Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Are You “Average” Or Superhuman? How to Rebel Against Average Health Guidelines…

By Jamie Koonce @charcuterielove

Are You “Average” or Superhuman?  How to Rebel Against Average Health Guidelines…Have you ever wondered how “reference ranges” for lab test results are determined?

As a child, I always thought “healthy” reference ranges on lab tests were determined from scientific data showing that those ranges were associated with better health than numbers below or above the suggested reference range.  It wasn’t until I was in medical school for the study of acupuncture and herbology that I learned that the standard reference ranges your doctor uses to determine whether you are healthy or not are actually just averages of the test results of everyone else who had that same test done.

For instance, if the average body weight of each person of a particular height was X pounds, then that weight is determined to be the optimal weight for people of that height.

So if the average person who is five feet tall weighs 200 pounds, then this becomes the recommended body weight for people who are 5 feet tall.  Luckily, most of the body weight reference ranges were established in the 1970′s.

This same procedure is utilized for blood tests as well.  The average cholesterol level of everyone who had their cholesterol tested at a commercial laboratory becomes the reference range for “normal” cholesterol levels.  The average thyroid hormone level of everyone who had their thyroid tested becomes the “normal” thyroid level.  And so on…

The doctor might give you a clean bill of health simply based on the fact that you are average, even if you complain of symptoms such as pain or fatigue.

Your doctor might think your symptoms are all in your head, so you’ll be prescribed an anti-depressant so you’ll stop complaining.  Or perhaps you believe you’re in a stellar state of health, only to be told that your iron is low or your cholesterol is too high.  You’d be put on an iron supplement and statin drugs, which would actually shorten your lifespan and quality of life.

After many years of being on a vegan diet, I had some labwork done which tested my fasting blood glucose.

The number was 109 mg/dL of blood, which is “normal” according to the established reference ranges.  (The current reference range for fasting blood glucose is 65 – 109 mg/dL.)  I was given a clean bill of health, but I sensed something was wrong.  If I went longer than about 4 hours without a meal, I would get extremely irritable and need to snack on some fruit to feel okay.  My energy level would go up or down based on how long it had been since I’d eaten a meal.  I had to carry snacks around in my backpack and in my car just to make sure I didn’t get too hungry and develop a headache.

After much investigation, I discovered that there’s a difference between average reference ranges and optimal reference ranges for various biomarkers of health.

For fasting blood glucose, the optimal range is actually between 70 – 85 mg/dL.  Outside that narrow reference range, your risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, accelerated aging, damaging glycation reactions, and stroke increase exponentially.  That “normal” fasting blood glucose test of 109 mg/dL was just one wake up call that lead me away from the vegan diet in 2004.

Just recently I made a post about controlling blood glucose through nutritional modification and intermittent fasting.  My fasting blood glucose levels are back down to the optimal range, except for occasionally going over 85 during the early morning hours and after exercise.  I don’t eat any high glycemic foods — not even the occasional “junk food.”  The reason why my fasting blood glucose is not any lower is probably because I use a lot of caffeine and don’t always get enough sleep.  I don’t use caffeine because I need the energy, but because I like the taste of caffeine.  (Decaf green tea seems to be lacking some special mouthfeel or flavor that I enjoy.)  Starting now, I’m going to wean myself off the caffeine and also make myself get in the bed by 10 PM.  (No more staying up until midnight reading books or lurking on Twitter.)

In addition to these lifestyle changes, I’m going to begin using Integrative Metabolic Formula from EcoNugenics and Black Shilajit from Ayush Herbs. I’ll keep you updated here on any changes that I notice.

And if you’ve never invested in a glucometer to help you measure your blood glucose response to certain foods, fasting, exercise, or lack of sleep, I would highly encourage you to do so.  Knowing your numbers can shed some light on any symptoms you have throughout the day, as well as help you become aware of any lifestyle habits that are compromising your health without producing any outright symptoms yet.  (For example, my staying up late and drinking way too much caffeine.)

Please note that short-term increases in blood sugar in response to exercise or a piece of fruit are not necessarily detrimental.  It’s when your fasting blood glucose (after at least 10 hours without food or beverages besides water) consistently rises above 85 (or below 70) that you might want to take action and find out what’s causing this BEFORE you end up with symptoms.

I’d like to “hear” your comments on this post.  Do you test your glucose with a glucometer?  If so, what did you learn from your measurements?  Do you have any questions about glucose regulation or why your numbers might be higher or lower than the optimal range of 70 – 85 mg/dL?  Let me know by posting your comments below…

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