise inflammatory cytokine levels. Avoid toxic environments and relationships. I think you can figure that out!

Before, longevity for me meant “morbidity compression” — meaning, a decreased number of sick days before I died. Now, a handful of biogerontologists are predicting that morbidity compression is not even necessary because aging should be reversible in the near future. We shall see.

What keeps you fit? How long do you want to live? How did you get into this business?

I think the most important vital statistic is that I am 56 years old and I have non-surgical six-pack abs!

My philosophy is “smarter, not harder” — so I eat smarter, not harder; exercise smarter, not harder, and so on.

I eat biochemically: high-fiber carbohydrates (I aim for 34 grams of fiber daily), moderate protein, essential fats. I make sure that my micronutrients are optimal (by having them measured and supplementing what I need). I throttle my macronutrients according to my activity. If I am going to be running, jumping, hiking that day (aerobic activities), then I eat more carbs. If I am lifting weights (resistance training) to sustain or build muscle, then I eat more protein. If I am just going to sit in front of my computer screen all day, then I eat high-fat but very reduced calorie meals.

I always do at least 20 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) every day, or if I can walk outdoors, I walk five miles. I do resistance training (weights) two to three times a week using a regimen that I created and teach to very busy people.

You probably know that I was trained in Interventional Neuroradiology and Pharmacology in Manila, in Medical Informatics, Artificial Intelligence, and Socially Responsible Finance in Washington, DC, and in Anti-Aging Medicine and Nutritional Medicine in Paris. In all of those years, I was always a faculty member at a medical school (The University of the Philippines and The George Washington University) and it always bothered me that we only asked one question to the medical students: What is your disease management plan for the patient? I got into this business so we can ask a second question: What is your health management plan for the patient? Illness Medicine is most excellent in the management of acute diseases like infections and trauma. Its track record in preventing and managing chronic diseases, however, is quite dismal. Just because you’re not sick does not mean that you are well. It only means that you’re not sick.  It’s time to add the business of health management to disease management. And that’s how I got into this business.

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