When you make an appointment with Steven Masley, MD, give yourself plenty of time. He typically spends an hour taking a full medical history, followed by an equally thorough nutrition evaluation-he's one of only a few MDs who's also a certified nutrition specialist (CNS) and a fellow of the American College of Nutrition.
Next, Masley performs a comprehensive fitness evaluation, complete with a treadmill test, along with all the requisite lab tests-plus many that your average doctor wouldn't think to order.
Masley practices what's known as functional medicine, which looks at systems, not symptoms. Functional medicine is concerned with how everything in the body communicates and works together, and how symptoms are often the result of a breakdown in that communication. Functional medicine practitioners consider such factors as nutrition, environmental influences, unsuspected food reactions, and the role of lifestyle and stress on ultimate health.
In other words, it's medicine as it should be practiced. "Western medicine looks at how to treat a symptom for a population," says Masley. "Functional medicine looks at how to optimize the health and function of each person."
Masley's new book, The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up: The Breakthrough Plan to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, tackles a question he first asked as a boy watching his father treat patients: "How do we prevent this stuff from happening in the first place?" His answer? A comprehensive five-part program.
1. Food. First, says Masley, make sure you're getting at least 30 grams of fiber per day. Then throw in "lean and clean" protein and lots of healthy fats. You don't have to avoid saturated fat, but you should steer clear of damaged fats-such as oils used over and over in restaurants-as well as too many pro-inflammatory omega-6s (found in most vegetable oils). And cut man-made trans fats from your diet.
2. Exercise. "You can't be healthy without exercising," Masley says. "If I know your fitness level, I have a good idea of the amount of plaque in your arteries." Masley is a fan of interval training. "The fitter you get, the more interval training you can do and the less time it will take."
3. Heart healthy supplements. Masley recommends fish oil and vitamin D ("a significant predictor of plaque"), magnesium, vitamin K, and coenzyme Q10.
4. Managing stress. "Get enough sleep, go for a workout, do some meditation, or look at the Heart Math program."
5. Fabulous flavors. "If it doesn't taste good, people won't eat it," says Masley. He encourages the liberal use of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory spices such as chili powder, curry, garlic, and ginger.
If you can't visit Masley in his Florida clinic, The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up is the next best thing. His program is "holistic" in the very best sense-it deals with every aspect of the whole person, all of which profoundly impact overall health.
"Functional medicine looks at how to optimize the health and function of each person."
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, is a nationally known health, nutrition, and weight-loss expert. He is the author of The Great Cholesterol Myth and numerous other books. His website is jonnybowden.com.