Blood says a lot about a person. Sounds a bit strange, but it's true. As a health care provider, I interpret many of the nutritional aspects of a blood panel and earlier this month I took this knowledge to another level and completed a 12-hour blood chemistry course! Although there's far too much information to regurgitate here, I would like to share a few important points about blood testing.
Your Last Blood Test?
Can't remember the last time you had a comprehensive blood test? It's time to get it done! Blood chemistry can tell us a great deal about our health, and it's crucial to get your results analyzed by a skilled practitioner. Unfortunately, most doctors simply don't have time to thoroughly analyze test results and discuss them with their patients. Many doctors also miss or ignore key "markers" on these important tests, potentially compromising our health.
What are key markers? These are individual components within larger categories that make up the structure and chemistry of our blood.The categories typically included in a standard blood test are things like lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides) liver enzymes, blood cell counts (red, white, platelets) thyroid hormones, etc.
Reading Test Results
One of the issues with doctors reading results is that conventional lab ranges are not only based on a vary wide bell curve, but they also vary from lab to lab and region to region! This is where a "functional range" comes into play for practitioners such as myself to narrow the bell curve. The functional ranges show more appropriate numbers for healthy populations and can reveal underlying causes of symptoms and disease.
What The Numbers Can Reveal
This is quite a discussion so for now, I will use just one example to explain the difference between a standard lab range and a functional range for key markers within a category. Are you with me? OK, so let's look at "lipids". A lipid panel on a blood test looks at cholesterol and triglycerides - which are specific types of fats in the blood. Triglycerides are a "key marker" for inflammation and cardiovascular disease so I'm always interested in this number on a test. One standard lab range for triglycerides is 0-149 which means if your number is above 149 it's then too high, and zero? That's actually ridiculous. A person would never have zero triglycerides! So, the functional range for triglycerides is 70-100. If a person has numbers outside this range, there is an imbalance there. I don't like to see triglycerides above 100. Too many triglycerides in the blood means there's an overload of carbohydrates in the diet, (this is inflammatory and a cardiovascular risk). If I see the number just above 100 I can work with the person to get the carbohydrates down in the diet and this usually works quickly. If the range is much greater, this minor imbalance is missed and ultimately much harder to resolve. You can see how this would work with other key markers like thyroid and liver numbers.
Markers May Be Missed
A wider range means less sensitivity, a much "looser' look at imbalance, and the potential to miss many key markers. Sure makes sense to me, how about you? Well, in any case, I hope I've helped you look at blood testing with a new perspective. If you'd like to learn more, please be in touch! You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In good health,
San Francisco Nutritional Therapy