5 Reasons to Hunt Down Your Health Records

5 Reasons to Hunt Down Your Health Records

Of all the information out there in our digital lives, from photos to tweets to text messages, it’s our health records that contain the most vital information of all. The information that could mean life or death in an emergency. The historical information that can lead a physician to the correct diagnosis. The information that can guide us on our journey to optimal wellness and disease prevention.

And yet for many of us, our health history is in disarray. We’ve moved to new cities, changed doctors and changed health insurance plans many times over. We’ve lost health records when our computer hard drive died or when the paper records at home got lost in the shuffle.

At Heads Up Health, we’ve set out to solve this problem by giving you a secure space to centralize all of your vital health data.  If you’re ready to get started, click the button below to visit our home page and create your account. Or continue reading for our top reasons to hunt down your health records and build your own centralized portfolio.

Top five reasons to hunt down your health records

1. The onus is on the you – the patient. Unfortunately our health care system still thinks it’s 1965 and we all live in the same house with the white picket fence and go to the same doctor or health system until the day we die. If you’ve ever tried to transfer your health records from one facility to another, you know how painful this can be.

 

The reality is that for most of us, the days of the traditional doctor-patient relationship are gone. We move to new cities, change insurance plans and change doctors. We consult with physicians on Skype and through apps on our mobile phone like Doctor on Demand. We seek health advice from conventional MD’s, functional medicine doctors, nutritionists, naturopaths, Google and our favorite health related groups on FaceBook.

Centralize medical  records  - request copies from your doctor.

Centralize medical records – request copies from your doctor.

In this new world, the onus is on us – the patient – to be in control of our health information. We need tools to manage this effectively – which is where Heads Up Health can help.

2. Empower yourself. Studies have shown that 79 percent of people say online access has a positive impact of their knowledge of their health. Do this and you’ll feel prepared to make changes when needed to lower cholesterol, for example, if you know elevated cholesterol runs in your family.

Centralize your medical records with Heads Up Health

Centralize medical records – the onus is on the patient!

3. Spot mistakes and get them fixed. By getting your health records and taking the time to review them, you’re looking out for number one. There have been numerous reports of people being wrongly diagnosed, like Trisha Torrey, founder of the Alliance for Professional Health Advocates. Torrey was wrongly diagnosed with cancer and because of due diligence on her part, she was able to avoid getting unnecessary chemotherapy treatments. 

Heads Up - Share Data

Heads Up Health enables you to share your health records with your family if needed.

4. Be prepared for an emergency. You think that if you wipe out on your scooter while on vacation that your primary care physician (PCP) is going to drop everything and send your health records over to the emergency room you’re at? Maybe, but maybe not. The Privacy Rule says that your provider must share your health records with you or a personal representative. They’re not obligated to share it with other providers or plans. Meaning: if you end up in a sticky situation where say, you need your records from your PCP now, and your PCP’s office is closed for the weekend, you’re outta luck with getting your records quickly. If you already have them it’s not a problem.

Centralize medical records -  be prepared for the unexpexted

Centralize medical records – be prepared for the unexpexted

5. Because you can. U.S laws are designed to empower the patient. The Affordable Care Act wants you proactively involved in your health care. Under other countries’ laws, it’s not always that easy. For example, in Slovakia, patients have no direct access to the “result of the examinations of diagnostic and treatment components. But, it can be “made available to the patient by the health professional who requested the medical examination or the treatment.” Think about that: some people have to jump through some serious hoops to get access to get something that you legally already have the right to. You have rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Use them.

How to Get Started

  1. Make a list of past doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals who may have copies of your health history.
  2. If the doctor or health system is in the Heads Up Health database, you can electronically connect this medical facility and we will automatically synchronize your health data. Check out this video tutorial for a “how-to” on electronically connecting your medical facility.
  3. For facilities we can’t connect to automatically, contact the doctor or facility and request copies of your medical records.
  4. Upload these documents into your Heads Up profile. You can also upload any documents you have at home. We give you an encrypted cloud storage to ensure your records are accessible any time you need them. Check out this video tutorial on uploading your documents.
  5. If all of this sounds like a major pain in the ass, let our Concierge Service do all of the work for you

Heads Up Health empowers patients to collect their health records and keep them in one spot. Sign up today to get started. Or, feel free to contact us with any questions.

