Have you ever wondered how healthy you really are?
Wish you could do a full blown ‘MOT’ of sorts, to see what is going on inside? As we age, our curiosity generally increases. Maybe it’s a bunch of symptoms you’re living with, or perhaps you’re becoming focussed on increasing quality of life as well as a healthy lifespan.
A Full Blood Panel is a Start
Honestly, there is so much more to evaluate regarding health, wellness and quality of life than a bunch of blood markers. Especially given that there is a ton of debate on both the reliability of one-off serum measurements as well as what ranges are actually indicative of good health, taking into account your unique lifestyle and biology.
That said, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. A full blood panel can give some interesting insights, as well as helping you test the cause and effect of your lifestyle and nutrition on your body.
It’s never been easier to seek this level of insight. Instead of relying on your national health care service provider to reluctantly test you for specific conditions based on your symptoms, you can now privately order broad blood tests online.
I’ve used medichecks.com which offers a huge variety of blood panels and a convenient home kit or local phlebotomy visit based on the test. Results are ready online after a just a few days. Cost is reasonable. There are a bunch of other providers based on your country – a quick google search will bring them right up for you.
For me, I’ve performed microbiome tests, various blood tests, glucose monitoring, personality tests, strengths assessments, and generally have an acute awareness of my body composition, performance and recovery metrics.
I also evaluate my lifestyle choices and actions, to make sure I am doing what I can to live optimally. Feeling great is a pretty good indicator of health too, so I do my best to listen to my body.
Takeaways from Last Years Blood Panel
Getting back to Blood tests, here’s my 2018 full blood panel, inclusive of my assessment and interpretation of the results, as well as areas of improvement:
What Issues Came Up in 2018?
- Beta Thalassaemia – see the write up on Thalassaemia in last years bloods
- Low Testosterone for my age – see write up on Low Testosterone in last years bloods
- Borderline Low Vitamin D Levels – see write up on Low Vitamin D in last years bloods
What Lifestyle Changes Have I Made?
In the spirit of optimising and and looking to lead an increasing better life, change is a constant. Since my last bloods, these were the changes I made
- Enjoying a Low Carb diet of sub 10-15% kcal from carbs per day
- Materially increased my quality Red Meat intake
- Embraced Animal-Based Nutrition across the board (check out Meat-Dominant diet)
- Markedly reduced my intake of Plants and Fibre (from IIFYM+ Thrive to Meat-Dominant diet)
- Improved Sleep Quality through various changes
- Dropped Oxalate consumption from 1350mg to 150mg per day (see Oxalate podcast)
- Amped up my exposure to Sun and more nature walks a week (see Vit D article)
- Changes supplements, and generally taking much less than before (see supplement list)
What Things Stayed The Same?
- Strength Training 4-5x a week, even week (exc. deload weeks)
- Avoidance of Gluten and Seed oils for the most part
- Negligible processed or fast food
- Low amounts of daily Coffee
- Low amounts of sweet food – e.g. Cakes, Sweets and Fruit
My 2019 Blood Panel Results
I ordered the Ultimate Performance Blood Test, which includes 57 tests and costs £199.
To help best understand what you get, I’ll be sharing my complete results across all markers below. Nothing to hide – unless you can fake my identity with this intel… 😉
These results come with the healthy ranges for each test, and where the results sits on the spectrum. By themselves, you miss a lot of extra context, so you need to peer into each of the results and look at the technical report offered by the service provider.
As the conclusions and interpretation of results are usually more interesting that the data itself, let’s go through that first…
Pretty ‘Bloody’ Good – I’d say!
To be fair, I was expecting a good result. That said, the results were more encouraging than I hoped, which really talks to the power of well-considered lifestyle and nutrition interventions.
THE GREAT RESULTS
My Meat-Dominant Diet with the other lifestyle adjustments are working really well for me, contrary to what institutional recommendations and media propaganda suggest.
Some positive highlights include:
- Corrected Testosterone & lower SHBG – This is huge, especially given my body goals! I am now in normal range, after many years being clinically low on T. Lower SHBG also means there is more Free Testosterone available.
- Great Vit D & B12 – Both are high, with B12 out of range. More Sun, animal-nutrition and some supplementation did the trick. I’ll drop the multivitamin now.
- Low Insulin levels – This indicates great metabolic health and no risk of diabetes when combined with healthy HBA1C.
- Negligible Inflammation – excessive inflammation is a key indicator of disease and your body fighting something. In spite of lots of training, my inflammation is barely detectable.
- Great Immune Health – White Blood Cells are strong with healthy and active defence. No indication of fighting inflections, autoimmunity, inflammation or disease.
- Healthy Cholesterol Profile for a Fat Adapted Low Carb Diet – An expected profile given a low carb diet approach. All in good healthy range, with strong metabolic health.
