Blood testing has its limitations.
When asking for a blood test, or when your doctor orders one, ask yourself this:
What is your objective and what are you attempting to optimize?
Answering these questions will help you discover if a blood test will work, or do you need something more functional?
If you're alive, then you have a lifespan, but we have the four horsemen of disease that heavily get in the way of your lifespan. These are atherosclerotic disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease and metabolic disease.
Atherosclerotic Disease Testing - ApoB tests and inflammation markers can provide insight.
Cancer Testing - Blood markers are not super helpful here. The second leading modifiable cause of cancer is bad metabolic health, after smoking. So much is still not understood about cancer, but we know for a fact that smoking and metabolic ill health drive it. Especially the hyperinsulinemia that comes with obesity. Blood work for cancer has many blind spots.
Neurodegenerative Disease Testing - Blood work does not offer much insight for Parkinson's Disease, but biomarkers can be helpful for Alzheimer's Disease. The factors that drive the risk of heart disease drive the risk of dementia. You can do genetic testing via blood testing, allowing you to strategize risk.
Biomarkers can give a decent insight into Lifespan.
This is when biomarkers are far less helpful, functional testing is key.
For cognitive health, you can do testing for dementia risk reduction. Hormone testing can help understand your physical health, but functional tests, such as DEXA test, VO2 Max test, CPET test, Zone 2 lactate test, fat oxidation test and more, will provide much better insight. When it comes to the emotional aspect, depending on who you are, this could be the most important piece. Your biomarkers mean nothing if you have poor relationships and despise your job. Your emotional health is a vital part of your health span.
How often to get blood tests?
There is no point in doing a blood test, just for the sake of it. There needs to be a reason, is something changing? You can view a blood test as a short window in time, it is a static test.
If you have concerns about a specific blood level, the testing a few times over the year can be helpful. If you are making the right changes, that is.
Rechecking those levels when you're taking a supplement or doing something else is valuable.
You can even test early in life, as many conditions have a genetic aspect. Lipo Protein (a) is an important genetic driver of atherosclerosis. Around 10% of people have high levels due to genetic factors. It would be helpful to know this early, as it's genetically determined.
DEXA & Bone Mineral Density (BMD)
Functional testing for weight and Body Mass Index is best done using a DEXA test. This test offers BMD, visceral fat, lean mass and body fat. Visceral fat and BMD are important markers here.
The risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia is huge for a 50 year old woman about to go through menopause. Estrogen is the most important hormone in regulating BMD, so it is important to understand your levels.
BONES MATTER - If you're over 65 and break your hip, your chances of dying within 12 months are 30-40%.
A DEXA test helps you understand where you're at for your age. If you're far off, then you have the insight now to improve things. It is never too late.
How to improve BMD?
Strength training is the best thing to do to improve your BMD. Putting shear force via the muscle, via the tendon onto the bone. The bone senses that force, which activates osteoblasts that allow more bone to be built.
Some people adopt the mentality of avoiding injury, so they become sedentary, but this is the opposite of what you should be doing to grow more bone. You can introduce strength training at any age!
Simon Brazier. Dip HN, NNCP