Making the Switch to a High Fat Diet

Making the Switch to a High Fat Diet

In this post we will explore the high fat diet and how you can start testing if for yourself. We propose that rather than focusing on “reducing fat” and “cutting calories,” you should consider a focus on eating foods that promote stable blood sugar.

Healthy and stable blood sugar holds the key to weight loss, hormonal health, better sleep, stable energy, lower blood pressure and more. As it turns out, a diet that supports stable blood sugar tends be higher in healthy fat and lower in carbohydrates.

Heads Up Health gives you the tools to change your diet and track the results for yourself, regardless of which diet you are on. You can get started for free using the button below. Or read on to find out how you can transform your health through a high-fat diet and better blood sugar management.

High Fat Diets – Getting Started

Step 1: Re-program the way you think about weight loss

Making the switch from a low-fat diet to a high-fat diet may seem counterintuitive for many people. For decades we’ve been told to eat “low fat” and that in order to lose weight, we should cut back on calories.

As it turns out, the whole notion that dietary fat leads to high cholesterol and that high cholesterol causes heart disease was based on research that has now been disproved. We had it wrong. Rates of heart disease, obesity, cancer and diabetes have INCREASED as we’ve removed healthy fats from our diets and replaced them with calories from refined carbs, sugar, grains and processed foods.

When consumed, these processed foods (bread, cereal, pasta, fruit juice, grains, soda etc.) cause huge spikes in our blood sugar. When blood sugar spikes, the pancreas secretes insulin to help shuttle the circulating glucose into our fat cells. Insulin is a hormone that tells the body to store fat rather than to burn it as fuel.

Blood sugar testing before and after meals

Blood sugar testing before and after meals

By switching to a diet that keeps blood sugar low, we reduce insulin secretion and reduce the amount of fat being stored by the body. Replace refined carbs, grains, sugars and processed foods with sources of healthy fats such as avocado, salmon, butter, olive and coconut oils, nuts, seeds, and grass-fed meats. We provide some recommended reading on finding an optimal diet in the appendix.

Key takeaway: Shift your thinking from “low fat” and “calorie restriction” to instead focus on “low blood sugar” and “minimizing insulin secretion”. You can eat healthy, high calorie, high fat meals that keeps you feeing full and keeps blood sugar low.

Key takeaway: Eating healthy fat does not make you fat. Food that jacks up your blood sugar makes you fat. Healthy fats provide a slow, stable calorie burn and do not spike blood sugar.

Step 2: Exercise

Diet alone is rarely enough to reach a state of optimal health. We still need to exercise. Our bodies have evolved to be physically active. Sweat is your friend! Develop an exercise plan that works for you. Ideally one that focuses on plenty of walking (10,000 steps per day), strength training 3 times per week and sessions of higher intensity cardio at a level that is safe for you.

Tracking steps in Heads Up Health

Our bodies were designed to move! Tracking steps can help…

Step 3: Measure-Measure-Measure

Don’t take our word on any of this stuff, try it yourself and collect the data!

3a. Measure your macronutrients: Download myFitnessPal and start logging everything you eat. myFitnessPal will show you exactly what percentage of your calories are coming from fat. vs. carbs. vs. protein (see image below). Slowly move your macronutrient breakdown to the point where you are getting 50-60% (or more) of your daily calories from healthy fats. Keep protein at about 20% and the remainder from complex carbohydrates (vegetables, sweet potato, yam).

Track your macronutrients with myFitnessPal

Track your macronutrients with myFitnessPal

3b. Measure your blood sugar: Purchase a glucometer and start logging your blood sugar. We recommend checking your fasting blood sugar in the morning and also measuring your blood sugar one hour, two hours and three hours after each meal.

