Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Functional Medicine and Longevity Medicine?
A functional medicine doctor will engage in a true partnership with a patient to discover their unique imbalances, and guide the patient to devising a plan for healing. Functional medicine is a systems-based, root cause analysis of clinical problems that take into account the whole person, their genes, environment, diet, movement, sleep, and more.
Longevity Medicine is a younger field that seeks to peer into your future health challenges and proactively change diet, lifestyle, sleep, supplements or other factors, to deter or delay illness.
Is Longevity Medical Consulting a medical specialty?
Not yet, although there are some indications that it is going in that direction!
There is a new medical journal “The Lancet Healthy Longevity” that launched in fall 2020. Physicians are now training in very sophisticated genomic analysis and brain preservation protocols such as “Recode”, and have reversed mild cognitive impairment consistently enough to move into national trial. Thought leader Dr. Evelyn Bischolf is quoted in Forbes Magazine as saying“My definition (of) longevity medicine is advanced personalized preventative medicine powered by deep biomarkers of aging and longevity.” Overall, there is intense interest and rapid discovery taking place in “biogerontology” and many integrative doctors, who are often early adopters, are eager to organize and apply this new information.
Does insurance cover longevity consultations?
Insurance is structured to cover illness, primarily, or sometimes “standard” yearly physicals or basic preventative testing such as colonoscopy. Since we want to explore areas and tests that help us read future problems and roadblocks, no, insurance will not currently pay for this type of intensive advisement and deep genomic testing.
Does insurance cover functional medicine?
Partially for private insurance…
Our practice is out of network for all private insurance and we are opted out of medicare. This means medicare patients can not submit for reimbursement. For private insurance holders, if we need blood work that can be done at a commercial lab, most of that will usually be covered. Our other lab tests vary, but the average patient will need to spend some out of pocket on testing. In most cases this will be anything from nothing to a few hundred dollars. Invoices for visits can be submitted by the patient for reimbursement to private insurance companies. However we do not provide letters of medical necessity or allow chart reviews by insurance companies.
What is the difference between anti-aging and longevity medicine?
The terms anti-aging and longevity are sometimes used interchangeably. But longevity is not anti-aging, as we are not trying to stop the clock or achieve immortality. The problem lies primarily in the term anti-aging as aging doesn’t stop. Instead, with longevity medical consulting, we are aiming for a long “healthspan”. Longevity medicine can quantify the risks ahead, and outlines specific interventions for a longer healthspan.
What does it mean to “square off the curve”?
It means living a full healthy life up to the end, with vitality, and only a brief period or no period of disability or suffering. Sometimes this is referred to as “compressed morbidity” – it means that life ends quickly instead of having a lingering illness and a slow painful decline.
Why can’t I just do a $150 genomics kit available through my trainer/spa/facebook?
For several reasons: we use a high complexity academic lab with a very low error rate, that runs your sample three times. They can confirm certain unusual findings with extra testing that involves very expensive equipment (sequencing). We are analyzing over a million variations in several hundred genes, while most of the lower cost testing looks at 20 or 30 genes. The most important distinction is that your genetic profile can show us possibilities, but there is absolutely no information there on chronic disease reality. We need the medical evaluation, labs, and history to sort relevant vs. insignificant findings.
Why would I want to know how “old” I am?
Our age at death remains unknown, but we can estimate our current biological age based on habits, lab values, and patterns on our genes that are imprinted over our life, called methylation tags. For example, maybe you are 60 but based on these values, you are 68. If we are able to reverse or slow down our rate of aging, we know we will delay or avoid many age-related disabilities such as cancer, structural deterioration, cardiovascular disease, and neurological diseases such as dementia. For example, for each year “younger” we decrease our 5-year risk of cancer incidence by 6%. This is completely achievable in a few months with very targeted work on diet, lifestyle and supplement changes.
Why can’t I get these tests from my primary physician or through my insurance?
Traditional medicine is based on a disease-centered model. If you have a disease or a nameable condition, certain labs are allowed to be checked or followed. With Longevity Medical Consulting we are interested in identifying potential logjams way upstream, so we can clear the path ahead and prevent the need for interaction with the medical system. That means that we need to look in depth at how your body is functioning, and begin to compare you to “super agers”, so we know where to focus. For example, we know that having a very flexible metabolic system (glucose and insulin management) is very important. But if you don’t have “diabetes” you are likely to get a pass from your doctor. That does not mean you are optimized for the long term.
My family history does not contain many super-agers…am I doomed?
No, not at all. What is inherited as genetic or epigenetic “marks” is only 40% of the picture. What we do during our life can dramatically change our health journey. We are trying to help you target what the genetic “potholes” might have been for your family members. Was it detoxification? Glucose management? Neurological rebuilding and repair? We can specifically work on those areas.
I already did a 23andME and read my report. What will be different about Longevity Medical consultation?
We will be running your raw gene data through software that will screen nearly 600 key locations for variants known to affect human health in some way. Our reports are much more in-depth, and we blend the genomic information with labs, goals, family history, and lifestyle information to present a longevity action plan to you. Knowing you can taste cilantro or like to wake up at 7:10, or are 1% Neanderthal (23andME report) is not that helpful! We are going to take a very detailed look at many metabolic pathways in your body and discuss how they are running.