Allopathic Medicine, Integrative Medicine, Alternative Medicine, Complementary Medicine, and Functional Medicine are all “Illness Medicine” practices, according to Ted Achacoso, MD. They all diagnose and treat disease. And thus, they are ill-prepared to truly help you detect and correct the subtle imbalances that will allow you to take your health to the next level.
Health Optimization Medicine (HOMe), on the other hand, detects and corrects imbalances applying the cutting-edge sciences of Clinical Metabolomics, Epigenetics, Gut Microbiome Health, Exposomics, Chronobiology, and Evolutionary Medicine – subjects that are not currently taught in medical schools.
By focusing on detecting and correcting the imbalances unique to that individual at the biochemical, micronutrient, microbiota, and hormonal level, health can be first restored, and then maximized.
This approach is not about fixing disease and makes no claims about fixing any particular disease — it’s about restoring balance to the body. When the body is in balance, improved wellbeing and health follow naturally. Any disease that happens to improve by correcting imbalances is just a “beneficial side effect” of bringing one’s body into balance. Dr. Ted believes this is the path to transforming medicine as we know it and ushering in the era of “Medicine 2.0.”
In this podcast, you’ll learn
- What is health? (Why it’s NOT just the absence of disease)
- The 7 Pillars of factors in your environment/lifestyle/body that your health and energy depend on
- Why most standard medicine is flawed because it’s “illness medicine” (and the key difference between illness medicine and true health optimization)
- Why you shouldn’t wait till your health is broken before fixing/optimizing it
- How Health Optimization Medicine (HOMe) starts with evolutionary medicine, but goes beyond standard evolutionary medicine treatments
- How the science of metabolomics can help you take your health to the next level
- Dr. Ted’s keys to bio-identical hormone replacement for more energy and better health
- Does hormone optimization potentially increase disease risk or shorten longevity? (Dr. Ted’s surprising response)
- Dr. Ted’s pragmatic solutions to getting people instant gratification to get people to follow through on the new health habits (and why he may start with hormone-replacement before fixing underlying causes at the lifestyle level, in many cases)
- How Dr. Ted approaches optimizing your diet (carbs, fats, and proteins) for health/energy/body composition your types of activities (and why he thinks you daily fasting window is a huge key)
- Dr. Ted’s personal way of eating
- How you can work with a HOMe physician
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Dr. Achacoso’s Full Bio:
Dr. Achacoso is double-board certified in Nutiritional Medicine an Anti-Aging Medicine (Interventional Endocrinology), but has also trained, researched, and worked in many different fields:
1) Interventional neuroradiology and pharmacology in Manila
2) Medical informatics and artificial intelligence in Washington, DC
3) Scientific advisor to local venture and global institutional investment funds in Bethesda, MD.
4) As Founder and Chief Technology Officer of a group communication and collaboration software company in Rosslyn, VA
5) As a quant trader for an incubator hedge fund in Reheboth Beach, DE
6) In Anti-Aging Medicine and Nutritional Medicine in Paris, Brussels, Monte Carlo
His representative body of work includes a book containing the first-ever neural circuitry database for an organism (C. Elegans), journal articles, US patents, software, grants, and recorded interviews, webcasts, and speaking engagements in the areas of
Dr. Ted Achacoso is the pioneer of the clinical practice of Health Optimization Medicine (HOMe), which is the detection and correction of imbalances at the level of the metabolome. He is based in Washington, DC, maintains a tri-continental (Manila-Paris-Washington DC) HOMe practice, and performs HOMe lecturing, mentoring, and international corporate consulting activities involving nutritional supplement formulation and the establishment of metabolomics, mitochondria, and microbiota laboratories.
Secrets of Health Optimization with Ted Achacoso, MD – A New Paradigm of Maximizing Health – Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hey, everyone welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. I’m your host Ari Whitten, and today I have with me for the second time in the last few weeks. Doctor Ted Achacoso. And he has a very, very impressive bio as I read last time. I’m going to read it again here, just so you guys are familiar with it in case you missed the last podcast.
Dr. Ted graduated from college at the age of 18, so he’s sort of a Doogie Howser, and earned his Doctor of Medicine degree at the age of 22 from the University of the Philippines. At 25, he was a fellow of interventional neuroradiology, a research professor of pharmacology and a clinical professor of neurology. At 28, he became a professor of medical informatics and of neuro-interventional radiology in Washington D.C. At age 45, he retrained in interventional endocrinology, anti-aging medicine and in nutritional medicine and became double board certified in both specialties.
Dr. Ted is published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, holds US patents and delivers lectures. He currently has a tri-continental practice in anti-aging medicine and in nutritional medicine. I know this is actually just scratching the surface of your overall bio. There’s all kinds of other crazy stuff you’ve been involved in in medical informatics. There’s a very long list of impressive credentials, but I don’t want to take up this whole podcast with reading all your credentials, so I’ll let people explore all of that on their own. One other thing I’ll mention is, he is rumored to be one of the smartest people alive, and has one of the highest IQ scores ever measured apparently. So welcome back, Dr. Ted Achacoso. It’s such a pleasure to have you.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Thank you, Ari. I am in a place that’s 12 hours ahead of you, so let’s see how Mitochondria and microbiota have adjusted in a day and answer your questions about health optimization medicine.
What health is according to Dr. Ted Achacoso
Ari Whitten: Wonderful. So on a couple personal notes, the last podcast we did several weeks ago, maybe two months ago at this point is when it was recorded. That was our first meeting, my first meeting with Dr. Ted. And from there, he actually invited me to the inaugural Health Optimization Conference, and Health Optimization Practitioner Conference, which I went to. I’ve since had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. Ted in person over the course of spending a few days with him. He is just a brilliant and generous man. It’s just such a pleasure to have connected with him, and to get to share him with all of you guys.
One other thing I want to mention is the last podcast that we did, the first podcast was really all about me and my selfish geeky questions around mitochondria and longevity, and aging. I really wanted to talk to someone who is a real expert in the science around mitochondria and aging so that I could ask all these questions to that I had on my mind. So that was really me and you guys kind of got to listen into a conversation that was me geeking out on all my interests.
This podcast is going to be different. This podcast is all about what Dr. Ted is doing, which is health optimization medicine. So with that in mind, I would love to start off, Dr. Ted, by asking you the question, what is health? Because there are so many different takes on this. Some people, we often see it defined as health is simply the absence of disease. I have the impression that you don’t necessarily agree with that, so my first question to you is, what is health?
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Ari, if you ask any doctor, what’s health? They won’t be able to answer you what it is. They know what disease is, but they don’t know what health is. And that is why I gave a very simple definition. I borrowed from a book a while back, and then added to it. The simple way which I’d like people to remember health is, health equals A plus B plus C. Okay? A is the absence of disease, which is, of course, illness medicine where you go to your illness medicine doctor. And B is the balance between anabolic processes, or the processes that build things inside your body, and catabolic processes or that processes that destroy things in your body like food, for example, has to get destroyed, right? To produce energy. According to C, the cycle of life, the cycle of life of the organism.
If you have a child, for example, that child is generally more anabolic, so it’s geared towards a more anabolic bodily function. And a older person would be geared towards a more catabolic function, muscle loss for example, sarcopenia would be found mostly in older people. But what we want to do is actually keep it in balance, keep the anabolic and catabolic processes in balance. So the absence of disease or A is illness medicine. The maintenance of balance between the anabolic and catabolic processes according to the cycle of life of the organism is health optimization medicine.
Look, no one bothers with the B and C. Everyone takes a look at A, and it frustrates me that people’s cars get better care. Every 3,000 miles, they bring it to the garage, to your mechanic where things are all tuned up, changed, whatever. But you never do it to your body. Your body, you just bring it to the hospital when it’s had an accident, or when it’s had the disease. I’m actually jealous of cars now because of that. Anyway, that is my short definition of health equals A plus B, plus C. And in there, you could actually take a look at the definition of, very quickly of what health optimization medicine is all about.
