With the vast improvement in today’s healthcare standards, including the incredible drugs at our disposal. We as a population are most definitely living longer. But the question to ask ourselves is, are we living better? What is the actual quality of your life? Do you have abundant daily energy, mental fortitude, and a fully functioning body without any pain and niggles? Or are you on daily medication for high blood pressure, blood sugar issues, an auto-immune disease or depression? And are there any blood tests to help you avoid disease?
Many longevity experts such as Peter Attia are constantly speaking about Health Span vs Life Span. Life span refers to how long you actually live, whereas health span refers to how well are you actually living. Can you still do all the things you want to do when you get older? Whether it be a hike in the mountains with your grandchildren? Or a bucket list trip scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef.
The problem with disease
The issue is that many health care professionals today are still treating the symptoms of patients. Instead of trying to find the actual underlying causes to disease. It is easy to prescribe medication. But it is slightly harder to implement radical lifestyle changes. Such as eating regiments, exercise programs and meditation tools to combat stress.
So, what can you do today to optimise your health in order to have both health, and life span? Well, it all starts with knowing your body. When was the last time you had blood tests done whilst bothering to actually check the numbers? Or did you just rely on your doctor to interpret them? And then tell you which medication to use, if this was required.
Disease is in the most part a build-up of bad lifestyle choices, chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.
Picture an empty dam…
As it rains it slowly starts to fill up. It might take years for the dam to fill up, due to evaporation, dry seasons and other individual factors. But when the floods come, the dam eventually fills and overflows.
This is the same as your body. We might do our yearly detoxes, or take on a new exercise or eating program. But if we are consistently damaging our bodies. Through bad eating, sedentary lifestyles and poor stress management, our figurative dam will eventually overflow. Leading to poor health and disease. That is why it is so important to do yearly blood tests to avoid disease.
So, how can we be proactive about our health?
How do we live the long, happy and healthy lives that we all dream about? Well, we need to constantly monitor our bodies to know where we are. It’s similar to driving your car. Where you are constantly checking your fuel and oil levels. You need to constantly monitor your body so that your tank never runs empty. And how can we do this? Well, it starts with blood tests.
Obviously, there are numerous blood tests that you can have done. Some health experts, including the amazing Shawn Wells, believe in the efficacy of these tests mentioned below. It can give you a great indication as to how well your body is functioning. As well as the current state of your mitochondrial health.
Mitochondria are vital to our survival and they generate the majority of our energy. This is done through a process known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). So, the better the state of your mitochondrial health, the better your body works. Glycation, oxidation and inflammation can all contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction. So by keeping these factors at bay. You will ultimately live a far healthier and more energetic life.
Hemoglobin A1C blood test
The A1C test is a simple yet extremely effective test. Used to determine what your average blood sugar levels have been up to over the last 3 months. When sugar enters the blood stream, it attaches to your hemoglobin, which is a protein in your red blood cells. This test measures the percentage of your red blood cells that have sugar-coated hemoglobin. This is generally a test that health care professionals use to monitor people with diabetes. Due to the fact that a high A1C level can be linked to diabetes complications. You can read more about it here.
Why it is so effective?
It can give you an indication if you are heading on your way to prediabetes or even full-blown diabetes. With today’s diets so high in sugar and processed foods. It is extremely important to know where you stand with regards to your blood sugar levels.
About 415 million people worldwide currently live with diabetes. Almost 80% of people with pre-diabetes don’t even know that they have it.World Population Review
What’s great about the test is that the levels are extremely simple to decipher generally speaking:
- If your levels are below 5,7% then you are in good shape. And you can look at doing the test once a year to monitor any changes.
- If your levels are between 5,7% and 6,4% this indicates prediabetes. Which means that you should consult your doctor. Or even better, a health coach to help you make some lifestyle changes.
- A level above 6,5% indicates diabetes and you will require medication to control your insulin levels.
The great thing about type-2 diabetes is that it can be completely reversible through diet and exercise interventions. With prediabetes and diabetes, it is advisable to check your A1C levels every 3 months. At the very least twice a year.
Ways to stay on top of your blood sugar levels at home
There is nothing more empowering than taking control of your own health. The two devices below can help you make daily lifestyle changes. By seeing how your blood sugar levels fluctuate throughout the day. Also how your body reacts to eating certain foods in your diet.
Remember, the goal is to keep your blood sugar levels low and constant. Avoiding any massive spikes. Which then leads to large insulin spikes in order to remove the sugar from your bloodstream.
This will ultimately lead to great health, more sustained daily energy and less inflammation and glycation throughout your body. And the lower you keep your blood sugar levels, the better you will age! It is quite simple to do these blood tests to avoid disease associated with diabetes.
Finger Prick Glucose Monitors
This is an easy and inexpensive way to take a snapshot of your blood sugar levels. By doing a simple finger prick test at certain times of the day. A great way to use this device is to measure your blood sugar levels in the morning. Within an hour of waking up to get an indication of where your fasting blood sugar levels are. And then by taking measurements about 90 minutes after eating meals. Which will assess how your meals are affecting your blood sugar levels.
If your levels rise too high too quickly or stay elevated (about 7,8 mmol/l) 90 minutes after eating. It could be a sign that you could have blood sugar issues. And you need to do further testing, including consulting your healthcare professional.
Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM)
These devices are worn on the body with a sensor inserted just under the skin. It generally lasts for about 2 weeks at a time. The great thing about a CGM is that the device measures your blood sugar every few minutes. It then sends data to an app on your phone. This gives you a full picture of your health and what your blood sugar levels are doing throughout the day,
This includes eating, exercise, sleeping and stressful work projects you might be working on. My suggestion would be to use a CGM for a month or two, as they can be quite expensive. Then measure your overall results during this time period. This will give you amazing insight into:
- which foods you react well to with regards to keeping your blood sugar levels as low as possible
- the impact processed foods, sugars and alcohol might have on your own specific levels.
After all you can’t manage what you cannot measure.
C-Reactive Protein (CRP) blood test evade inflammation
It is a great way of determining if you are currently suffering from any signs of inflammation within your body. C-reactive protein is a substance that is produced by the liver in response to inflammation. And a high level of CRP in the blood is a marker of inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be a precursor to:
- auto-immune diseases,
- inflammatory bowel disease (IBD),
- and even certain cancers.
A high CRP level can also indicate that there might be inflammation in the arteries of the heart. Which can lead to a higher risk of heart disease in both men and women.
CRP is measured in milligrams per liter of blood:
- a reading over 3 mg/L can mean that you are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease,
- a reading over 10 mg/L indicates severe inflammation and the need for further testing to determine the source of inflammation.
Once you have a baseline score to work from, with regards to this test, that is within the target range. You can use it moving forward to monitor your inflammation levels. If your levels are elevated the next time you test your CRP. It could indicate that you might have an underlying infection or something slightly more sinister.
In my opinion, prevention is better than cure. Especially with cancer and heart disease so prevalent today. It definitely makes sense to keep an eye on your CRP level.
Ways to stay on top of your CRP levels
Make your CRP test part of your yearly blood test protocol. You can also read my Simple Nutrition Guide. Showing you simple ways to clean up your diet and reduce inflammation.
Oxidised LDL Blood Test
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often gets a bad rap and is referred to as the bad cholesterol. But the truth is, we need both LDL and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), “the good cholesterol”, in order to function properly.
There was a cholesterol study done on 68 094 elderly people. Indicating that people with high LDL cholesterol lived as long or longer than those with low LDL cholesterol. The problem comes in when these LDL have been modified by oxidation.
The oxidised LDL triggers inflammation which leads to the formation of plaque in the arteries, otherwise known as atherosclerosis. Oxidised LDL may also play a role in increasing the number of triglycerides the body produces. As well as the amount of fat that is deposited in the body. This is fairly easy to pick up in an LDL blood test, so you can avoid cholesterol associated disease.
In turn, too much fat tissue can enhance the oxidation of LDL, which creates a vicious cycle. By measuring your oxidised LDL, you can also predict your risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Which increases your chances of developing diabetes or vascular disease. So, the question to you is why not get your oxidised LDL tested yearly?
Ways to stay on top of your Oxidised LDL levels
Test you oxidised LDL levels next time you get your standard cholesterol test done. Make these tests part of your yearly protocol. With regards to your numbers – you want a high HDL number and a low triglyceride number.
When measuring your LDL number, you want big fluffy LDL particles present, with not too many small dense LDL particles. Which could be a predictor of future coronary heart disease. As always make a healthy diet part of your lifestyle. Excess carbohydrates and sugar have been linked to an increased number of small dense LDL particles. As well as an increase in triglyceride levels. I have found an amazing one-pager by Cleveland Heartlab that explains it in simple terms.
Lipoprotein (A) blood test
Lipoprotein(a) or Lp(a) is another kind of cholesterol that is not often tested for. Studies have shown that having a high level of this protein present in your blood. Can also be a risk factor for heart disease and, to a lesser degree, stroke.
In the U.S. it is estimated that one in five people has a Lp(A) level that puts them at risk. High Lp(a) levels are also suspected to be linked to the rise in heart attacks. Especially in younger, seemingly healthy adults. Who, surprisingly, do not have high LDL cholesterol levels. Another issue is that your Lp(a) is in large part genetically wired. So diet and exercise will not help much in changing your levels according to the data.
Ways to stay on top of your Lp(a) levels
Due to the fact that Lp(a) seems to be inherited in most part, and cannot be changed through lifestyle changes. It would make sense to test this level in order to know that you are not at risk. And even if you if are at risk. The focus should be, to keep your main cholesterol levels in check. Prioritise nutrition, sleep and exercise and remember that consistency is key to your lifestyle goals.
Small consistent changes are better than big lavish ones. Small changes are also easier to turn into habits. Resulting in massive results, as they are compounded over time.Brett Eloff
Additional blood tests to avoid disease
The above tests mentioned can be highly beneficial in helping you to make sure that you are on the right path with regards to optimising your health. There are other tests that can be extremely beneficial in monitoring your health levels, including testing your Vitamin D levels as well as your Homocysteine levels, but I will write about these tests and their benefits in a separate article.
Personally, I have struggled with extremely high homocysteine levels in the past. And this caused all sorts of fatigue and detoxification issues for me.
As always, make good nutrition, exercise, quality sleep and deep breathing part of your daily routine. Also remember that your Health span is just as important as your Life span!
Book a FREE 15-minute (no obligation) consultation with me
If all of this seems very daunting, you seriously need some help, contact me for a FREE telephone consultation. So we can get these tests done for you and you can kickstart your health. There is no better time than now. You and your loved ones deserve the best YOU!
I am not a medical doctor or registered dietician. I am just a normal guy trying to share information on what has worked for me and my clients over the years. Always check with your doctor before making any radical fitness or nutritional changes. The author and this blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in the information and ideas provided above.