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Home blood testing - bad blood or good guidance?

Home blood tests are becoming a popular way to monitor your health. But are the insights from these tests accurate, reliable and necessary? Let’s find out.

Why should you do a home blood test?

Drawing blood always sounds awful–it seems when you see your own blood it’s never a good indication, for obvious reasons. But, there is a time when seeing your blood is, in fact, good for you. That’s when you’re testing your blood to proactively take care of your health and well-being.

Taking a blood test for analysis regarding our health can be most insightful for our holistic healing. When we know where we’re at, in terms of health, then taking the necessary precautions becomes that much easier. Taking this test in the comfort of your own home can help calm your nerves–especially if the doctor’s rooms make you anxious. 

Bad blood or good guidance?

Don’t be mistaken, when we say BAD BLOOD, it has nothing to do with estranged relationships with members of your family. Cue your favourite soap opera jingle! In this context, it can be a good thing! Think of it like this: testing your blood can reveal some of the bad things going on in your body, and once you know the bad you’re able to get on track to make them better. Now that’s good guidance, right? 


Image of a lady’s hands. She is holding onto her finger which has been pricked for a blood test

 

The truth about blood tests and what they can reveal

We already know that blood can be taken to check your cholesterol and glucose levels, but blood taken can also be tested for other health insights such as vitamin levels and iron. At DNAfit, when you get Snapshot, you are able to track 17 blood markers over five key health categories:

  1. Lipids
  2. Vitamins
  3. Inflammation
  4. Liver Function
  5. Iron

1. Lipids

When testing your blood for lipids you get insights as to the condition of your total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol (the good kind of cholesterol), LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), cholesterol ratio, triglycerides and triglyceride : HDL ratio. 

If this is the first time you’re hearing the word Triglycerides, here’s what you need to know:Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn't need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals.”

Blue gloved hand holding a Test tube containing blood, marked: ‘Lipid Profile - Test’

Vitamins

At DNAfit, when we test your blood for health insights we investigate your vitamin levels. These vitamins include folate, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D. 

  • Folate (B9) is required for optimal metabolism functioning. 
  • Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin) influences metabolic functions, helps form red blood cells, improves mental ability, converts amino acids/fatty acids into energy
  • Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin! For adults, vitamin D can help slow bone break-down which leads to osteoporosis, keeping you stronger for longer. Vitamin D can also: protect against gum disease, keep your muscles strong, help improve heart health and boost brain function. The truth is, Vitamin D is very difficult to get through the diet. Most people who are office-bound need to take a supplement. 

So you can see how knowing these essential vitamin levels from a blood test can help you proactively improve your health whatever it’s current status.

Inflammation

Inflammation can be protective and reparative, however, it can also be potentially harmful. It’s said to be protective because when inflammation ensues it can destroy, dilute or contain dangerous agents. 

Inflammation also induces and supports tissue healing - playing a part in the tissue repair process. Inflammatory diseases are instances of potentially harmful inflammatory conditions, which usually end in “itis”, like colitis or arthritis. The difference comes in with how you experience the inflammation - either acutely or chronically. This is distinguished by duration and type of infiltrating inflammatory cells.

So, inflammation can be good and bad, but how can we tell the difference?

With acute inflammation, your immune cells react immediately to the damaged area to fix the problem. During this process you may notice (symptoms): 

  1. Redness 
  2. Heat 
  3. Swelling 
  4. Pain 
  5. And occasionally loss of function 

This is a normal response, like what follows after you stub your toe or get a splinter. Your acute inflammation is usually protective and reparative. In these instances, inflammation disappears on its own after the irritation has been removed and the body is adequately protected. 

Chronic inflammation, though, could result if your body is unable to resolve the immediate threat or could be due to nutrient deficiencies. This type of inflammation doesn’t always lead to the 5 symptoms (mentioned above) that you see with acute inflammation, and sometimes can happen silently (or be completely asymptomatic). 

Chronic inflammation often refers to a potentially harmful response - where inflammation is the disease. In some diseases the immune system fights against its body’s own cells by mistake, causing inflammation which continues without resolution. If the inflammation is severe enough symptoms may include feeling ill, tiredness, and even fever. This is known as a chronic inflammatory disease, which can last for years or even a lifetime, like Rheumatoid arthritis, where many joints throughout the body are permanently inflamed.

C-Reactive Protein (CRP) is a good marker of systemic inflammation. Knowing your inflammation information can help you with managing your health for better results. This is one reason why we test for inflammation at DNAfit when you take our at-home blood test, SnapShot!

4. Liver Function

Investigating your liver function with DNAfit's Snapshot involves complex processes including GGT, Alkaline Phosphatase, Albumin, Globulin, ALT, Bilirubin, as well as your total protein. 

Human Body Organs Anatomy (Liver)

Let’s break these down...

Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT)

GGT is an enzyme found mainly in the liver. When the liver is injured or the flow of bile is obstructed, the concentration of GGT within the bloodstream rises.

Alkaline Phosphatase 

Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme found in high amounts in bone and liver. What causes alkaline phosphatase levels to be high? This could include hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver cancer, gallstones, or a blockage in your bile ducts. High levels may also indicate an issue related to the bones, such as rickets, Paget's disease, bone cancer, or an overactive parathyroid gland.

Albumin

Albumin is a protein made by your liver. Albumin helps keep fluid in your bloodstream so it doesn't leak into other tissues. It is also carries various substances throughout your body, including hormones, vitamins, and enzymes. Low albumin levels can indicate a problem with your liver or kidneys.

Globulin

Globulin refers to any of a group of simple proteins soluble in salt solutions and forming a large fraction of blood serum protein. High levels of total protein can mean that either albumin and/or globulin are high. High levels of albumin are usually because a person is dehydrated. High globulin levels can be from blood diseases such as multiple myeloma or autoimmune diseases such as lupus, kidney disease, or liver disease.

A low A/G ratio may reflect overproduction of globulins, such as seen in multiple myeloma or autoimmune diseases, or underproduction of albumin, such as may occur with cirrhosis, or selective loss of albumin from the circulation, as may occur with kidney disease (nephrotic syndrome).

Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)

An ALT test measures the level of ALT in your blood. ... An ALT test is also known as a serum glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (SGPT) test or an alanine transaminase test. It’s a mouthful, but considered an important test because your doctor may order an ALT test if you’re having symptoms of liver disease, including: making proteins, storing vitamins and iron, removing toxins from your blood, producing bile, which aids in digestion.

From just this long list of insights concerning the complexities that go into optimal liver function, we can see the importance of getting our blood tested for liver function.

Doctor looking at a test tube filled with blood

5. Iron

“Iron is an important component of haemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to transport it throughout your body. Haemoglobin represents about two-thirds of the body's iron. If you don't have enough iron, your body can't make enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells.” - WebMD

An iron test involves testing your blood iron level.Two aspects tested when testing your blood for iron levels include: iron and ferritin. The serum iron test measures the amount of iron in the liquid portion of blood. 

Serum iron is almost always measured with other iron tests, such as: 

  • serum ferritin (in general, normal ferritin levels range from 12 to 300 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL) for males and 12 to 150 ng/mL for females)
  • transferrin (a protein that attaches iron molecules and transports iron in the blood plasma) 
  • total iron-binding capacity (TIBC)

Ferritin is a blood cell protein that contains iron. A ferritin test helps indicate how much iron your body is storing. If a ferritin test reveals that your blood ferritin level is lower than normal, it indicates your body's iron stores are low and you have iron deficiency.

Optimising your iron for healthy oxygen levels is important.

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