Ari Whitten: Okay, and real quick. A is … say it one more time.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: A is absence of disease. B is the balance between the anabolic and catabolic processes of your body according to C, the cycle of life of the organism.
The difference between anabolism and catabolism
Ari Whitten: Okay, so let’s dig into that a bit more. The balance of anabolism and catabolism. Can you talk a bit about what that means for … I know you just mentioned younger people tend to be more in anabolic modes, older people more catabolic. For a particular individual, what does it mean for them to think about the balance of anabolism and catabolism in their bodies?
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Very simple example are your hormones, right? The best way to think about communication systems of the body is as follows. You have a very fast communication system, which is your brain and nervous system. It’s electrochemical, right? And there is the hormonal system, which is an analog system. I call it grandma. You cannot scream at grandma to speak faster or perform faster. It’s because it communicates via the liquids of the body.
Now, when you’re looking at anabolic and catabolic processes, hormones, for example are in anabolic/catabolic balance. If you’re looking at growth hormone, for example, or somatotrophin, it’s necessary for the maintenance and growth of cells in your body. Growth hormone is actually a misnomer in that people think it’s only for kids that are growing. We actually produce it. Balancing that is actually Cortisol. So when you’re actually giving growth hormone, for example, for optimization purposes, then you have to balance it with some Cortisol, because Cortisol is the catabolic hormone. You cannot give one alone. You will produce so many problems doing that.
It’s very interesting that there’s a lot of problems in the US about say, giving growth hormone not for the intended use, because it’s very disease oriented, right? Oh, it cannot be given for health optimization because there’s no disease involved. But if you take a look or you measure the growth hormones, or the IFG levels, which growth hormone induces the liver to produce [inaudible 00:09:01] like growth factor one. When you can measure that and you see that they never measure. They just go legislate and say, “Let’s do this, and make it illegal to do that.” But when you take a look at the actual IGF1 levels, they’re in illness ranges. That’s because no one bothers to measure, right?
So that is what I mean by anabolic and catabolic processes. And in terms of nutrition, anabolic and catabolic processes are as follows. When you eat food, your food gets digested. Your mitochondria strips off the electrons from the food to develop a gradient to produce energy. That energy now is used to build, so that’s from catabolic to anabolic. So you could see immediately that the body uses a lot of these kinds of balances inside. It’s very similar to Eastern thought. You balance the male and female, the yin and the yang. You balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic. You see that I call them anabolic, catabolic because it’s what can easily be measured, right? In terms of the metabolites that are thrown out there. You could see what metabolites are being thrown out there, and you could say, “Oh, this is the gut material imbalance, or mitochondria is imbalanced, and so on. So you could now detect these.
That’s why I actually advocate, for example, a very evolutionary perspective when you’re looking at health, because in terms of evolutionary medicine, what we’re looking at is … Well, we’re not really perfectly designed. If an engineer designed us, we would actually be designed differently. [inaudible 00:10:51] an example of a bad engineering design, right? However, we were not built for a purpose. We evolved in order to … We evolved this way because of the selection pressure on this.
So when you look at it from an evolutionary perspective, we actually look at ourselves very differently. So now, you see all of these things … all the fads that are on. Some of them are true. Some of them aren’t. Some of them are maybe true, but for me, it’s all in the spectrum of looking at it from an evolutionary perspective, which is how I look at health optimization medicine, or even balancing for example.
So right now, in illness medicine, we’re here. Here we are to modern day, right? But we evolved from hunter gatherer kinds of people. So there evolved the paleo diet and all of that kind of stuff. And then before that, we even … organisms in the ocean. You could see the likes of Wim Hof saying, “Well, [inaudible] is good for you.” Well, that’s because life arose from the oceans, and in the oceans are cold, so we have mechanisms for those types of [inaudible] at the time.
So you can see if you just move back and look at things evolutionarily, then you could see where the balancing points can be, and where it may necessarily get out of whack. You eat out of paleo, and suddenly things go differently. However, because we are brilliant, we are homo sapiens, we are not merely homo sapiens, right? We’re very wise. We could use science and technology to actually offset a lot of these types of imbalances.
For example, phototoxicity is an imbalance, right? We have a lot of blue light. So what you do is, well, you change your bulbs. You change your bulbs to something that can be controlled now from sunrise to sunset. Lots of blue in the morning to more red and amber hues at night. And then suddenly, you’re actually using the current technology to get back to the time where we were actually heavily yoked to the son. We still are. We just have gotten away from the kind of lifestyle. And so with nutrition, and for me, I think I began this by saying I’m currently 12 hours ahead of you. I just arrived here two days ago. So really at this point in time, my body isn’t secreting any cortisol. Or it isn’t secreting any growth hormone, etc. because I’m already at nighttime.
What I do is I actually give myself the entire network of major hormones that will serve me so my body flips its 12 hour cycle very, very quickly. I know that’s very bad for mitochondria, right, but someone’s got to do it. It’s fun. So that’s the point in health optimization medicine is … from an evolutionary point of view. But evolutionary mind as in it answer the question why is it that we get sick. Health optimization medicine asks the question why is it that we get healthy? How do we get healthy?
It’s about time that we asked that question, because technology has also improved. So evolutionarily in, say in illness medicine, what we have looked at, is we have looked at all organs; the heart, the brain, the kidneys, the liver. We have specialties for each one of them is because at the time, the technology evolved such that we were able to only detect what’s special about those organs, right? As time marched on, we were able to detect the special functions of are organs. We are able to detect the insulin production of the [beta 00:14:55] cells of the pancreas, which is very important for blood sugar control.
And then now, we suddenly are able to take a look inside the cell. So you could see the evolution now of technology from just the organ to inside the cell. And once you’re inside a cell, of course you’re talking about loss of biochemistry, right, which lots of doctors hate, because [inaudible 00:15:20] by biochemistry. People like you probably know biochemistry better than a lot of doctors, because of the passion that you have for these kinds of things.
Now that we have that, we can actually detect the metabolizing side. That field is called clinical metabolomics. It’s approaching 30 years old already. It’s only reaching the clinics right now. We’re still feeling resistance from doctors, right? That resistance is because of the incapacity to recognize what level the discussion is going on, what level the diagnosis is coming from, right? I like to say illness medicine diagnoses and treats disease. Health optimization medicine detects and correct imbalances. Right now [crosstalk 00:16:08]-
Ari Whitten: Sorry, go ahead. I’ll let you finish the thought, and then I have a question.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yes, so health optimization medicine detects and corrects imbalances currently at the level of the [metabolome]. It doesn’t necessarily have to be at the level of the metabolome, but it’s what can be presented out there as an objective measure of what’s going on, right? So suddenly you’re not looking at the organ, and you’re looking at the metabolites inside the cell. And then you can go lower. If it’s measurable, you can do quantum medicine, and the example that I like to give is hey, look you can turn genes on and off now using light in a process called optogenetics. So this is going to be the medicine of our children, and our children’s children, right?
However now, we have to acknowledge the fact that we actually have our bringing down this to things cannot be diagnosed by smell, sight or sound. They have to be measured in the laboratory, because you cannot actually see the molecules inside a cell. They have to be tested and you have to take a look.
And then because the cell is foundational to everything in the body, suddenly you’re not looking at the specialized neuron or brain cell or the cardiomyocyte or the [cardiac] cell, or the hepatocyte, or the liver cell. Suddenly, you are looking at the foundational or basic cell, and suddenly it affects everything in the body. But what’s beautiful about it is that when you are detecting and correcting balances in the foundational cell, everything else, because it’s the foundation of everything else within the cell, everything else improves. The important thing is that the specialty, health optimization medicine does not make any claims, no claims at all.
