What's The Best Indicator of Your Overall Health?
Your Health should not be based on how you feel.
It's not your total cholesterol level.
It's not whether you're skinny or fat.
It's not your resting heart rate, blood pressure, squat max, how many pull ups you can do or how many miles you can run every week.
The best indicator of your overall health isn't even how many grams of protein, carbs and fat you eat every day.
So what's the single best indicator of your overall health?
There isn't one. There's many. And they're all important to really look at, at least annually, if you're interested in living the absolute best life you can live.
When it comes to health, look at SYSTEMS not SYMPTOMS.
The Hierarchy of Analyzing Human Health
First, determining how healthy you are should never be based on how you feel.
Basing your health on how you feel is what get's us into trouble with some of the leading causes of death. Nearly 75% of all deaths in the US are attributed to just 10 causes, with the top 3 of these accounting for over 50% of all deaths.
The leading causes of death include:
- Heart Disease (Heart Attacks, Strokes, Heart Failure)
- Cancer (Lung, Colon, Breast, Pancreatic, Prostate, etc.
- Chronic Respiratory Disease (COPD, Emphysema, Asthma)
What's worst about the 3 leading causes of death is that the first two often have no early warnings, signs or symptoms.
You can be healthy one day and drop dead from a heart attack the next.
You can be bicycling with friends and family at the park; and suffer from a massive stroke during the night.
Cancer can be lurking in your body for 20 years and you'll never know until it gets so bad that its nasty face becomes obvious. This is exactly why I developed a Hierarchy of Analyzing Human Health for my patients.
If you want to understand your current level of health, it's important that you look at SYSTEMS rather than SYMPTOMS! When you go to the doctor for your annual checkup, chances are they looked at
- Height, Weight & Blood Pressure
- Listened to your heart and lungs
- Ordered some routine blood chemistry panels
…and called it a day
While this is the standard medical exam that can certainly find obvious problems, it also allows so many people to fall through the cracks because it's just not enough to really determine your current level of health; especially if you're someone who is “healthier” than most.
And lets be honest… “healthier” than most in America is not really saying much.
If you really want to a get a hold on your current level of health, then a solid first step in analyzing your health begins with a:
- Comprehensive Blood Chemistry Panel combined with a Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis.
- Comprehensive Digestive Health Panel
- Comprehensive Hormone Panel (Sex and Stress Hormones and Brain Chemistry)
- Nutritional Analysis including Dietary Intake, Blood Chemistry & Nutrient Level Monitoring
This is not to say that your fitness level, psychology and environment do not play a part. But even if you worked out 12 hours a daya and felt that you had a strong emotional base.. you can still drop dead from a heart attack or come down with cancer.
So let's unpack all this to have a better understanding of WHY?
Comprehensive Blood Chemistry Panel
The benefits of a comprehensive blood chemistry panel really depends on WHO interprets and HOW they interpret the information.
The reality is, most doctors simply look at lab values and say you are normal or abnormal.
However, a good blood chemistry analysis
- Can reveal the source of many symptoms.
- Pinpoint underlying health imbalances way before they turn into serious health problems.
- Identify hormonal, metabolic, and gastrointestinal issues.
- Identify nutrient and mineral deficiencies.
- Evaluate your bodies ability to detox and repair itself.
When interpreting blood chemistry results, there is a Functional Range and a Pathological Range.
Functional Ranges help to identify imbalances that are predisposing you to disease.
Pathological Ranges tell you when you have a disease.
This is why most doctors will miss what their patients bloodwork is telling them. It's why you can have all the signs of heart disease or diabetes; yet your doctor will tell you your fine.
Doctors today use Pathological Ranges and do not address the sub-clinical findings that are present until they become a serious medical condition.
The goal is to identify developing helath problems and prevent them from manifesting into a serious medical condition. This is exactly what happens when I order a comprehensive blood chemistry panel.
Comprehensive Digestive Health Panel
80% of your immune system lives in your digestive system.
