Functional Medicine and Phase Angle


By Nancy Smorch

As I mentioned, last week I went for my six-week follow-up at the Functional Medicine practitioner. They re-ran a Bio Impedance Analysis (BIA) to see how my results compared to those from 6 weeks ago.

The biggest thing that stands out for me, and has been on my mind quite a bit since I received my results, is what is called phase angle. Phase angle is a measurement of cell size and speed at which cell generation occurs. You want this number to be higher - the higher the number, the less “aging” is occurring. You definitely want this number to be above 5 (less than that, and more cells are dying off than are regenerating). My number was way too low, as far as I’m concerned.

Phase angle is also an indication of the health of the body’s cell membranes. A lower number indicates that the cell membrane may be leaking the cell’s contents. This would make sense for me, because when you look at my numbers for extracellular water vs. intracellular water, mine are the reverse of what they should be. You want the measurement of the water inside the cell to be higher than the measurement outside the cell, and mine is the other way around.

This makes me wonder if there’s some sort of connection - leaky gut, leaky cells. Hmmm…

So my immediate question was: what can I do to increase the phase angle number?

My doctor said that would be lifestyle choices - meaning taking better care of myself in terms of more yoga, meditation, dealing with stress more effectively, doing more things for myself, having more fun, more nights out with friends, and so on.  Hard work, I know!

However, this really got me thinking about my priorities and how I go about my life. I try to pack a lot into each day, as most people do, and that is perfectly fine. I think what I need to focus on is being more consistent with doing things for myself that are good for me and that nurture me.

If I had to pick the top 3 priorities that I need to make a habit, it would be some sort of intense cardio workout at least twice a week, meditating every day for at least 10 minutes, and a consistent yoga practice (more walks, barefoot on the beach, certainly wouldn’t hurt either!).

I know I’ve talked about primary foods and secondary foods before, and this falls right in line with this understanding of both. Secondary foods, again, are the actual foods we eat. Primary foods are: exercise, spirituality, work/career, and relationships. You can eat all of the “right” foods you want, but if your secondary foods are out of balance, you still may experience challenges with your health.

I have 6 weeks until my next appointment with the Functional Medicine practitioner, and thus 6 weeks to work on raising my phase angle number.

What will I be doing between now and then?

Doing Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s 30 Day Meditation Challenge (which is going on now), and then continuing with their other meditation programs.

For cardio: P90X2 Plyocide (ouch!), Brazilian Butt Lift cardio, and I will work towards building my stamina for P90X1 Plyometrics (I’ll know I’ve succeeded on the P90X1 when I don’t feel like I’m going to pass out!).

Doing yoga at least 4 times a week - most likely through the site My Yoga Works (a small monthly membership fee gives you access to a ton of online yoga videos that you can pick and choose based on length of workout, level, body parts, intentions, etc.).

So, there you have it: part of my “prescription” for the next 6 weeks!

I just wanted to share this with you to give you, perhaps, a new tool to measure your health, and (more importantly) a wake-up call: no matter how well you eat, you still need to take care of other areas of your life to achieve optimal health!