When it comes to being “healthy” what comes to mind? Is it weight, body fat percentage, getting your daily dose of vitamins, regular exercise, free from disease, not feeling depressed or having energy throughout the day?
As we get older, our perception of what health is and looks like changes. We might have been overly concerned with our weight as teens and thought nothing of the tanning booths. I’m a little bit of a hypochondriac so my new worries include the rumored correlation to sleeping with a cell phone near your head to brain tumors and cancer causing pesticides. While you can’t test your body for these until they are an actual problem, you can keep an eye on many other health factors like cholesterol and glucose levels which help determine if you are a diabetic. These tests often are done by your primary care doctor but depending on your insurance can cost you between $200-1000 and only happen once a year at most. How are you supposed to see if you are improving or worsening your health?
I Have Sorta, Not Really, Elevated Glucose!?
A couple years ago, a company called Inside Tracker reached out to see if I’d be interested in having my blood drawn and measured for fitness and health biomarkers.
I accepted the offer, which would have been $150, and discovered that despite not taking any supplements, I pretty much got all my vitamins through real food! Something I was proud of and wrote about on here. They came out with a new at home kit for $99 that measures glucose, LDL, HDL, cholesterol, triglycerides and ALT, an enzyme found in the liver. Since I drink more than my doctor recommends, I was curious about the liver test.
I was sent a packet to prick my finger and put blood on a what looked like a home pregnancy test. I stopped eating at 8 pm the night before and pricked my finger at 8 am the next morning before breakfast. I massages my finger to create droplets of blood and placed them onto the testing strip for about 1 minute. I sent back the strip in a special package that includes shipping later that day.
The results shocked me.
My glucose levels were no longer in the green but in the yellow zone, not red but still, YELLOW! The doctor at Inside Tracker told me not to worry but I’m worried. I’m a healthy weight, I exercise and eat well but I love my desserts and despite my weight, is my sugar crush harming my body more than I realized?! The first dot is from two years ago. As with every biomarker, Inside Tracker gives recommendations to either keep up the good work or get healthy levels depending on your diet. If you are vegan, the recommendations will change accordingly.
When your glucose levels get to the red zone, then you are starting to become pre diabetic. The doctor told me that I am fine but after doing my own research (I already admitted I’m a hypochondriac), I did discover that I might not be… People with a fasting glucose level over 100 have a 300% increase risk in coronary heart disease. A 125 mg/dL is the current threshold for diagnosing diabetes. Some studies predict people with mid-nineties glucose levels will develop diabetes in a decade. I am the same weight between these two measurements but clearly my sugar intake increased. In fact, I even reduced my bad cholesterol between the two tests I had done with IT.
I had just come back from Argentina when I took the first test and and blamed my slightly elevated LDL on eating lots of steak on vacation. I went from a 101 to a 66 mg/dL.
My goal for the next 3 months is to reduce my sugar intake, take the test again and see how I’ve improved! I’m happy to learn this information before it became a problem. Now, I will add diabetes to my list of things to worry about.
My ALT was fine which is great and I’ll continue to excessively drink on the weekends. Kidding, I only do that during the summer. 🙂
Many of Inside Tracker’s clients are professional athletes who use the test to improve athletic performance but it’s a great tool for people to use to get facts about their health on a regular basis with recommendations without worrying about insurance costs. I have a special promo code for you guys to get 10% off if you are interested which is SARAHFIT13. Check out the various plans here.
I was not compensated for this post but was provided the service free of charge and I lost a little bit of dignity by admitting I eat too much froyo and macaroons! I think that evens out, right? Have you ever been shocked by a health test result?
Sabrina @ Nutritiously Sweet says
Wow! This is a good post. I felt the same when I found out I had high cholesterol (pretty much when I attempted the paleo diet) I couldn’t believe it! Thanks for sharing, we are all human 🙂
Amanda @Fitforgloryfoundbygrace says
This was very informative! I think it would be good to have full blood panels more often! The only thing about a simple sugar test is that your sugar fluctuates throughout the day. And even though yours was fasting, it can reflect just what you ate the day before. An “A1C” (Hemoglobin test) blood sugar tests looks at your blood sugar for the last 30 days. Those are usually more indicative of your real situation.
This sounds like a great service to give people a better idea of how their health status. Like Amanda i’d agree HbA1c is a better indicator of glycaemic control over a long period (its a routine test for people with diabetes however I don’t think its routinely carried out otherwise), where’s what you got was a snapshot in time. Also, with regards the accuracy of the result, I’d be interested to see what would happen if you used a blood glucose meter which provides an immediate result. the service sounds great, however I wonder if the sample taken may be effected by the time delay in analysis as sending off samples for blood glucose testing isn’t standard.
I just had a full blood panel too and the doctor suggested that I not lift any weight the night before just because of all of the enzymes it activates. She said that can throw things off too. Not sure how true that is, but just some info!
If you “massage” your finger with to much pressure to get out enough blood, cells in your blood are getting destroyed and falsify the results. So maybe you worked your finger too hard and the results are wrong. Maybe you should get a test where health personnel takes your blood… Don’t worry too much!!
Rachel McIntyre says
I totally agree with you about the concept of what is ‘healthy’ changing as I get older. I used to only care about my weight or what I looked like on the outside, but now I’m definitely a lot more concerned about what’s going on inside!
I can’t believe how much the tests cost! It makes me feel lucky that they’re free in the UK.
As others have said, what you got was just a result from one point in time. I’m sure there’s no need to worry.
I wonder if your love of juicing/cleansing with juices over the past year has impacted your glucose tolerance. Doesn’t juicing remove most of the pulp/fiber from the fruits and veggies? If so, then the fiber helps to slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream and you are removing it from the fruits and veggies when you juice them. It would seem to me that regularly ingesting fiber free and fat free juices could impact your insulin resistance and overall glucose readings -- particularly when consumed regularly on an empty stomach. Anyway, just a thought since that seems to be the major change in your diet and exercise regime over the past year.
Maybe… not sure