Keep Standard Biomarkers in the Optimum Range
One of the reasons we want to be testing our biomarkers is that in many cases when things start to go wrong in our body or mind, we don’t know it. So it’s always good to be able to see when things are starting to go wrong and then take action to get them back in the right range. So an example would be daily, we could all easily measure our weight with a simple scale, or if you want to get more exciting about it, and I’ll talk about it in a minute, use a body mass scale to get a lot more information. We can take our blood pressure every day to make sure we’re in the right range. And we could measure our heart rate throughout the day, actually, with a simple wearable like a Fitbit. So let’s talk about these blood tests and why they’re so important.
And typically most people will get a blood test annually. That’s what most doctors recommend. That also includes the male and female hormone levels. I get mine measured quarterly. Just because, frankly at my age, I want to know what’s going on and fix it as soon as I can. So, when you take a standard blood test, you’re measuring what’s going on in your blood, of course. And some markers are extremely important. One would be glucose, the amount of sugar floating around in our bloodstream. And you can either be diabetic, in other words, that’s really high, pre-diabetic, high, but not too high, or in the normal range. And the normal range is usually less than 85 milligrams per deciliter. So, that’s what we want. I’m about 80. So I’m in pretty good shape there. We also want our A1C, which is a measure of our glucose averaged over a month to be less than 5%. And I’m 4.6%. So I’m in pretty good shape there too.
We want our iron level, especially for men to be in a certain range, not too high and not too low. We want to measure our cholesterol. We want the good cholesterol, the HDL to be higher than 70. Mine’s 110. And we want the bad cholesterol, the low-level cholesterol to be less than 50. And mine’s seven. And what our triglycerides, also a type of cholesterol that rotates around in our blood to be less than 50. We want the particle count of the cholesterol in our bloodstream to be low, less than 50, not high. We want LP little a, another cholesterol and measurement, to be less than 30. And LP little a is important because we can get our cholesterol lower by just taking a statin. That’s about 75% of our cholesterol. 25% of it, the LP little a is not affected by the statin. So they want to take a different supplement to make that sure that gets slower.
Vitamin D, we want greater than 50 rotating around in our bloodstream milligrams per mil. We want our thyroid to be balanced and we want our C-reactive protein to be less than one. And if you’ve listened to some of the previous podcasts, you know how important the measurement of the chronic inflammation in our bloodstream is, and that’s a direct measurement of it. So we want it to be really low, less than 0.1. Mine, I think is 0.2. So that’s why I want to see these essentially every quarter. All of these are extremely important and we want to make sure we’re in the right range.
Now, one thing about blood tests that’s fairly interesting is this. When you get it from Quest or Lab Corporate, any of the big labs, there will be what’s called a normal range. And the word normal is a misnomer. That range on your blood test for each one of the measurements is just the range of most Americans. And if you talk to the endocrinologists, they will tell you that’s no good at all. That doesn’t help us much at all, because the average American is pre-diabetic. And so that would be in the normal range, which is not what we want. And therefore we want to know exactly in the high or the low range or higher than the normal range or lower. And that’s what most endocrinologists can tell us, exactly where we should be with all those blood markers.
I mentioned a body mass scale. It is based on your body impedance. So it gives you a lot more measurement than just your weight. It gives your body mass index, which we all know is important. Mine’s 21. It gives you a percent of body fat, which we know is important. Mine’s 12. It gives you a percentage of fat around the organs called the visceral fat, which you want to be as low as possible. Mine’s 4%. It gives you your bone mass, your muscle mass. So I weigh 155 and 133 of that is muscle, which you can tell from this scale.
Also gives you other measurements like your skeletal muscle protein metabolic rate. And for each one of these, when you buy a body mass scale and you have an app that goes with it, the app will come up, and for each one of those measurements it shows you what’s too low, what’s normal, what’s too high, and what’s high. So if you just take my weight at 155 and you look at the app, then I’m normal. If my BMI, say, was less than 18.5, I would be underweight. If my BMI was over 25, I would be overweight. And if it was over 30, I would be obese.
So for every one of those measurements with a body mass scale, you can see exactly where you are with regard to, too low, normal, too high and really too high. And the one nice thing about a biomass scale is it’s only about $30 on Amazon. So it doesn’t take a lot of money to get it. It’s almost the same price as a normal scale. So, that’s daily. Take your weight every day, take your blood pressure, take your heart rate with a Fitbit or other device. And usually, if you’re taking your blood pressure, it’ll give you your heart rate as well. But a Fitbit, you can see your heart rate every time you want to look at it.
