We all produce cancer cells regularly. The main reason not all of us are afflicted by the disease is because our bodies, particularly our antigens or “natural killer cells” recognize the cancer cells and attack them. Those who end up developing cancer, simply put, have antigens that fail to destroy or recognize such malignant cells. On the other hand, when we don’t have cancer cells and our bodies mistake our own healthy cells or tissues as foreign bodies and attack them, we develop autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, psoriasis, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis, among many other disorders. All these illnesses have to do and begin with the cell, particularly when there is an imbalance between its age-related processes that build and grow (anabolic) and the processes that break down and destroy (catabolic).
Now, what if our doctor could look into the actual activities within our body’s cells? What if he could measure the exact levels of our body’s vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, toxic elements, and deficiencies that affect our cells’ processes? What if there were an accurate way to determine what our future illnesses could be (say five to 10 years from now), and more importantly, offer an effective, no-guesswork measure to prevent such illnesses like cancer, diabetes, gout, or Alzheimer’s from occurring?
The good news is that all this isn’t hypothetical. Technology that looks into the very movements and habits of cells and the nutrients that drive their cycles does exist to optimize health and, ultimately, prolong life. It’s now available in Manila through Biobalance, a health optimization and wellness institute set up by Dr. Theodore Achacoso, a prodigy who impressed his peers when he became a medical doctor at just 22. Today, after nearly four decades of medical practice— training, researching, and working in interventional neuroradiology and pharmacology, medical informatics and artificial intelligence, anti-aging medicine and nutritional medicine in Manila, Paris, and Washington D.C. (where he holds his main practice)—he heads the team of physicians at Biobalance and holds private practice in both nutrition and hormone balancing.
Blood samples are sent to labs at Genova Diagnostics in North Carolina to analyze hundreds of organ cell processes.
While most executive checkups look only at organ functions, Achacoso’s wellness institute promotes looking within the organs’ cells, including over a hundred factors that contribute to their anabolic and catabolic processes such as the exact levels of our vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, and alphalipoic acid (which weren’t measurable in the past), antioxidants, minerals, fatty acids, and a whole lot more, all with the goal of supplementing what we lack and curbing toxins to make the body and every cell in it function at its optimum. “When we were in medical school, it was impossible to take a look at what was happening inside the cell and its mitochondria, but now we can do that and it’s amazing. You know, we’re all taught to say, ‘Oh, let’s do a liver function test, lung function test.’ There isn’t a single comprehensive nutritional laboratory in Asia, but there are fewer than 10 in the world, and one of them is where we send the samples taken at Biobalance in Manila,” shares Achacoso. “Cells are the fundamental structures in these organs so by looking at them first, we more or less see what the organ will go through. We can test that now even before our patients get sick. Then of course we do something about it.”
Other than having difficulty in losing weight, getting the usual monthly sniffles, and lacking the energy to attend as many socials and exercise as much as I did half a decade ago, I thought I was perfectly normal—“healthy,” as I proudly told Achacoso. “Well, I tell you, not being sick doesn’t necessarily mean you’re well,” he says. “Health equals A plus B plus C,” he adds. “It is an optimal physiologic state that is characterized by a) absence of disease, b) balance between anabolism and catabolism according to the c) cycle of life of the organism.” We will all have different needs to balance our bodies, depending on our lifestyle, age, genes, and environment. So while we take standard doses of multivitamins, exercise regularly, watch our food intake, and strive to be healthy, we may still not be fully addressing our crucial needs. Here is where Biobalance comes in to help us take out the guesswork, going from the “generals” that we’re used to, to specifics.
Technology that looks into the very movements and habits of cells and the nutrients that drive their cycles does exist to optimize health and, ultimately, prolong life.
After I had my blood and urine samples sent to the Biobalance laboratories at Genova Diagnostics in Ashville, North Carolina, I was able to get a comprehensive 30-page report of everything going on in my system, what my deficiencies are, which functions are working at their optimum, and more important, a rigorous analysis explained by the institute’s doctors on what supplements I should take, what types of food to eat and avoid, what exercises are best for our lifestyle and goals, all drawn from Achacoso’s specialties in anti-aging, nutritional, longevity, regenerative, age management, and sports medicine. Along with a recommended lifestyle plan, I was given personalized supplement packs that I should take every day, labeled morning, noon, and evening, containing nutrient pills and tablets to address my deficiencies.
