You go to the doctor for a yearly exam, get your blood drawn and a week later you get an electronic notification saying your labs were all normal. Who wants to be ‘normal’? Normal in the US means overweight, diabetic, fatigued, and “adult ADHD” (ie: you dislike your job, feel like you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off and you are feeding your body foods that make it impossible to concentrate).
Getting regular labs run can tell you a lot about your health, and finding a doctor that understands functional lab ranges will allow you to take the steps to go from “normal” to “optimal”.
What is a function lab range?
Conventional medical doctors use lab ranges that tell you that you either have a disease or you do not. A lack of disease does not indicate health. Functional lab ranges are more specific and indicate the level that humans function at their highest potential.
So here it is, 7 reasons you should you run lab tests?
1. Test, don’t guess: Have you told your doctor that you are fatigued, can't concentrate, or have pain all of the time? They either do a quick physical exam and tell you everything is fine or they run a standard lab panel and tell you that all of your labs are normal. But what if your goal is wellness promotion and prevention? This is when naturopathic doctors come in! These doctors are trained in reading labs with functional ranges. They also understand how to convert your lab results into specific treatment plans tailored to your individual results. Without labs you are using a shot-gun approach, which can work sometimes but often takes longer to accomplish and can be more expensive in the long run.
2. So you have a baseline: Labs give you a baseline measure that you can quantitatively compare and track your health progress by. How you feel is often the most important factor but it is nice to have numbers to back-up your improvement and keep you on the right path.
3. Improved Energy Levels: Fatigue can be the result of suboptimal thyroid function, low testosterone (in women too), low cortisol levels, low iron, insulin resistance, and toxicity. These are all markers that can be tested in your blood or saliva to give you a better insight on how to improve your energy based on your own personal biochemistry.
4. Balance your hormones: Women: Having irregular cycles can make it more difficult to both prevent pregnancy as well as to get pregnant. This is also a sign that your hormones might not be in the optimal range. Women can get a simple blood test to see if their hormones are in the right ratio. You can also take it a step further and do the DUTCH cycle mapping test to see how your hormones change throughout your cycle. Men: it is not enough to just measure testosterone! Men can have imbalances in estrogen, DHT (sometimes a cause for male pattern hair loss) or elevated SHBG. SHBG, sex hormone binding globulin, binds testosterone so that it can not produce its effect on our cells, so elevated SHBG with normal testosterone levels can still present like low T.
5. Enhance your mood: Imbalances in sex-hormones (for men and women), altered thyroid hormone production, blood sugar instability, and nutrient deficiencies can all cause changes in mood. Some doctors hand out SSRIs like candy, but what if the anxiety or depression you are experiencing is not a prozac deficiency? A few examples of alternative causes for anxiety include hormonal imbalance (low progesterone), blood sugar instability, an MTHFR mutation (genetic mutation tested in blood or saliva), or over-production of thyroid hormone.
6. Anti-aging: when your doctor knows what labs to run, you can use this data to age gracefully. Inflammatory markers like hsCRP, homocysteine, and ferritin can tell you about the inflammatory state of your body. Inflammation is a common underlying factor for chronic disease thus reducing inflammation may help you to improve your health for the long term. A lipid panel in combination with inflammatory status and genetic markers can tell you a lot about your cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in the United States. So test! Know where you stand, and how to use prevention to age gracefully.
7. Improve your memory and focus: Prolonged high cortisol levels can cause degeneration (breakdown) of the hippocampus, the portion of the brain responsible for memory. Cortisol can be decreased with things like mind training, diet, and a variety of supplements like phosphatidylserine. But don’t guess, test!
If you live in California or Colorado, are curious about what your blood work looks like, and want to optimize your health contact us to schedule an appointment today!