Blood tests can tell you a lot

I recently sent off some small vials of blood as part of my personal self-care and annual check-up strategy.

This process started for me in July 2020 when 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.

  • Cholesterol
  • Thyroid
  • Liver Function
  • CRP (inflammatory markers)
  • HBA1C (early detection of diabetes)
  • Iron
  • 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 2020 blood test results

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.

  1. Omega-3 and Omega-6 balance
  2. 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.

Essential Omegas

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 high in Omega 3s, and were 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.

Here’s a summary of my plan.

  • 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.

Here’s the summary of my food plan.

  • 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 and Vitl are two companies that offer 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 2020, and this is what I chose to have tested.

  • Cholesterol
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6
  • Vitamin D
  • HbA1c
  • CRP

When the results of my blood tests came back this week 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.

Vitamin D supplements are essential during the darker months as they support many normal functions including sleep, mood and immunity.

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 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.

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  • Get a good night’s sleep

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