When It's Your Health
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Medical Tests You Must Know About
By Dr. Len Lopez
Nutrition and fitness expert
Technology is amazing. In the last 20-30 years, we have developed computers that are smaller and faster. We have satellites, plasma televisions, razor thin phones, iPods, and Wi-Fi. We have developed new technologies in so many areas, yet why do we depend on so many lab tests that were discovered 40-60 years ago? Haven’t we made any advances in medicine that allow us to measure how well the body is functioning?
How many times have you heard someone say, “The doctors did all these test and everything is fine!” But we still feel fatigued, can’t lose weight, or get rid of these headaches or indigestion.
Could the simple blood test that was discovered more than 50 years ago be a bit outdated when it comes to measuring how well the body is functioning? Blood tests are great for measuring certain things, but often they don’t give a clear enough picture of how your body is functioning.
In the past 10-20 years, there have been a number of new tests that provide so much more information than a typical blood test. Unfortunately, mainstream medicine takes quite a long time to implement new technologies, which is why so many people are frustrated when their doctor can’t figure out what is wrong with them.
Saliva tests are great for measuring hormones. They are less expensive and provide much more information. Typical blood tests for hormones look at what are called “totals.” Unfortunately, looking at ‘totals’ gives you the amount of both the inactive and active component of the hormone. This is where a lot of mainstream medicine misses the problem, because the values you need to pay attention to are the active components, which are called the “free-fractioned” form.
If you only look at ‘totals,’ that gives you the combined values of active and inactive hormone. It could be 80-20 one way or 20-80 the other way. Your ‘totals’ may look fine, but it is the active or free-fractioned component of that hormone that gives you the more accurate picture.
24-Hour Adrenal Stress Profile
Stress is a major factor in so many health problems, yet mainstream medicine doesn’t routinely measure how well the adrenal glands are functioning. The adrenal glands are primarily known for producing your stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, but they also produce many other hormones, including DHEA (also known as our anti-aging hormone), progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and aldosterone (which balances your sodium and potassium).
When the adrenal glands get overworked due to constant stress, that affects your energy levels, your ability to lose weight, your mood, your libido, and the list goes on. This explains why so many people who have adrenal fatigue suffer from weight gain, fatigue, allergies, depression, cravings, hot flashes, PMS, indigestion, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure, to name a few.
A 24 Hour Saliva test for the adrenal glands lets you know if stress is at the root of your health problem. The test measures how well the adrenal glands are functioning. Is your body constantly in the “fight or flight” mode? The body is designed to handle short term stress – not prolonged, constant stress. This could explain why so many people struggle with so many health issues.
When a patient complains of fatigue, weight gain, headaches, and joint pain, many doctors will measure the thyroid and prescribe a medication. They don’t measure the adrenal glands. Could this be because there is not a medication to prescribe if the adrenals are a little low or a little high, like your thyroid, ovaries, or testes have been found to be?
The thyroid, adrenals, and reproductive hormones are ALL a part of your autonomic nervous system. Mainstream medicine recognizes that your thyroid, ovaries, and testes can be a little under-active or overactive and they have a prescription for those problems. However, they don’t recognize that the adrenals glands can be a little sluggish or hyper, which is what adrenal fatigue and exhaustion is all about.
If you are struggling with a health condition you are not getting results from, check to see if stress and your adrenal glands are at the root of the problem by doing a 24 Hour Saliva test . The saliva samples are collected at home and sent to the lab where they measure cortisol, DHEA, insulin, and immune status.
Blood Spot Fatty Acid Profile
Another great test to determine heart health and inflammation is a Blood Spot Fatty Acid Profile. It measures the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. This is a critical test because omega-6 (arachidonic acid) fatty acids trigger inflammation, whereas the omega-3 fatty acids trigger your natural anti-inflammatory molecules.
The over-consumption of saturated and trans-fats, along with omega-6 fatty acids, triggers inflammation, which is a root cause for heart disease, arthritis, and weight gain. Therefore, this simple blood spot test will help you determine if your diet is putting you at risk for heart disease and hormonal imbalances and contributing to your arthritic pain.
This test is also very helpful because the wide use of statin (cholesterol-lowering) drugs increases the amount of omega-6 to omega-3s, thus causing increased inflammation.
Like the Adrenal Stress Profile, the Blood Spot Fatty Acid test reveals how well the body is functioning. Based on that information, you can adjust your diet and supplement protocol appropriately and address the real cause of your health problems.
Research has shown that the omega-6/omega-3 ratio is a much better predictor of heart health than cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, there isn’t a drug to remedy this problem. The solution is to eat less saturated fat and eat more fish, olive oil, nuts, and seeds, or supplement with a high potency fish oil to lower your odds of dying from a heart attack or stroke.
Organic Acid Test
This is a urine test that looks at the various pathways and by-products of your hormones, neurotransmitters (brain messengers), metabolism, detoxification, and digestion. Basically, it looks at what your body is excreting. If you are excreting too much or too little of certain metabolites, it correlates to various health problems. The solution is to adjust your diet or supplement protocol in order to balance the deficiencies or excesses. It’s a great test that can key into deficiencies and imbalances.
Oxidative Stress Test
This is a urine test that measures free radical damage at the tissue level. Free radical damage has been implicated in heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, glaucoma, macular degeneration, anti-aging, and more. Free radical damage is nothing more than your cells dying off, or degenerating at a faster rate than they can regenerate. The faster the cells and tissues die, or degenerate, the faster your body withers and ages - so, the more you slow this process, the longer and healthier your body can function.
Antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, zinc, selenium, gingko, and bilberry slow down the free radical progression. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. However, if your diet doesn’t include them and is loaded with refined, processed, fast foods, your body will not be getting enough antioxidants. Therefore, your body will be aging and withering at a faster rate.
If you slow the aging down from the inside first, it will have a much more dramatic effect than all the anti-aging creams and lotions. Remember: you nourish and deteriorate from the inside-out!
Blood tests are great for measuring certain things, but there are newer and better tests that give you much more information as to how well the body is functioning. When you can restore normal function to your metabolism, liver, thyroid, hormones, intestines, etc., you restore health. These tests don’t correlate with any specific medication, which may be why mainstream medicine doesn’t use them that often. However, these tests let you know you need to adjust your stress, diet, and nutritional protocol if you want to overcome your health issues.
Dr. Len Lopez is a nutrition and fitness expert and creator of The Work Horse Trainer. He speaks extensively on diet, exercise, and how stress can affect your overall health and wellness.
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