In partnership with Wild Health.
For most of my life, my experience with doctors had been exactly like my experience with mechanics: they were out of sight and out of mind until a specific problem flared up. My body — much like my spunky little hybrid car — was a vehicle I took for granted, only thinking about its performance when it required an occasional tune-up.
So while I was grateful to my primary care provider for bailing me out of sporadic illness, I had no one in my corner asking the long-term health questions: How were my vitamin levels? What was my sleep hygiene like? How did I feel on a day-to-day basis — not just physically, but mentally as well?
Until Wild Health. Offering a genetics-based approach to personalized health care, Wild Health provides groundbreaking Precision Medicine, a veritable revolution in a field that traditionally defaults to one-size-fits-all approaches. As studies like this one from the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience have shown, this type of personalized medicine is unlocking massive breakthroughs in how we combat inflammation and aging. It's the key to helping us not just live longer, but live better in the process.
For the uninitiated, all of the above might sound a little daunting — but all the high-tech analytics aside, Wild Health has a friendly team of doctors and health coaches to guide you through every step. At the heart of it all, in fact, is a doctor who saw the ways we could make healthcare work better for each of us.
LOOKING UNDER THE FLOORBOARDS
Before Matt Dawson, M.D. founded Wild Health, he worked almost exclusively in emergency medicine. Yet as fulfilling as he found his work at University of Kentucky Healthcare, his real fascination was in maximizing overall health and extending human longevity. Emergency care settings don't leave room for looking at a broader, holistic picture of a patient's health — Dawson was on a quest to understand how to prevent poor health in the first place.
The resounding answer was to examine the blueprint that lies inside our individual DNA. By examining each patient's specific genome, he could understand what exactly their body needed, or showed signs of struggling with. Mapping his own and his friends' and families' genetics immediately proved useful in solving some tough medical concerns, and only made him more convinced that this was the way of the future.
Thus Wild Health was born in the spring of 2019, with a mission to bring genomics-based medicine to the masses. Just a few years later, word of mouth has quickly spread, especially as the COVID pandemic brought long-term health into wider conversation. So after digging and diving (and podcast listening) on all of the above topics, I was finally so curious I had to try Wild Health for myself.
And just a few weeks later, I learned more about my health than I had in thirty years in the traditional medical system.
Like all Wild Health patients, my journey started with an onboarding call. Two days after signing up, a Care Coordinator contacted me to schedule my first consultation with a health coach, and to set up delivery for my DNA sample test. Then a few days after that, the test kit arrived, requiring nothing more of me than a vial's worth of saliva. Once I sent that back, I had a couple weeks ahead of me before I knew what exactly my genetics had in store.
In the meantime, though, I had the first call with my health coach, Adam, who was eager to hear about everything from my exercise history to my morning routine. Together we were able to identify my top three short-term health goals: finding a balanced diet, stabilizing my sleep schedule, and improving my mobility (since I'm painfully inflexible). Adam recommended we wait to see my test results before setting a million protocols, but in the interim prescribed a daily stretching practice. As I was eagerly awaiting the DNA report, I loved having a goal to focus on as the weeks passed.
Then, at long last, the big day arrived. Adam and my physician, Dr. Julie Foucher, hopped on a Zoom with me to dive into what my genes had to say. They walked me through the major takeaways from my 54-page (!!) genetic report, which they cross-referenced with recent blood work I'd completed. Before me was a clear picture explaining everything from which vitamins I was deficient in to what kind of sleep schedule my body was best suited for.
That last point in particular was the most fascinating to me, and illustrates what's so unique about the personalized medicine approach. Ever since I was a kid, I've been a chronic oversleeper, often snoozing my way through three alarms in a row and yet still waking up groggy. As a result, I've claimed Night Owl as my identity, assuming that I'm "just not a morning person" like everyone else.
Yet Dr. Foucher pointed out that certain SNPs in my DNA (or Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, the gene variations that are unique to me and me alone) suggest that my body craved a more normal sleep schedule. If I went to bed and woke up a few hours earlier on either end, I might wake up feeling rested instead of clawing my way out of a coma.
And the crazy thing is, it worked.
EASY WINS, HARD SCIENCE
Even though I was getting the same amount of sleep – around eight hours each night – by shifting my schedule to be more in line with what my genome suggested, I instantly noticed a huge boost in energy, focus, and overall mood. Even better, this victory came almost overnight, giving me the push I needed to take other recommendations just as seriously.
In the weeks since that call with Dr. Foucher, I've been able to consult my health report for other actionable suggestions. In the section that breaks down my dietary genetics, it notes a deficiency in B vitamins, so my care team suggested that I could find them in fish, eggs, dairy and leafy greens. In follow-up calls, my health coach shared incredibly helpful outside resources on things like the benefits of sauna use. For every area of my health I want to tackle, my care team has had solutions that are super easy to incorporate.
All of which makes me want to stick with them for the long haul, and that's how Wild Health is designed to work. Rather than providing services a la carte, Wild Health offers a monthly plan ($125/month) and an annual plan that gives greater savings by billing all at once ($114/month). Everything that I described above is totally included, in addition to unlimited health coaching sessions and personalized health plans. While the monthly fee gave me pause at first — given my history as someone who's always tried to get in and get out of medical situations quickly — I've come to truly value personalized healthcare as a marathon, not a sprint.
As my health coach told me, "we want our eyes on the horizon, not just across the street." I want to invest in things that are going to keep me healthy twenty, thirty, forty years from now, not just pop a few pills to treat today's symptoms. With Wild Health in my corner, I feel completely empowered to do that.
Plus now when I pamper myself with a trip to a spa sauna, I can say I'm under strict orders from my doctor.
FIVE MORE REASONS TO LOVE WILD HEALTH
- The numbers speak for themselves: Wild Health's patients on average demonstrate a 62% boost in good cholesterol, 42% reduction in blood sugar, and 39% reduction in inflammation numbers.
- They also offer even more hands-on programs tailored specifically to executives and/or athletes, who want to function at their peak and focus on meeting the intense demands of their jobs through holistic medicine.
- Want to know more about how to improve your cardiovascular health, "dopamine hack," create healthy food habits and more? Wild Health's podcast has deep dives on all those topics and more.
- For whatever supplements you might need to fill in the gaps, Wild Health has a partnership with Thorne Supplements to offer 25% off on their products, in addition to other member perks.
- Any current or aspiring health care professionals can get in on the ground floor of personalized medicine with Wild Health's training programs, which offer invaluable education on how to apply this work for other patients.