What Longevity Blood Work Tells Us and Why It’s Important
Have you ever imagined living to be 100?
What about 150 or even 200?
What about living to those advanced ages and being healthy?
These thoughts of longevity seem nearly impossible.
But scientific research tells us that our seemingly impossible longevity goals may be closer than ever. And that to make healthy longevity a reality, the best way to start is by gaining insightful information about our bodies.
So, there is no better place to start than with particular biomarkers, in order to understand where you are in the aging process and fine-tune your longevity health journey.
How do blood tests fit into my longevity goals?
Many of us believe that we’re predestined to have whatever diseases or lifespan our parents had. But thanks to epigenetics, the study of the environmental factors that turn on and off our genetic expressions, we now understand that this simply isn’t true.
Research tells us that our daily lifestyle choices determine more than 90% of our state of health, not genetics.1 In other words, the foods you eat, the supplements you take, your exposure to various toxins, your stress level, and exercise and sleep patterns can all help eclipse your genetic predispositions.
So while this is exciting news, how do blood tests fit into all of this?
Blood tests are traditionally used to diagnose diseases and monitor their status. But blood work can be even more powerful when used to manage your health proactively. Blood tests can help you understand your molecular signs of health, commonly referred to as your blood biomarkers. These biomarkers can help you determine the most effective adjustments to your diet, lifestyle, exercise, and more.
Essential Blood Tests for Longevity
The first step on your longevity health journey is knowing which biomarkers offer the most information regarding your health status. I recommend the following nine tests, which include hormonal, cardiovascular, immune, inflammatory, and other markers, to establish a baseline health status and to repeat them at least every six months, especially when you’re on a mission to reverse chronic disease and/or your biological age (I’ll go more into this concept in a later article).
1. High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP)
C-reactive protein, produced by the liver, is an indicator of inflammation in the body. And inflammation is one of the key mechanisms associated with many aging-related diseases, such as cancer, atherosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, ischemic heart disease, liver cirrhosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other dementias and chronic diseases.2
The high-sensitivity CRP test is more sensitive than the typical CRP test because it can detect very slight variations of CRP.
Unmanaged, chronic inflammation can damage your arteries, organs, and joints and is a powerful predictor of degenerative diseases3 , including
- Cardiovascular disease
2. Apolipoprotein B (ApoB)
Apolipoprotein B is the primary protein in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol because it can damage the heart and blood vessels.
The ApoB marker measures the amount of this protein on the surface of cholesterol and helps indicate your risk level for cardiovascular disease. High ApoB levels are strongly correlated with an increased risk of certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and memory decline.4
3. Complete Blood Count with Differential (CBC)
A complete blood count (CBC) measures the levels of each component that make up your blood, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This test also details the levels of the red and white blood cell subcomponents, including hemoglobin, hematocrit, lymphocytes, and neutrophils.
You can extract a great deal of information from a CBC; however, the following may be the most beneficial aging biomarkers:
- White Blood Cells (WBCs). WBCs help the body protect against infection by traveling through the bloodstream and attacking bacteria, viruses, or germs. An elevated WBC count can help detect autoimmune conditions, infection, and other blood disorders, whereas a low count can indicate immune deficiencies and chronic infection5. Specifically, a low lymphocyte count is associated with an increased risk of death from cancer, respiratory disease, infections, cardiovascular disease, and other causes6. The WBC count generally decreases with age, leading to a declined immune response, as well as the red blood cell (RBC count), which can lead to anemia.7
- Mean Platelet Value (MPV). MPV tests measure the size of your platelets, indicating how your bone marrow is functioning. An MPV test can help identify cardiovascular disease, autoimmune conditions, nutrient deficiencies, and other chronic conditions.8
DHEA, also commonly referred to as “the anti-aging hormone,” is derived from cholesterol and metalized primarily to testosterone and estrogen in the adrenals, ovaries, and testes. DHEA is key in regulating your heart rate, blood pressure, brain function, and other body systems. DHEA enhances bone density by being involved in bone remineralization, which reduces fracture risk. It is involved in the activation of the immune mechanisms, impacting immune function and modulating inflammation. DHEA supports heart health and has been found to reduce the propensity toward metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and obesity. It improves quality of life, bolsters sexual arousal, and improves skin elasticity9. DHEA typically peaks in our 20s and decreases as we age, impacting immune function, wound healing, bone density, mood, and other symptoms and diseases of aging.
DHEA-S, the sulfated form of DHEA, is a better biomarker than DHEA because of its reduced diurnal (day-night) variations and therefore is more predictive of long-term adrenal resilience. DHEA-S also plays a significant role in neurotransmitter synthesis and the health of neurons. These neuroprotective effects are vital in preserving our memory as we age.
