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Health Buzz: Yearly holistic health lab tests

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By Dr. Kaley Burns EBS COLUMNIST

Checking in on health markers through annual blood testing can be the key to catching an underlying dysfunction and keeping you healthy. That’s why there are a few essential blood tests you should consider each year.

Whether you have a chronic concern or you want to live a healthier lifestyle, these essential blood tests are a great starting point to addressing annual health. It is best to speak to your doctor about what tests are best for you, especially if you have a greater risk for chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neurological conditions. 

CBC (Complete Blood Count)

As the name suggests, this test looks at blood cells and components in your blood. 

Why is this test important?

Knowing the information about your blood cells tells you a lot about your general health. Its primary purpose is to screen for infection and anemia (including iron deficiency and B-vitamin deficiency).  Increased white blood cell count is also a nonspecific marker for inflammation.

CMP (Complete Metabolic Panel)

Another test frequently run during an annual exam is the complete metabolic panel. This panel looks at a variety of key markers of health including liver and kidney function, blood sugar, electrolyte balance and protein levels.

Why is this test important?

An imbalance in your pH may lead to mild metabolic acidosis, which has been linked to a higher risk of diabetes and insulin resistance. Imbalances in electrolytes and pH may affect heart and muscle contractions, neurological processes and cellular function.

Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C)

This test provides information about blood glucose regulation and insulin sensitivity. The blood glucose test from the CMP provides a snapshot of your blood sugar at that moment in time, while HbA1C details blood sugar regulation over about three months.

Why is this test important?

Maintaining optimal blood glucose regulation and insulin sensitivity is important for more than just diabetes prevention. Poor glucose management and insulin resistance have been associated with more than 27 different chronic diseases.

Vitamin D

It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population has vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency, and it is a global public health problem for all ages. 

Why is this test important?

Vitamin D plays a key role in health, and deficiency or insufficiency has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, thyroid function and gastrointestinal disorders. 

Thyroid panel

With the wide-reaching function of the thyroid hormones, you want to ensure you have optimal thyroid function. TSH, or thyroid-stimulating hormone, is secreted to tell the thyroid to produce the active hormones T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). The most commonly used test for thyroid function is TSH, but getting a full thyroid panel provides a more complete picture of thyroid function. Additional thyroid tests include Free T3, Free T4, and if warranted, Reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies.

Why is this test important?

Thyroid dysfunction and subclinical thyroid disease have been found to correlate to an increased risk of atherosclerosis, dementia, diabetes, hypertension, mood disorders, obesity and osteoporosis.

Lipid Panel 

Cholesterol and triglycerides are also common tests in many annual physicals, especially for those with a high risk of heart disease. 

Why is this test important?

Increased cholesterol and triglycerides, or dyslipidemia, are associated with atherosclerosis, heart disease and liver disease.

Iron panel

Iron carries oxygen through the body and plays a role in energy metabolism. 

Why is this test important?

There is a balance to iron; Too much can contribute to symptoms and disease, as can too little. Anemia, especially iron-deficient anemia, has a high prevalence making it an important marker to check, especially if you are female or at risk of anemia or hemochromatosis (a condition related to excess iron). 

High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP)

Chronic, systemic inflammation is a risk factor for many chronic diseases and has also been shown to be an independent risk factor of chronic disease. 

Why is this test important?

Inflammation, as measured by hs-CRP, is associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Reducing chronic inflammation may help to mitigate your risk factor for certain chronic diseases. 

Dr. Kaley Burns is the founder, owner and naturopathic doctor at Big Sky Natural Health. She embraces a natural approach to health and aims to similarly inspire and guide others on their health journey. Dr. Burns has advanced training application of regenerative and intravenous injection therapy. She also serves as the vice president and CE liaison of the Montana Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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