A Doctor's Guide to Reaching Your Optimal Health
An expert in the effective use of nutraceuticals, Dr. Andrew Brandeis has spent 10+ years helping patients reach their optimal health.
I had been in practice for a few of years when the concept of optimal health crossed my radar. The cornerstone of my treatment philosophy was what I called, “A better-rounded approach to health and wellness”. This was a focus on providing my patients with the least invasive therapy options necessary to treat the root cause of illnesses and working with them to help facilitate their the body's innate ability to heal through healthy lifestyle changes and effective natural treatments. Without knowing it, my approach and the idea of optimal health aligned perfectly.
The concept of optimal health can be defined as: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” (World Health Organization) or, “Optimal health is a holistic focus with the aim of attaining the best possible health outcomes by promoting healthier behaviors...” (Department of Health & Human Services). In other words, if I distill it down further, optimal health is “living in balance”. It’s recognizing that your overall health is influenced by all aspects of your life; whether your aim to treat a specific illness or health concern or if your focus is on improving the general quality of life, the most effective course will be the one that looks at all contributing factors, from lifestyle, habits, daily stressors, to more clinical determinants like underlining health issues, family medical history (heredity), diet, mental health, and exercise. (It should also be noted that as we age our priorities will, inevitably, change: one's optimal health at 65 looks very different than it did at 25.)
Medicine today takes a narrow, reactive, approach to health management. While it is very good at treating specific illnesses once they develop, it fails, I would argue, to address the larger issue: prevention. Simply urging people to “eat right and exercise” does not come close to a robust, life-long health and wellness regimen. Of the five most prevalent chronic illnesses — cardiovascular disease, heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes — studies show that in 80% of cases you reduce the likelihood of developing the illness by adopting measures like
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Getting physical exercise
- Reducing stress
- Engaging more with friends and family
- Abstaining from tobacco use
- Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
Essentially — as simplistic as it sounds — the best way to treat an illness is to not get it. By defining and committing to a regimen that focuses on optimal health you can stack the deck in your favor, and set yourself up for real, long-term health. Of course, what that regimen will be depends on the individual. Everyone's idea of what constitutes their optimal health and ‘balance’ will be different. For some, a professional athlete for example, an optimal health regimen would most likely control for peak physical performance: speed, strength, and endurance, while for others, those suffering from chronic illnesses, freedom from pain would be the focus. But what is key, is first determining what balance means for you. Everyone is entitled to define what their health goals will be and thus define their own optimal health.
Fortunately, there are some practical tools that can help you chart your course. One that falls under my area of expertise is the effective use of high-quality nutraceuticals. With the advent of ‘personalized’ supplements (i.e., using testing methodologies like blood, saliva, and genetic markers, to determine the most effective supplement program), you can now target specific health needs or goals. (This growing market represents nothing less than a revolution in the nutraceutical industry. For evidence of this one need only look at the increasing public demand for ‘personalized’ supplements over the past year and the forecasted projections through 2023.) To illustrate what an effective, long-term supplement regimen might look like, below is what I take every day:
- Probiotic to help support and promote a healthy digestive system
- Vitamin D for immune system support
- A B-Complex (w/Folate) for cardiovascular, nervous system and metabolism support
- Coenzyme Q10 for heart health and cell maintenance
- Omega-3 for cardiovascular and heart health
- Resveratrol for blood-pressure management
Our health determines our quality of life. It's the lens through which all other aspects of our lives are experienced. Yet, many of us take it for granted. We fail to take a broad look at our everyday choices and correlate their affects on our health. Optimal health can do this for us. It is a journey that can enhance not just your health but lead to a far richer, happier life.