BABY boomers come to Dr. Christopher Rex Gloria when other doctors can’t provide the accurate solutions to their chronic fatigue, lack of focus, slipping memory, insomnia and weak immune system.
Women worry about menopausal syndromes such as hot flashes, mood swings and dry skin, while men confess their concern over their expanding girth and loss of libido.
The Royal Preventive Medical Clinic has helped many patients become more productive at their optimal health in their midlife.
Although Doctor Gloria specializes in longevity and preventive medicine, he adopts the precepts of precision medicine in his practice. This means that every test and prescription is carefully customized to the patient.
Preventive medicine is based on up-to-date scientific and medical technology that discovers and treats disorders before they build up.
Longevity medicine focuses on age-related ailments and how people could be healthier in their advanced years.
Precision medicine describes diseases according to their molecular and environmental causes, instead of the conventional symptoms. It entails genetic testing, which determines the individual’s genetic features that predispose one to a disease and its causes.
Young at 36, Doctor Gloria has been in this field for 11 years.
“I went into surgery for my specialty,” he says. “I did not continue on my last year because I realized that if I’m just going to be operating on people, that means it’s always an emergency. It dawned on me that I wanted to be there before the problem.”
He took a course on natural hormone replacement overseas then went on to acquire a postgraduate degree in Preventive Medicine at the Dresden International University in Germany, because he wanted to help his mother through menopause.
His practice of preventive and longevity medicine specializes in understanding hormones and the human functions.
Today, he gets a wide range of patients— from students who complain about irregular menstruation and depression, to mid-lifers experiencing bone loss.
The core of his treatments lies in balanced nutrition, stress management and controlling inflammation.
He says patients need guidance when taking their medicines and supplements: “Is this the right thing for me? Do I still need to continue this? Am I taking too much? How come I am on certain medications—strong medications, maintenance— but I am not improving? You need to look into your metabolic process—things that have not been checked by other doctors. The direction is toward health and wellness.”
The patient undergoes a basic evaluation, consisting of blood and urine tests that are unlike the tests conducted in standard health exams.
Doctor Gloria plots a list of tests for thyroid function, hormonal levels and brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that convey messages to the body for adrenaline function, such as serotonin, dopamine and cortisone.
Based on these tests, Doctor Gloria recommends supplements that could help patients deal with certain deficiencies without having to start them on strong medications.
He determines which of the patient’s own supplements would still be useful and at what dosage.
After several months, these tests can be repeated on a smaller scale to evaluate the patient’s progress.
“Supplementation needs to be dynamically changed, too,” says Doctor Gloria. “You cannot have a formula and embrace it for the rest of your life, because our body tends to change.”
Patients also answer a detailed questionnaire on their lifestyle. During the consultation, Doctor Gloria encourages the patients to reveal what bothers them, no matter how trivial, because it could be a symptom of a condition.
Depending on the patient’s condition, he might require a saliva sample and 24-hour urine collection. In specific cases, the genetic profile test is conducted and sent abroad for assessment.
“It shows how you are predisposed to things that you’ve inherited from your ancestors,” says Doctor Gloria. “There are ways of preventing, delaying or even stopping these things from happening.”
He adds: “A genetic test will always provide information to guide the doctor and the patients on what to eat, what to add to their supplements, what special tests to undergo annually, or whether a statin is good for you when you have cholesterol problem, or a certain medication is compatible with your genes.”
Asked if the liver function tests can provide a general picture of one’s health, Doctor Gloria explains that standard executive exams look into the SGPT (serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase) and SGOT (serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase), enzymes that are susceptible to malfunctions in the liver.
“Some people look at their liver profile, whether it’s normal or beyond the normal limits,” he notes. “We find out if you have the enzymes to actually flush out toxins, metals or even drugs. By knowing the enzymes, we would know whether a certain food is right for you.”
Doctor Gloria points out that the environment also has an effect on gene expression, or how genes produce proteins for vital body functions.
“You’ve got to be wise in protecting your body from possible radiation or environmental changes,” he says. “The profile can help you switch off the likelihood of getting certain diseases. That is the beauty of customized supplementation.”
He observes that patients are more health-savvy as they are deluged with information from friends, relatives, media and the Internet.
“It’s always important to talk to a doctor or to someone who is well-versed in the right kind of vitamins, what is the right dose, what is the good combination,” he says.
Although Doctor Gloria has been focused on the wellbeing of patients, he occasionally accepts special cases. He underscores that his practice complements the patient’s existing protocols. Some ask how to improve their health so as not to increase the dosages of their long-term medications.
