Your lab tests may look “normal” according to the lab’s standards, but what does that really tell you about your health?
Every year, people flood their healthcare providers’ offices looking for preventative health testing to show their diet, exercise regimens, and supplements are keeping them healthy. They are often rewarded with a letter saying their lab tests are all “normal” and to come back in a year. But what does “normal” really mean? It turns out, not as much as you’d like it to.
Most healthcare providers interpret lab results based on the lab’s “normal” range. But did you know there is an abundance of evidence-based literature available that shows these normal ranges are NOT the optimal reference range, and there’s a better set of data that predicts the risk of underlying disease more accurately? And more importantly, does your healthcare provider know this and use it when interpreting your tests?
Let’s look at 3 of the most important tests you can get to determine your underlying health and risk of disease, and what the optimal results for these tests are.
Blood Chemistry: Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP or Chem 12)
These two tests not only tell you a lot about your health, but also will point to the need for more testing when values are abnormal. The first thing to take into consideration when looking at any blood test is how hydrated were you when you had the blood drawn?
People with chronic anemia are often overjoyed when they see a normal lab test, but it could be that they were in the middle of a heat wave and not drinking enough water to keep up with the body’s demands. When you are even slightly dehydrated, your blood becomes more concentrated, which means your lab tests will come back higher than they actually are.
Even though these lab tests are routine and commonly done, they are complex and can be difficult to interpret. Some simple things you can look for include a white blood cell count (WBC) that is low normal or slightly lower than normal, which can indicate an underlying chronic viral infection like Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is putting a strain on the immune system.
The normal range is typically 4 to 11, but anything under 5 can indicate a virus. And according to studies, when eosinophils – a type of white blood cell – are above 0.5, this is an indicator of parasites, allergies, and even leaky gut syndrome. All of these are signs you may benefit from a comprehensive colon cleanse that includes anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic herbs.
When looking at the CMP, the first thing you should look at is the fasting glucose level. If you were fasting at least 8 hours, the optimal range is very narrow, 82-88 mg/dL, according to several studies that have been done. The laboratory normal range is usually 70-100 mg/dL.
If you are outside the optimal range, then a low glycemic diet combined with moderate exercise help to lower blood sugar and bring it back in range. And for an extra boost, consider a supplement like our Weight Loss Formula that helps curb cravings and balance blood sugar.
The next values to look at on a CMP are AST and ALT, which are markers for liver function. These proteins are usually found inside a liver cell, but when there is damage, then they are released into the bloodstream. The laboratory normal ranges are usually 10-40 for AST and 7-56 for ALT.
The medical literature shows the optimal ranges are 10-15 for AST and 12-15 for ALT, and a ratio can be calculated based off the values. When ALT is significantly higher than AST, the ratio is less than 1, which is a sign of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
If this is the case for you, I strongly recommend researching the Fatty Liver Index and calculating your score, to get a more accurate idea of your risk of NAFLD, and add choline to your diet and supplement regimen.
There’s so much more that can be said about these valuable blood chemistry panels, but it also can get very complicated. Fortunately, this is where the Intermountain Risk Score comes in, and unfortunately, many healthcare providers aren’t even aware that this valuable evidence-based tool exists.
The Intermountain Risk Score calculator uses specific values from your CBC and CMP to determine your all-cause mortality (which is your risk of dying from any disease) for 30 days, 1 year, and 5 years, and is based on data from tens of thousands of research participants.
Your blood tests may look pretty good, and you may exercise, eat the foods you think are healthy, and take all the supplements you’ve been recommended, yet you may be shocked to find you have a higher than normal 5-year mortality rate.
Fasting Insulin – Not Just for Diabetics
You’re familiar with fasting blood glucose, but have you heard of fasting insulin? When your sugar metabolism is functioning normally, you eat a meal and your blood sugar rises, then insulin rises to escort glucose into your cells to be used as energy. Once the job is done, within 2 hours insulin and blood sugar should go back down to normal, fasting levels.
When you are taking in more sugar and carbs than you need, your body will store the excess in fat cells and you gain weight. The first tissue that becomes insulin resistant is your muscles, which is why exercise improves insulin sensitivity. When you become insulin resistant, more insulin is needed to get sugar into your cells, and it stays high for longer periods of time.
Insulin resistance is the precursor to many chronic diseases, including metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. The laboratory normal range for a fasting insulin test is 2.6-24.9, but the true optimal range is less than 5.
The lab gets it’s normal range from research done on diabetics, not on the population as a whole. Anything over 5 is an indication your cells are becoming resistant and when combined with triglyceride testing, BMI (Body Mass Index), and blood pressure, a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome can be made, which means you are headed for chronic disease.
High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP or Cardio CRP) as a Marker of Inflammation
There are multiple types of C-Reactive Protein tests being done, and the high sensitivity CRP is an early marker of systemic inflammation that alerts you to looming health issues like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, macular degeneration, and declining cognitive ability faster than other CRP tests can. According to several studies, by itself, the hsCRP is an accurate predictor of cardiovascular disease – even in someone with no history of it.
Even if you feel like you are the picture of perfect health, be sure to have the hsCRP test done to make sure you don’t have underlying inflammation waiting to develop into disease. The laboratory normal range is 0-3mg/dL, and is the same for men and women. However, according to research, the optimal range for men should be less than 0.55mg/dL and less than 1.5mg/dL for women.
Your first line of protection is to increase nitric oxide to improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and lower your hsCRP. Foods that help your body make more nitric oxide include beets, leafy greens, grass-fed meats, garlic, citrus fruits, nuts and seeds (and their oils), pomegranate, and dark chocolate. To make it easy for you, Ann Louise Gittleman has incorporated all of these powerful foods into her best-selling new Radical Metabolism plan.
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