Do you feel old? How old is “old” to you? Is it someone ten or 20 years further down the road of life? Is it a parent or grandparent who is too tired to run and play? What sets your expectation in this area? If you’re looking at it from a chronological standpoint, it is time to rethink this paradigm and create a new mindset. Our biological age, rather than our chronological age, is what really matters because that’s where we have immense influence. START SOMEWHERE knowing these 10 key numbers to evaluate where your healthspan is headed.
Perspective is certainly influenced by stage of life. A 1985 discussion that started with “Cute clothes don’t matter when you’re 30” is still vividly imprinted in my brain. We all agreed as we huddled in the hospital cafeteria, shoveling institutional food into our mouths and exhausted in our final semester of dental school. The “dental girls,” as we call ourselves 34 years later, were feeling discouraged in our ugly blue polyester unisex lab jackets that had been issued to us our freshman year. Convinced that we were past the prime years of our lives, it was time to actually think about paying back school loans and the era of cute clothes seemed to have passed us by. Although I was totally off base, at age 26, age 30 seemed old to me.
We can’t be bothered with what we can’t change. We can’t change our birthday or our genetics. But, we can change our mindset over these two immovable facts of life. We can begin to think about Healthspan rather than Lifespan. Once a correct mindset is established, making the necessary mid-course corrections gets much, much easier.
Remember, your Healthspan is the number of years that you are active and filled with zest. These are the years that you wake up and look forward to your day, unhampered by aches and pains or unending doctor visits. Developed by the World Health Organization, the HALE Index (Healthy Life Expectancy) is an indicator that figures the average age of onset of the most common serious diseases. This gap between Healthspan and Lifespan is currently approaching 16 years in the United States and growing; many people spend 20% of their life unhealthy. Needless to say, that is a long, expensive, miserable time. It doesn’t have to be you!
What are your Start Somewheres to living younger longer? As we discussed in last week’s blog (March 1, 2019), first think about what you want to be able to do. Next, evaluate where your health is currently headed. I will guide you as you devise a sustainable plan that fits your life. It need not be complicated!
START SOMEWHERE by knowing these 10 key numbers to evaluate where your healthspan is headed:
Vitamin D3: Optimal range 50 to 70 ng/ml
High-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP): Optimal range is below 1 mg/dL (“Normal” is below 3)
Hemoglobin A1C (hbAIC): Optimal is 5.5% or lower.
Fasting Blood Sugar: Optimal is less than 90 mg/dL
Homocysteine: Optimal is 7-10 umol/L
Lipid Panel (Including total cholesterol) (optimal <180 mg/dl): LDL cholesterol (optimal <70 mg/dl), HDL cholesterol (optimal >60 mg/dl), and triglycerides (optimal <100 mg/dl)
Blood Pressure: According to Mayo Clinic, normal is below 120/80
Waist Circumference Female: 35 inches or less, Male: 40 inches or less
Comprehensive Periodontal Exam: Optimal is pocketing 4 millimeters or less with zero bleeding
Digestive Transit Time: Ideal is 12 to 24 hours
I am committed to educating and empowering you to develop your own personalized vision for vitality! We will unpack each of these areas in the coming blog posts. You can be fully equipped to START SOMEWHERE today and have more energy tomorrow. Small steps that become habits work best.
Fast forward from 1985 to 2019. My mindset is totally different. Although my chronological age is 60 and counting, my biological age is improving daily. The number that woke me up was slightly high blood sugar, thanks to Laura Miles, M.D., a physician committed to finding and addressing the root causes of illness. “Old” is really defined by how a person feels and I feel much younger now than I did 15 or more years ago.
You can develop your own vision for health and cultivate sustainable strategies that will give you more energy both today and in your coming years. Growing older is the great unknown in the lives of those who feel young; you are never too old to feel younger. Cute clothes still matter!
Your Healthspan Strategist,
Dr. Debbie Ozment
P.S.: Here are key points to remember when reading your blood test:
How reference ranges are determined: Ideally, reference ranges provide the expected range of values for a healthy population. When the equipment and method are exactly the same among different laboratories, these should be the same. However, equipment and methods may differ somewhat from lab to lab.
Reference ranges do not always reflect a “normal” healthy population. Unfortunately, the U.S. population is getting more unhealthy by the day. Most laboratories establish their reference ranges from a large population of people where detailed information on health status, stage of life (age), and medications used are unknown and not taken into account. Couple this with differences in lifestyles, physiology, dietary habits, and genetic heredity, and it is even more difficult to define a normal population.