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A FUNCTIONAL APPROACH TO LABS

When it comes to wellness, tuning into both emotional and physical symptoms of stagnation or imbalance is of utmost importance not just periodically but daily. However, it’s of equal importance to check in on clinical biometrics with lab work annually. In doing so, you are able to track patterns of brewing imbalance you might not yet feel.

Functionally designed lab panels can serve as a beautiful reflection of how well your habits, lifestyle and nutrition are serving you. They also serve as one of the most powerful tools to target ways your body might be compensating both in the short-term and the long-term.

Once you receive your panel, it is more tempting than ever treat outliers... high cholesterol? statin! low B12? B12 shot! However, instead of spot checking like this, it’s worth your time to work with a practitioner trained to look for patterns that corroborate the source of the imbalance. No more treating the symptoms!

Below are the labs I have isolated to be most important to global functional wellness. Take a peek and consider using these recommendations as a template to explore testing with your practitioner noting that he / she will [understandably] run what they are most comfortable using in their plan of care.

NUTRITION PANEL:

  • ferritin
  • folate
  • magnesium
  • vitamin B12
  • vitamin D

here’s why: Every chemical reaction in the body depends on optimal micronutrient status. The sum of chemical reactions equates to your metabolism. As a bare minimum D, magnesium, B12 and ferritin offer valuable information to evaluate your nutrition status. However as needed, a complete micronutrient panel gives the status of 35 vitamins + minerals in your body for the last 7-9 months since the test draws on serum levels. Evaluating chronic deficiencies in vitamins and minerals enables you to choose foods that replete deficiencies while also noting patterns from which to draw more global conclusions about what tools remain necessary to strike balance in every area of wellness.

COMPREHENSIVE METABOLIC CARDIAC HEALTH PANEL [fasted]:

  • total cholesterol
  • triglycerides
  • HDL
  • LDL
  • VLDL
  • ha-CRP

here’s why: Testing lipids in the context of markers for inflammation, glycemic control and liver heath is a wonderful way to evaluate contextually whether your body has the information and protective elements it needs from your food to metabolize cholesterol optimally both protecting the heart and nurturing the cellular infrastructure.

GLYCEMIC CONTROL PANEL:

  • glucose
  • HBA1C
  • c-peptide
  • insulin

here’s why: The body’s capacity to metabolize glucose efficiently with high sensitivity to insulin is a reflection of global inflammation and one of the best indicators of metabolic wellness.

COMPLETE THYROID PANEL

  • TSH
  • free T3
  • free T4
  • revers T3
  • anti-TG
  • anti-TPO

here’s why: The thyroid is the master metronome of the body orchestrating hormones, energy, mood, anxiety and sleep. Testing the thyroid [the complete thyroid panel to include T4 + T3 + rT3 and antibodies] is paramount to giving a picture of your energy, immunity, metabolism, mood, and anxiety levels.

LIVER ENZYMES:

  • AST
  • ALT
  • GGT

here’s why: The liver is one of the largest “drivers” of all hormonal reactions and detox functions in the body and evaluating liver enzymes is an efficient way to check liver health. When the liver is “sluggish” there will be downstream negative effects across the board including dys-lipidemia, thyroid compromise and poor cellular detox / drainage.

BI-ANNUAL TESTS TO CONSIDER:

while blood panels are a wonderful reflection of patterned wellness markers, the following panels go one layer deeper by looking at your micro biome and your pathways of hormone metabolization.

comprehensive gut / stool panel: while not the most glamorous collection process, your stool serves as a reflection of everything from your immunity to your cognition. Taking a comprehensive “peek at your poo” enables you to understand how deeply comprehensive the health of your microbiome is on how you feel. It is also important in validating whether your brain is fully online, whether you are eating enough diversity of fiber and also what the condition of the lining of your gut is which of course is at the helm of extracting nutrients from food and protecting you from invading pathogens. Running a stool panel every two years is worth its weight in gold.

DUTCH hormone panel: similarly when it comes to women’s wellness, understanding how your body is metabolizing its hormones and taking a peek at the patterns of relationships between each hormone to one another is going to validate some of the symptoms you might be feeling before your cycle or as you make your way through perimenopause. You walk away from running this panel understanding how your adrenals are either celebrating or compensating for how you eat and live. You also will feel much more in touch with your hormones as you’ll understand how the imbalances that come up relate to specific symptoms such as irritability, weight retention, and fatigue. No more guessing. Test.

ACCESSIBILITY:

As you pursue a more comprehensive and functional panel of labs it is important to open up a conversation with your doctor around the importance for you to see the full picture of your wellness through a set of corroborating patterns [instead of sparse isolated values]. If your doctor is resistant to running the entire set of options listed above you can either fill in gaps by ordering, for yourself, the labs not tested on walkinlabs.com and pursue a functionally trained dietitian, nutritionist, acupuncturist or chiropractor to review them in depth with you. Or you can order functional panels through companies like Everlywell.com that have clinical staff on their team to help you understand the meaning and the functional actions to take to correct underlying imbalances. It is most important that you capitalize on your investment with a very thorough understanding of what your labs and the patterns in them mean.

Companies that provide testing and interpretation support include:

Everlywell [for blood panels]

Viome gut intelligence [for stool panels]

DUTCH precision [for urine hormone panels]

If you are seeking out a functional doctor to run labs for you in your area and step in as then functional “captain” to your wellness ship, consider taking a peek at this compilation of functionally trained practitioners.

Understanding the why behind the ask is what matters and this might just be the nudge you needed to find a doctor trained in functional medicine who will take this as a launchpad leveraging their background in a functional approach to your wellness to ensure you catch pathogenesis before it becomes a more comprehensive concern.