Ultimately, the spirit of care and coaching is essential to medicine, he says. The crux of his practice is the patient’s rapport with the doctor and the body’s ability to heal itself. He always flashes a genuine smile that warms the patient’s heart.
“I’m mabusisi,” says Doctor Gloria, who has earned the trust of his patients. “I have the nature of wanting to know whether you are feeling good, rather than what the numbers tell me. The blood tests will always change.
“Even if I do a genetic test, the environment will change the way the body will behave. If there is trust and I know how the patient feels, I’m more confident that I could tweak certain things and go beyond what the numbers say.”
His only frustration is that he needs to train more caring doctors.
Imparting the knowledge of advanced medicine is easy, but can malasakit and pag-aaruga be taught?
“How do you teach rapport, encouraging patients, remembering their birthdays or hugging them? It’s a tough job,” says Doctor Gloria.
When Andy Vasquez-Prada made the decision three years ago to focus on his health and lose weight, he gained a new body and a new lease on life.
Andy Vasquez-Prada sits down to his lunch, a shallow bowl of mixed gray and brown colored grains, eating slowly and gingerly, chatting in between leisurely bites. Its muesli, he explains, and despite its less-than-appetizing appearance, it’s actually quite good, he assures me. He chases it down with a small cupful of assorted pills. Wearing crisp white jeans, loafers, and navy blue coat, he looks very much dapper gentleman. This is the Andy Vasquez-Prada I am meeting for the very first time today, so I can hardly believe it when he tells me that just three years ago, he was severely overweight, tipping the scales at 314 lbs. at his heaviest and wearing a size-40 pair of jeans.
It’s hard to reconcile the image of Vasquez-Prada, tastemaker and proprietor of the beautifully curated home store W17, with the man that he was for most of his adult life. Even he admits that back then, he was completely a different person. “Before, there’s a wall because you’re insecure and you’re angry because you look and feel like that,” he says. “I didn’t think I was good-looking, I didn’t know what my face really looked like...I was frustrated that I could just buy really good shoes but not fantastic clothes.” His weight loss has been so dramatic, though, that even his shoes have gone down a size, along with an overall body transformation and a completely new outlook on life.
Vasquez-Prada recounts that his difficulties with weight started early. “I’ve struggled with weight my whole life,” he says. Born in Manila, he moved to San Francisco when he was four years old and spent much of his childhood there before attending boarding school in his high school freshman year. “That was the first time I was alone, and I really ballooned. From then, it was a lose-gain, accordion-type of thing. And each time I would lose, I’d get further from what I had achieved.”
Over the years, he claims, he tried every single diet that exists. “Name it, I tried it,” he admits.
“Diet pills, anything to lose weight.” He even went as far as undergoing liposuction in 2003, I gained it back.” For him, it was a simple case of not being able to control what he consumed. “I love to eat. No balancing it out and no thinking at all. I ate what I wanted: salty, sweet, right before sleeping, and fast food, for a time, almost every day. Going to restaurant every night and at home, I had it all, too-all the chocolates.”
By the time he hit his 30’s, health issues began to show. He was suffering from high blood pressure and hypertension and had to take a multitude of medication daily. The turning point came when he was in New York for a buying trip. “I was exhausted, but in pain and out of breath.” It was then that he realized that something had to change, and he made up his mind that he was going to see it through.
An aunt encouraged him to make an appointment with Dr. Rex Gloria at the Royal Preventive Medical Clinic. At the time, Vasquez-Prada had already begun exploring the world of New Age medicine, checking Dr. Oz videos on YouTube and reading up on actress-turned-health-guru, Suzanne Somers. So when he sat down with Dr. Gloria for their initial meeting, he instantly felt at ease when he spotted books by Somers on his bookshelf. “We were on the same page with all these supplements that I had already started. I basically followed every single thing he said for six months.”
Gloria set about customizing a program for Vasquez-Prada that would work with his unique body chemistry, beginning with a thorough health exam and a blood test. “He had done different kinds of diets, before but did not keep his weight loss, so we decided to embark on a revised hCG protocol,” Dr. Gloria says, referring to human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone used for weight loss in a program pioneered by Dr. A.T.W. Simeons in the late 1960’s. After the doctor addressed Vasquez-Prada’s metabolic functions using vitamin supplements and conservative hormonal correction, he was prescribed a liquid solution of hCG combined with a diet of just 500 calories daily, for an initial period of 21 days.
