Most of us already notice obvious changes in our bodies such as body weight, blood pressure, and waist circumference. During the Undoctored process you will discover that you could also benefit from tracking some important lab values. These lab values will reflect reemerging health in blood sugar levels, triglycerides, and factors that reflect risk for heart disease, stroke, and other conditions.
Here are lab values to consider tracking:
- Fasting glucose, hemoglobin A1c, fasting insulin—all reflecting blood sugar and insulin-resistance status
- NMR lipoproteins (NMR LipoProfile) or other advanced lipoprotein testing service (see above)
- 25-hydroxy vitamin D—an assessment of your vitamin D status
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free T3, free T4, reverse T3, thyroid antibodies—all measures of thyroid status
- Other measures specific to your individual health concerns can be tracked also, such as a complete blood count (CBC) and ferritin if iron deficiency is suspected.
If you want to take control of your own health care and want to save some money in the process you might want to consider ordering your own testing. Direct-to-consumer blood tests are another category of empowering testing available to us. More people are becoming aware of the additional information available through such testing but not pursued by doctors—a huge swath of health measures that can yield health insights and solutions. Increased exposure to healthcare costs is also fueling the growth of home blood tests. It is common, for example, for lab testing of simple measures— such as cholesterol levels, complete blood count (CBC), and electrolytes—to add up to many hundreds of dollars and to now come directly out of your pocket. More advanced forms of testing can add up to thousands of dollars.
Curious thing: If you go to a lab and ask for the direct-to-consumer price, not the price charged to health insurance, it is typically much lower, often 70 to 80 percent less, since direct-to-consumer lab testing lacks the added layer of costs introduced by health insurance. As with other direct-to-consumer products, competition keeps prices low, unlike the prices charged to health insurance. It means that you can often save money by dealing directly with the lab.
The wide variety of health measures available through blood tests is among the most empowering Undoctored health tools. Knowing, for example, that a deficient blood level of vitamin D explains your low bone density allows you to take action and follow the results of your program over time.
Tracking triglycerides as you convert from a low-fat, grain-filled diet to an unrestricted-fat, grain-free diet—dropping from, say, an abnormally high 300 mg/dL to a wonderful 40 mg/dL—provides feedback on the effects of your diet. A test called hemoglobin A1c, an index of blood sugar fluctuations over a 3-month period, can track a decline from diabetic range to nondiabetic range or, conversely, show failure to achieve nondiabetic range, prompting you to intensify your efforts.
Direct-to-Consumer Lab Testing
The following labs make just about any test available direct to the consumer, except in New York, New Jersey, California, and Rhode Island. (Blame the hospital lobbies for this, as they try to protect hospital profits in those states; they want you to rely on their labs only.) In every other state, it means that nearly any lab test you desire can be obtained without a doctor’s order with results delivered directly to you.
- Direct Labs
- Lab Corp
- Lab Tests Online
- Quest Diagnostics
- ZRT Laboratory is the premiere finger-stick blood, saliva, and urine direct-to-consumer lab, providing access to an impressive array of testing: cortisol, sex hormones, lipids, HbA1c, heavy metals, thyroid, and others.
You will find a more complete list in the book Undoctored.
A WORD OF CAUTION: Blood work should generally not be obtained during the Undoctored 6-week process because weight loss occurs in the majority during this period, which will temporarily disrupt lab values, making, for instance, blood sugar and triglycerides high (due to the flood of fatty acids into the bloodstream that is a natural part of weight loss). Ideally, blood should be drawn no sooner than 4 weeks after weight loss has plateaued.