"Know your numbers."
That’s the advice we get from patient advocacy groups like the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the WomenHeart Association. And it makes sense – if you don’t know your blood pressure values, for example, how can you possibly know if you have hypertension?
And doctors work tirelessly to make those numbers perfect. Need your LDL under 100? I can do that! Need your top blood pressure number under 140? I can do that too! If I put you on enough medications I can make every number you need perfected…well, perfect. That is what I was trained to do.
Unfortunately, this obsession with numbers has lead us astray. Because the number is not the problem. It’s only a sign of the problem. And perfecting numbers, without addressing the underlying root cause is not a real fix. It just makes us all feel like we're solving something. But in reality, it’s like putting pretty – and often very expensive – wallpaper over crumbling walls. It may look good, but the underlying structure is no stronger.
Which is why lifestyle, and especially nutrition, are so central to health and healing. Lifestyle fixes the walls. And even if the walls don't look perfect, the structure is more resilient.
Here’s the honest truth: the people that experience exceptional healthy longevity are not simply on the perfect combination of medications. They live long well because they LIVE WELL. They move their bodies every day – not to train for a triathlon but enough that they stay limber and fit. They are part of a social circle and open themselves to giving and receiving love. They find joy and purpose in their days. And they eat the Step One way and that's eating real whole foods made with nutritionally dense ingredients that work to help build health and not disease.
Eat well, move, love and laugh. Can’t put a number on that!
Elizabeth Klodas MD, FACC