After a two-week break, a second round lasting 45 days commenced. The results were dramatic-“It’s about two lbs. a day that you lose, because what it does is it takes your stored fat and that’s what it burns,” he says. By the time he was through, he had lost a total of around 140 lbs. in a span of six months, plus his health had improved significantly. “The hypertension is all gone now and all the medication is gone... all the problems went away,” he says. But the real key to his success was his determined, unwavering attitude. “I cheated once, and it was with alcohol. It set me back one week and I knew it wasn’t worth it. I was disciple. I really was strict with myself. I’m like that once I decide- I think it’s really a decision. I was like a robot; it was not hard for me.”
It’s been three years since he began his weight lose journey, but more telling of how effective this has been is the fact that he was managed to maintain this new physique. Now, Vasquez-Prada’s weight stays in the 170 to 18 lb. range, and he wears a size-33 jeans. He still takes vitamins and supplements and currently subscribes to the paleo diet. “The secret to his maintenance is a low glycemic index kind of regular diet and also proper vitamin supplementation,” Gloria says. “His heart medications were eventually stopped by his cardiologist because his weight loss has created a good impact on his health. Now, he continues to come to the clinic regularly to maintain his vitamin supplementation and get proper guidance on how to eat healthily.”
But credit, of course, goes to Vasquez-Prada himself for being able to turn his life through sheer willpower and determination. “People fueled me. That motivates you, that pushes you,” he says. “I got different reactions. Further along, people said I was shrinking. People were happy and surprised. Some do double-takes and don’t even recognize me.”
The boost in his well-being coincided with success on a professional level as well, as it was also around three years ago that he opened W17. Along with all of the positive changes, a whole new man emerged-and no one would notice this more, of course, than his mother. “My mom said, ‘Yumabang ka!’” he says, laughing. “You’re proud because you look good, but you should not let that change you. You should pat yourself on the back and you should feel good because it’s miraculous.”
There are other little changes in his life as well, such as being able to wear white shirts (something that he once avoided at all costs), going for bike rides (though he concedes that his exercise routine could use a little more consistency), and treating himself to belt shopping-“I make sure my belts are big thing,” he says happily. Even just the simple act of tucking in his shirt and wearing his hair shorter gives him joy.
But the biggest reward of all is that finally, after so many years of hiding under excess baggage, he is now able to reveal the person that he always was. “I feel like that was not me,” he says of his heavier days. “You realize that this is my true self. This is who I really am.” By “this,” of course, he means a man who can flawlessly pull off an impeccable ensemble of white jeans, brown loafers, and a navy jacket. And I don’t doubt for one second that this is who he is meant to be.
Source: Article by Nana Caragay, Metro Society
The medical technology of the future is here, and it can be found at the Royal Preventive Medical Clinic.
The 2010 film Never Let Me Go envisions an alternate universe where people never get sick. Thanks to medical breakthroughs, life-threatening disease becomes a thing of the past and people can live past the age of 100, albeit due to practices that provoke moral and ethical debate. Likewise, the 1997 movie Gattaca portrays a dystopic future where genetic engineering rules and the quest for superiority begins even before a baby is conceived.
Hearing Dr. Rex Gloria talk about the work that they do at the Royal Preventive Medical Clinic can sometimes call to mind visions from the pages of a sci-fi novel - a world where blood testing, genetics, and as yet unheard-of advances in the medical field can eliminate the possibility of ever getting sick again. “Basically, our patients are all healthy,” he says of their ultra discreet, high-powered clientele. And the goal is to keep them that way. In fact, his task is to further improve upon their condition until clients become the optimum versions of themselves.
The light bulb moment occurred when he spent his days performing operations in the hospital. “When I did surgery before, I felt like I’m always late in helping people,” he confides. “I realized I should shift to something to help patients even before they get sick or develop a big medical problem.” He headed to Belgium and France to receive training on hormone treatment for menopausal women before taking up his master’s in preventive medicine at Germany’s Dresden University. There, his eyes were opened to a kind of medicine which, instead of treating people who are ailing and in physical pain, works with them while they are in good health in order to make them feel even better.
