“I should have taken better care of my health,” and “Prevention better than cure,” are old adages we often hear day once we hit a certain age. We study hard to get good grades with the goal of either working for or building a company, sacrificing our sleep for late nights and early mornings, eating junk food to compensate for the actual breakfasts, lunches, and dinners we’ve missed out on, and we don’t get very much exercise sitting in a chair in front of a laptop all day long. Sound familiar? Pretty soon this kind of lifestyle will take its toll on us. It may not be right this second, but it will be enough for us to shell out thousands and thousands of pesos, expensive medication, and maybe even painful surgeries for us to feel a little better, wishing we had eaten right and gotten in that jog around the block years ago instead of dealing with all the extra pain today.
A little background on ours truly: I am currently in my late 20’s and have been a workaholic ever since I got a taste of menial success as a student jock for a local radio stations. Having a sense of accomplishment and surpassing goals set for me put me on a natural high, and eventually I worked my way up to becoming the Editorial Manager of one of the fastest growing group-buying sites in the Philippines. This was probably the most toxic job I had ever held, which had me working from 9 o’clock in the morning ’til 2 or 3 o’clock in the next day, writing content, reviewing other people’s work, reviewing the material for the next deals that would be coming out, paperwork, etc. Every other Friday of the month I would treat my department to pizza, pasta, and mojos, and while working well into the night, calling for McDonald’s, KFC, or whatever else was open 24/7 was normal.
It started out slowly, first with my clothes feeling a little tight. After a while, I constantly felt bloated and would start feeling tired in the middle of the day. I assumed my diet of junk food was the cause, so in order to lessen all the salt and MSG that my body was absorbing, I would put together packed lunches and would put together healthy fruit and vegetable smoothies in an attempt to keep my weight down. But as the stress piled on, so did the pounds, and before I resigned from the company I was working for, my weight had jumped from 125 lbs to almost 190 lbs in a span of a year and a half.
It was a friend’s sister that noticed that my neck looked rather swollen when I was visiting her in Houston on vacation, and she recommended that I get myself checked. Sure enough, my T3 and T4 levels were elevated and I was diagnosed with having a hypothyroid, or goiter, which is something my mother had passed on to me and was triggered by stress – obviously, my bad diet wasn’t helping either. It had gotten to the point that it was affecting the calcium in my teeth and bones, that my molars were starting to crack and fall away, but it had also come to a point where my liver and kidneys were also affected and weren’t functioning at 100%, so taking the medication that doctors would usually prescribe for goiter would do more harm to me that good. Their solution? Eat a balanced diet and get your liver function test taken every month to see if it has improved or not before you start taking any medication that may worsen the problem.
Long story short, I was caught between a rock and a hard place.
I was first introduced to the wellness center by a friend of mine who frequented the wellness center often ans suggested I give it a go. Located on the 8th floor of the ACCRA Law Tower in the heart of Bonifacio Global City, the LifeScience Center for Wellness and Preventive Medicine could pass for a spa, with the zen-like waiting room decorated with furniture from Kenneth Cobonpue and Milo Naval that leads out to a serene outdoor deck. You are offered a coffee or iced tea by one of the receptionists while you wait for your doctor, and new clients get a quick tour of the facilities to better understand how everything goes together.
The current practice for most medical institutions is that most of them, including us non-medical folk, are used to focusing on diagnosis and then treatment. At LifeScience, the doctors have the cutting-edge technology that enables them to screen for factors that precipitate the disease. This is what the center promotes – prevention and rejuvenation. Bringing research and medical technology from as far away as Vienna and Switzerland, various tests are offered at LifeScience that has changed the way I view medicine. To oversimplify, there more popular tests are:
- Gene Tests to discover what diseases you are susceptible to based on your genetic make up and history;
- Food Intolerance Tests that assesses which foods your body recognizes as poison as well as which are safe for you to eat;
- Micronutrient Tests, which measure exactly how much of a certain vitamin and mineral your body can actually absorb; and
- Hormone Profiles, which helps to determine what is out of whack that may be the root cause of your crankiness, fatigue, or water retention.
A Preventive Wellness Consultation
Before sitting down with my attending physician, Dr. Karen Tinio-Ladaw, M.D., for my Preventive Wellness Consult (Php 2,500 – Php 3,000), I was led to one of their relaxing consult rooms and was asked to fill out a form that included my medical history, my family’s medical history, and a long list of questions about my health goals. I wanted to get my energy up, shed the extra pounds, and just feel like my old self again, which is why I signed up with LifeScience in the first place.
