My current lifestyle of extreme cycle rides is an experiment – to weed out and address health issues at their roots. Its to both weed out what is unsustainable and unsupportive of my health, as well as to nurture what is. And as I mention in my post from my recent 600km bike ride, balance, sustainability and healing have become key focuses for me right now.
In this post I’d like to share how getting my blood tested is a core part of this health experiment. Its also something you can benefit from. And in this post I explain how …
Maybe you yourself have had a niggling problem affecting your energy or mood. Maybe you have a problem affecting your ability to lose weight, or a problem concerning infections and allergic reactions. Equally there could be some underlying health issues holding you back from your full health and life potential – such as a blood sugar, hormonal or immune imbalance.
Any imbalance could trigger a future risk of gaining a Metabolic disorders such as Diabetes and Heart Problems, Auto-Immune diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis or degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. In effect, don’t you think its worth getting tested to see how the underlying systems in your body are functioning … to prevent further problems as well as future problems?
functional medical testing
As part of the training for these long bike rides, I did some blood tests and examined them from a functional medical point of view (which I was trained in as part of my university studies).
Functional medicine essentially looks at underlying factors that govern health and addresses where imbalances are occurring. Imbalances in key body systems such as immune, hormone, digestion and detoxification are assessed to find out how those systems are interacting and determining each other. For example, stress hormones that are imbalanced will disrupt thyroid hormones, digestion and immune health. So doing blood tests (such as Full Blood Counts) which are core to functional medicine, core a core method of providing the inside track on where your health may be at any given moment.
Doing testing like this is also central to my business ideas and health ideas – so they are core to this health experiment I am on. And what i found was incredibly revealing, especially when the results were compared to blood tests I have had done over the last few years.
My older blood tests reveal chronic underlying patterns in my health that are becoming more apparent. The mediating factor in this is my current lifestyle (of long distance endurance cycle rides) which is putting extreme pressure on my health. And this is one of the core reasons why I am doing these long distance cycle rides – to flush out imbalances in my health and resolve them at their root. In effect, I want to prevent further and future health problems.
standard medicine compared to functional medicine
My older tests reveal some chronic issues when viewed from a standard medical point of view. However, when viewed from a functional medical point of view, they reveal a much richer picture of how the systems working within my body are interacting to determine my health. From a functional medical perspective, I have a better picture of both root causes and both current as well as future determinants of my health.
Now both these older blood tests combined with my recent blood tests show the underlying health issues and patterns that have been insidiously eclipsing me from my health potential. In effect these health issues have been, and still are, preventing me from reaching my life goals. These health issues also reveal real dangers of much more advanced medical problems in the future.
All this relates to a very common story for many people – that we do not get diagnosed with a health problem until the problem itself is in an advanced disease state. At that point treatment becomes disease centred: on managing the symptoms of the disease. Overall this can lead to us spending our time managing symptoms, but never really addressing the underlying causal factors in our health. This is what most of our health care systems do – address symptoms, not causes.
In my case, I have spent over half my life managing symptoms of stress and distress. Yet by failing to address underlying factors in my physical health, I now face increasingly advanced health problems concerning my digestion, immune health, metabolism and energy. I am also at risk of auto-immune problems in the future. So I’m really happy to be doing the tests – to reveal both where I am with my health and also do the work now to bring my life and health back on track!
comparing my blood test results
An example of how functional medicine differs from standard medicine is in how blood test results are treated. Standard medicine establishes ranges that indicate for something like White Blood Cell count something is dangerously high or low and thus already out of balance. In my blood tests results from 2013 to today above, this is indicated by boxes that are red.
Functional medicine meanwhile establishes levels that are low risk (green) or medium risk (orange). It thus assesses the trajectory of health markers, showing what is coming out of balance. An example or this is what in orange: lymphocytes and monocytes. This is a key indication of where things may be going for me.
A key point from these results above is that so much is already and chronically out of range. What is equally concerning is what is coming out of range and in orange. And this becomes more apparent when I look at my thyroid results – for this reveals not just future problems, but the underlying causes.
Blood tests typically only measure Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). To get a complete picture though, other parts of the thyroid panel need to be assessed. For on the below results, whilst TSH seems normal and low risk, free T3 (the most biologically active thyroid hormone) is medium risk – indicating an underlying disorder and imbalance. What is indicative for me is that a stress hormone imbalance are the cause of this – bringing both the thyroid and the immune system out of balance.
And further to this, my thyroid determines both my energy levels and also my mental health. Thus a stress related imbalance in my thyroid hormones that leads to imbalances in the neurochemistry: ie thyroid related depression. For more details about the thyroid, check out my post here.
taking preventative action
Our health status or stasis is the result of systems in our body that work to create balance and order – homeostasis. But that stasis, whilst maintaining order, could be preventing so much good as well as bad things in our life. Think of the movie Sliding Doors or Groundhog Day – in some way we are always missing out on key opportunities in life and travelling in a repeating loop that traps us into the same life circumstances. And those circumstances determine the results we get – both in our health and in our lives.
As a way to measure the loop you are travelling in, the opportunities you may be missing out on and most importantly, the health risks you are facing, I’d really advise you to do get some functional medical tests done. And on my resources post here you’ll find some resources to help you get this done.
Hugs to you and the very best of health!