In 2007, Gloria opened his practice in Makati. Located in the penthouse of the Aboitiz Building, his clinic features streamlined furniture, lush greenery, and a posh reception area, looking more like a chic, modern boardroom than a medical facility. Here, he entertains a steady stream of “executives or business owners who want to stay fit and at the top of their game.” To this discerning clientele, health is of the utmost priority because to get sick would be the equivalent of precious time lost, spent recovering or recuperating. “It’s a big investment because, if you are the one running your company, leading a city or country, or you’re an athlete or the head of the family, you want to be there for your business or your family. You want to stay healthy to continue working and earning money and enjoying what you have worked hard for.”
To that end, Gloria broadly describes their process as “an executive check-up, but with in-depth analysis of a patient’s needs so that it’s more customized.” Treatment begins with testing, and here he tells us about the many different tests their clinic offers. There is a genetic test, which is so comprehensive it needs to be done only once in your life. From a swab of spit, your DNA reveals clues about illnesses you could develop in the future. “You have in your genes certain mutations that do not become a disease in people when they’re born, but these genes are actually changed when a certain environmental factor has been introduced in their lifetime,” he says.
Among the things that can be identified are your risks for prostate cancer or sporadic breast cancer (which could develop even if you don’t have a history of breast cancer in your family). Indeed, your genes are a rich source of information - everything from your response to cigarette smoke and broccoli to how you metabolize coffee can be found in it. They can even examine how you react to different kinds of medicine. “We do this to make our treatments for patients more customized. You know the phrase, ‘hiyang sa gamot?’ It could be genetic. You can run the genetic test to find out whether there are certain drugs that are not compatible with you,” Gloria says.
They can also perform blood tests, which may be done annually. From your sample, a Septin9 test can detect your risk for colorectal cancer, while a telomeres test evaluates your potential life span and longevity. (“Turtles live a hundred years because their telomeres are long,” Dr. Gloria explains.) There is also a food intolerance test for those who find they have developed hypersensitivity to, say, gluten, flour, or dairy. “When you eat certain kinds of fruits or vegetables, you might develop eczema or migraines or you feel bloated, constipated, or depressed. It’s not that you’re allergic to the food, you’re just not tolerating it well.” The sample is sent to Laboratoires Reunis in Luxembourg, and results arrive within three weeks to a month.
Another test they can conduct is heart rate variability monitoring, the same one used by athletes in Europe, to measure your heartbeat during certain times of day - when you’re working, exercising, and asleep - and evaluate your stress and recovery. “This is very important for those people who are into running. They don’t know how their body recovers after a marathon, and they might be injuring themselves because they don’t have proper recovery.” Supplements can then be customized for improved sleep, post-workout recovery, and the like. Even your exercise routine can be customized—they can tell you which workout, whether cardio or weight training, would be of maximum benefit to you.
The clinic also offers tumor vaccination, designed to treat prostate, lung, breast, skin, and colorectal cancer. “After a patient has been exposed to cancer, we take the biopsy report and we make a vaccine that’s specific for the tumor they had,” Dr. Gloria says. The treatment is designed to work alongside chemotherapy, radiation, or even alternative medicine to increase its efficiency and prevent the cancer from recurring.
But again, the principle behind preventive medicine is treating patients when they are healthy in order for them to stay that way. Thus, Gloria’s clients are usually “people who are not sick, but have symptoms that were not diagnosed or addressed in a regular hospital visit. They want to understand their bodies better.” "is consciously eschews a one-cure-for-all approach, since people’s bodies react differently to various vitamins, supplements, and medicine. With their comprehensive testing and diagnosis facilities, it takes all of the guesswork out of the best way to deal with your condition. “In preventive medicine, we help you customize a program that you do every single day, but you know that after five years, 10 years, 15 years, you can look at your contemporaries, relatives, or friends and see that compared to them, you haven’t really gotten sick. You’re even getting stronger, healthier, and you’re looking good. We bring in tools to diagnose and to treat any deficiency related to nutrition or their brain neurotransmitters.” From here, they can prescribe vitamins and supplements based on your de!ciencies to address precisely what you need.
“We’re managers of our patients’ health,” he continues. "They always say, ‘"is is the best thing that has happened to us,’ which is why they bring in their parents, friends, and relatives. People around them are getting sick, but they don’t get sick easily. They’re strong, their sex life is back, and they’re creating more projects and businesses.” And if you need proof of the demand, just take a look at their lengthy waiting list. It takes at least three months for new patients to book an appointment (and they don’t entertain walk-ins). But the doctor firmly believes that for those who choose to go this route, it is definitely worth it. “We get a lot of families coming in because they know that it’s something they need to spend on now so that in the future, they save themselves from a lot of trouble. It’s the best insurance because you see the results while you’re still alive.”