Sports fans know the batting average of their favorite baseball players, their favorite quarterback’s completion rates and how many games their home teams have won or lost. But, how many of us know our key health numbers? Being aware of certain health-related numbers can save your life.
Eight health test numbers every person should know:
1. Blood pressure: systolic is the high number; and diastolic is the low number. Normal values are 120/80 or below.
2. Fasting blood sugar: Helps to determine whether your body is having trouble metabolizing sugar and utilizing it for energy. This test screens for diabetes and pre-diabetes.
3. Cholesterol levels: (Total, HDL, LDL, Triglycerides) results can reveal that something is off with your diet and lifestyle routine. Elevated cholesterol increases your chances for cardiovascular disease, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
4. C-reactive protein: a measure of inflammation; every chronic disease involves inflammation. Inflammation and Chronic Disease.
5. TSH: (mainly for women) a measure of thyroid function, the master gland that regulates metabolism.
6. Vitamin D: New research suggests Vitamin D may play an even stronger role in the prevention of disease, including heart disease, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, depression, autoimmune diseases and at least 17 different types of cancer. Benefits of vitamin D.
7. BMI: (Body mass index) the standardized ratio of height to weight formula used to evaluate a person’s weight and risk of associated disease, such as heart disease. A BMI greater than 25 is overweight; obese is a BMI greater than 30.
8. Waist circumference: an independent predictor of disease risk for persons with normal to slightly overweight BMI, though waist circumference is not useful as a predictor of risk in persons with a BMI above 35. Waist circumference is an indirect measure of abdominal or visceral fat, which increases the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease
Five tests for individuals in special circumstances:
1. If you are vegetarian, you may be low in iron and vitamin B12. Ask your doctor to check for anemia and to measure your B12 level.
2. If you have trouble losing weight or tend to yo-yo diet, you might have a syndrome known as insulin resistance, where the body has difficulty processing sugar. High insulin levels cause weight gain around the middle. Ask your doctor to do a fasting insulin level and a two-hour glucose tolerance test, which measures the response to a load of glucose.
3. If you have you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or have trouble with your digestion, ask to be tested for parasites, dysbiosis (imbalance of good and bad bacteria) and/or food sensitivities. In my practice, I have helped countless patients suffering from gas and bloating through natural means.
4. If you suffer from allergies, asthma, a chronic cough, chronic postnasal drip, frequent sinusitis or respiratory infections, you may have hidden food triggers that are over-activating your immune system. Ask to be checked for IgG food sensitivities.
5. If you suffer from chronic fatigue and have been told that all your tests are normal, including your thyroid, they may be missing the actual cause of your fatigue. Ask for salivary cortisol testing to evaluate if you have adrenal dysfunction.
Vincent Pedre, M.D. is an Integrative, Holistic General Practitioner and Board-Certified Internist in private practice in New York City. Follow Dr. Pedre on Facebook.
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