Why do lab report references not give you a complete picture? What are the optimal ranges?

Why do lab report references not give you a complete picture What are the optimal ranges

First of all, let’s take a quick quiz.

Q. Do you want to

  1. “Get through” life? or 
  2. Thrive?

Q.  Do you want to be

  1. Diagnosed only when you have fallen sick? or 
  2. Be alerted beforehand so that you avoid the disease.

Q. Do you want to

  1. Manage symptoms and take medications all your life? or 
  2. Attack the root cause and be healthy always.

If you have chosen a (which I hope you have not), then the standard ranges given in your lab reports are the solution. But if you have chosen “b”, then you need to read this article carefully, as I am going to share something very interesting.

Problem with the current diagnostic system

If you see a 2-3-year-old kid going near a fire, will you not stop him? Or will you wait for him to put his hands in the fire and then stop him?

Unfortunately, the medical system does not seem to be doing the latter. They are in no hurry to alert the patient. Only after he has burnt his fingers, the system wakes up. And then many times, it’s too late and a lot of damage is done.

My father has been very religious about getting his complete body checkups every year and had been doing it for the last 20 years. And things seem to be quite normal and within “reference range” as per his lab reports. But then suddenly in the year 2013, he complained of chest pain. We got an angiogram done only to find out that he has a heart problem and an operation needs to be done immediately.

What a failure on the part of the medical system to not alert him even once! The first time he was told that he has a problem, he was told to get an operation immediately, otherwise “if he walks out of the hospital without surgery today, he may not see tomorrow.”

It was very frustrating. I asked the doctor “Why were we not told about the problem when the problem was small so that we could prevent it.” And the doctor said, there is nothing else he could have done. Sadly, this is the normal protocol.

There are a number of fundamental problems with the current diagnostic practice:

  1. The current lab report reference ranges are created to highlight when things go out of control and when you have fallen sick. You are told that you have diabetes when your blood sugars go up, but there are markers to highlight it years before it’s going to happen. 
  2. The standard lab reports look at symptoms and not so much at root cause parameters. E.g. in the case of thyroid, doctors check only TSH, T3, and T4 and never look at thyroid antibody tests. 
  3. The references in the lab reports are very lenient and not optimal. It’s like a 40% passing mark. But do you want to just pass or pass with flying colours?

Now, I know there is a better option available. It’s called Functional Medicine. To know more about it, read my article on the subject.

What is the optimal range as per Functional Medicine?

Functional Medicine believes in treating lifestyle diseases from the root causes with minimal help from conventional medicines. And lab reports are the most potent weapon. It has to personalise the treatment for the patient. It’s a very popular practice in the western world and Indians are slowly getting to know about it.

Functional medicine believes in the healing power of your body and it believes that the best doctor and the best medicine lie inside you. But you need to give the body all the right ammunition to fight disease and to keep you healthy. And what are these ammunitions? Not the medicines. But the basic minerals, vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants that your body is supposed to have. And your body does not need just “passing marks”, but it needs them in the optimal range. E.g. Vitamin D is a very important nutrient for your body to fight multiple diseases including Covid. And almost 80% of urban Indians are deficient in it even by normal standards (which is >30 ng/mL). But as per Functional Medicine, the optimal range is not 30, but 50+ to help your body to fight the disease more effectively.

The good news is, it’s cheap and easy to increase your vitamin D levels and it would stop you from falling sick from multiple diseases. Hence, it is quite understandable why some pharma companies would not want us to focus on Vitamin D, as it would be detrimental to their profit.

We follow multiple experts from the Functional Medicine world to form our optimal range: Dr. Ashwini Garg, Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Dicken Weatherby. Sharing some of the optimal ranges that we follow as part of our program:

Biomarker Optimal Range – Lower value Optimal Range – Higher value Standard range – lowe value Standard range – higher value Units
Glucose – Fasting- 70 93 65 99 mg/dl
Insulin – Fasting 2 9 0 19.6 µIU/ml
Fructosamine 190 249 190 270 µmoI/L
HOMA2-%IR 0.625 1.5 0.5 1.75 Index
Creatinine 0.6 1.3 0.4 1.5 mg/dL
GGT 6.5 51 3 85 IU/L
Iron – Serum 62.5 160 40 190 µg/dL
Ferritin 23 151 16 232 µg/mL
Triglycerides 35 120 0 150 mg/dL
HDL Cholesterol 55 95 46 100 mg/dL
Lipoprotein (a) 0 46.5 0 75 nmoI/L
Homocysteine 2.5 8.8 0 10.3 µmoI/L
TSH 0.85 3.8 0.4 4.5 µU/mL
Vitamin D (25-OH) 50 95 30 100 ng/mI
Vitamin B12 400 950 200 1100 pg/mI
Testosterone Total – Male 500 1000 250 1100 ng/dI
Hs CRP – Male 0 1.7 0 2.9 mg/L

Also, we don’t just look at optimal ranges, but we also put a huge emphasis on the “root cause” indicators more than what a conventional doctor would. Read our article on Cholesterol to know more about it.

So, I hope you will take control of your life and thrive. And not just “pass” but “pass with flying colours”.

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