Blood sugar testing

Blood sugar testing

Experiment: Test your blood sugar one hour after eating pizza, a burger/fries or your favorite comfort food. Compare to results an hour after eating a hearty serving of salmon and steamed vegetables loaded with butter. You should see a much lower reading from the high-fat/low carb meal. Tailor you food intake to meals like this which keep blood sugar low.

For a quick tutorial on how to track blood sugar in Heads Up Health, see this video.

3c. Track your weight and your body fat percentage: There are scales on the market for under $50 that can measure both weight and body fat (see appendix for recommendations). Log this data in Heads Up over the course of your experiment.

Experiment: Cut out bread, pasta, sugar, soda and as many processed foods as you can for one month. Get at least 10,000 steps per day. Track your data in Heads Up Health. Do it!

Step 4: Work with a professional who can guide you on your journey

Many conventional doctors are still preaching the low fat dogma and will counsel you against moving to a diet higher in healthy fats. Seek out an alternate practitioner who can give you another perspective and come to your own conclusions on what you think will work best for you.

Primaldocs.com is a great source for finding a health practitioner who can help you on your journey. You can also contact Heads Up Health’s own Functional Medicine advisor, Dr. Justin Marchegiani, who can guide you on making the changes to your diet.

Summary

Somewhere along the line we got it wrong. We thought dietary fat was bad and we removed it from our diet. We replaced fat with sugar, grains, refined carbohydrates and processed foods but this made the situation worse. Now our blood sugar is getting jacked up after every meal and it’s making us fat and sick.

Our key takeaways:

  • Reduce or eliminate breads, pastas, grains, sugar, processed foods and refined carbohydrates. Start slow and work at your own pace to phase these foods out of your diet.
  • Replace the calories that were coming from these foods with calories from healthy fats. Obtain the rest of your calories from good quality protein, vegetables and modest amounts of low-sugar fruit.
  • Exercise. If nothing else, strap on a FitBit and get 10,000 – 15,000 steps per day. Ideally add in strength and cardio training.
  • Measure your results in Heads Up Health. The data will guide you.
  • Find a skilled practitioner to help you on your journey.

New research has shown us that healthy fats are good for us. They keep blood sugar low and provide a steady source of energy throughout the day. You can make the switch and Heads Up Health will give you the tools to measure it yourself. Sign up now and get started or contact us if you have any questions!

Appendix

  • A great way to get started with a high-fat, low-carb, low inflammation diet is Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Diet:
  • For additional reading, look into diets based on a paleolithic template
  • Glucose tracking:
    • Traditional glucometer: Any glucometer should work fine. We recommend the Precision Xtra.
    • Wireless: For a wireless model that can integrate with Heads Up Health, we recommend the iHealth BG5 model.
  • Body composition:
Ketogenic Diet – The First 30 Days

Ketogenic Diet – The First 30 Days

At the start of 2016, I decided to resume my own n=1 experiment on the ketogenic diet. I’d tested this diet briefly back in October 2015 and had some encouraging results. Most notably, I lost weight, my fasting blood sugar came down, I had incredible amounts of energy and my mental acuity and performance felt better than ever. Simply put, my first experience with ketosis was the best I’ve felt in years. I wanted more!

Therefore, as of the beginning of this year, I’ve been focused on getting back into a state of nutritional ketosis. I’ll be sharing my results over the course of the experiment here on the blog. All my data – from blood sugar levels to lab test results – is tracked in the Heads Up Health app. If you’d like to get started doing the same, click the link below.

START TRACKING!

