I've noticed that a lot of people here get blood work done, and I'm not sure what relation this has to eating paleo. For what reasons should someone get blood work done, and what labs do people request when they do it? How do they interpret the data? What exactly are people looking for in their blood?
Well, some people get blood work done in the course of regular doctor's visits. Others may have had high cholesterol or nutrient deficiencies that they want to retest after being on a paleo diet for a while.
Common blood tests done are the basic metabolic panel (electrolytes and kidney tests), comprehensive metabolic panel (that plus protein and liver tests), fasting cholesterol, fasting glucose.
dshohei hit it on the head. The blood work to to more or less "prove" to yourself that you've been lied to for all these years.
Eating the saturated fats and proteins while forgoing the wheat and grains WILL improve your blood panels. So if possible, get a work up done before you start, then after a month or two and see the results for yourself. It's pretty amazing actually.
I am T2 diabetic and had triglycerides around 300. I have blood work done every 3 months to prove to my doctor that his push for me to go on statins is ill-advised.
I have also always struggled with anemia, which seems to still be an issue. My blood work last week shows my iron levels are at the very bottom of "normal," and that is with eating liver once a week and taking a whole food iron tab every night. This time around, my vit D levels were also checked and found to be quite low. So, I will continue to tweak my diet and daily habits to find balance and will check everything again in 3 months.
Partly as confirmation that your doing the right thing with a radical change in diet.
Partly because people get bloods done anyway, and conventional medicine often doesnt know how to interpret blood results which are lower carb, because all the literature and reference ranges are for people who eat loads of carbs. The body acts quite differently in lower carb, which is understood in science, but not typically encountered, or included in blood test protocol or reference ranges.
Well, that's an interesting question to which I would refer you (yet again) to Dr. Harris for a contrarian view:
It's about halfway down in the post where he is talking about Doug McGuff/Body by Science:
"At one point in the lecture, he hints that he does not believe in doing a lot of testing. He says, “if the number is bad, eat healthy, and if the number is good, eat healthy”. What do you need the number for?
This is profound, actually and I have been meaning to blog on this for a while. I think he is using a heuristic that could, when coupled with having the consumers of health care actually be the ones paying for it, slash our health care costs nationally by more than half, even if everyone kept eating the SAD. The biggest myth in all of medicine is that doing something is always better than doing nothing, with the corollary that there is always some marginal non-negative benefit to every test and procedure. I believe this is profoundly mistaken.
The average medical service diagnostic or therapeutic, may actually not only not have a positive net benefit, but may have a net negative one.
Yes, I actually said that. So there is some “man bites dog” medical heresy for you to chew on.
And yes, I think it can be pointless or counterproductive to get calcium scores and NMR lipoprofiles and definitely standard lipid panels done at all. There are a useful things, maybe, but most of this stuff is just fuel for neurosis."
I actually don't understand the obsession either. I always say that you should know exactly what you're going to do with the data that you get. As Dave S says, if it's good, eat healthy, if it's bad, eat healthy. Before you take any test you should have a whole list of things you're going to change based on where the number comes in (that can include, do nothing if the number is in a good range), but unless you're planning ahead like that, then you're just taking the test, getting a number, and essentially doing nothing with it. It may make you feel better to have the number, but it can also stress you out that things aren't "perfect", and if you have no plan on what you're going to do with that number, it's just not worth getting.
Also, even if the tests are 100% accurate at measuring what they say they're measuring (they're not, but error theory is too much to go into here), who's really to say what a good number is and what a bad number is? All we do is compare those values to other (probably sick people) and get averages. Or you have some drug lobby trying to push what's considered "good" to a place that no one achieves without meds (cholesterol is the best example of this).
Unless you're really sick and you're trying to get a handle on what to do or to see if you can track yourself getting better, I advocate getting away from blood tests, and just go with the good old: how do you look, feel, and perform.
Really, if anyone came here and posted a bunch of numbers and said "how do I fix this?" My response will be: eat lots of protein from clean sources, lots of saturated fat, minimize sugar, and vegetable oils, and eat no grains. Even if they had "perfect" numbers, I'd say the same thing.
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