Have you been told not to worry about it, or that it is just a normal part of aging or worse, that it is all in your head? Chronic conditions don’t occur overnight, but start with subtle changes in physiology. And just like a car’s check engine light, our bodies are equipped with an incredible warning system.
Laboratory testing is the gold standard to determine if normal physiology is occurring. But what is considered normal? You go to your doctor and they run a blood test reporting that everything is fine. But what does that really mean?
Labs use data based on folks that have had testing performed at their facilities in the last year. Have you been to a draw station or doctor’s office lately and noticed who was there? Yes, sick people! When your doctor states that your labs are fine, the data is based on being within 95% of the folks seen during the last year. So you can leave knowing that you are healthier than most sick folks, but does that make you HEALTHY?
In addition, each lab bases the marker ranges on the clients visiting their own facility so there may be different ranges between various labs companies as well as different ranges within the same testing company due to lab geography. Unfortunately, this may result in you being deemed healthy by one lab but not by another.
There might be a better way.
Rather than using changing population data, data obtained from healthy individuals defines an “optimal” range. Since most practitioners only look at markers outside of the laboratory ranges, results found outside of these “optimal” ranges can help uncover biochemical imbalances BEFORE they develop into something bigger.
Another important point is how data is interpreted. Although individual markers are extremely important, we shouldn’t rely solely on them. While reviewing biochemical data, scientists discovered patterns of markers that closely aligned to common disorders. For example, say you have symptoms associated with your gastrointestinal tract. Most conventionally trained physicians may say that not much information can be ascertained with standard blood markers. By utilizing a functional approach, we may be able to see patterns associated in high probability with conditions such as low stomach acid, parasites, leaky gut, etc. and can utilize more direct diagnostic testing if necessary. GI issues are just one of the many imbalances(dysfunction) that may be uncovered by looking at blood marker patterns rather than just focusing on individual values.
Finally, a blood panel must be comprehensive. It is better to obtain one good panel, one time to help determine systemic influences rather than trying to put together data taken months/years apart that just doesn’t correlate. If we only test for what we expect is wrong, we may miss underlying issues. Fortunately, costs for comprehensive panels can be quite affordable.