A lot of people ask me, say, “Dr. Ted, I got healed of diabetes. I got healed of some chronic inflammatory problem, asthma, etc.” They said, “Why don’t you just tell them that it does this?” I don’t. That’s exactly the fight with functional medicine is that all of these claims, suddenly you have this fight between these people. I say, “No, no, no. Everything else balance the metabolome, and everything else becomes a beneficial side effect.” That’s what I like about it.
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. Well, there’s a lot in there. I’m buzzing with questions right now. I actually, I want to back up a minute to clarify a few points, because I think your brain goes so fast that we’re going to lose some people. And maybe I think you tend to assume a certain level of familiarity with certain concepts that maybe is unwarranted. Maybe people are not as familiar with certain things as you think.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: No, I assume that your audience is brilliant.
Ari Whitten: My audience is unusually brilliant. In all seriousness, I actually do hear frequently that people really love that I have very high level cons with guests and I don’t dumb it down. And so I tend to not attract low level kind of thinkers. I tend to attract people who like those really high level science geeky conversations. So it’s good, but I want to make sure that people also understand certain things.
So one of the things that you mentioned here is evolutionary medicine. Starting with this basic paradigm, which I think you generally share with evolutionary medicine, which is the fundamental premise that most chronic disease and chronic illness in the world today is a result of a mismatch between our biology and our genetics and the modern environment, which we currently inhabit.
So we start from there. And evolutionary medicine basically takes that and says, “Let’s adopt a whole foods diet or the paleo diet specifically. Let’s eat like our ancestors. Let’s sleep like our ancestors. Let’s try and mimic the circadian rhythm of our ancestors. Let’s move like our ancestors and so on.” And so it becomes a very nutrition and lifestyle focused approach to health.
Now you’re starting basically from the same premise of the mismatch between biology and the modern environment, but you’ve kind of taken it in a different direction where you’ve now incorporated biochemistry testing, metabolomics, hormone testing, hormone bio identical hormone interventions, and so on. So kind of explain the rationale behind how you’re starting from an evolutionary perspective but ending up with bio identical hormone prescribing and stuff like that.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Okay, let me backtrack now. The reason why I started health optimization medicine is that there were so many developments in the scientific world that impacted clinical practice. For example, mitochondria, got microbiota, or microbiota in general, epigenetics, exposomics, exposure to toxins, chrono biology, evolutionary medicine. All of these things are actually out there, but there was no unifying perspective, right? What’s worse is patients were coming to me and there was no unifying framework for diagnosing and treating them as a clinical practice.
So nine year ago, I said, when are we ever going to shift to looking at health, right? Rather than looking at disease all the time. I was sick and tired. I used to poke brains for a living. You said that. I knew how to complete my poisons. I know how to do all the pharmacologic stuff. So I said, “Well, I’m getting sick and tired of that. I said no one’s actually taking care of the fundamental cell inside the body. So how is that I can actually formulate a framework for clinical practice that includes all of these things?”
Secondly, without antagonizing illness med doctors, so I borrowed a page from their book. If theirs is diagnose and treat, mine was detect and correct imbalances [crosstalk]-
Tools to help you help your patient
Ari Whitten: Beautiful.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: That was the genesis of it all. I wanted illness medicine doctors to actually take a look at this and say, “Hey, this can be objectively measured now, and this can be corrected.” If you want to practice it yourself, you can do so, but if you don’t, you can train. We can teach you, and you can be of better service to your patients this way because even if you have disease …
When a patient comes in, for example, I set the disease aside. I just take a look at the imbalances and nutrients, correct that. And then whatever happens happens. I usually call the illness medicine doctors and say, “Hey, we have to cut down on the blood pressure medication now, or we have to cut down on the blood sugar medication now.” And they agree, because they see the tests, right? They see the in their testing. It’s like, “Oh, my God.” But initially it was actually very funny, because they would go, “Why should I take you off statins when your cholesterol is already very low?”
It’s like, “Oh, actually, I already took it out three months ago because I was doing optimization of my nutrients.” It becomes something like that. So from there, I said, “Okay, my whole point of establishing this as, if you were a clinician, or if you were a health practitioner, there is a version of this for non-doctors called HOPE, Health Optimization Practice, right? When a client or a patient sits down in front of you, what the hell do you do? So what labs should you take? And how do you balance these imbalances that you see? So that itself makes it useful as a clinical practice. So then I said, “Well, okay, if clinical metabolomics is one of the pillars of this practice, what are the other pillars? What are we really testing?”
You find out that metabolites are thrown off by the body itself, right, during function. So there are seven pillars. Epigenetics is one of them. Epigenetics is these are control mechanisms of the genes that are outside of the gene itself where there is no change in genetics structure, but there’s a change in genetic expression, which is heritable. A common example that I give of that is a smoking pregnant mother. A smoking pregnant mother not only affects the expression of her genes, of her body, effects the genes of her unborn child and effects also the ovaries of the child when the child grows up, before the child grows up. It’s already all affected, so it affects three generations together.
In one of my lectures, what’s actually very interesting about this is that in one of my lectures, it was the first time that a lot of physicians understood the epigenetic effects of medication, of exercise. Once they were able to see that, oh, so the connection is via the epigenome, suddenly they knew where to put exercise, where to put nutrition, where to put meditation. They just needed that [inaudible 00:26:15]. I said … and told them, “Hey look. These things that we do, they throw off metabolites that you can measure.” So suddenly all of these lifestyle changes can actually be measured by the metabolites that you throw off in your bloodstream, in your urine.
And then the other pillar, so there’s metabolomics, and there’s epigenetics. Then there’s [symbiones 00:26:38]. [Symbiones] are those that live inside your cells or live outside your cells, but are living in you. The [symbiones] are your mitochondria, which we discussed last time. So you have 100 quadrillion of them, hey they are bacteria. We need to take care of them. They power us up. And then there is a gut microbiota, which is about 78% of your microbiota in your body. It weighs about, what? Four pounds, so that’s kind of important. The way it’s viewed right now is that it’s a post natal organ. It’s inoculated at birth, and then it grows after that. One of the most important things that I say during my lectures is that there’s a high incidence for asthma and immune diseases in children who are born by ceasarean section, because there’s improper inoculation of the gut microbiota via the vaginal canal.
So you could see now that this … and you could see the metabolites of these mitochondria and the metabolites of the gut microbiota in your urine or in your blood, so you could test for them. You could see whether or not your jungle of microbiota in there that is supposed to be in perfect harmony is out of whack, right? Giving you condition, diarrhea, chronic bloating and so on. And then after your [symbions 00:28:06] is your environment. We mentioned phototoxicity earlier, because many of us are actually unaware that we’re poisoning ourselves with light.
Of course, my favorite is that you give your children cotton candy, blue cotton candy. There’s no enzyme in the body that can actually detoxify that blue color. Your child would have to pee out that blue color excrete that in the kidneys and change. Can you imagine how much work you do that. But more insidious are actually toxins like mold, toxic mold in your living quarters and so on. And toxins in food that you eat. Many of the clients [inaudible] oranges. Oh, I don’t want to eat that because it’s not organic, but then if you check how organic foods are grown, you see that they’re grown under plastic tarps and suddenly you change your thinking about them.
And then you, as an intelligent person, then you make the process better. So that’s exposomics. And then there is time, chronobiology. We are creatures of cycles. We sleep. There’s a menstrual cycle in women. There are different very ultra short cycles and ultra long cycles, right? In us, so there are weekly cycles, and that whole area of chronobiology, which is, again, fundamental. We evolved with sunlight, right? That exposure to the sun, which we have totally forgotten … We’re yoked to the sun. From sunrise to sunset, that’s what we’re responding to. When the sun hits our skin, for example, in the morning. Your cortisol levels rise. It wakes you up.
Before, when we were in medical school, we were taught that cortisol came from the adrenal glands, right? We could see that. Now the latest findings is that even the skin would produce ACPH, the hormone that actually induces the production of cortisol itself. So you could see things like this that are coming out because the sun is in chronobiology, right?