A nurse came in promptly to get my blood pressure, temperature, height, and weight – all the usual things one would go through when getting a check up. What made this routine different from what you would usually undergo at hospitals would be the Body Composition Analyzer (BCA) – a machine that measures everything from your visceral fat, muscle mass balance, body fat distribution, and even figures out you metabolic age. You undress save for a robe and stand on the machine with your hands on the metal cylinders on the side and your feet on the metal discs for about 30 seconds while the machines measures everything it can in your body. My metabolic age was 43. Wow. That was a good a wake up call as any.
I sat down with Dr. Karen to talk about my results. I had also brought my most recent blood tests for her to help establish a baseline, and used that to help with interpreting the results of the BCA. As expected, the culprit behind why I wasn’t losing the pounds faster than I should, even with a healthy diet and yoga, was because my metabolism wasn’t working (in terms of gears, it was at the lowest hear possible), which was connected to my thyroid problem, which had been left virtually untreated for the past 6 years.
The conversation was rather lengthy, with Dr. Karen going into my medical history a bit more and the holistic treatments I had tried previously, and it ended on a very positive note. She was very confident to be able to help with bringing my energy as well as my metabolism up to speed, and once my thyroid problem is fixed, everything should go back to the way it used to be and I could finally work up the stamina to try more aggressive sports, like jogging, without passing out halfway through.
Working with My Nutritionist
Being a food writer, eating a wide variety of food is a part of everyday life. While it does have its perks, it doesn’t really help much when you’re trying to manage your weight. Add a turtle slow metabolism to all of that and you can see my dilemma. Enter my food coach, Mabelle Aban, who is also LifeScience’s resident nutritionist.
During my Nutrition Consult (Php 1,400), we talked at length about my eating habits and just how sporadic they can be. I make a conscious effort to still watch what I eat even when I spend half me week going to restaurants, but what usually happens is when I have a lot to eat one day, I try to compensate by eating just one meal the next. When I’m at home, I would survive on salads or sandwiches or the occasional bowl of pasta and rarely ever have rice, since I have never been fond of the stuff to begin with.
Being a fan of the UK show Supersize vs. Superskinny, I was surprised to learn from Mabelle that what was considered a normal calorie count for Europeans is actually an overfeed for Asians like myself. While a normal diet for British womanis around 2,000 – 2,400 calories per day, a Filipina’s is only around 1,800 – 2,000 calories a day. Imagine my horror to realize that aside from my body refusing to metabolize what I put in it in the first place, I was putting way too much food in to begin with!
The Next Steps
I left LifeScience happy with both my consultations and confident that I was on the right track. Dr. Karen had recommended that I take a Food Intolerance Test, which would not only help me lose weight, but also act as guide for me to pick and choose what food I eat when I’m dining out at a restaurant; a Micronutrient Test, to see how much of each vitamin and mineral my body absorbs, which will also be the basis for my personalized neutraceuticals; IVT once a month for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which should be effective for about a month until I can get my energy up naturally, a few sessions in the Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment machine to also help with my energy; and lastly, a Hormone Profile Panel to assess just how imbalanced my T3 and T4 levels are to better deal with my thyroid problem. Once I’ve sorted all that out, I can start on toning up and getting my stamina back with Kinesis sessions – something the wellness center also offers.
Overall, I found my experience at LifeScience to be a lot more relaxed and comforting than doing the same thing at the hospital. The wellness center is a lot more zen and the staff are a lot more personable – you don’t feel like a number in line where the doctor trying to get you out the door as quickly as possible. Everything is explained well enough for a layman to understand, without feeling like you’re being talked down to and each treatment (i.e. the Chronic Fatigue IVT) is especially customized for each patient that comes in, giving you a bespoke medical experience, in a sense.
Admittedly, the price for the consults and treatments are a bit more expensive than going to a hospital, but this is the only place I know of with cutting-edge technology, looking at your body and its possible outcomes through your genes, and treating it before the problem arises. The question then isn’t about how much a certain service or product is, but how serious are you about investing in your future and having a better quality of life? I have been looking for a go-to doctor for years now, and I think I have finally found mine in Dr. Karen at LifeScience.
LifeScience Center for Wellness and Preventive Medicine is located on the 8th floor of the ACCRA Law Tower on 2nd Avenue Corner 30th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig an is open between Monday to Saturday from 7am – 8pm. For inquiries about their various services or to book a consultation, please call +63 2 828 5433 or +63 917 573 5433.