I learned about my metabolism, for instance, which revealed that my body doesn’t process carbohydrates into energy as much as the proteins and fats that I intake. So it doesn’t matter whether it’s white or brown rice that I am eating—both get processed just the same, which in my case, very slowly and quite inefficiently, making me overweight. Thus I am better off sticking to high protein diet programs rather than my calorie-counted delivered meals that include brown rice as replacement to white. When Biobalance examines my intracellular nutrient levels, it looks at everything to be able to balance them all at the same time. “Just as all hormones work as a network, all the nutrients also work as a network. You push one and the rest of the network will respond,” says Achacoso. “You have to take into consideration every part of it. A surgeon friend just told me that I’m very good in managing people’s diabetes. But I don’t manage diabetes; I pull them out of it by managing all their hormones and nutrients.” The same science and logic applies to other disorders and health conditions, from gout to arthritis.
A consultation room at Biobalance.
Our fat cells, he says, need carnitin to enter its mitochondria for our bodies to burn them. Proteins and carbohydrates need B vitamins and folic acid to be used as energy. Folic acid, which is vitamin B9, has to be converted by the body into methyltetrahydrofolate, its active form, for it to work on DNA and RNA production and prevent neural defects in women. But then studies show that 25 percent of people, “because of genetic variability,” he says, cannot convert folic acid into its active form. Knowing if we are part of that percentage helps, especially for pregnant women who need folic acid the most. This means it has to be given directly in the unusual active form. “See, when we go intracellular it’s a lot better in the sense that we could see a lot more things, say, whether you’re getting weak because your body cannot process your glucose directly or your fat directly because you lack certain micronutrients to drive the reaction forward. We are not guessing anymore,” he shares. “We get to tackle concerns directly, precisely.”
In the Philippines, the majority of Biobalance’s patients are found to be vitamin D deficient, which is ironic for a tropical country where 20 minutes of sun exposure before ten in the morning without sunblock is sufficient enough to produce one’s vitamin D requirement for the day. Of course I wasn’t surprised to have been found deficient, given how much I venerate sunscreen and keep away from direct sunlight. What shocked me is how severe it is, with the optimal level of up to 100 nanograms per milliliter and mine was a shy 18. “Sunblock was invented some 30 years ago. Fifteen years later, a lot more people started getting vitamin D deficiencies and osteoporosis came about... It’s an interesting correlation. Here you are, your sun is actually perfect and you could actually go out at noon for a mere five minutes and expose just your face and hands and you’ll get 40,000 IU of vitamin D for free,” muses Achacoso. “Another factor to osteoporosis is the lifestyle here—instead of carrying your own stuff, your driver does it for you. But the bones need muscular tension in order to retain the calcium in it, so carrying your things every now and then helps.” This is why, along with right sun exposure (or vitamin D supplements), he encourages women to do resistant exercises too.
Supplements are recommended after test results have been sent back to patients in Manila.
Biobalance is also big on managing gut health, which comprises over 70 percent of our immune system, from the gut barrier that takes care of deciding which substances the body will absorb or secrete to the gut flora that regulates metabolism, protects from infection, and many more. The first thing that my doctor explained after reading my test results was my toxin path—such as the levels of mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic, and tin, among others, in my body—and the state of my gut. “Is your gut leaking, are you absorbing things that you should not be absorbing because your gut is inflamed and the toxic substances are getting into the intestine?” says Achacoso. “I also tell you whether or not there are strains of bacteria that are overgrowing and therefore producing all these substances that shouldn’t be present in your urine. We can detect those now. We look at the integrity of the toxins and of the gut, and for the gut bacteria, which is now considered as a virtual organ in itself with over 400 kinds of diverse bacterial species that weigh around two kilos,” explains Achacoso. “The state of your gut says so many things about your entire body. In fact you could do a gut biopsy to test Parkinson’s disease. You’d be able to see cells in there five years before you see them in the brain, thus you could already predict the defects that the patient will have in the brain. The sooner you predict, the faster you can work on preventing it.” Another reason the gut is so important is because when I eat something, the gut just doesn’t absorb it, its bacteria pre- processes what I consume before it actually gets absorbed. I need to keep an optimum and diverse gut bacteria to able to recognize what I should and should not process, otherwise, a leaky gut with fewer organisms can result in autoimmune diseases, cancer, inflammation, and even depression. This is why taking antibiotics is regulated as they kill the beneficial bacteria along with the bad.
For many of us, figuring out where to start in our journey to better health proves most challenging especially with the gamut of information we read in print and online, with friends recommending the quickest solutions or what works for them, and with the countless food delivery companies offering their own versions of the most effective diets ever. It can take trial and error, lots of money spent, and a longer time before we get to see which works for us. Biobalance does away with all of that and makes everything easier by testing clients first then giving them exactly what is needed to optimize their health. “If we are able to prevent Alzheimer’s or diabetes or cancer with this kind of testing in just one person, we could say we’ve already done our job,” says Achacoso. “But imagine if we could do it for an entire population?”
Biobalance Wellness Institute, 3/F Soho Central, 748 Shaw Boulevard, Greenfield District, Mandaluyong; 650.485; 0917.521.4860; [email protected] biobalanceinstitute.com.