Blood tests can tell you a lot
In July this year, I decided to invest in some blood tests with Thriva, an online blood test company.
I didn’t have any specific concerns but I wanted to check up on my cholesterol and thyroid, and also to see if my Vitamin D levels were in a good place to support my immunity.
Their website has a sweet and simple survey that guides you to choose blood tests based on your height, weight, age and health goals.
As it was my first time I decided to go ahead with a fairly comprehensive blood panel.
- Liver Function
- CRP (inflammatory markers)
- HBA1C (early detection of diabetes)
- Vitamins B9 and B12
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 and Omega-6
Thriva sent out a home testing kit, which was very simple to use.
I sent my blood sample in the prepaid envelope and waited.
July Blood Tests
When the results of my blood tests came back I was relieved to see they were pretty good overall.
My Vitamin D results were even ‘optimal‘!
(I put this down to the good quality Vitamin D that I used at the start of lockdown.)
But, I did come away with one main area to work on: my intake of fats.
This showed up in two of my blood tests.
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 balance
- Cholesterol profile
The medical doctor analysing my results explained that overall my positive cholesterol levels were helping to balance my ‘bad’ cholesterol.
But, as my Omega-3 was slightly low and my Omega-6 was slightly high, it was suggested that I take a fish oil supplement, which would also help my cholesterol levels overall.
Omega-3 is essential for many biological functions.
- Hormone production
- Brain function
- Eye health
It’s also linked to better sleep and mental health and is thought to help prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer.
In simple terms, omega-3 fats reduce inflammation in your body.
On the other hand, omega-6 fats promote inflammation.
Long-term, low-grade (chronic) inflammation can put you at risk of things like heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and diabetes.
This is why it’s important to have the right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fats.
My Plan to Increase Omega-3
I decided to focus on eating oily fish every week, such as mackerel, sardines, anchovy and salmon.
Walnuts are already one of my favourite nuts, so they are now my go-to for snacking.
Chia and Flaxseed also contain Omega-3, but I find them harder to include in my diet so I decided to focus on walnuts instead.
Algae is the source of Omega-3 in fish, and I’ve been using Aquasource blue-green algae supplements for more than 20 years.
On reflection, I realised I hadn’t taken any supplements (except Vitamin D) for a few months, so I ordered a new supply.
- Oily fish at least weekly (sustainable sources)
- Walnuts for snacks
- Blue-green algae daily
- Homeobotanicals to support my liver
- Homeopathy to balance cholesterol
My Plan to Decrease Omega-6
This has taken a bit more effort!
To avoid eating processed vegetable oils I’ve focused on reading labels a lot more!
As a result, I’ve stopped consuming oatcakes, oat milk, most savoury snacks and milk chocolate.
On my label-reading journey, I also discovered how many foods contain palm oil, which I found quite shocking.
Cadburys chocolate and Nairns organic oatcakes both contain palm oil. I had no idea.
- Cut out oatcakes and oat milk
- Cut out milk chocolate
- Cut out savoury snacks
- Reduce all oils in cooking
Most of what I eat is home-cooked, but I’ve tried to reduce my overall vegetable oil consumption while still using olive oil and coconut oil in moderation.
I am intolerant to cow’s dairy produce, but I’m not affected by butter and cream so I continue to enjoy them occasionally.
November Blood Tests
Thriva offers a subscription where you can choose how often to have your blood tests and also what to include on the panel.
I opted to have new blood tests in October, and this is what I chose to have tested.
- Omega-3 and Omega-6
- Vitamin D
The results of my blood tests came back this week and I was delighted with them!
Normal Cholesterol, HbA1c and CRP results was a great result, plus and I’ve increased my Omega-3 and decreased my Omega-6!
My Vitamin D levels have reduced slightly, but are still in the normal range. I know I need to keep an eye on my Vitamin D as it’s winter and light levels are lower.
Overall I couldn’t be more pleased!
My New Plan
It is great to see my progress through my blood tests, and I’m really motivated to keep making positive changes.
Here’s my new plan.
- Eat oily fish regularly
- Eat walnuts regularly
- Take blue-green algae daily
- Take Vitamin D daily
- Avoid vegetable oils
- Avoid processed foods
The Thriva portal gives me a place to update my health profile and to make a health plan for myself.
Blood Tests and Symptom-tracking
Your blood can tell you a lot about your internal health.
Thyroid and endocrine panels, cholesterol, iron and B12 levels are blood-tests I often recommend.
Homeopathy and botanical herbs are the main supports I offer, but I will also suggest dietary changes and food supplements when needed.
Blood tests and symptom-tracking are helpful ways to see progress and the impact on your well-being.
Small actions and small steps build-up to solid progress over time.