N then the last pillar is evolutionary medicine, which I discussed, which is why do we get sick? Because of our structure. Why do we get sick, etc. So I said, “Well, okay. We’re looking at that and looking at various axis by which you evolved.” We discussed about evolving from single-celled organisms to multi-cellular organisms. That was enabled by the presence of mitochondria that would power a multicellular organism, right?
Then there is another evolutionary axis, which is the technology axis, which is why illness medicine proceeded from organ to now inside the cell. And probably in the future to the quantum levels, right? There’s also the evolution of the environment. The light bulb was invented, what? In the 1800s, right? Suddenly, we actually didn’t care. We didn’t know actually about the toxic effects of that. Suddenly we have EMF pollution and all of that. So we would like to bring ourselves back to that time. How do we do that? By turning off our wi fi routers at night, by turning on blue light filters, and so on. So you could see very clearly that this pillars, metabolomics, exposomics, microbiota, mitochondria, exposomics, chrono biology and evolutionary medicine are all ties in together because they can be measured. Whatever metabolize [inaudible] can measure and can be used in two ways. They could be used together with the treatment of a current disease if you’re already sick.
But more importantly, younger people are coming to me saying, “I don’t want to develop cognitive decline. I don’t want to develop Parkinson’s. I don’t want to develop Alzheimer’s. I don’t want to develop this. Although illness medicine says, “Oh, there are genes for Alzheimer’s, etc., etc. Well, epigenetics, genes are not your destiny. It’s not necessarily true. It’s only very in your face because it’s like a bomb when you get sick. It’s just there. But prevention is always a hindsight thing.
When you ask patients, for example … Patients tell me, “Hey, Dr. Ted. I’ve been under your care for a year. I don’t feel any different.” And if you ask them how many times did you get sick the year before, they said, “Oh, I got sick six times that year.” And this year? They go, “Oh, I never got sick.” That’s how this is. That’s how this works. You don’t expect that you’re going to feel high from the whole thing. High on life, maybe, but there’s … it’s like you feel good.
That’s what’s so nice about it is that when you realize … For example, a patient told me, he said, “You know, I don’t feel any different.” I said, “How many projects were we doing last year.” He said, “Six projects.” And the year before? Just one. And I said, “So how much energy do you think you have?” So these kinds of realizations come from health optimization. They’re not necessarily diseases. As I said, we don’t like to deal with diseases. We like to help the foundational cell deal with a disease. In other words, what are the mechanisms that the body naturally uses in order to heal itself? And we try to support that, augment that, or detoxify that if it’s too toxic, right?
The new paradigm of medicine
Ari Whitten: So I think there’s a couple interesting conversations that need to be had with the paradigm of health optimization medicine, HOME. One conversation is with allopathic medicine, standard, conventional medicine. And with conventional MDs who are practicing conventional medicine and having a conversation with them about the differences between allopathic medicine and health optimization medicine.
Then there’s a whole other conversation between health optimization medicine and health practitioners who are coming from more of an evolutionary naturalistic perspective who are all about aligning ourselves with the nutrition and lifestyle of our ancestors. In an interesting way, the way that health optimization is positioned, is it’s speaking to both groups. But it’s also like there’s some antagonism between both groups. Most conventional MDs are going to look at it and think, “Oh, this is a little weird. What is this guy doing?” And then you also have evolutionary people like me, and my bias is in that direction, who will look at it and say, “Well, why are you integrating hormone therapies and pharmaceuticals and things like that’s.” It’s very interesting that there’s these two conversations and you’re taking the best of both worlds and integrating it all into a new paradigm.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yes, the resistance before, as I found out since I started this nine years ago. I already established it as, A, it’s a viable clinical practice. It can be lucrative if you know how to do it. It is also [inaudible] for businesses that you can start with. You can formulate specifically for patients, because this is the case where this is personalized medicine now. This is not a one size fits all kind of treatment. You have to balance according to what the subtle toxicities and borderline deficiencies are of your client or patient in terms of nutrients and hormones.
The thing that I’ve found with them is when I explain to them the level by which the discord was coming from. They look as me askance initially despite being trained in interventional radiology, pharmacology, toxicology, medical informatics and so on, they look at me askance and say, “Well, I came from that world.” It took me three years personally to shift my perspective away from diseases into health. New trainees, for examples, both practitioners and doctors who are interested in this. It’s common they would address immediately the disease of the patient because that’s what we’re trained to do, right? Instead of saying set it aside.
Where I found them to understand what I’m doing is basically showing them the level of where the practice is being made. Hey look, you are a neurologist. You are a cardiologist. You are a hepatologist. You’re a gastroenterologist. You’re working at the organ level, and you’re working at the specialized function of the organ, the specialized cell. You’re only looking at, oh, basal ganglia neurons contain dopamine, and this, and that, and so on.
When I tell them, who’s taking care of the mitochondria of the cell? And who’s taking care of the endoplasm reticulum of the nucleus? Of everything else that it does? You’re taking care of the special function. But who’s taking care, essentially of the structure of the house and the function of the house? No one is. So no one is. That’s where this thing is positioned. It’s at that level, because then suddenly they realize that it’s not just true for their specialty. It’s true for all specialties that someone’s got to take care of the fundamental or basic cell.
It’s very interesting, because to convince movers and shakers to actually espouse this. It was interesting, because I’ve been lecturing about this for nine years, and so on. I’ve lectures to cardiologists. They call me up right after it, mitochondria and microbiota were first presented in the American Cardiology Society. I get this call saying, “Hey, you know what? The things that you’re talking about, the mitochondria and microbiota, responsibility are now in our illness medicine conferences. It’s like … many of them apologized for fighting it, even in media or in public. But many of them actually congratulate me for the fact that, “Hey, we were not looking at this before.” I said you were not looking at it, because it was impossible to test it.
It goes together with the development of the testing. And I said, “Look.” Some of my patients, they would go to their illness medicine doctors bringing in their metabolomic testing results. I got calls. They’d go, Achagoso, this is all bio chemistry. I said, “Yeah.” I said, “It’s a different specialty of its own. It’s a different practice of its own. You have your own cardiology. You have your allergology, etc. I said this itself. You cannot just … You have to train in it. You have to sit and actually … It’s actually worse, but better for the patient.
In illness medicine, I know that you can just sit down in front of a patient, read the test results in front of patient without ever seeing the test results ahead of time and be done with them in 15 minutes or so, if you’re lucky. And wait for him for, what? Three hours before he shows up. But anyway, so in health optimization medicine, you cannot actually sing it. You cannot just do a cold reading on a test result until now.
I’m already regarded as an expert in what I do. An expert knows more and more about less and less. Isn’t that the definition of an expert.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, of a specialist.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Oh, a specialist, right.
Ari Whitten: You forgot the other part of that quote. You know and more about less and less until you know absolutely everything about nothing.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yes. Yeah, and it still takes me three hours to assemble the network of nothings. Then write up the protocols, because it’s individual for each patient. And then I see the patient for an hour. You have me for a full hour because this is something that you cannot rush. Most of the pushback, for example, from cardiologists, say, “Oh, why don’t you care about cholesterol. I really don’t care about it because I care about inflammation.” So the usual thing that I explain to my patient is that, “Well, you have your cardiologist for that, but the way I view things is that cholesterol is like gasoline.” It’s fuel for you.
Your inflammation is like a lit match, so what you do is you take away the lit match from the gasoline, because you need the gasoline in order to drive, but you certainly don’t need the lit match to drive. The clients get it. That’s why I don’t care when their cholesterol levels are high or mildly high, but their inflammatory markers, their HSCRP or the homocysteine levels are all right. They’re all right.
