Lab Tests: Do You Know Your Numbers?
Have you ever asked yourself, “What can I do to feel and look better? How can I improve my health and longevity?” To answer those questions, you need to know your numbers!
Particularly as we age, knowing our blood pressure, our weight, and our cholesterol numbers is important. But in order to better understand your health, you need to get the full picture. Our blood provides a readily accessible and comprehensive view of what is really going on inside our bodies.
The information from these tests can help you find out if your body is functioning optimally or what organs or systems might need nutritional support. A skilled nutrition consultant can help you consider your lab test results from a nutritional perspective. The numbers may indicate signs of nutrient depletion or the effects of some condition or use of medications. As a nutrition consultant, I can help you better understand your current state of health and offer dietary suggestions to help you improve the way you look and feel.
Be a pro-active patient and ask your doctor for the lab tests described in this article. You can also order these tests on the Internet through personalized direct lab testing companies such as Direct Labs and Accesa Labs.
The most commonly ordered lab tests, the standard blood chemistry panel and complete blood count with differential, provide a wealth of information for you and your healthcare team. These are broad screening tools that test for a wide range of conditions and diseases. Taking these tests on a regular basis (at least annually) will enable you to monitor the effectiveness of any health plan.
These tests provide important information about the status of your liver and kidneys, as well as the electrolytes, blood sugar, and acid/base balance of your blood. They also check your white blood cells for information about the functioning of your immune system, the red blood cells that transport nutrients and oxygen throughout the body, and the platelets that are vital for normal blood clotting.
Blood test results can identify critical changes in the metabolic functioning of your body before they manifest as diseases, like cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. This information is extremely significant for all of us.
Other additional blood tests that I often recommend to my clients especially if they have a family history or current experience of diabetes or pre-diabetes, obesity, or heart disease include:
- Fasting Insulin – more important than even serum glucose testing. Insulin is the fat storage hormone.
- NMR LipoProfile – This test replaces the outdated Lipid Profile. A number of recent studies have implicated the number and size of LDL particles as more predictive of the overall risk of heart disease, even if the LDL itself is normal. Your results will also show your Insulin Resistance Score (LP-IR) to assess for possible diabetes risk.
- C-Reactive Protein, High Sensitivity – a marker for hidden inflammation that is associated with overall cardiovascular health.
- Homocysteine – an amino acid that can lead to increased sticky platelet buildup in blood vessels contributing to cardiovascular disease.
- Serum Fibrinogen – a protein that determines the stickiness of platelets which contribute to blood clotting. This number needs to be balanced to ensure optimal blood circulation.
- Serum Ferritin (Iron) – recent studies have shown that abnormally high levels of ferritin could lead to coronary artery disease and heart attacks.
Blood Testing is Important!
Annual blood testing is one of the most important investments in your health that you can make. It could be the first step in your journey to optimal health. So know your numbers!