If you've never had a comprehensive stool panel performed, there is no way you can properly assess your current level of health. There are hundreds of conditions and diseases that can be caused by gut dysfunctions.
This can include conditions such as Heart Disease, Cancer, Hormone Imbalances (Thyroid, PCOS, Estrogen, HPA-Axis, Cortisol), Autoimmune Conditions and allergies.
The Benefits of a Comprehensive Digestive Health Panel:
- Quanitfy the amount of beneficial (good) bacteria vs pathogenic (bad) bacteria
- Monitor your bodies ability to absorb nutrients such as protein, fats and carbohydrates
- Identify how much Inflammation is present
- Screen for harmful microorganisms such as fungus, parasties, viruses
Like I previously mentioned, many chronic disorders come from digestive problems and inadequate nutrient absorption.
Proper gut function is needed to eliminate toxic substances, pathogenic organisms, and undigested food particles from the body to prevent health problems.
If you've never had your gut health assessed, there's no way you could consider yourself healthy.
Comprehensive Hormone & Brain Chemistry Study
The way most people have had their hormones tested and treated is downright negligent.
To be put on synthetic hormone (birth control, thyroid, estrogen and testosterone) without properly measuring where you are is criminal.
There is enough here that I could write an entire textbook about so I'm going to try and keep it simple.
In order to determine your current hormone status you need:
- Blood (Serum) Testing – this checks inactive hormone circulating in your body
- Saliva Testing – this checks active hormone that can stimulate cells in your body
- Urine Testing – this tells you how your body is metabolizing “active” hormone
Understanding what your hormones are doing is highly useful information when it comes to trying to determine your overall level of health.
The challenge lies in accurately measuring your hormone levels and interpreting the test results.
The DUTCH Hormone test is one way for a doctor to capture all the information needed in ONE simple test.
Blood testing is the most common method of hormone testing, and it's a good test for reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, as there's no major variation in these hormones throughout the day (testosterone is an exception).
The drawback is that blood testing will not show you the metabolites of those hormones.
The blood test also falls short when testing adrenal hormones like cortisol, as it can only show you total cortisol. However, the saliva still won't show you the metabolites of cortisol.
DUTCH, on the other hand, does both.
Taking things a step further, the DUTCH Hormone test also evaluates for 3 key neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine/epinephrine) as well as nutritional markers such as B12, B6 and Glutathione.
This helps to understand how your body is absorbing these vitamins which are commonly associated with hormone imbalances that cause fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, depression, motivation, sex drive, estrogen dominance and stress.
Assessing Nutrient Status
In my opinion, a proper nutrient status assessment would include 3 things:
- Comprehensive Blood Chemistry Analysis
- Food Diary or Nutrition Intake
- Ion Profile that evaluates for over 125 key nutrient biomarkers and ratios that can help identify nutritional shortfalls.
All together this allow us to compare information between the 3 studies to get an accurate representation of your current nutritional status.
Why is this important? Specific imbalances of vitamins, nutrients, and essential co-factors can all contribute to common chronic diseases such as:
- Mood disorders including anxiety and depression
- Digestive Health Problems
- Chronic Pain/Inflammatory conditions
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Weight Issues
- Sleep Disturbance
- Hormone Imbalances
- Risk of Cancer
There are 3 types of people who really need this type of analysis.
1) The person who has a medical condition and is being treated medically, yet they're not getting any better.
2) The person who has a medical condition but does not want to be on medication and has no other option for treatment.
3) The person who has been told they're healthy but has never had this kind of assessment.
If you're one of the 3 people I just described, I would seriously consider getting properly assessed to avoid any unnecessary health problems that are sure to develop.
We just discussed 4 tests that help to properly evaluate you health status.
If you're struggling with a health issue… heart health, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune conditions or weight issues, you need this assessment.
If you believe you're healthy and you've never had this kind of assessment, you're missing crucial data that may prove otherwise.
Maybe you are healthy and you want a fresh perspective on how you've been living your life, then this assessment is for you too.
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