I used to joke. I think I used to joke about in my lectures, 40 years ago we invented statins. Then 30 years later we had to invent Viagra, because cholesterol is a parent compound of testosterone. All your sex hormones are derived from cholesterol. It’s cholesterol, then pregnenolone, and then you have your DHEA and all of those nice pathways where now we have to treat erectile dysfunction, but with more statins and with Viagra.
The difference between conventional and HOMe medicine
Ari Whitten: I think this is a nice segue. I think you mentioned something, and I’m sure I’m going to get this wrong, but you mentioned something to the effect of a convention, you’re working with a patient, and then a conventional physician that that patient was seeing says to you … calls you up and says, “Well, how is your dietary changes and lifestyle changes and supplement regimen that you have this patient on going to impact and interfere with the statin drugs that I’m putting this patient on?”
Feel free to correct me if I’m getting that wrong, but you said … What did you say back to that physician?
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yes, I got this call where they said, “Dr. Ted, how is your vitamin mineral supplement and co-factor therapy going to effect my drug therapy for my patient?” I said, “You have it backwards. Your drug has never been seen by my patient’s body in evolution. But my vitamins, minerals, supplements, co-factors, they’ve been seen by my patient’s body in evolution, so you tell me what your drug therapy is going to do to the levels of my vitamins, minerals, co-factors, supplements and hormones.” It’s like, “Duh.” Take a look at the perspective. It’s a warped perspective to say …
See, I learned my lesson. Someone said, “I dropped the eff bomb too much, so I didn’t.” I said, “It’s a warped perspective.”
Ari Whitten: Actually, someone commented. It’s funny you brought that up. Someone commented … There was one comment among hordes or really positive comments about how much people loved the podcast. There was one person who didn’t like the fact that you said the F word once or twice in the podcast. And said, “Oh, it makes him sound uneducated.” So I replied with two studies showing that swearing is actually linked with higher intellect. He didn’t like that very much, but anyway.
It’s interesting what we’re getting at here is that the way you’re practicing things is you’re integrating lifestyle changes, nutritional changes, supplements that, to some extent are going to draw criticism and skepticism from the traditional allopathic medical community. They’re going to be like, “Oh, all this … is this quackery because you’re doing diet and lifestyle stuff.” [crosstalk] go ahead.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yes. Yes. You triggered something when you said that. One time in a lecture, I said, “You guys, you always tell your patients.” [inaudible] doctors all the time. I said, “You tell them to diet and exercise.” I said, “Seriously. Which one among you can actually take your patient to the grocery store and help your patient choose a healthy meal?” I said, “Raise your hands.” I said, “I can.” I said, “Secondly …” I said, “Who among you can take your patients to the gym and teach them how to exercise?” I said, “No one. I can.”
Ari Whitten: Well, yeah. It’s a travesty of epic proportions that we have physicians being trained, literally receiving zero classes on nutrition and lifestyle interventions on exercise. You’re absolutely right. They have just as little clue about how to have a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet as the average modern American does, regular person.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: And what’s nice about my specialty, Ari, and for health optimization practitioners is that you cannot be not healthy, because people are looking at you all the time. My calling card for the longest time, I’ve always maintained my six pack abs. So my calling card all the time is … This is a very funny story, because I had a guest in the United States who was a nephrologist. I was finishing a large medium rare steak. Then she said, “Ted, that’s really bad for you. That’s too much protein. It’s going to tax your kidneys and da, da, da.” So I opened my shirt. I stood up and I said, “And your point?”
She was overweight, so it’s that kind of thinking where you are in a specialist mode of thinking all the time, like the cardiologists only think one way. The neurologists will think one way, and so on. But interestingly, Ari, neurologist are actually very open to this, because they realize that there is nothing … For chronic neuro degenerative diseases, there is really nothing that you can give your patients that’s really effective. For example, Dale [Bredison 00:48:35] was able to do a reversal of Alzheimer’s in seven of 10 patients.
Essentially if you look at his protocol is the same as what I’m doing except that mine is actually testing instead of giving it hook, line, and sinker, you actually measure whether or not a patient actually needs it. The older doctors, those who have seen so many cases already, they have a different perspective altogether. I find in health optimization medicine and practice, there are really two types of people are interested, those who are just newly graduated and don’t like to deal with disease at all, and then those are already at the top of their game knowing that diseases have already humbled them.
In fact, one of the neurologists said in a lecture, is that, “I used to say to my patients about there’s really nothing we can do. These are chronic neuro degenerative diseases. But now Ted comes here and says, yes we can do something about them.” So now there is an avenue by which to look.
Which mirrors the way I started practice. The way I started to practice, I was given the patients after as a last resort, after illness medicine had done [diming] up the patient and could do nothing anymore, the patients would be referred to me. But now that has changed, because now there are a lot of younger clients who want to optimize their health, who don’t want to get sick, who don’t want to turn out diabetic like their parents, who don’t want the cognitive decline that they see in their grandparents. Because of people like you. You actually cultivate all of this mental states of health in these people. Then if you’re really good, you push the motion in it, and it’s, “Yes, I’m going to do something about my health.”
That’s a current state of affairs right now in terms of health, which is good. What it does, it exerts pressure on the illness medicine doctor. It exerts pressure for them to know something more about this. But what I’m finding is, “Ted knows that. Why don’t you call him up?” There’s really a need for a specialty now, and for more practitioners to actually engage in it, because for practitioners what I find is that they’re usually asked for a measure of improvement.
Aside from the fact that, well, if you give cannabis balm your pain will go away. What else are the measures of improvement that is it with the lifestyle changes that you have recommended to your patient. One of the lifestyle change that I recommended before, and which one of my medical school classmates actually retexted back to my entire medical school group, was that I said, “Begin your day, choose the time that you sleep, and put that in as the beginning of your day. That way, you never skimp on your sleep. You do that whole thing.”
A simple sleep anchoring technique like that is very useful. This is a little [heristics 00:51:49]. As I said, I don’t like to give any lifestyle changes that are hard to follow. An example of that for example is people like to do the ketogenic diet. They go, “You can actually have a better handle on your time. Do a timer restricted feeding instead.” For me, I do a 16 hour fast daily, and my feeding window is 8 hours. So see what the patient or client can actually do for all these lifestyle changes. But more importantly, test for the metabolites, whether or not the subtle toxicities are actually going away, the borderline deficiencies are actually being replenished, and your patient is actually getting better or feeling better subjectively.
The difficulty in the practice is two things. One is that you have to know a lot of the metabolites and the biochemistry that actually is involved with their production. What happens when they’re high or low. Second, you have to view them as a network. That’s the problem if … Very important, for example, we used to give estrogen singly. We developed cancers that way. No, you never give anything in a post, so you have to, what I call is network wide ring shifting. You have to shift the entire network of the major hormones. You have to shift the entire network of mitochondrial metabolites. You have to shift the entire network of the anaerobic glycolysis metabolites inside the cell. These are the kinds of things you have to look at it from a system’s perspective, from a network perspective, because the key there is that if you touch one node in a network, the rest will move.
They were powerful nodes. It’s just like the internet. There’s Google and Amazon, a Microsoft. In your body, there are certain nodes like that inside a cell. You know very well that one of those powerful nodes is the nucleus. The other the mitochondria. They’re powerful in themselves. The thing that is forgotten the most, for example, inside the cell is the water that’s inside the cell. No one is paying attention to that, because of, Ari, how we’re designed. We’re designed to detect foreground changes. We ignore the background, but then the book cannot be written without an empty page being part in there. So suddenly, we are now looking at the cell both in the foreground and the background.
We used to think that the cell was just a bag of chemicals. Now we know that there are actually factors in there that are neatly arranged and stacked. They are producing garbage as they produce things which have to be collected. So we’re looking at it, and it’s a microcosm. It’s a microcosm of our body. This is my favorite question. I don’t know whether I said it in your previous podcast. When I used to take residents on rounds in the hospital, I used to ask them, “Why do you breathe?” They would answer, “Well, because the blood needs oxygenation.” I said, “Why does the blood need oxygenation?” So you go down. And suddenly, the whole thing that the mitochondrion, the electron transport chain, the final electron acceptor is oxygen is totally forgotten. That’s why you breathe. So no one answers, because the final electron acceptor in the electron transport chain is oxygen.
