Essential Blood Tests You Should Do Every Year

Essential Blood Tests You Should Do Every Year

At Planet Naturopath we specialize in Functional Pathology testing, that means that we do advanced pathology, nutrition, hormone and digestion testing that is unavailable through your doctor. This article gives you a list of all of the essential blood tests that you should do on a yearly basis.

At Planet Naturopath we also organize all of the essential blood tests, that is because many people just want a "one stop shop" where they can get all the testing they want done, without the hassle of trying to organize it through a doctor (that can be difficult).

Getting pathology testing done privately can be convenient as you don't have to go to a doctor, and you can get exactly what you want. Private testing through Planet Naturopath does cost extra money , which not everyone can afford, or they want to save their money for the more advanced tests, or if you are in Australia it makes sense to get what testing you can done for free through the Medicare system.

Essential Blood Tests

I recommend doing these tests every year, that way you can track trends in your health and prevent health problems from occurring, and take action before chronic illness develops. Most of these tests should be done for free by your doctor, but often your doctor will refuse as they don't think they are necessary, they don't like to order too many tests (Medicare has tight restrictions on the tests doctors can order), or they just don't understand why they should do the test, especially the nutrition markers.

Once you have your essential blood test results you can schedule a consultation with Planet Naturopath to assess your results, the reference ranges on these tests are not the optimal range, and we can explain what your results mean (in plain English), and what you need to do to improve them.

Pathology Tests Most Doctors Will Do

Full Blood Count (FBC)

You just need to ask for a full blood count, or full blood examination, this test is one of the standard tests that most doctors do. This test is important to do as it will help to diagnose immune deficiencies, different types of anaemia and red blood cell quality.

This Full Blood Count test includes:

  • Haemoglobin
  • Red Cell Count
  • Mean Cell Volume
  • Mean Cell Haemoglobin
  • Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin Concentration
  • Haematocrit
  • Platelets
  • White Cell Count
  • Neutrophils
  • Lymphocytes
  • Monocytes
  • Eosinophils
  • Basophils

Electrolytes / Kidney Function

This is another test that comes with most pathology tests that doctors do. This is important to measure acidosis and alkalosis, kidney function and electrolyte imbalance.

This Electrolytes / Kidney Function test includes:

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Chloride
  • Bicarbonate
  • Urea
  • Creatinine
  • Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR)

Liver Function Test

This test measures your liver enzymes, this is an important test to measure liver inflammation, but it does not actually tell you how well your liver is detoxifying or functioning despite the name of the test. High liver enzymes can indicate fatty liver or exposure to toxins.

This Liver Function Test includes:

  • Bilirubin
  • Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP)
  • Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase (GGT)
  • Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)
  • Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST)
  • Protein
  • Albumin

Iron Studies

The iron studies test is not done as a standard test, knowing your ferritin levels can help to prevent chronic health problems from occurring as you age . This is an important test to identify iron deficiency which can be common in women who are menstruating, it is also important to identify iron overload which is more common in men, this can lead to many chronic health conditions.

This Iron Studies Test includes:

  • Iron
  • Transferrin (TIBC)
  • Transferrin saturation %
  • Ferritin (iron stores)

Cholesterol

The standard blood test for cholesterol that the doctors use is limited in predicting your cardiovascular risk, and in many cases can lead to people being unnecessarily being put on Statin medications. At Planet Naturopath we do more advanced Cardiovascular testing that measures LDL size and particle number, as well as inflammation markers, you can find out more about that test here. The standard cholesterol test is a good place to start, but if you have high cholesterol or a family history of cardiovascular disease I would recommend doing the advanced cardiovascular test.

This Cholesterol Test includes:

  • Cholesterol
  • Triglycerides
  • HDL
  • LDL
  • Cholesterol / HDL Ratio

Additional Pathology Tests That I Recommend

The tests I have listed above are fairly standard and are generally included in most pathology tests, the following tests I also consider to be standard and important for assessing your current health, and also identifying potential problems. Some doctors will do these tests if they have a reason for doing them, or they consider them to be important and relating to your symptoms, but many doctors will not do these tests as part of a standard prevention strategy.

At Planet Naturopath we can organise these as part of our advanced pathology panels.

This Additional Pathology Tests includes:

  • Homocysteine is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's
  • High sensitive C-Reactive Protein (HsCRP) an inflammation marker
  • Vitamin D is important for everything, and many people are below optimal
  • HbA1C, glucose and Insulin to measure blood sugar control and potential diabetes
  • Vitamin B12 and Folate important for energy production and nervous system
  • Magnesium a co-factor in many functions of the body
  • Zinc and Copper a marker of inflammation and need to be in the correct ratio for optimal health
  • Thyroid function, most doctors will only measure TSH, but if you have trouble losing weight, fatigue or the many other thyroid symptoms that you can read about here, it is essential to also test T4, T3, reverse T3 and the thyroid antibodies. If you have a family history of Hashimoto's it is essential to get your antibodies tested.

