Blood: Undergoing Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis
Following an appropriate health history and intake, the next step in understanding your health status is undergoing a functional blood chemistry analysis.
What the heck is that?
First, good old blood chemistry testing is tried and true and stands upon a foundation of solid scientific merit and rigor.
What I’m saying here is blood chemistry or clinical laboratory science is far superior in terms of accuracy, sensitivity and specificity than any other test being promoted by integrative or functional medicine clinics.
In the world of functional medicine, you’ll hear all about the latest and greatest advanced fancy-shhmansy tests, including:
- Food Sensitivity Testing
- Organic Acid Testing
- Genetic Testing
- Vitamin and Mineral Testing
- Heavy Metal Testing
- Microbiome and Gut Testing
- Hormone (Sex and Stress) Testing
And while these tests provide additional information and can help, they are not the first place to start.
For example, food sensitivity testing has been all the rage and while it’s important to identify sensitivities, it’s not the most accurate test to begin with.
All food sensitivities are based on immune function and how your body reacts to foods.
This means that there are factors that can influence food sensitivity results.
For example, if your immune system is not functioning well, or if you have digestive inflammation or low-grade infections, of course you’ll have food sensitivities.
But are these true food sensitivities, or simply a symptom of some other problem?
If you find that your white blood cells are in a good place (between 5.5 and 8.0), there are no signs of digestive infections or inflammation, then a food sensitivity test becomes much more accurate and useful.
Therefore I would not advise starting with food sensitivity testing.
Rather, working from the foundations of health analysis (Health history and Intake and Blood Chemistry) and moving up the ladder of diagnostics if necessary.
Let’s get back to what Functional Blood Chemistry is all about.
Most conventional medical practices will order a routine blood chemistry panel as part of an annual exam or when you present with symptoms.
It’s important to acknowledge that routine blood chemistry testing differs from comprehensive blood chemistry testing.
I cannot tell you how many times people undergo routine testing and will say things like, “My doctor ordered blood work, and it’s all normal.”
First, you probably had routine blood chemistry testing, which in the world of blood chemistry analysis is only looking at one part of the elephant.
Second, your doctor likely reviewed your labs using the standard lab reference ranges. If you’re normal, it simply means you will not drop dead today or tomorrow. It certainly doesn’t mean you’re healthy.
Routine Blood Chemistry Panels
- CBC or complete blood cell count (white blood cells, red blood cells, etc.)
- Metabolic Panel (includes ions, salts, minerals, transport proteins and a few enzymes, blood sugar)
- Standard Lipid Panel (cholesterol markers)
- Maybe.. Vitamin D, A1C hemoglobin, iron and inflammation markers
All the above is usually part of a routine blood chemistry panel and can provide excellent information if you understand how to analyze and interpret the data.
Functional Blood Chemistry is all about how you analyze and interpret the data.
Simply looking at your blood at face value is a major under appreciation of the applicability of this clinical laboratory sciences.
Even better, when you undergo comprehensive blood chemistry testing, combined with a Functional Blood Chemistry analysis, you’ll have a much better idea of what systems of your body need to be supported, to improve your personal health.
Comprehensive Blood Chemistry Panels
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
- Standard Lipid Panel
- Lipoprotein Fractionation (LDL-P, ApoA, ApoB, Ox-LDL, etc)
- Complete Thyroid Panel (TSH, Total and Free T4, Total and Free T3, Reverse T3, Thyroid Antibodies, etc.)
- Vitamin Testing (Vitamin A, C, D, B1, B6, B12, Folate, etc.)
- Mineral Testing (Magnesium, Phosphorous, Zinc, Copper)
- Complete Iron Panel (Iron, Ferritin, TIBC, etc)
- Inflammation Markers (hs-crp, ESR, uric acid, homocysteine, etc)
- Immune Reactivity Markers (immunoglobulins, complement cells, etc.)
- Glucose Regulation Markers (a1c hemoglobin, insulin, c-peptide, LDH)
With the right type of testing, and the right type of analysis, a solid functional blood chemistry analysis allows us to assess major systems of the body, including:
- Blood Sugar Regulation
- Cardiovascular Function
- Immune Function
- Digestive Function
- Liver & Gallbladder (Detoxification) Function
- Adrenal & Stress Function
- Thyroid & Metabolic Function
- Red Blood Cell (nutrient and oxygen capacity) Function
- Kidney Function
- Inflammation, Oxidative Stress and Toxicity
These are all major physiological systems of our body. Undergoing an appropriate blood chemistry analysis will offer key insights into what systems of your body are imbalanced and lead to a priority of health recommendations and focus.
Blood brings oxygen and nutrients to all the parts of the body so they can keep things working.
Blood carries waste materials to the lungs, kidneys, and digestive system so they can be removed efficiently. Blood fights infections and carries hormones around the body.
Blood, and a functional blood chemistry analysis, is the first objective diagnostic step to optimizing your health.
Now, if you’ve worked on balancing blood chemistry and you are still experiencing symptoms, the next most important assessment is your Guts (comprehensive stool testing).