Blood Sugar

The first interesting observation is the change in my fasting blood sugar(i). To induce a state of nutritional ketosis I had been limiting my carbohydrate intake to 5% of my total calories per day (about 20 grams of total carbs daily). Not surprisingly, my fasting blood sugar plummeted (click to enlarge image):

Fasting Blood Sugar on Ketogenic Diet

Fasting Blood Sugar on Ketogenic Diet

Observations from this graph:

  • My fasting sugar dropped from 96 mg/dL down to 81 mg/dL by the end of the month. At one point it even dipped down into the high 70’s. For those looking to control blood sugar, the ketogenic diet is certainly highly effective here.
  • There was one spike at 99 mg/dL on Jan 24th. I checked my nutrition logs and sure enough I had consumed a good handful of refined carbs the night before when I was out for dinner with friends.
  • Fasting sugar came back down for the remainder of the month as I got back onto a disciplined ketogenic diet

Weight

I’ve been tracking weight(ii) regularly and have been looking forward to dropping some unwanted body fat over the course of the experiment. One of the benefits of nutritional ketosis is the weight loss that comes with it as your body begins to burn fat for fuel. Taking a look at my weight readings, I was pleased with the results (click the graph to enlarge):

Tracking weight and fasting blood sugar on ketogenic diet

Tracking weight and fasting blood sugar on ketogenic diet

Observations from this graph:

  • My weight dropped from 197.2 pounds to 192.6 pounds which is a respectable 4.6 pounds lost in the month.
  • This just over one pound lost per week, which is about right for ketosis based on my early understanding of the diet.
  • Fluid loss can account for about 5-10% of the initial weight loss on keto. Therefore, it will be important to keep an eye on the scale over time as my body’s fluid levels normalize.
  • I’ve also graphed fasting blood sugar on the graph along with weight. The two appear to be correlated based on these early measurements.

Body fat percentage

Equally, if not more important than weight is body fat percentage(iii). Even if my weight is increasing, as long as body fat percentage is going down, I know that I am losing fat and my overall body composition is improving:

Tracking weight and body fat percentage on the ketogenic diet

Tracking weight and body fat percentage on the ketogenic diet

Observations from this graph:

  • Body fat percentage came down over the course of the month from 24.2% to 22.9% and followed a similar trend to the loss in weight.

Start Tracking!

What’s Going on Here?

This is the outcome I was hoping to see in the early days of the experiment. As my body makes the switch from burning glucose (i.e. carbs) to burning fat (i.e. ketones) for fuel, my blood sugar is coming down and so are my weight and my body fat percentage readings.

As a beginner on Keto, one of the first books I read was called Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore. This is where I learned about the connection between insulin and weight gain. My take away as a beginner was that the best way to think about losing weight is not to focus on restricting calories, but instead think about trying to restrict your body’s insulin response. The best way to limit insulin release is to limit foods that will spike your blood sugar. Diets like Paleo and Ketogenic are excellent for lowering blood sugar as they replace the foods that spike blood sugar (refined carbs, grains, fruits etc.) with calories from healthy fats that keep blood sugar low yet keep you feeling full and satiated.

Additionally, the weight and body fat loss may be attributed to my body starting to burn fat for fuel instead of glucose, which is one of the many benefits of the ketogenic diet. I also noticed that as my ketone levels increased, my appetite decreased. Ketones are known to act as a a natural appetite suppressant and I found that over the course of the month, I had less food cravings and needed to eat less food in order to feel full.

Still lots to learn but I am very encouraged about my initial experience and intrigued about going deeper into a ketogenic lifestyle.

Up Next

  • As of February 1st I’ve also started tracking blood ketones(iv) and will share this data next month
  • I will also attempt to obtain a new set of lab tests in February so I can get a sense of what’s happening with my lipid panel and blood sugar markers. I will share this data as soon as I have it.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above. If you want to track your own health metrics using Heads Up Health, click below to get started.

START TRACKING!

Appendix

(i) Blood sugar is being tracked using the Bayer Contour glucometer. I like this meter because the finger lancet is less painful compared to other meters I’ve used.

(ii)(iii) Weight and body fat percentage are being tracked using the Tanita BF679W scale. I like this scale because it’s reasonably priced (50 bucks) and very accurate. I’ve compared the results on this scale to results from an expensive DXA scan and the results typically vary by only 1-2 pounds.

(iv) I am tracking blood ketones using the Precision Xtra blood ketone meter.