The advanced thyroid function test includes all of these markers and can be ordered here.

Functional Pathology Tests

Functional pathology tests are advanced tests to get to the underlying cause of your health issues, these are especially important to do when the essential blood tests that I listed above all come back normal, yet you have a range of health issues, or simple feel below optimal.

 DUTCH Hormone Test For Adrenal and Sex Hormones

DUTCH stands for Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones and it combines the advantages of the saliva test so it can measure the diurnal rhythm of cortisol, plus it measures the total cortisol production and the cortisol metabolites. This information gives a better overall picture of what is happening with your adrenals, and it makes treatment more specific for your situation.

This information gives a better overall picture

  • The DUTCH test also measures DHEA and the DHEA metabolites Etiocholanolone and Androsterone, and melatonin is also measured giving a complete adrenal function picture.
  • The DUTCH test measures the sex hormones progesterone, testosterone and the three estrogens which are estriol, estradiol and estrone.
  • The DUTCH test also measures the metabolites of testosterone which are the more potent 5 alpha DHT and the less androgenic 5 Beta DHT. This is important for both men and women.
  • In men higher levels of the 5 alpha DHT can lead to acne, early hair loss, increased prostate cancer risk and increased mood changes.
  • In women it can also lead to skin changes like acne, hair loss and PCOS.
  • The DUTCH test also measures the metabolites of estrogen which can only be measured in urine, these are the healthy 2-OH-estrone and the unhealthy 4-OH-estrone and 16-OH-estrone which are associated with breast and ovarian cancer and fibroids.
  • Methylation is important for many aspects of health and the DUTCH test measures how well the methylation of estrogen is working, this is important if you have issues with the MTHFR gene or COMT gene.

Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)

The CDSA test is the most advance stool test available, it is a simple test to do and can be done from the comfort of your own home with the home collection kit that we send to you, this is a lot more comprehensive than the basic stool tests doctors use.

The CDSA test is able to identify:

  • Bacteria and parasite infections
  • Beneficial bacteria
  • Helicobacter pylori
  • Digestive enzymes and absorption markers
  • Inflammatory markers
  • Tumour markers
  • Candida and yeast infections
  • and much more

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

SIBO is short for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and be easily tested at home with a special SIBO breath test collection kit. The test requires you to do a breath sample every 20 minutes for a 3 hour period to track and detect the presence of hydrogen and methane gases, these gases should not be detected in your digestion tract so a positive reading indicates SIBO.

SIBO is the cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in about 80% of cases.

Organic Acids Test (OAT)

The Organic Acids Test commonly known as the OAT test is one of my favourite tests to do with clients because it gives us so much information on many different areas of your health.

This Organic Acids test is for you if:

  • You are lacking energy
  • Struggling with your weight
  • Have digestive problems
  • Mood disorders or insomnia
  • Chronic health issues but all of the normal blood tests come back “fine”
  • You’re an athlete or someone who wants to optimise their performance

Extensive Cardiovascular Test

Just as many people have heart attacks, strokes and other forms of cardiovascular disease with low cholesterol levels as people with high cholesterol levels!

Yet when you go to your doctor and your cholesterol is over a certain range it is recommended that you go on statin medications, no matter what your health history is. But the evidence for cholesterol medications is very weak and often does not address the underlying cause of diet and lifestyle factors.

I have seen many people with low cholesterol levels, but when they have done the comprehensive test to assess their cardiovascular risk they have the small dense LDL subfractions that can cause heart disease …. This is the type of LDL that your doctor is not testing for.

On a standard cholesterol test LDL is marked as “atherogenic” yet LDL is essential for your health, LDL delivers the cholesterol around the body so you can make hormones and new cells. So it is not LDL that is the problem but the type of LDL.

At the same time I have seen many people with high cholesterol (like me!) but have the healthy type of HDL, LDL and low inflammation levels …. These people have minimal risk of heart disease but are often put on a Statin medication anyway, just because their levels are above a certain number.

Other Pathology Tests

Have you ever read about a test that you would like to do but don't know where to get it done? At Planet Naturopath we offer a wide range of functional testing options that are not listed here (there are way too many to list), so if there is a test that you would like to find out more information about let me know by emailing tests@planetnaturopath.com.

About the Author Michael

Michael is head consultant at Planet Naturopath - Functional Medicine and Nutrition Solutions.

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