It is no secret that chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia and physical decline can lead to significant decreases in quality of life. These diseases can also result in a large financial cost (increased frequency of doctor visits, new medications, hospital visits and surgeries, etc). So, what is the other side of the coin? Prevention! Turning the focus towards keeping your health, and optimizing wellness. Below are 10 things you can do now for your longevity of health.


Exercise is top of the list of important activities to build your health. If you are not currently doing any formal exercise, my recommendation would be to start with “Zone 2” exercise three times per week. Zone 2 activities include walking, biking, or stair climber for 30-45 minutes at a moderate intensity. This means you are likely taking a breath between sentences but can maintain a conversation with your exercise partner. The key to getting maximum cardiovascular benefits during Zone 2 exercise is maintaining the same level of effort for the entire duration. If you don’t have 30 minutes is too much, simply start with 10 minutes per day. Any is better than none! 

Your Goal: If you are already doing Zone 2 cardio 3-4 times per week, start adding weight training three times per week. Your goal should be 30 minutes of exercise 5-6 days per week.

If you are already working out daily, congratulations! However, there is always room for improvement. I often recommend body composition testing and a Vo2 Max test performed to take your training to the next level.  The University of Montana offers testing to the public without the need for a doctor’s referral. See more at


Most people are not getting enough fiber in their diet. Fiber is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer. Before leaning too heavily on supplements, you should focus on getting more plants in your diet. Choosing foods with fiber also makes us feel fuller, while a diet rich in fiber can help digestion and prevent constipation.

Vegetables like carrots, dark leafy greens and legumes contain a lot of fiber to help aid in your digestion and support heart health.

Your Goal: Aim for 1-2 servings of veggies at each meal (Potatoes and corn do not count). 


Research shows that the closer you are to a blood pressure of 120/80 the lower your lifetime risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition to getting your blood pressure checked at your doctor visits, I recommend acquiring an automated blood pressure cuff that you can check at home. Be sure the cuff goes on your arm (not wrist) and record your pressures 2-3 times, and bring this documentation to your next doctor’s visit.  . Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your blood pressure.

Your Goal: Reach the ideal blood pressure of less than 130/89 after sitting and resting for 3-5 minutes. If your blood pressure is higher than this goal, I recommend discussing this with your provider so you two can agree on what your blood pressure goal should be. 


Elevated cholesterol, particularly LDL-C (““bad” cholesterol) and Apolipoprotein B are well established risk factors for heart attack and strokes which remain the top killers in the USA. 

In a 2009 UCLA study, “nearly 75% of patients hospitalized for a heart attack had cholesterol levels that would indicate they were not at high risk for a cardiovascular event.” This study demonstrates that even at “moderate” cholesterol elevations, our blood vessels are at risk if exposed over many years. 

Your Goal: Work to address your elevated LDL cholesterol levels. Have your doctor order advanced lipid panels once to investigate biomarkers like genetic Lp(a), ApoB and vessel inflammation to personalize your risk and set your plan to reach a more ideal cholesterol balance.


Pre-diabetes is the rising of blood sugar levels that have not yet reached the level to be classified as diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1-in-3 Americans are in the pre-diabetes range, and nearly 80% of those do not know it. It is well established that pre-diabetes increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. 

Pre-diabetes does not happen overnight. It is the result of the body slowly becoming insulin resistant over time. Sadly, our conventional screening methods to a poor job in assessing the progression of insulin resistance. There is a better way.

Measuring fasting insulin in your blood can indicate if you are becoming insulin resistant years before your blood sugar goes out of range. The preferred test to assess your risk of developing pre-diabetes is an oral glucose challenge test. During this test you consume a standardized drink containing 75g of sugar. Next you have your blood glucose and insulin measured every 30 minutes for 90 minutes.

Your Goal: Keep your A1C (average blood sugar) less than 5.5%. Keep your fasting insulin less than 10. Consider a one-time oral glucose challenge test. 


Sleep insufficiency refers to a condition characterized by an inadequate amount or quality of sleep, resulting in negative effects on an individual’s physical alertness, mental performance, and emotional well-being.. Impaired sleep has influence over sugar cravings, weight maintenance, hormone regulation, blood pressure, memory and even learning. If you are getting less than 7 hours per night you are at risk. My favorite book that explains everything you need to know about sleep and how to get enough is called Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD. Listen to the audiobook while you fall asleep if you have difficulty going to sleep. 

Your Goal: Achieve 7 hours or more of sleep per night. 


Family history gives doctors vital information on how best to screen you for certain chronic diseases and cancers. Early detection of disease and cancer early is ALWAYS better than catching it too late. Screening tools such as colonoscopies for colon cancer and mammograms for breast cancer can be personalized based on your family history. Note that no screening tool is perfect, and you should discuss with your provider the risks and benefits of screening.

Your Goal: Know who in your immediate family has cancer, diabetes, heart disease or dementia.  


Addressing stress is often as hard as it sounds. Leaving it unaddressed can increase your chances of poor health in the long run. Chronic stress raises levels of cortisol, our primary “stress” hormone. Chronic elevation of cortisol leads to sugar cravings, weight gain, difficulty maintaining muscle and poor sleep, just to name a few. Often the first step is identifying that stress is a problem for you, and then seeking help from your provider and/or therapist. 

Your Goal: Being able to identify when your stress is high and having the tools to balance your stress without health-compromising tools such as alcohol or smoking. 


Humans are inherently social beings. Loneliness is an underrated health risk and has even shown to be a risk factor of Parkinson’s disease progression. We humans need to find a group that makes us feel we belong. 

Additionally, it is important to not find yourself in the wrong community. If the people you hang out with have poor health behaviors such as being sedentary, smoking, using illicit drugs, and eat fast food often, then likely you will too. 

Your Goal: Find and join a community that holds a similar health-postive mindset as you, or that you desire to have.


This last secret to optimizing your longevity I left intentionally to the end. Supplements are meant to supplement a healthy diet and lifestyle. The supplement industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry that the FDA does not regulate. Supplements that do have a large amount of data showing their health benefits as they relate to chronic disease preventation and support, include vitamin D and Omega 3 Fish Oils. Luckily, both can be tested in the blood to ensure optimal levels. 

Your Goal: Know why you are taking a supplement. Ask your doctor about vitamin D and Fish Oil if you are not taking them.

I specialize in prevention of chronic disease by helping patients achieve their health potential. I regularly use the testing mentioned above to thoroughly investigate and identify risk factors. I firmly believe that by identifying and managing these risk factors early, we can dramatically improve our mental and physical health to age gracefully.

Dr. Payton Robertson, ND

To learn more about Dr. Robertson, please click here to visit the Natura website.

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