So quarterly do the comprehensive blood analysis. Then semi-annually do again, the blood tests and then annually for all of us, there are three or four tests that are usually a part of an annual physical. One is an ultrasound of the organs in your body. And the reason we want that is if we get cancer of any of the organs, kidney, liver, gallbladder, stomach, et cetera, then the usual first indication is spitting up blood or blood in our urine. And by then it is typically too late. So most doctors will recommend an ultrasound of our organs either semi-annually if you’re older like me, or if you’re in a normal range adulthood, then annually. And then on the ultrasound, if there’s something found, then follow it up with an MRI, which is a lot higher resolution. Then also annually a microbiome analysis.
So we learned in step three, eating a diet to have a healthy microbiome. You can easily see what’s going on in your microbiome with a stool analysis. And the first time I got one, three years ago, I was shocked how much bad bacteria was in my microbiome, and how many viruses were in there. And so using an endocrinologist, I went on a roll with three or four supplements to get rid of the bad bacteria. And then I did it again, six months later, I got rid of everything except the virus that causes pneumonia which is not good to have in your microbiome. And in fact, I’ve had viral pneumonia and also bacterial pneumonia within the last five years. So then I took another couple of supplements for another six months. And then after that was over, my whole microbiome was clear of any bad bacteria and any viruses and principally full of good bacteria.
Another annual test would be what’s called a micronutrient blood test. Let’s just take vitamin D. When you measure vitamin D in your bloodstream, that’s just a blood test. A micronutrient blood test will look at the amount of vitamin D that gets into the cells. The first time I had one of those tests, my vitamin D was 80 in my bloodstream, but actually below average with a micronutrient analysis within my cells. And looking into it, I realized that I wasn’t taking vitamin D with fat. And so I started then just shifting to taking vitamin D with a scoop of avocado every day. And then it got my vitamin D up where should be within my cells.
And then once you reach about age 50, there are other tests that should be taken by adults. One is called the whole-body MRI. That’s every two years. Another is bone density testing every other year. And then another is a CT scan with contrast of your whole artery system and your chest. And so, a CT scan, not just a CT scan, it’s a CT with contrast. So you can see what’s going on. The first time I had one of those, oh, five years ago, I did it with our chief medical officer out in Denver. And after I had taken the test, within about an hour, Dr. Abramson, one of the world-renowned analyzers of CTAs, showed me on a great big TV screen on the wall, huge, my heart, all six arteries, and you could see how much soft plaque was running around in the arteries. And three of my arteries were blocked about 50%, and you could see a lot of soft plaque.
So based on that, Dr. Boone put me on a statin instead of 20, he put me on 40 milligrams of the statin. And then I came back a year later and got another one. And one of the arteries had gone from 50% to 20%, another one had gone from 50% to 30%. One still was a 50%. And there was a lot less, a soft plaque running around in my artery system around the heart. And so then Dr. Boone put me on Repatha, a stronger cholesterol drug. And then went back a year later and it was all clear, no blockage in any of the six arteries. And you couldn’t see any soft plaque. So again, the reasons for these assessments and tests now and then. I had no idea three of my arteries were 50% blocked. I had no idea there was too much soft plaque running around in my arteries. But, with these assessments, you can see exactly what’s going on.
Then every five years after age 50, a colonoscopy and also a what’s called a neural lesion quant assessment, which is an MRI of the brain plus a wavy brain scan. And so what this essentially is is you have an MRI of your brain. You can see if there’s any Alzheimer’s build-up. When you take the wavy brain scan, you can test the speed of your brain, the power of your brain. The first time I did this, I was probably average at all the speed and power of my brain, but then after taking the Repatha, which had a huge benefit on cholesterol in my body, and of course in my brain as well, then everything improved on my brain scan. So, my brain speed was faster and my brainpower was stronger.
And then finally one test to take pretty much once in your life would be a total analysis of our total genome to see what the diseases we are potentially at risk for, and as appropriate what to do about them. So that’s just a broad overview of why testing is so important and what the right period density of these tests is when we’re under age 50. And then after we reach age 50, what we should include in our whole portfolio of testing.