The new year is here and no doubt you’ve made a resolution or two to start 2019 on the right foot. Improving health always tops the list of resolutions, whether it’s to lose weight, quit smoking, eat better or reduce stress. Is improving your health high on your list of priorities for 2019?
So what’s the state of your health? Do you know what needs some extra attention as we head into the new year?
If you had to take a test for every cancer, syndrome and malady known to science you’d have to mortgage the house to afford it and quit your job for a year to fit it all in. However there are a number of simple tests you can take that can raise a flag if all is not in equilibrium. If things aren’t in balance it may indicate that disease is already present or it may signal that disease could be imminent if the imbalance is not corrected. Either way, results from these tests will allow health care professionals to hone in on a particular area of your health that needs more attention.
Or, they may show that you’re in tippety-top health and you should keep up whatever it is you’re doing. Wouldn’t that be a nice way top start the new year?
Following are some of the best no-cost and low-cost tests you can take to give you a snapshot of your current health status:
You’re probably familiar with the BMI (body mass index) test that calculates how overweight or underweight you are using your height and weight measurements. The problem with this test is that it doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle mass and it doesn’t account for age and body type. The Body Fat test is considered more accurate and calculates how much extra fat you’re carrying (or not) using measurements from your hips, waist and neck as well as your height and overall weight.
A Body Fat calculator used by the U.S. Navy is considered accurate to within one to three per cent for most people. View the free online calculator here: Fitness Calculators.
The site is obviously American so you will have to convert kilograms and centimetres to pounds and inches, which you can do easily with this online calculator: Metric Conversions
Immunologist Professor Ian Frazer from the University of Queensland says if you know how many of what kind of bacteria and microorganisms are living in your gut you can address a range of health issues. Chief among these are digestive and bowel problems, however correcting an imbalance in gut bacteria may also have implications for inflammatory diseases as well as mental health. There are commercial tests available however if you arrange a test through your integrative doctor she/he can then accurately diagnose a problem when the results come in.
University research shows that people who record high levels of Omega 3 have a much lower risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Diets high in Omega 3 have also been shown to lower blood pressure as well as the kind of bad cholesterol that leads to serious heart conditions.
Your integrative doctor can perform a simple blood test to check your Omega 3 levels and can also recommend dietary changes if your results show levels are low.
If you’re on the fabulous side of 50 it may pay to check your bone mineral density (BMD) score. As we age our bone mass decreases leading to more fragile bones prone to fractures. Your BMD can be tested using something called a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry test, however before you get to that stage you can check your risk by plugging your vital statistics into FRAX: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/FRAX/, a tool developed by the University of Sheffield that calculates 10-year fracture risk.
A lipid level test checks your levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, and triglycerides (fat in the blood). Why do this test? Because lipid levels are a very good indicator of your risk of heart attack and stroke. You want to know what they are so that if levels are too high you can do something about it before it’s too late.
A fasting lipid panel is most accurate however you will need to abstain from food and liquid (aside from water) for 12 hours beforehand. Your integrative doctor can arrange this test for you.
If there’s a high level of glucose in your blood you could be headed for Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can lead to heart disease, kidney failure and blindness among other things which is why getting your blood sugar levels tested is so important. Ask your integrative doctor about one of the newer tests on the market – glycated hemoglobin A1c – which givers a more accurate snapshot of your blood sugar levels.
Most people’s pH urine levels are too acidic as a result of poor diet. By reducing acid-creating foods and increasing foods that alkalinise in the body you will reduce acid levels in the urine and potentially create a pH level in the body that is more conducive to better health.
A simple pH test will tell you immediately if your diet is too acidic by measuring acid levels in your urine.
It’s important to note that a pH test does not actually measure your blood acid level. Levels of acid in the blood remain consistently at a pH level of around 7.4. If this level changed greatly you would be looking at a life-threatening situation. Only acid levels in the urine fluctuate regularly, and these changes occur as a result of the body adjusting to the acidity level of the food you’re consuming.
Simple, low-cost pH tests are available from most reputable pharmacies.