Introducing Our New Expert Partner: Dr. Halland Chen, The Longevity Doctor

Dr. Halland Chen in a white suit jacket in front of a grey background

At Apollo Neuro, we’re committed to bringing you the most cutting-edge science from renowned experts in the fields of health, neuroscience, wellness, psychedelics, and more. Dr. Halland Chen, MD, Apollo’s newest expert partner, is an expert in longevity, stem cell research, anti-aging strategies, and innovative, non-invasive approaches to alleviate pain and recover from injury. Dr. Halland is dedicated to the pursuit of peak physical and mental performance, life extension, and the optimization of health through the reduction of inflammation, fortification of the immune system, and cellular detoxification. You can learn more about Dr. Halland’s practice here.

In this interview, Dr. Halland explains longevity, why sleep is so important, and his favorite ways to use the Apollo wearable. You can also catch him in our recent webinar, “Are Wearables the Answer to Today's Stress Epidemic?”. 

How do you define “longevity” and how did you decide to specialize in longevity in your practice? 

I believe longevity is the absence of disease or in some cases, the space in between peak performance and illness. When we think about optimizing one's health, it really is about not getting sick and about how to live a healthier, longer life. 

When we integrated longevity into our practice, it really came about because we were already helping patients and clients in the regenerative medicine world and then added on functional medicine, which addressed things like gut health, hormones, environmental toxins, and other things that would affect someone's overall health and well-being.

What is your definition of functional medicine? What about regenerative medicine? 

Functional medicine is the integrative approach when treating someone's health, and that involves addressing the gut microbiome, fixing the body's inflammation, detoxing the body from environmental toxins, and improving the immune system. I think in particular, functional medicine covers specialized testing, which includes stool analysis for microbiome, hormone assessment, stress management, neuroendocrine and hormone optimization, and other metabolic disease testing. 

In the realm of regenerative medicine, that is addressing the body's ability to heal itself, whether this is through improving the body's immune system, helping the body's cellular system have more energy to repair itself, such as mitochondria, function enhancement with NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) products and supplementation, and even some of the more experimental things which could be a cellular approach, which is becoming a hot area of research and interest.

What is your advice to someone who hasn’t taken good care of their health and is in their 30s or 40s.  

The best time to start is always now. And even if your body has been through a lot of damage, inflammation, or you've had a chronic medical illness, it's never too late to be proactive to address the current problem and reverse aging or at least slow down the progression using functional medicine, testing, supplementation interventions, and taking charge and implementing a positive lifestyle and set of habits that can improve your biomarkers and reduce the overall aging process and inflammation in your body. 

On the other hand, what are your words of wisdom for someone who has been eating well and exercising consistently but isn’t seeing results? 

Diet and exercise are very commonly thought as the key tools for preventative medicine and some aspects of functional medicine, but we now know that it also could revolve around the gut and the microbiome, which could have a dysbiosis which means there's an imbalance between good bacteria and bad bacteria. We also know that hormone imbalances can cause weight gain or resistance in weight loss. Also, diet and exercise may not be the only solution, especially if someone has a chronic medical condition, such as a metabolic condition or something affecting their body's ability to metabolize things properly. So with weight loss and improving one's health, it really is important to approach it from a functional medicine and regenerative medicine approach with testing to confirm or come to a conclusion on a particular trend or diagnosis that may be the underlying problem.

What are three simple tips we can implement today to improve our longevity? 

Some of the most effective tips for longevity are often overlooked because of how simple they are, but not always common sense. 

The top three things I always recommend are:

  1. Sleep. Especially focusing on deep sleep and having enough adequate total hours of sleep. 
  2. Daily movement and exercise. Whether or not it's going to the gym a few times per week or it's simply walking ten to 15 minutes per day, movement and building muscle mass has been proven to be a very excellent indicator of overall health and longevity. 
  3. Nutrition and supplementation. Food is medicine, and even more importantly, supplementation on any of our micronutrient deficiencies or adding on additional longevity enhancing supplements, which may not exist in high quantities in our food, is an easy and effective way to boost our body's overall health, energy, metabolism, and overall function.

Why is focusing on sleep important when it comes to longevity? 

Focusing on sleep is a very important aspect of longevity because in particular, deep sleep has huge benefits in terms of helping the body produce adequate hormones for recovery and repair. It likewise helps flush the brain of toxins through a process using the glymphatics. And sleep is also important in order to have the proper energy, mood and mindset, because feeling rested contributes to an overall sense of well being and happiness. Likewise, having enough adequate sleep is very important in hormone balance and maintenance of proper neuroendocrine function

How do you use your Apollo wearable most often? Any favorite Vibes? 

My favorite settings to use on the Apollo wearable are Vibes that give me energy, focus, and help me relax. In particular, I like the Power Nap Vibe especially midday, to feel energized when I may feel like I’m going to crash. Focus Vibe helps jump start my system without feeling overly stimulated. It allows me to skip a morning coffee and just get to work. And I use the Recover  post-workout because for me, recovery is equally as important as having energy and focus.  

How does getting out of “fight or flight” using the Apollo wearable help to prevent/slow aging? 

One of the number one causes of aging is stress, because stress ages the body by throwing it out of balance and can affect our hormone levels, our happiness, and can influence inflammation greatly.

Similarly, using the Apollo device, especially in the Calm Vibe and Unwind Vibe, can be very helpful to reduce stress, which gets your body out of fight and flight, and more into a rest and digest mode. This overall means we have improved and higher HRV, which is an overall sign of improved longevity. Because you're no longer in fight or flight, your body's more in parasympathetic.

What is a personal health goal you have for yourself for this year?

My overall goals usually revolve around fitness and improving my biomarkers that are in the abnormal range. Typically, it's usually something involving my microbiome because I often get quite a bit of leaky gut due to food, especially because I enjoy eating quite a bit, and that causes inflammation, especially sensitivities to gluten. And related to that, I would say I have a few fitness goals because I'm trying harder to become more competitive in the gym by lifting heavier weights and having a certain amount of cardio reserve so that eventually one day I might train for some sort of competition runs.