The science behind cenegenics: Part 1 of 4
T-shirts that pull tight over the middle, on-going weariness in the mid-afternoon, and quietly bemoaning lost, youthful athleticism are warning signs that middle-age professionals need to improve their personal health.
Dr. Paul Campion believes that people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s don't have to succumb to getting older and slowing down. He says leading a productive life well into retirement is realistic.
"You know the feeling of wanting to go home, lie on the couch, and be a blob? That can go away."
He is slender but knows the low-energy feeling from firsthand experience.
Only a few years ago, he weighed around 200 pounds, a socially acceptable weight for a man at six feet tall. He had his own T-shirt experience where his stomach bulged from underneath and made him appear less than flattering.
He wanted to explore adventure travel well into his 70s but the direction his health was headed would have prevented that pursuit. He was often physically and mentally fatigued.
He was leafing through an airline magazine four years when he saw an ad featuring Dr. Jeff Life, the doctor in his 70s who is the face, and body, of Cenegenics.
"I wondered if the picture was touched up using Photoshop," said Dr. Campion. "But I've met [Dr. Life] and I discovered he's real."
Dr. Campion measured at 27 percent body fat when he started the Cenegenics and he eventually reached 9 percent, a level for professional athletes. He now guides others through the Cenegenics health program that is a lifestyle approach to nutrition, balancing hormones, exercise, and supplements.
I met him in his Beverly Hills office where he sketched a simple graph to show a peak in physical health and ability from late teens through the mid-20s and a downward trend through the remaining adult years.
He pointed to the tip of an upward curve and wrote 20 above it. Then he drew a line dipping close to the base and becoming a flat line to represent the illnesses and deteriorating health many people experience after age 60 and continuing until the day they die.
"Our optimal health is in our late teens to 20s and then we have this progression of aging." He doesn't believe that a downward trend must continue until it hits bottom. "With the proper care we can slow down the effects of aging." He drew another line about a one-quarter of the way along the downward curve and wrote 50.
"We don't have to hit bottom. As we grow older, we can keep our bodies in a state of optimal health and live an active life."
Healthy Love: Part 2 of 4
Dr. Campion was trained as an ophthalmologist and internal medicine was included in the studies. "I like helping people achieve results. As an ophthalmologist, we can provide results. You can't see, we can do surgery and correct your vision."
Internal medicine, Dr. Campion, told me, was less satisfying. "You see someone has a problem and you tell them to take a pill. Then you're not even sure they took the pill."
Cenegenics, he said, brings together the best of medicine, nutrition, and exercise to achieve results.
The national face of the company is Dr. Jeff Life, a man in his 70s whose face and muscular bare chest has been displayed in magazines, commercials on ESPN, and online display ads.
I asked Dr. Campion what Cenegenics can do for someone that can't be done at home.
"We take people who are frustrated with the system they're in and aren't reaching their health goals. We use various measurements to help them achieve an elite level of well-being."
To optimize exercise we determine someone's true anaerobic threshold."
"You change the chemistry of your body and how your body uses energy."
"If we can find out what those numbers are and correlate with your heart rate we can make exercise specific.
He says that within two to three months, he has seen men drop up to 40 pounds.
A full set of labs is analyzed every 3 months and blood tests are done throughout the year. "We readjust your supplements because as your body becomes more fit, we're not treating the same body that we were previously treating."
The first year alone we do 5 full sets of labs including all the hormones and laboratory markers.
On a yearly basis, we always do an anaerobic test and dexiscan, a body composition test. Mid-year, some people may need a body fat test. "We gear everything to the individual. Some people need a high level of hand-holding and others want to be left alone.
"People who are progressing well will lose 1 ½ to 2 pounds of body fat per week."
The program includes a physician and exercise nutritionist and the office calls on patients for accountability.
"You can't escape and not pay attention to the fact that we're asking about your health."
Hormone balancing: part 3 of 4
Inflammation is a driving force behind aging and the breakdown of the body. Reversing the inflammation is key to maintaining optimal health.
Hormones are an important part of the equation and requires a strategy geared toward individual needs.
Skeptics may question the approach and the focus on hormones but Dr. Campion says the optimal amount of testosterone for men along with a targeted exercise regimen and proper nutrition reduces inflammation.
"Testosterone has been demonized, particularly in the sports world, and it's used for an end that isn't particularly geared toward the best interests of your health. Testosterone improves cardiac function if you're healthy."
"For men, testosterone is way underrated and over-feared."
When this hormone drops, men experience decreased clarity and libido among the effects in a condition also known as andropause.
Keeping hormonal status moderate and healthy is linked with extended health benefits."
In the case of women's studies in the 70s, those have been debunked by recent research. Women – estrogen, pituitary measure and how body is dealing with hormones …
"We measure testosterone levels and the hormones that are affected because of testosterone." balance and add and subtract and block …
"Measure the pituiatary and what it's doing and measure the gonads and what they're supposed to be doing and how your body's dealing with the hormones that are produced there."
"We balance, we add, we subtract and we block depending on what's needed to reach an optimized state."
results: part 4 of 4
Long-term benefits include:
Executive function--a neurocognitive standardized test checking reaction time, complex attention, processing speed, and both verbal and visual memory.
Reduced inflammation—belly fat produces inflammatory compounds that cause blood vessels to be inflamed.
Muscular appearance--Dr. Campion stressed that loose skin isn't hanging from the body with Cenegenics. The reason he and Dr. Life have a ripped appearance is because the extra weight from fat is turned into muscle.
Attitudes change as well.
"One of the challenges of being a doctor is helping someone who needs it but isn' nice. I had one patient who sat in the office on his initial visit with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face for the entire day.
"Several weeks later, I had to call him and he answered the phone cheerfully. I told him he seemed so much nicer now and that he wasn't pleasant when I first met him. He said others had told him the same thing."