If the doctors nowadays are practicing with answers that way, there would be no need for health optimization medicine, because they would be in tune with what machines out there, laboratories out there can be taken to be used to detect the health of the cell. That’s why I actually created this as a clinical practice. As I said, it does not necessarily have to be at the level of metabolome. It’s just that right now, even if you’re an acupuncturist of a naturopath, etc. You could still use it as a basis for the objective results of your practice.
The prescription for optimal health
Ari Whitten: Yeah, I want to come back to my favorite quote of yours. I want to tell people what this is, because it’s something that resonates with me strongly, especially given my evolutionary approach to health. You said, “The prescription for optimal health is very simple. Sleep well, eat well, hydrate well, breathe well, ground well, relate well, and love well.”
It’s interesting. You’re in that place simultaneous to doing all of this biochemistry testing and potentially supplement interventions that are targeted to a person’s unique biochemistry based on the deficiencies or toxicities you detect. Maybe even sometimes certain prescription drugs. You’re also doing lifestyle interventions. You’re operating on all of these levels.
I also want to mention one question that I asked you in person during the seminar, because your take on this was very interesting to me. And really opened up kind of a new perspective for me. You gave the example of someone who had low morning cortisol levels, and how in many of those scenarios, you would very likely prescribe low dose hydrocortisone to that person.
My bias, coming from more of a lifestyle focus, is I had an objection to that. I said, “Well, if that person’s low morning cortisol levels are being caused by a number of the different lifestyle factors that are known to cause low morning cortisol. Let’s say lack of sunlight exposure in the morning, poor sleep, poor circadian rhythm habits, being sedentary, being a night owl, being overweight and so on. Why do you not address those root causes of that condition? Why do you immediately jump to prescribing hydrocortisone?” Like I was saying before, you’re rubbing some of the conventional MDs wrong. You’re also rubbing some of the people like me wrong.
But your perspective was very interesting. Your answer was, “If an individual is coming to me, and basically if they’re coming to me and paying lots of money and doing all these tests, they need to experience some very quick results just to have the motivation to do more. If I tell them to do these lifestyle factors. For example, lose weight or adjust your circadian rhythm habits, the progress is too slow for them to feel motivated enough to actually do it.” So it’s a very pragmatic approach that it’s like, “How can I actually get people to do things that actually lead to improvement.”
I have to admit that it is very likely true that by doing things in that order, you will have more people who actually follow through and actually get results.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yes, we’re built for instant gratification. I acknowledge that. That’s what antibiotics do. That’s what surgery does. Allopathic medicine is very good at acute cases. But we have a terrible, terrible account with chronic diseases and chronic cases. You know that those chronic cases, many of them are lifestyle induced. People cannot change overnight. Many of my patients come and they go, “When do I expect to feel something?”
You don’t feel this. It took you so many decades to get to this point. Why do you think the body can actually repair itself overnight? It can’t. You have to treat your body right in order for it actually do things. However, you need to provide the motivation. They feel better. Because they feel better, they will make better lifestyle choices. They go, “Oh, I already feel good. Why should I eat that dessert? I’m already feeling this good, right?” So they begin to make small steps, better lifestyle choices. And as they do that, you see that desirable behaviors. Automatons we are, the desirable behaviors of this neat robot and suddenly just starts snowballing. Pretty soon, you see the patient actually has started swearing off desserts, and has started to go to the gym, and so on, so forth. Just a little at a time.
What do I do? I don’t even tell them, “Eat properly.” I can’t, because even if I know how to guide them to eat properly, why don’t you just eat everything that you want within eight hours. Just give me the 16 hour fast. I’m good with that.” So suddenly, there is this …. And they do feel better right away by just doing that.
For me, what are the hooks that would get them very, very quickly into a desirable life changes, behaviors, which takes a period of months. Many would say, “Oh, okay. Doctor [inaudible 01:01:51]. I don’t want to take these supplements because I am going to eat properly from here on out.” I said, “Okay, let me hire a chef for you and someone who’s going to do the shopping for you, and who’s going to accompany you in all of your plane trips, and in all the restaurants where you are so that nutritionist can choose for you. No.” I said, “It’s impossible. You take all of these supplements now, because there is no guarantee that you are going to eat well.”
Ari Whitten: [crosstalk 01:02:25] It’s interesting to have this conversation with you, because I’m, I think, less compassionate than you are and less pragmatic in that sense. And also, you really kind of embrace that humans are built for instant gratification, and I’m very much a purist. I stick to my principals. I’m like, “You either do it through correcting the diet and lifestyle factors that led to this problem in the first place, or you don’t do it at all. And if you don’t put in the effort to really do that completely, then fine, whatever. You can deal with not getting results.” You really have this very nuanced, sophisticated, pragmatic approach where you say, “Let me give you the instant gratification, and then we can slowly get you on the snowball effect towards more and more changes. And then hopefully you end up in that place where you now are living with healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits.”
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yes, actually, I was like you when I was younger. I was very militaristic. This is how the body works, blah, blah, blah, follow everything. What use is a very, very meticulous design, perfect protocol if it doesn’t get followed. Go after compliance. What can they comply with that still has some beneficial effect on health.
The difficulty with developing new habits
Ari Whitten: Yeah, the truth is that a good portion of people comply with the strategies that I recommend. And then there’s also probably a sizable portion of people that just say, “Hey this is too hard. I can’t do all of this.” That’s just the reality of anything. Most people who start a meditation practice aren’t meditating three months into it. They fall off the wagon. Most people who buy a book never finish reading the book that they bought. 90% of books never get completed, so it’s just the reality that most humans have a hard time really focusing on doing something and bringing it to completion or developing a consistent new habit of any kind.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: One of the things that I totally enjoy is actually studying the human cognitive biases after all, I was in competition under a science in the lab doing artificial intelligence work. One of the things that I did with my students before was actually, there is a primacy effect, and a recency effect when you lecture. Primacy effect is the first 20 minutes, they are very high in attention span, which sags at the 20th minute.
I give them a break of 20 minutes in between by doing a workshop, etc. and then there’s the recency effect, the last 20 minutes. So you have 40 minutes of actually more or less good attention span. I do that with my patients too, but in terms of, when they come to the clinic, you have the primacy effect. Yes, I will take anything that you tell me to take just to be able to be healthy.
The first three months, I sort of like put everything in the first three months. Clean their gut, start [inaudible 01:05:30] microbiota, take all deficiencies. After the [inaudible 01:05:37], I start withdrawing a lot of the things, so they know that yeah, this guy was serious about just when he said, “It’s going to be very intensive in the first three months.” I still am strict about two things. One is during that primary period where we’re doing a lot of work for the body to rebalance itself. Second is doing network wide ring shifting. We cannot piecemeal the testing of hormones, for example or cannot piecemeal the testing of nutrients. You have to test them all because you could see the movement. One of the examples I give is that, “Well, if you’re looking at the urea cycle and you’re seeing pyroglutamate rising and all these kinds of things that are going on, and you see arginine is low, you could immediately make the correlation of why the urea cycle is is like that, because the urea cycle is with arginine, citruline, and all of that stuff.”
But the other one is tested as a plasma amino acid. The other one you could actually see as something in urine, a metabolyte in urine. It’s possible to make those correlations and provide the proper balancing protocol to balance the urea cycle. If you don’t, you’re not looking at the entire test. Oh, can I just do this test and that test, and that test. No, no, no, no. You can’t. This is the whole part of it. You have to take a look at the entire network. You have to shift the entire network, because the movements are … you won’t even suspect where the things are going to move when you, for example, start raising arginine just willy nilly without testing. Then suddenly the patient starts getting herpetic lesions in the mouth. Suddenly, you find you have to find yourself giving some lysine to the patient. These are the kinds of things that you begin to appreciate how the entire body, the entire cells sort of like is in the network mode. You have to treat it that way. That I’m militaristic about.
