Previously by Margaret Durst: Healthy New Year's Resolutions
Regular Blood Work
Ranges for blood chemistry are good indicators of our health. Regular blood work is beneficial in that it is a good screen for diseases and it records health markers at given times so that a history is established. Blood work can also help indicate nutritional and functional status.
I like to use blood work preventively. I have heard many times “my blood work is all normal” – this is great, it means you do not have a diagnosable disease, but it doesn’t guarantee that you are in good health. I like to look at blood ranges with the word “optimal” in mind. In other words, standard ranges for blood chemistry tend to be fairly wide. When the ranges are narrowed, they can help pinpoint deficiencies and/or functional problems that can be addressed with nutrition.
Standard blood work can give information about nutritional intake, digestion, mineral balance, essential fatty acid deficiencies, blood sugar handling, hydration, hormone balance, immune status, liver function and kidney function. In most cases, health problems do not develop overnight and using regular blood work as a preventive tool tells you what areas to target and if the things you are doing are working.
Abnormal blood chemistry usually indicates and underlying functional issue. For example, high triglyceride and cholesterol levels are typically used as markers for cardiovascular risk, but they also can indicate deficiencies of essential fatty acids, blood sugar issues, liver dysfunction and thyroid problems.
Blood sugar is a good area to focus on. Standard lab ranges are 70-99 for fasting glucose. I think a better target range is 80-90. On the high side, or over 90, there will be problems with cholesterol and triglycerides. The standard medical care is to prescribe a cholesterol lowering medication; however, it would be much more healthful in the long run to lower blood sugar with diet and exercise. These lifestyle changes would not only lower cholesterol and triglycerides, but they would also make you healthier and less likely to incur more health problems down the road.
The low side of the blood sugar range has different issues. From 70-80, the body is having blood sugar handling issues, but the body over lowers to the point of going too low with symptoms of dizziness, headaches and getting weak when a meal is missed. This issue tends to turn into diabetes if not addressed with lifestyle and nutrition changes.
Thyroid problems are another area where nutrition tends to work well when the problems are not “clinical”. The ranges of the blood chemistries can help reveal if the thyroid problem is related to deficiencies of essential minerals and vitamins, pituitary gland issues, and/or interference from substances in drinking water or diet. Many times the thyroid issues can be resolved without having to resort to hormones.
The goal of using blood work in this manner is to promote health. From my perspective, it is better to solve the underlying issue than to just take a pill that handles the symptoms. I believe that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
For those of you interested in getting your blood tested at reasonable prices, Health Check will be in Mason at The Green House on Tuesday, January 17th. For more information, call us at 325-347-6040.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas.