Are your lab results misleading you and your doctor?

The next time your doctor asks you to run some blood tests and then discusses the results with you, asking him/her: what are the “reference ranges” based on?

I bet you most doctors wouldn’t know the answer to that question.

Reference ranges are the “ideal” ranges printed next to each biomarkers on your test. As a general rule of thumb in conventional medicine, if you fall within that range, you’re “fine”.

But there are 2 major flaws with this logic:

Flaw # 1: who wants to be “fine”?! We want to be “great” not “fine”!

When doctors run these tests, they’re looking for a biomarker which falls outside the range to determine if it’s the reason behind the symptoms you suffer from and why you’re sitting in that waiting room for hours. In other words, if you fall outside the range, you’re “sick” and need to address that problem. If you’re barely inside the range, most doctors wouldn’t even give that test a second glance, pronouncing you as “fine”.

The way the medical community sees this is as follows: being inside the range means absence of disease. But there is a BIG difference between “absence of disease” and “being optimal and feeling that you’re operating at your best” right?

So the next time you receive your tests, read them yourself first, and determine which ones are “fine” but not “optimal”, and ask about how to address those issues (in addition to any obvious ones the doctor raises).

Flaw #2: the “reference” range is based on unhealthy people to begin with!

Did you ever wonder how the reference range in those lab results is calculated? It’s based on a normalized distribution (and sometimes log-normal distribution) of a sample representing the general population. In other words, the range is based on the “average” of the population. Most reference ranges used throughout the world originate from the US and the UK, where the average population isn’t exactly the modicum of optimal health…

As the health of the general population deteriorates, the “reference range” moves along with it. In other words, what is considered “healthy” today may be considered as “unhealthy” when compared to ranges used 40 years ago…

This is why I’m a much bigger fan of finding out what the “optimal” range is for each biomarker: the range in which a human being can be, feel and operate at his/her best.

There are no fixed resources for “optimal” ranges, but one way for you to begin is by taking the mid-point of the lab reference range and using the top or bottom half as your new “optimal” range.  For example, the normal reference range for fasting blood glucose is 70-99 mg/dL. The midpoint would be 85 mg/dL, so your “optimal range” would be 70-85mg/dL.

Over time, as you test and monitor how you feel, you will be able to develop your own “optimal” range for each biomarker: the range in which you feel at your best.

As usual, any questions / comments hit reply or comment below.

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