One of the more common questions I get in my Health Coaching practice is: what blood tests should I get? We can tell what’s going on in your highly sensitive body with just a few additional tests. In this post I’ll tell you the ones I like to see for optimal women’s health.
Know Your Numbers
Ok let me start off on a bit of a soap box first. My main mission in my career is to empower women to take control of their health. You cannot take control of your health if you give your power away to someone that wears scrubs and/or a white coat. You can respect their opinion and knowledge and experience, but ultimately it is YOUR body and you get to make the final decision.
You MUST know your numbers….or at least know how to access them at a moments notice. Don’t accept the email or conversation that says “Your numbers were all normal.” NO…you need to know the exact numbers and you need to be able to track them over time. Make a spreadsheet if you need to, but know your numbers.
When your health care provider looks at your tests, the average one is going to look for things the lab has flagged as high or low. They are not going to look at optimal ranges. For example, I had a client where the provider told her her blood glucose numbers were “normal”. But when I looked, I noticed the number was 99. Just 1 more point and the lab would have flagged it as high and so would the provider as being pre-Diabetic. If she had not come to me, this client would not have made any changes to her diet (or stress levels) if she’d just taken the “normal” and not looked at the actual number.
The following blood tests are great to do all every few years. It’s nice to have a baseline and then know where you are in coming years. There are a few things that make these hard to get though…1) getting a doctor that will order them for you 2) getting a doctor to know what they all mean (most specialize and know the numbers for their specialty, but not overall and 3) price.
There are ways around the doctor (I can order some lab tests for my clients) or you can go to a place like Any Lab Test Now, but that still leaves price. If your insurance will pay for it, I’d try getting your doctor to order them for you…or at least most. Then I’d use a walk in place or an online blood work order site to get the rest.
This list is just my opinion and not medical advice. If you have concerns about your blood work, you should speak with your medical provider.
Complete Blood Count can tell us some things about your basic health and immune function.
Complete Metabolic Panel typically includes blood glucose levels (ideally this is under 90) as well as electrolyte levels and kidney and liver function.
This would tell total your cholesterol levels as well as triglycerides, HDL and LDL. Most mainstream doctors will tell you that a total cholesterol at or above 200 is a bad sign. I tend to not get worried until total cholesterol goes over 240…and then I think it’s telling us that there’s inflammation in the body and we need to figure out what’s causing it (usually bad diet). Triglycerides need to between 60- 100…if above then you’re eating too many carbs. HDL (aka the “good” cholesterol) should be at or above 50 and LDL should be below 150.
A1C can tell us an overall picture of your blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. Doctors us this to diagnosis Type 2 Diabetes. I like this number to be between 4.5%-5.5%. A fasting insulin level can tell us a lot about if you’re on the road to Diabetes. You want this number to be as low as possible typically between 1-5. If these numbers aren’t in range, you want to really focus on a Low Carb/Keto way of eating.
Thyroid Panel with Antibodies
This panel tells us about your thyroid function. These numbers work a little backwards…high number means you’re hypothyroid and low numbers mean you’re hyperthyroid. You want the antibody tests as well so we can see if it’s moved into autoimmune.
Vitamin D is very important to overall health and immune function. Most people are vitamin D deficient. The labs usually give a range of 30-100 which I find way to wide to really be helpful. I tend to recommend keeping them between 50-70 especially for postmenopausal women.
C Reactive Protein can tell us the level of inflammation in the body.
Ferritin can tell us about your iron stores, but it can also be a marker for inflammation.
Depending on your stage in life, you may be thinking about hormone replacement..or not. You really need to work with a knowledgeable provider to help with HRT, but always good to have a baseline. There are many alternative therapies to help with fluctuating hormones and menopause.
Epstein Barr Virus is the mono virus that is estimated that 95% of the population has been exposed to. The problem with EBV is that in some of us, it gets reactivated and becomes chronic. Getting these titers can tell you if you’re one of those people and really start to explain why you may have thyroid issues, fibromyalgia, CFS and more. For me, knowing this number has helped me make an association between my pain, or what I thought were fibro flares, and virus activation. It also explains why I get tired and sick more easily. I’m still digging into all that EBV can mean, but this can really be eye opening.
Candida is a yeast that is part of different areas in our body. It can cause problems though when it turns into it’s fungal form. In the mouth, you can see it as thrush. In the vagina, you see it as a yeast infection. But in the gut…it’s hard to see. The main symptom I have noticed is sugar cravings. Making sure that you are eating a Low Carb/Keto way of eating should keep this from flaring. There are also supplements that can help.
Cytomegalovirus is another virus that many people have been exposed to and have no long term effects of, but there are some that do. CMV can cause damage to the immune system and may be contributing to your highly sensitive body.
If you’d like help navigating your health, you can always set up an appointment with me. I try to gather lots of information so that I can help point my clients in the right direction with their health. I’d love to help you too!