Either you get all the cells, or none at all. You can’t be my patient. We can’t do health optimization on you.
How to balance hormones
Ari Whitten: Well, I’m glad I’m not the only militaristic one. We’re running a little short on time, but I have two more questions that I want to ask you, and maybe multi-part questions, a little bit complex. One aspect of what you do is around hormones. You have a very specific method of how you optimize hormones that is … There are all sorts of people that have developed different approaches to what are the right levels of hormones. You have developed a specific approach based on optimizing hormones to the levels between the ages of 21 to 30 years old.
So you might take someone and measure that, “Hey, your testosterone levels or your growth hormone levels are this far below what a typical 21 to 30 year old is. Then, so let’s optimize them back to that level.” My question is this, I don’t doubt at all that that would lead to subjective improvements in energy and things like that. But I wonder if there is some trade off with longevity or disease prevention. If maybe the decline in, let’s say, testosterone or growth hormone, as we age, if you correct that, and you optimize levels back to a 21 to 30 year old, if that might translate into shorter life span or increased rates of certain diseases. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yes, since we’re wrapping up. We defined health in the beginning of the … We didn’t define optimization. For me, optimization, the RDA is actually a survival value. It’s not for optimal health. It will just barely get you out of diseases, but will not make you thrive or optimize your health. Optimization, as you mentioned for me is the 50th to 75th percentile of values of the values of the metabolyte in males and females age 21 to 30.
Now the medicine or the practice is network wide ring shifting of your current values if you’re over 30, back into the 50th to 75th percentile of values at age 21 to 30. That’s the practice of health optimization medicine. So that’s why health optimization medicine is a clinical practice. Now, to answer your question, the art of health optimization is that most of the time, the patient will feel optimal already at the particular value that’s not necessarily between 21 and 30. Then what I do is, that’s the subjective part of it. That’s the art of it.
When they feel that, I stop. I don’t add more, because that’s where the patient feels is optimal. So that’s where a practitioner like you, or a doctor like me would actually exercise the art of the practice. You go, “Alright …” for example, I have a client who is in her early 50s, and who is a competitive ballroom dancer. A competitive ballroom dancer, [inaudible]. She has a very, very different level of testosterone, for example to maintain muscle mass, and a very different level of management of her hormones than someone who is the same age who is not actually … doesn’t have any physical activity.
There, you would have to exercise judgment in terms of a person being able to do what she wants to do, because the definition of the trade off for me is that, am I able to do what I want to do with the high quality that I do it? I don’t measure it by, are my [inaudible] aging faster because I’m getting hormones? Are my cells stopped dividing earlier because I’m giving hormones or giving these extra nutrients, etc. my body is being pushed younger than I want to be.
For me, it’s more like, am I able to do with the quality of the way I want to do it, the things that I want to do. [crosstalk] that’s my measure.
Ari Whitten: On that note, I’m recalling a little story that you told in another interview that I’ve listened to of yours when you talk about when you took over the healthcare for your mom when she was, maybe 86 or 87 or something like that. She was in a wheelchair. I’ll let you talk about, because I think it’s a perfect example of the principle that you’re talking about.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yes, well, my mom was wheelchair bound for two years already. I basically got rid of all her illness medicine doctors and said, “Well, time for the son who has this rule never to take care of relatives to finally take care of the relative.”
Ari Whitten: I know why you have that rule, believe me.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: She was having congestive heart failure, and I was telling the cardiologist, “Just inject her with vitamin B12.” I said, “From testing, she’s not having any congestive heart failure from any other source but than a severe B12 deficiency.” Because you know, as you get older, you cannot absorb vitamin B12 anymore. You don’t have the intrinsic factor.
So I said, “Just inject.” Despite all the hemming and hawing, I said, “Well, just inject for Christ’s sake.” So they give an intermuscular injection and my mother’s congestive heart failure [inaudible 01:14:10] disappeared the following day. I started, okay, you’re going on full hormone and nutrient regimen. In six months, she was walking with a cane in her garden, whereas she was wheelchair bound for two years.
Ari Whitten: Wow.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yeah, and then after a year, she’s 87 years old, she was able to get herself a 77 year old boyfriend.
Ari Whitten: If that’s not the best testimonial for optimizing hormones to the level of a 21 to 30 year old, I don’t know what is.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: For me, it’s more like, I was closing my ears whenever I’d visit her because she would ask me, “At my age and my condition, etc., etc.” It’s like, “What are the best sex positions for me?” I go, “Mom, no.”
Ari Whitten: That’s hilarious.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: It’s hilarious.
The diet Dr. Ted follows
Ari Whitten: My final question to you is about diet. I want to get a little pragmatic on this question. Actually, before I ask you the question, I will voice one of my current big pet peeves in the health industry right now, which is actually there’s so many people talking about these kind of bio individualized diets, a lot of functional medicine practitioners kind of alluding to this notion that there’s a right diet for every individual. In my opinion, so many of these people just have very little knowledge of nutrition science.
They’re using these functional medicine tests and this idea of bio individuality as a crutch for their ignorance of the science. It becomes like, “I can go do this. I can run this lab for organic acid’s testing.” Or this panel or that panel. The lab report itself will give me a prescription for what supplements I should prescribe to that person based on the lab. It doesn’t require any knowledge for the practitioner. They’re just following what the lab reports are telling them. So in my opinion, there’s a lot of people out there using this as a crutch, and also in this post modernness, “There’s no good and bad diets. There’s only a right diet for an individual. Everything from fruitarianism to an all potato diet, to an all meat diet to everything else. They’re all equally valid. Nothing is better or worse. It’s all just relative to the individual.”
In my personal opinion, I think that post modernist thinking is not correct. I think we need to have a grounding in foundational science around what are better or worse ways of eating for humans. I know that you obviously ground everything that you’re doing within that context. But what is your take on what kinds of dietary patterns are most optimal? And how do you think about how people should optimize their diet based on either their biochemistry or what kind of person they are, what kind of activity levels they have, and so on.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: For me, because I didn’t want to have any arguments about diet, etc., etc. I always say the perfect diet for you is the one that serves you the best for the goals that you have. If you’re an athlete, then you would have a different diet, and depending on your sports you would have a different diet. If you’re sedentary, then you would have a different one.
For me, there are certain things that I look about in the diet. Number one that I’m strict about is micronutrient optimization. You have to be micronutrient optimized, otherwise whatever it is that you’re eating, it’s not going to get processed properly. And then you target the macronutrients according to your activity. If you’re going to be running, jumping, etc., have a more carbogenic diet. If you’re going to want to build some more muscle, then have a more [proteogenic] diet. And then if you’re going to be sitting on your duff all day, have a more ketogenic diet.
For me it’s … micronutrient optimized and micronutrient targeted. That’s how I like to look at it. I also like to look at it from an evolutionary point of view. I say this all the time. The fastest disappearing macronutrient from our diet is fiber. People just do not understand the importance of that. We require at least 34 grams of fiber every day. We do not meet that. It’s awful that we have come to this because of all the processed food and all of that. So if you look at it from an evolutionary point of view, we are actually built to process more of that.
So you take a look at what’s rapidly disappearing, and you go back to that. For me, when I do dietary advice, I look at what’s rapidly disappearing from our diet. Even if, say if a plant or if a vegetable is organically grown, etc., etc. The ground by which it’s grown on is already depleted its nutrients also. That’s one of my arguments of why you should supplement, because you can’t get enough magnesium [inaudible 01:19:55] anymore.
