June 25, 2021

Routine Blood Work to Lengthen Health Span?

The Mainstream Medical Model

The definition of the current mainstream medical model in the US is as follows. “A system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery. Also called allopathic medicine, biomedicine, conventional medicine, orthodox medicine, and Western medicine.” This system is largely used to treat those who are already sick. Many of the causes of disease are from poor lifestyle choices. Some examples of lifestyle diseases include atherosclerosis, heart disease, obesity, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, as well as diseases associated with smoking, alcohol, and drug abuse.

Preventative Medicine Requires a Proactive Approach

So often, we will not go to the doctor until something is wrong, and symptoms emerge. By this time, the process of disease has already started. Mabey even a decade prior, but you didn’t know because you choose not to get regular checkups. If you want to prevent disease, you have to have preemptive measures set in place. Examples of these are the flu shot, a colonoscopy, regular exercise, and routine bloodwork. The flu shot may prevent contracting the flu. A routine colonoscopy may catch a polyp before it has become cancerous. Regular exercise is essential preventative care and has too many disease prevention benefits to list. Finally, comprehensive routine bloodwork can help you catch, identify and track trends that may lead to disease if left unchecked.

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Routine Blood Work as Preventative Medicine

Routine Blood Work can help your Doctor identify abnormal levels and stop trends forming in the wrong direction. This can help treat the disease before it gets out of control.

  • A1C
    • This marker essentially tells you how at-risk you are for developing type 2 diabetes. If you are trending high here, think about starting an exercise program that involves strength and cardiovascular training. Also, reduce your total sugar intake. Carbohydrates that have no fiber in them are the worst offenders. A diet that is mostly whole foods (fruit, veg, and meat) will do the trick here.
  • Thyroid Panel
    • Your Thyroid is responsible for how your metabolism is functioning. If it is too low, you may have symptoms such as fatigue, feeling cold all the time, weight gain, and hair/skin dryness. You may experience hyperactivity, persistent sweating, underweight, mood swings, and insomnia if too high. Think of your thyroid as the body’s thermostat. You want it just right for optimal function. Selenium, Iodine, and Omega 3’s found in food help to support Thyroid function. Incorporate foods such as salted nuts, roasted seaweed, fatty fish, dairy, and eggs to assist your thyroid.
  • Lipid Panel
    • Your lipid panel will show your total cholesterol and your low and high-density lipoproteins. Cholesterol levels are an important marker of heart and blood vessel health. Too high, and you increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Higher than normal levels can be indicative of poor nutritional habits and are also exacerbated by inactivity. We want to see total cholesterol below 200, LDL below 100, and HDL above 40. Generally speaking, the higher the HDL and lower the LDL, the better. Believe it or not, regular strength training can help boost HDL, and a mostly whole food diet of fruit, vegetables, and lean meat can help lower LDL. Start improving those lifestyle choices to improve your lipid markers.
  • Hormone levels
    • Hormones are the bedrock of human function. Normal levels are vital for optimal mood, physical function, and overall health. Some important hormones to check are
      • Estrogen: Controls sex drive in both men and women and regulates the menstrual cycle in women. When women reach menopause, they lose most of their estrogen production. When this happens, they become at higher risk for cardiovascular disease and gain weight in the midsection and back, similar to men.
      • Testosterone: Controls sex drive in both men and women, increases bone density, muscle mass and strength, deepening of the voice, and body hair growth. Too low here and you may notice fatigue, sexual dysfunction, and mood swings.
      • Cortisol: Controls stress. This is part of our flight or fight response and is a very vital hormone in short bursts. The problem here is when cortisol is being released all day due to chronic stress. This can lead to a body-wide pro-inflammatory state that contributes to a host of diseases such as atherosclerosis, stroke, weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
      • Leptin: controls appetite, signaling when you’re full. Have too much of this, and you will have trouble eating enough. Too little, and you will constantly be hungry, possibly leading to weight gain.
      • Ghrelin: controls appetite, signaling when you’re hungry. Have too much of this, and you will have constant hunger and gain weight. Not enough, and you will have trouble eating enough.
      • Insulin: The pancreas produces insulin in response to sugar in the blood. The more sugars you eat, the more insulin you will need. Out of control insulin production can eventually lead to Type 2 Diabetes.

In Summary

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it is a good place to start. You cannot optimize if you do not know something is wrong. Disease often will not show itself until it has taken hold in the body. By then, it may be too late. HealthSpan is about living as healthy as possible for as long as possible. This can only be done through self-examination of our current lifestyle choices and how they affect our long-term health. Routine blood work will help put you on the right track and identify trends before they become a problem. Contact your primary care doctor today and ask what blood work you should take to help you identify the steps needed to optimize your health.

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