Do You Understand Your Test Results?

Welcome to the weekend - let's get this ball rolling and focus on a topic I deal with daily in clinic.

Many of my patients have tests performed by their doctors but few can relay what they are being tested for, why, what the results are and how they relate back to everyday life.  I find this is crucial information and its lack of explanation in lay terms is quite concerning as I am sure most of my patients do want to understand what is going on in their body.

Being in charge of a body is tricky business - it can be quite the mystery so when it shows up some signs, symptoms and results, you really do want to be able to determine how to approach these in light of all of these put together, not just as separate findings.  Some times a test result will show some concerning information, but your body will not reveal signs or symptoms indicating it is suffering despite that chemistry, and the opposite is also often true. Regardless of this, you - the custodian of this body - needs to know how to eat, move, medicate and supplement to balance everything back out again.

So how do you understand  your test results? First and foremost - I highly recommend asking your GP for a copy of the results for your own records. That way, if you seek a second opinion elsewhere or need to see a specialist, you can be assured all of the relevant results are handed on.

If your GP doesn't have time to spend in explaining what these values mean, then it is time to find someone who can, and who can interpret them in terms of your lifestyle, dietary choices and of course your medication/supplementation.  Being armed with this information can be very useful, and understanding when and where to be focusing your time and attention with your health.

For example your total cholesterol values is an overall reading of high and low density lipids which are not all bad news - high density lipids (HDL) are protective and low density lipids (LDL) are atherogenic or potentially problematic.  You really do need to dig a little deeper into this reading for example to find out if your findings are protective or problematic. Did you know that eating eggs isn't going to hike your cholesterol up?  They contain lecithin as well in the yolk, which is a great balancer of this important nutrient for health. Yes, cholesterol is a vital and important nutrient - the protective type that is.

Liver enzymes are also a great indicator of your health status, but not just in the liver.  Certain enzymes when elevated indicate recent damage, and others represent longer term damage and possibly in other areas like the heart,

Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) only gives you part of the thyroid health picture - rarely is the health of the thyroid measured against the other thyroid related hormones (T3, T4, reverse T3 and Iodine).  Without more information, having medication prescribed based on TSH alone, is an incomplete picture.  The most common thyroid problems can be turned around with iodine and liver support.

Vitamin D3 is often tested now these days, but a sufficient level is suggested at over 75 nmol/L, however your body really needs to be generally operating at a reading of at least 100 nmol/L to be putting this important nutrient/hormone to work in protecting from autoimmune disease, cancer cell mutation, cardiovascular health and bone mineralisation.

Uric acid and creatinine levels are a great indicator of how well your kidneys are coping with its job of filtration and may also be indicative of potential issues around joint pain and stiffness.  A simple practice of mindful hydration, and increasing alkalising vegetables like celery and cucumber may alleviate irregularities in this area.

Not only are these values important to understand, their ranges are also noteworthy.  For instance, your GP may say your liver enzymes are within range, but I always check to see how close they are at butting up against the range, same with historical cholesterol levels.  You may be in range this year and last year, but if you are creeping up to the higher end of the cholesterol acceptable range, you really need some guidance in how to prevent that from going further.  There could be clues here in the amount of cholesterol your body needs to make for stress hormone production...just saying.

Remember - these are your results and indicators that YOUR body is telling stories about, if you don't fully understand those values and how it translates to your lifestyle, keep an eye out for our workshop coming up on unravelling these and many other common test results...


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