Ten very good reason to check our blood on a regular basis
1. Blood Tests Are a Reliable Data Point for Your Health and Wellness
The biggest benefit I think for regular blood testing is that it provides a reliable data point for measuring your health and wellness. There is a never-ending cycle of so-called what’s best for your health. From super foods and diets to exercise and everything in between, it can be confusing to know what is best. Fortunately, your blood can provide data on your health and wellness. You can then use it to see if there are any issues and optimize for self-improvement.
2. Diagnose Disease
Prevention and early detection are two best ways to deal with any range of diseases, including cancer. Blood tests are not perfect ways to find all diseases, but many diseases can be found via blood tests. Moreover, trends in various blood Biomarkers can indicate underlying problems and lead to more tests that do find the problem or disease. No one wants to get a disease, but early diagnosis can make a difference in your treatment and blood tests can provide that information.
3. Check Your Metabolism to Determine If You Are Diabetic or Pre-Diabetic
Diabetes is one of the major health problems facing us individual and as a society. In “The Blood Code,” Dr. Richard Maurer uses blood tests to help us understand our health. As he writes, “your blood tests are a window into your metabolism—the chemical processes of your body.” In the book he goes on to share how certain blood tests can help you understand if you are diabetic, pre-diabetic or have a healthy metabolism. Furthermore, he dives into how various lifestyle interventions like diet and exercise can be implemented to improve your metabolism and how you can use blood tests to track the effectiveness of the treatment.
4. Checking Your Functional Organ Health: Liver
One of the key functions of your liver is breaking down different toxins, drugs and hormone products. Your liver is a kind of detoxification system. Problems in your liver can be seen in your blood tests. Specifically, build up and abnormal levels of protein, albumin, globulin, albumin/globulin ratio, bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, lactic dehydrogenase (LDH), AST (SGOT), ALT (SGPT), iron, cholesterol, and lipoproteins could all indicate potential problems with your liver.
5. Checking Your Functional Organ Health: Kidney
Your kidneys are part of the urinary system and help regulate your blood. For example, your kidney’s regulate blood pressure, pH level, mineral concentration and water composition of the blood. Your kidneys are responsible for filtering and removing waste (especially urea) from your blood, which, in turn, gets eliminated with water as urine. The health and function of your kidneys can be seen by evaluating your blood and checking blood urea nitrogen (BUN) as well as uric acid, creatinine, BUN/creatinine ratio, sodium, potassium, and chloride ions. By checking your blood, you can see signs of renal failure or poor drug interactions causing kidney issues.
6. Optimal Hormone Levels for Healthy Men and Women
There are several important hormones in our body that regular blood tests can help us optimize. For example, some notable hormones are Testosterone, Progesterone, DHEA-S, and Estradiol among others. Yearly blood tests of certain hormones can indicate negatively or positive trending changes as well as provide context for health and wellness problems. For example, research has indicated a relationship between lower levels of bioavailable free testosterone and depression in men as well as correlations with diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, if you don’t do regular blood tests, it’s difficult to see your current results in relation to historical hormone levels. So it’s recommended to get these checked yearly.
7. Homocysteine and Risk of Coronary Artery Disease and Stroke
Research has shown that elevated homocysteine levels in your blood indicate a higher risk factor for coronary artery disease and stroke as well as increased depression and increase in bone fractures. During the metabolism of methionine, which can be found in certain foods, an amino acid called homocysteine is created. Using cysteine and other bodily processes and according to availability of certain vitamins and your genetics, your body can normally breakdown homocysteine. If there are issues, your body and blood build up higher levels of homocysteine. Fortunately, by tracking this Biomarker, you can take steps to improve your homocysteine level with supplements, medicines or lifestyle interventions.
8. Elevated Inflammation and C-reactive protein
Inflammation is a complex biological process where your body responds to something harmful. The function of inflammation is to remove an injury or damage in the body and its cells. In the short-term inflammation is a normal process, but long-term, elevated levels of inflammation can indicate problems like atherosclerosis, heart disease, arthritis, autoimmune conditions and even cancer. Blood tests looking at C-reactive protein (CRP), a sensitive marker of systemic inflammation, have become increasingly popular. Various studies have shown how CRP can be used as a predictor of coronary heart disease and other diseases of the cardiovascular system. For athlete, especially endurance athletes, C-reactive protein (CRP) has emerged as a test to check on systematic over training.
9. Address Small Imbalances Before They Become Large Problems
While blood tests often are used when looking at diseases, I believe the benefit of regular blood tests comes from noticing small changes sooner. Instead of waiting for major issues, your blood tests can indicate small imbalances before they become major issues. You can take steps to manage your health, wellness and performance by leveraging the information your blood tests provide.
10. Your Blood As Your Health Yardstick
By regularly getting blood tests, you can be proactive about your health. You can use your blood tests as a “yardstick” to understand ongoing changes in your blood. Your blood tests provide access to a series of Biomarkers that you can use to look at your changes across time. Specifically, according your health history and interventions like fitness, supplements and medicines, you can put changes in context. Your blood tests can help you chart progress. We can go beyond treating disease and optimize for better health and performance. Your blood work can help you take positive steps towards self-improvement. Don’t treat disease. Optimize for health.
There is still a lot of ground to cover about blood and blood testing. This first post was largely an introduction focused on the benefits of blood testing and some specific things to look for. In future posts we will be going into more detail on some of these topics, including the best blood tests, reading your lab results and tracking your blood results. I also want to look more at some key Biomarkers in the blood. Finally, we will return to my main focus which is using blood testing, tracking and data to become data-driven or at least data-informed about our health and lifestyle choices.
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