Happy New Year from your team at Optimal Human Health! We hope that each and every one of you are off to a great start and have hit the ground running. This week I’d like to reflect on one of my favorite proverbs and how it can relate to our goals, resolutions and lives.
What gets measured gets managed.
This statement with no clear origin can be controversial but lies at the heart of what we do at OHH. The controversy seems to be that knowledge is not always better than ignorance, but I disagree. The key is choosing what metrics you want to measure and understanding the way in which they can be measured. To clarify I’ll use two examples, sleep and blood sugar.
I used to think I was ahead of the curve in advocating for sleep. Now the conversation seems to be EVERYWHERE but yet sleep challenges are ubiquitous. Our patients report they can “feel” when something disturbs their sleep. They feel tired, have cravings and are cranky the next day. This is an example of something that you can feel but still benefits from monitoring. There are two benefits here. First, we get used to our sleeping habits and what feels normal may still be woefully inadequate. Second, when we make a change to our habits, nutrition or supplements in an effort to improve our sleep it’s difficult to know if those changes did in fact result in improvement unless something is tracking our sleep. There are now several devices that track sleep. Our favorites are Oura and Whoop. With these devices you can see just how good or bad your sleep is and track how changes affect your sleep. These devices helped me to identify my own deficits in sleep and prompted big changes in my evening routine. Improved sleep has helped me heal my own adrenal, testosterone and thyroid dysfunction. I’m off of medications and my testosterone levels are optimized without replacement. Our patients have seen even more impressive results!
Blood glucose is a critical topic for both disease prevention and longevity. While low blood glucose can cause symptoms and be dangerous, high blood glucose does not cause symptoms unless it gets very high. Persistently high blood glucose is the definition of diabetes and wrecks havoc on your body. Not only is glucose monitoring important in diabetes but fasting glucose levels are also strongly associated with longevity. Understanding what happens to your blood glucose after meals, while fasting, after exercise and in response to stress is critical to designing strategies to prevent diabetes, weight gain and metabolic dysfunction. To understand these numbers takes testing beyond the practices of traditional medicine. Fortunately, we are in the space of health optimization and these tools are readily available. We recommend and I personally use a device called a CGM or Continuous Glucose Monitor. This direct to consumer devices can be acquired from several companies. We currently recommend the Nutrisense experience but many new companies are popping up in this space. We find the data is invaluable when it comes to understanding your metabolism. Resolving metabolic dysfunction BEFORE you break your metabolism can improve your lifestyle and health span. If you are struggling to understand your carbohydrate tolerance level this could be a game changing experience!
Finally, the controversial side of monitoring is real. Obsession over the scale or any metric can lead to “analysis paralysis” and potentially unhealthy behaviors. Working with a team to identify the best tools is critical to create your S.M.A.R.T goals as I wrote about last week. Remember the M is for measurable but the R is for relevant. The measurement has to help you achieve a goal that is well designed and your behavior changes that occur as a result must improve your state of health not make it worse. Wearables may not be for everybody but I have seen incredible changes in myself and my patients as a result of these devices. What gets measured gets managed in our pursuit of Optimal Human Health!