Dr. Ben Valdecañas & the secret to wellness
When the Aegle Wellness Center at The City Club in Alphaland, Makati City was launched two years ago, one of the challenges was to change the mindset of people who equate “wellness” with facilities that offer spa, salon and similar aesthetic services.
But thanks in large part to Dr. Benedict Francis Valdecañas, the medical director of Aegle, many are beginning to realize that the real concept of wellness is not simply the absence of disease, but the feeling of being alive with one’s mind, body and spirit nurtured through sustainable healthcare programs.
A well-known authority in regenerative medicine and a specialist in anti-aging and preventive medicine, Dr. Ben says, that genetically speaking, the body is designed to live up to 150 years. However, people have reduced this life expectancy to half because of unhealthy lifestyle, taking their bodies for granted.
“It’s the food that we eat; sometimes we can’t help it because we don’t even know what we are eating. We are exposed to environmental toxins, plus we don’t allow ourselves to get enough rest to regenerate,” he explains.
Dr. Ben believes that the body can “heal itself” if people allow it to, which is why a big thrust of Aegle Wellness Centers (there is also one at the Mykonos Village at the Balesin Island Club) is patient/client education, with lay forums for wellness talks conducted every month. Of course, the state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge technology of Aegle are devoted to the maintenance of one’s health.
Take for instance the hyperbaric chamber that provides high-concentration and high-pressure oxygen therapy that helps the body repair and regenerate, especially since the body wears down with age and thus, parts of it need more oxygen than usual.
According to Dr. Ben, who took his postgraduate training in Hyperbaric Medicine at Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, hyperbaric medicine back in the ‘90s was “meant for specific diseases like diabetic gangrene or decompression sickness, and also used for tissue regeneration for burns. Today, however, we found out that all diseases can benefit from it, including cancer.”
He also points to the importance of preventive medicine in healing, getting to the root cause of the problem and teaching a patient what he can do to keep himself healthy instead of simply prescribing medication for the symptoms. “There is primary prevention, which is when there is no illness yet, and there’s secondary prevention when a patient has already been diagnosed with an illness like hypertension or diabetes. Our job in preventive medical practice is to teach our patients what to do so that their diabetes or hypertension does not progress,” he says.
In fact, even insulin-dependent diabetics have been weaned from taking insulin shots through diet modification and lifestyle changes in terms of exercise and physical activity. “Of course they have to maintain oral anti-diabetic medication but eventually, I believe that they can also be weaned off as long as they are very strict with their diet,” he notes.
Describing himself as “a true green-blooded La Sallite,” who finished college in UP Diliman, Dr. Ben could have chosen to practice in the US given his impressive string of credentials in the area of sports medicine and orthopedics with fellowships and postgraduate degrees obtained abroad. But he chose to come back to share what he has learned and serve fellow Filipinos.
His training in regenerative medicine at Emory College in Georgia, for example, has convinced him that humans can regenerate if they get enough sleep, have a good diet, engage in regular exercise and take supplementation, which are the foundations for a lifestyle for wellness that Aegle espouses.
“We look at things in a much deeper way. When you have an executive check-up in hospitals, they only get your blood chemistry. But as aging individuals, our hormones change with age, so we at Aegle conduct routine hormone assays. We examine hormone levels and balance, we take a look at your gut flora, gut biosys,” Dr. Ben explains, adding that a patient’s needs are addressed in a “mind-body-spirit axis” — which is one of the many reasons that makes Aegle Wellness Center distinct.
“Our passion is actually empowering our patients and clients to take their health in their own hands. We see ourselves as only the catalyst in changing the practice of medicine, and the view of people about health, and how they can safeguard it,” Dr. Ben concludes.