What Are the Needed 9?

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The Essential 8 is great, but you need to know what the Needed 9 is, and we’ll tell you why.

According to the American Heart Association, the Essential 8 are guidelines for good health and wellness. These guidelines cover various lifestyle choices and health measures like diet, exercise, smoking, sleep, weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

Each component is vital in maintaining cardiovascular health and preventing chronic diseases.

With the growing concern about environmental pollution and its impact on health, particularly regarding aging, there is a compelling argument for adding a ninth essential: “Knowing Your Toxin Levels.”

This addition acknowledges the increasing exposure to various environmental toxins and the importance of monitoring and mitigating their effects on our health and well-being.

The Essential 8 + 1 = Needed 9

The “Essential 8” are critical guidelines the American Heart Association proposed for maintaining overall health. They encompass:

  1. Eating Better: Focusing on a healthy diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, and seeds, and cooking with non-tropical oils like olive and canola​​.
  2. Being More Active: Recommending at least 75 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity weekly for adults and 60 minutes daily for children​​. However, MDLifespan’s founder and CEO, Dr. Paul Savage, says you should aim for at least 180 minutes of exercise each week.
  3. Quitting Tobacco: Highlighting the significant health risks associated with tobacco use, including its role as a leading cause of preventable death​​.
  4. Getting Healthy Sleep: Stressing the importance of sufficient sleep, which varies by age but is generally between 7-9 hours for adults​​.
  5. Managing Weight: Advocating for maintaining a healthy weight, using body mass index (BMI) as a guide​​.
  6. Controlling Cholesterol: Addressing the need to monitor non-HDL cholesterol levels to prevent heart disease​​.
  7. Managing Blood Sugar: Emphasizing the importance of regulating blood sugar levels to avoid damage to the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves​​.
  8. Managing Blood Pressure: This crucial aspect emphasizes maintaining healthy blood pressure levels to prevent heart disease, stroke, and other health issues.
  9. Know Your Toxin Levels: Toxins, such as heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, petroleum derivatives, forever chemicals, and others, are increasingly prevalent in our environment—test to know your toxin load so you know where to start and how to reduce your exposure.


Regular testing for these toxins can help individuals understand their exposure levels and associated health risks, including cancer and other illnesses​​.

America's Increasing Toxicity is a Significant Concern

Expanding the types of toxins, including food, air, and water, necessitates a greater focus on understanding and mitigating these risks.

In the Chicago region, recent state testing has detected elevated levels of PFAS, exceeding the latest federal standards, in several communities, including Cary, Channahon, Crest Hill, Fox Lake, Lake in the Hills, Marengo, Rockdale, South Elgin, and Sugar Grove. Predominantly relying on well water, these areas face significant challenges in ensuring safe drinking water. This situation underscores the growing concern over water quality and the need for rigorous monitoring and remediation efforts to safeguard public health against these harmful contaminants.

Millions of Americans, one in six to be exact, live within three miles of a toxic waste site, and most don’t know it. Research shows adverse health effects most likely occur within a 1.8-mile radius around a Superfund site. Health risks associated are cancer, birth defects, and developmental disabilities. Research suggests living near toxic waste sites reduces lifespans by 1.2 years.

Check out these great websites for helpful resources on toxins. You can learn about toxins, how you’re exposed to them, and how to avoid them.


The Link Between Toxins and Aging is Well-Established

High levels of toxins can accelerate the aging process and are linked to various health problems such as cancer, immune system decline, oxidative stress, nutritional failure, chronic inflammation, heart disease, and microbiome dysbiosis.

A recent scientific report has highlighted a concerning link between chronic exposure to low levels of lead, cadmium, and arsenic — metals commonly encountered in everyday life — and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. These findings are particularly alarming as they suggest that even minimal but persistent exposure to these metals can have significant long-term health impacts.

Lead, cadmium, and arsenic are often found in various sources, including old paint, industrial emissions, contaminated water, and certain consumer products, making exposure a widespread issue. The report emphasizes the need for enhanced public awareness and stricter regulatory measures to reduce exposure levels. It also underscores the importance of regular health screenings for early detection of cardiovascular issues, especially in populations residing in areas with known contamination risks. This research adds to a growing body of evidence that environmental factors play a critical role in heart health, urging a reevaluation of safety standards and public health policies.

Physiologic organ systems and cellular mechanisms are affected by common toxic exposures, including air pollution, tobacco, alcohol, heat, cold, water pollution, medications, herbals, radiation, and other chemicals.

The toxic chemicals found in personal care products can have far-reaching effects on our health, particularly on the development and function of critical organs such as the brain, kidneys, liver, skin, reproductive system, and endocrine system. Among these, endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) present a notable risk. They can severely impact the development of organs, leading to long-term health consequences.

In addition to EDCs, exposure to chemicals like formaldehyde and heavy metals poses continuous threats. These substances can be toxic at all stages of life, causing damage to both developing and mature organs. This ongoing exposure raises concerns about the cumulative impact of these chemicals over time. It highlights the need for more stringent regulation of personal care products and increased awareness of the potential health risks associated with their use. Consumers are encouraged to be vigilant about the ingredients in their personal care products and consider safer alternatives to reduce their exposure to these harmful chemicals.

Toxins like polluted air, cigarette smoke, and pesticides can harm the brain, leading to memory loss and a higher risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s. These toxins can damage the brain during development, causing long-term problems. Pollution particles, for example, can get into the bloodstream and hurt brain cells, leading to issues like brain tumors. Smoking is especially harmful; it affects lung health and also leads to problems in brain function and structure. Smokers may face more complications after surgery due to these effects on the brain. Overall, these toxins greatly impact brain health from childhood through adulthood.

Long-term exposure to even tiny amounts of certain PFAS chemicals harmful to health. Studies have shown that these chemicals can cause severe diseases like cancer in the testicles and kidneys. They can also lead to birth defects, meaning they can harm a baby’s development even before it’s born. These chemicals can damage the liver, make it harder for people to have children, and cause problems with the immune system, which helps the body fight off illnesses. High cholesterol and obesity are also linked to these PFAS chemicals. There’s growing concern that they might also be connected to breast cancer and possibly other diseases, although more research is needed to understand these links fully. Being aware of these risks is important because PFAS chemicals are found in many everyday products and environments.

How to “Know Your Toxin Levels”

To test for toxins, MDLifespan offers Total Toxin Testing, which is a comprehensive approach to identify a wide range of environmental and bodily toxins.

This advanced testing covers heavy metals and environmental toxins such as organochlorine pesticides, plasticizers, parabens, acrylic metabolites, and mycotoxins.

Understanding these toxin levels is critical for developing strategies to mitigate their impact on health and aging​​.

Incorporating “Knowing Your Toxin Levels” as the ninth essential aspect of the existing Essential 8 can play a pivotal role in addressing the growing concern about environmental toxicity and its impact on health and aging.

Regular and comprehensive toxin testing, as offered by MDLifespan, is a crucial step in this direction.

Want to know your toxin levels?

Schedule a call with a client service advisor to get the total toxin blood test. This test will review your toxin levels for heavy metals and environmental toxins.