You have to eat spinach all day to get the magnesium that you actually need, so these are the kinds of things that I do. It’s micronutrient optimized, micronutrient targeted according to activity or goal. Taking a look at it evolutionarily of what our body … We’re a model T Ford. We’re not a Lamborghini. So we’re a model T Ford, we actually have to …
I generally don’t like Schwarzenegger, but he said something that was really very funny. He said, “Eat the things that don’t taste good. They’re good for you.” I laughed, because a lot of the things that are good for you really don’t taste that good [crosstalk 01:20:45]-
Ari Whitten: Yeah, he also said … I’ll quote him again from his moving Pumping Iron. Somebody asked him as he was walking by one of these media people asked him, “Arnold, Arnold, do you drink milk?” And he said, “No, milk is for babies. When you grow up, you have to drink beer.” I love the way that you break down how to optimize the diet and how to think about it based on a person’s individual activity levels. I know you also are a big fan of time restricted feeding.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yes, I am.
Ari Whitten: You, personally have, I think a 16 hour fasting window each day. And then you also tend to structure the timing of your carbs and fats and protein a little bit differently, can you talk a bit about that?
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yeah, when I’m in the US, my first meal is at noon. It’s a keto meal. It’s very fatty. It has zero carb actually when I eat it. And then my next one is around four o’clock in the afternoon. It’s a high fiber salad. I think you’ve seen me do this. People think that I don’t eat fruits. No, I eat a green bowl. I have an orange. I have a banana. I have a salad. Then in the evening, I’m more [Protenogenic 01:22:10]. That’s where I eat my steak. I eat my proteins at that time.
Many sleep experts say, “Well, don’t eat protein for dinner if you’re finding it hard to sleep.” The real advice is, don’t sleep within three hours of eating. That’s the better advice, because your stomach is still processing the food. That’s how I do it. Besides, protein is a thermic effect of food, right? It raises your metabolism. Your body tends to cool down at night. Your body temperature goes down especially at four in the morning. If you don’t have any blanket and your room is very cold, you actually shiver, because then the thermogenesis actually differs at that particular time.
If you have protein, you can still sleep naked and you’ll be fine.
How to learn more about Health Optimization Medicine
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. Well, I would love to finish with just a little bit of a recap or a summary of what health optimization is all about, the two-minute elevator pitch for why both MDs and health practitioners like me, from an evolutionary perspective and just regular people looking to optimize their health. Why they should seek out and start paying attention to health optimization medicine?
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Okay, so the elevator pitch from first floor to third floor. Illness medicine diagnoses and treats disease. Health optimization medicine detects and corrects imbalances at the current moment, at the level of the metabolome. Illness medicine is after disease management. Health optimization medicine is after health management. They are two different things. Illness medicine is after lifespan. Health optimization medicine is after health span. Illness medicine uses evidence-based illness medicine. Health optimization medicine uses evidence-informed clinical care. So we’re EIM, evidence-informed medicine, not evidence-based medicine, because that’s usually what’s asked of me. “Are you evidence-based?” No, we’re evidence-informed. That’s what you need when you’re doing personalized medicine.
Ari Whitten: And what you need when you’re going beyond the status quo of what’s currently being practiced. To jump ahead and do something that’s beyond the current accepted practice is, by definition, not evidence-based, because you’re basically taking the existing evidence and then trying to put the pieces together in a way that is going to be even better than the status quo.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yeah, it’s hard to provide evidence to a one plus one equals three situations. It’s easy to use antibiotics and bomb your gut microbiota. You can prove that, but when you’re doing a network wide ring shifting, that becomes a one plus one equals three equation, or equals five. Suddenly you don’t know what moved.
We’re evidence informed in that regard. Really, in terms of evidence based, none of these studies have ever been controlled for gut microbiota anyway. Doesn’t that throw many of the studies out the window anyway? I taught statistics and probability for 20 years. I should know this difference. Why you should engage in health optimization medicine or see a health optimization practitioner is actually very simple.
I gave this earlier. Cars are an enviable thing. You take them for all of the maintenance, etc. every set number of miles. Why don’t you do the same thing with your body? Your body has a foundational cells that make it up, not the special cells or the organs, but the foundational cell. They need tune up, the subtle toxicities and borderline deficiencies that occur as a result of daily life, they need to be rebalanced. So do yourself a favor, start treating yourself better than you treat your car.
Ari Whitten: So finally, Dr. Ted, where can people actually reach out to you if they want to work with you? Can people work with you? Or are they going to work with health optimization medicine practitioners under you? Where can people find out more about what you’re doing and start to get on board with health optimization medicine and using it to better their health?
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: People can reach me at healthoptimizationmedicine.org. It’s a non-profit that I launched in the US. The website will tell you how to reach me. They can also reach a cadre of doctors that are trained or are training on their health optimization medicine and practice. Actually there are people who are training on their health optimization practice now.
Here in the Philippines, you can reach me at BioBalanceInstitute.com. That’s BioBalanceInstitute.com. And here there are trained doctors. And there’s actually a clinic that you can go to if you’re so inclined. Much of my work can be one actually tele-medically unless you want a lot of hand holding. In that case, you should know that I don’t shake hands.
Ari Whitten: One thing I’ll mention to listeners here just based on my insider knowledge is, we’re not allowed to name names here. But Dr. Ted has worked with a who’s who of celebrities and dignitaries, and former US presidents. This is somebody who is literally a world renowned physician, who is sought out by a lot of very high level and very wealthy people all over the world for his advice because of his reputation. So if you’re serious about improving your health, I highly recommend reaching out to Dr. Ted and his team at Health Optimization medicine.
Ari Whitten: So once again, Dr. Ted. Thank you so much for being on the show. It’s been an absolute pleasure, and I look forward to next time.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Oh, just one last thing.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: If you want to train in health optimization medicine or practice, just go to healthoptimizationmedicine.org. If you’re a doctor or practitioner looking to practice this type of medicine, then the information is all there.
Ari Whitten: Beautiful, and just to clarify, you have both certifications for physicians, for people who are certified as MDs or Dos and things like that. And you also have a certification program, the health optimization practitioner, HOPE, for non-physicians?
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Yes, we are currently just rolling out our online course ware. We expect it to be fully out by September 1st. We’re currently trying to iron out how the physician certification’s going to be and provide continuing medical education credits to that. And then how the non-physician practitioner certification is going to be, and what the requirements are going to be for that particular part of the training.
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. Well, I’m incredibly excited for it on a personal level to continue learning from you, and I’m excited for this message medicine 2.0 to get out there and be the revolution in the field of medicine that we know it can be. So Dr. Ted, thank you so much. This has been an absolute pleasure and an honor to connect with you again. I hope to do it again in the near future with you. I know that you have a mountain of knowledge and wisdom in that brain of yours. I’m sure there’s enough in there for 20 more podcasts that we could do together.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: And since you have a brilliant audience, Ari, I accept. Wherever I am in the world, even if I’m halfway around the world, like now, I’ll accept.
Ari Whitten: Yes, and on a personal note, I look forward to our next conversation and our next meeting. Thank you again, really such a pleasure to connect with you, as always. Thank you, Dr. Ted, and have a wonderful … I was going to say night, but it’s daytime for you in the Philippines, so enjoy the rest of your wonderful day, my friend. I’ll talk to you again soon.
Dr. Ted Achacoso MD: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Secrets of Health Optimization with Ted Achacoso, MD – A New Paradigm of Maximizing Health – Show Notes
What health is according to Dr. Ted Achacoso (2:14)
The difference between anabolism and catabolism (6:40)
Tools to help you help your patient (22:54)
The new paradigm of medicine (34:34)
The difference between conventional and HOMe medicine (43:34)
The prescription for optimal health (56:28)
The difficulty with developing new habits (1:03:45)
How to balance hormones(1:08:31)
The diet Dr. Ted follows (1:15:21)
How to learn more about health optimization medicine (1:23:04)