Over the last several weeks, our Medical Director Doctor Murdoc Khaleghi has walked us through the ins and outs of WellnessFX Baseline. From the latest and greatest predictor of heart disease to the connection between the sunshine vitamin and chronic ailments, we’ve given you the tools to interpret your personal numbers even beyond the consultation that comes with Baseline.
However, we know it can be a lot of information. Don’t worry, though. This isn’t college, and there won’t be any tests or examinations. So here’s a cheat sheet with all the biomarkers tested in WellnessFX Baseline, and why they’re important. So in case you missed the Biomarker Series, or just want everything in one digestible package, this is for you:
- Total Cholesterol: Cholesterol is actually essential to the body’s functioning, as it is used to build all cells and to produce hormones. However, too much of a good thing can cause problems. High blood level can lead to clogging of arteries, which is a sure way to have a heart attack or stroke.
- LDL: Low-density lipoprotein is the ‘bad cholesterol.’ It is responsible for clogging the blood vessels and contributing to cardiovascular disease.
- HDL: High-density lipoprotein is the ‘good cholesterol’ (and yes, good cholesterol DOES exist). HDL’s job is to actually carry it’s evil brother (LDL) away from the blood vessels and put it back into the liver, from where it originated.
- Triglycerides: This is the fat your body uses for storage. Normally blood levels are low, so abnormal levels can indicate increased risk of heart disease.
- ApoB: ApoB is actually a particle on LDL cholesterol, and acts as the ‘anchor’ when LDL sticks to the walls of blood vessels (a very bad thing). It’s been recently found to be an even better indicator of risk for heart disease than LDL (or anything else, for that matter).
- Lipo(a): We aren’t exactly sure what lipo(a) does, just that it’s worth testing solely based off its proven correlation with heart disease risk. We have suspicions that it may play a role in blocking the body from dissolving blood clots. Clots in the wrong places can lead to heart attack and stroke.
- Glucose: Glucose is a type of sugar that comes from carbohydrates and is the main source of energy in the body. Diabetes, by definition, is a disorder of high blood sugar levels. By knowing your blood sugar levels and consulting with a physician or dietitian, you can take the necessary steps to prevent future health complications.
- HbA1c: A hemoglobin A1c test test gives a good picture of your blood sugar levels over the past three months. This can be a more reliable reading then blood sugar levels at one point in time and can help people monitor their progress with subsequent testing.
- hs-CRP: The amount of overall inflammation in the body can be an indicator for health and a general marker for chronic disease. Some of the diseases associated with inflammation include: cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, diabetes II, arthritis, and alzheimer’s. While there are a few ways to test for inflammation, it turns out that high-sensitivity C-reactive protein is the best indicator currently known.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D has a crucial role in the absorption of calcium and is therefore important in maintaining strong bones. Relatively recently, it’s been found that vitamin D influences the expression of over 200 genes and, with an estimated one billion of the world’s population being vitamin D deficient, we can see how it plays an even bigger role than we thought. But too much vitamin D can actually be bad, and lead to inflammation.
- TSH: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone levels give insight into how your thyroid is performing. The thyroid gland controls how quickly the body uses energy, and thyroid problems can lead to either too much energy or too little.
- AST/ALT – If the liver is irritated, upset, or inflamed, these enzymes (aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase) are released into the blood.
- Alkaline phosphatase – This enzyme is present in the liver ducts (which transport bile). Blood levels will rise if there are certain problems with the liver and this transport system. It is also present in bone cells and high levels can be an indicator of poor bone health.
- Bilirubin – This is a by-product of the activity of red blood cells. The liver is responsible for clearing the blood of this substance by excreting it in bile. High levels of bilirubin cause jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the white of the eyes), which could mean either a problem in the rate of bilirubin produced or the rate in which it is metabolized.
- Globulin – A lot of antibodies are made of globulin and it is also responsible for carrying essential metals through the bloodstream to help fight infections. It’s important to compare albumin and globulin levels; a specific range of ratios is considered healthy.
- Total Protein - Proteins carry nutrients throughout the body. This tests for the total levels of albumin and globulin and can be an overall indicator of liver health.
- BUN: The kidneys filter the blood, removing what the body no longer needs. Blood urea nitrogen is regularly reabsorbed by the body after filtration, but high blood levels can still tell us a story. It means the kidney isn’t filtering out as much blood as it should, which can be a result of dehydration or low blood pressure.
- Creatinine: Creatinine is the waste product of creatine phosphate in muscles and is almost never chosen for reabsorption. If blood levels get high, that means the kidneys aren’t doing their jobs.
- Calcium: Calcium in the blood, known as “serum calcium,” is tightly regulated to remain within a narrow range. While up to 99% of the body’s calcium exists in the bone matrix and teeth, the remaining 1-5% governs critical functions such as assisting in nerve impulse transmission, heart function, blood clotting, and muscle contraction.
- Sodium: The role of sodium in the body is not only to ensure the proper functioning of our muscles and nerves, but also to regulate fluid balance within our cells, thereby regulating our blood pressure. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which can be a stressor to the kidneys, heart and brain by causing arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
- Potassium: Potassium is essential for proper functioning of the kidneys, heart, muscles, nerves, and digestive system. Its primary roles are to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance, support cell integrity, aid in nerve impulse transmission and contraction of muscles. Inadequate dietary potassium can lead to a slew of chronic diseases.
- CO2: The carbon dioxide test is a measure of bicarbonate in the blood. Bicarbonate is a major element in our body, necessary for digestion and reduction of the acidity of dietary components. Low levels of carbon dioxide can be a sign of conditions like Addison’s disease, kidney disease, and chronic diarrhea. High levels may due to severe vomiting, various lung diseases, and Cushing syndrome, among others.
Whew! A lot of information! Still, there’s so much to learn! Tell us what questions you still have about WellnessFX Baseline. We’d love to hear them!