- Great Iron Levels – In spite of having Beta Thalassaemia, iron levels are topped up, including healthy ferritin levels.
- Healthy Thyroid with no Autoimmunity – Thyroid function is healthy and no immune attack on this metabolically regulating gland. However, I speculate I may have a slightly overactive thyroid.
- Healthy Hormones – All hormones are in good order, including Cortisol, LH, Oestrogen and DHEA Sulphate. Hormones are critical to healthy bodily function.
- Good Kidney & Liver Health – Creatinine is dropped into reference range, with Urea slightly above the healthy range. Given my vigorous training schedule, this is a normal Kidney profile. Liver seems to be in good shape, albeit continued elevation of ALT (see below).
AREAS FOR CONCERN / IMPROVEMENT
#1: ALT – ALT is an enzyme mostly found in the Liver, with smaller amounts in the heart, muscles and kidneys. If the liver is damaged, ALT is leaked into the bloodstream. Probable causes are inflamed liver, fatty liver disease from alcohol/obesity/diabetes, or hepatitis etc. Or, an elevated ALT can suggest damaged muscles from intensive exercise. That seems highly likely, given my lifestyle, but nonetheless it’s probably worth investigating with my GP to ensure good liver health.
#2: Beta Thalassemia – As discussed in last years blood results, I had a strong expectation of being a carrier of Thalassemia given the confirmed cases in my family. As a carrier of only one of the gene mutations, I am asymptomatic and should not suffer due to this red blood cell deformity. Combined with the healthy Iron levels, I think that is a fair statement. Nonetheless, I will seek evidence from my GP that I am in actual fact a carrier as a card will need to be issued.
#3: Potentially Hyperactive Thyroid – In all fairness, the bloods do not indicate this. There is slightly more active thyroid hormone for the amount of TSH present, and when combined with my symptoms of excessive sweating on occasion, running hotter than most, fast growing heart and nails, and higher than expected metabolism etc, gives me the suspicion that my Thyroid working my body harder than is necessary. I will need to investigate further, as there could be some autoimmunity issue causing this over stimulation. GP currently suggests not, and it is merely genetic…
ANY CORRECTIVE ACTIONS?
None to be honest. Just keep plugging away!
That said, I do have a few things I am working on that are not expressed in my bloods
#1: Finger Small Fibre Neuropathy / Raynauds – For the last 4-5 years, I’ve suffered with some nerve damage of sorts in my fingertips. This leads to pain and sensitivity when typing and using my devices, which comes and goes, and generally worsens at night. Carpal Tunnel has been eliminated as a potential cause. This is combined with poor circulation in my hands, feet and nose that turns them cold and blue, as well as red reaction in cold outdoor conditions. I have been referred to a musculoskeletal specialist that will test my nerve function and hopefully identify the root cause.
#2: Vitiligo – I have a patch of non-progressive clinically diagnosed vitiligo on my face, which is only noticeable when I tan. I developed this about 4-5 years ago. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease – i.e. my body is attacking the melanocytes for some reason. I am compelled to understand if I can regenerate my skin pigment by eliminating any autoimmune issue and allowing the skin to recover.
#3: Secondary Hyperhidrosis – Linked to point #3 above, my body seems to run hotter than most, with periods of escalating sweating in otherwise benign scenarios. Some what of a random sweat storm. It runs in my family, and may just be something I need to accept and manage. However, I’d like to understand if this is genetic versus some dysfunction in my body that could be corrected with lifestyle interventions.
The Full Blood Results & Reference Ranges
Important to note - Green means you are in the 'normal range'. All that really means is that based on the lab performing the analysis, they look to benchmark you against the normal healthy range for a given measurement, based on the patients they have worked with. That's all well and good, but what about if the majority of their patients are not particularly healthy? Or what about if you are borderline low/high on a specific test - could that corroborate with the symptoms you are experiencing? For this reason, it's advisable to get some expert opinion or do your own research from reputable medical sources.
In Summary – A Full Blood Panel is a Great Investment in Your Wellbeing
As you can see, this information is so interesting and insightful. It could just help explain some symptoms that you have been dealing with your whole life or have more recently surfaced. Understanding your body, and how to best look after it is invaluable in my opinion, and 100% worth the investment.
From blood work, it may trigger you to supplement, change your lifestyle and nutrition, and look to make measurable improvements that will result in less negative symptoms and greater vitality. It can help to prioritise optimised living, and to make smarter choices for your body… and health span.
If you want to get some blood work done and cannot get a full panel commissioned by your NHS GP (unlikely), then search online for a reputable firm. As mentioned, Michelle and I used www.medichecks.com which I cannot fault in terms of service, speed, ease and quality of reporting.
Follow this and other topic areas in our longer-form Articles series as they unfold. Comment if you have questions or ideas.