After you eat, your body converts excess calories into triglycerides and stores them in your fat cells to be used for energy later. Triglycerides are an essential energy source for the body, but varying levels can indicate how well your body is managing sugar, absorbing fats, and digesting your foods10. In one study, elevated blood triglyceride levels were associated with a higher risk of heart disease and all-cause mortality, and the risk of all-cause mortality was found to be lowest with a triglyceride level of approximately 135 mg/dL.11
Cortisol is a hormone produced and released from the adrenal glands that helps regulate numerous bodily functions, including:12
- Managing your stress response
- Controlling your metabolism
- Suppressing inflammation
- Regulating blood sugar, and
- Controlling your sleep-wake cycle
Optimal cortisol daily cycling involves a peak in circulating cortisol around 30-45 minutes after waking and a lull in cortisol levels around midnight. Chronic stress, untamed inflammation, shift work, and diabetes can throw off this natural cycling, which can lead to daytime fatigue, insomnia, poor resilience, and….accelerated aging.13
7. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)
HbA1c measures your average blood sugar level over the previous two to three months and is commonly used to diagnose and manage diabetes and prediabetes. The HbA1c test can help people with diabetes maintain optimal glucose levels14.
Even in non-diabetics, there appears to be a steady increase in HbA1c levels with age. Research has demonstrated that “tightness of glycemic control has a significant impact on the biological aging process;” moreover, people with type 2 diabetes appear to have a significantly accelerated aging process compared to non-diabetics15.
8. Fasting Glucose
Fasting glucose measures the amount of sugar in your blood when you haven’t eaten for 8 or more hours. In fact, fasting glucose is so important that I consider it the fifth vital sign. Fasting glucose can identify pre-diabetes and diabetes, is a strong indicator of metabolic health,16,17 and has been directly correlated with increased biological age (aka. functional age).18
Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) is an enzyme primarily produced by the liver and is known as a sensitive indicator of liver and biliary disease and damage19. However, it is much more than a liver enzyme. Elevated GGT is associated with an increased risk of many conditions, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, fatty liver, and all-cause mortality20.
This is at least partly believed to be due to its correlation with low levels of glutathione, a master antioxidant in the body. GGT’s primary function is to increase glutathione levels in the body to combat inflammation, toxic exposure, and oxidative stress.21
Why should I get bloodwork done if I am healthy?
Getting bloodwork done, even when you are healthy, helps you to stay healthy!
Regular blood work helps establish a baseline for your body’s appearance when functioning well, at least subjectively. With optimized data analysis, you can quickly identify subtle changes that might occur under the surface. This way, you can proactively adjust your diet, lifestyle, and supplementation well before potential disease onset, then repeat testing every 6-12 months to track your progress objectively.
What information can I get from regular biomarker testing?
Regular testing of predictive biomarkers helps determine:
- Your optimal diet
- Your optimized supplement protocol
- Toxic exposure(s)
- How your lifestyle choices, such as exercise, fasting, meditation, and sleep rhythms, are impacting your overall health.
But most importantly, regular biomarker testing allows you to take control and responsibility for your health and longevity.
How often should I get longevity bloodwork done?
At a minimum, I recommend biomarker testing every six months. Regular testing allows you to make micro-adjustments continually rather than every 5 or 10 years. More frequent testing can also give you more data points, which can help inform better decisions moving forward and ahead of the typical aging trend.
Start Your Longevity Health Journey Today
Are you ready to turn your fantasies of living a long and healthy life into reality?
At Reboot Center, I aim to give you the tools you need to empower wellness by assessing your unique health status and developing a tailored wellness plan.
Begin experiencing our innovative approach to empowered wellness and d optimized longevity by scheduling a complimentary health strategy session today.
“a population-based study of 2872 Danish twin pairs born 1870-1900.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8786073/. Accessed 21 Nov. 2022.
The baseline levels and risk factors for high-sensitive C-reactive protein in Chinese healthy population
“A cross-sectional study on serum high-sensitivity C-reactive protein ….” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6856923/. Accessed 21 Nov. 2022.
https://labs.selfdecode.com/blog/apolipoprotein-b/. Accessed 24 Nov. 2022.
“The White Blood Cell and Differential Count – Clinical Methods – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK261/. Accessed 21 Nov. 2022.
https://www.cbc.ca/radio/whitecoat/a-blood-test-that-predicts-the-risk-of-dying-1.5424633. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.
https://www.imm.ox.ac.uk/news/research-unpicks-why-immune-responses-decrease-with-age. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.
“Mean Platelet Volume (MPV): New Perspectives for an Old Marker in ….” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6501263/. Accessed 21 Nov. 2022.
“High Blood Triglycerides | NHLBI, NIH.” 7 Apr. 2022, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/high-blood-triglycerides. Accessed 21 Nov. 2022.
https://lipidworld.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12944-020-01400-w. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.
“Physiology, Cortisol – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” 29 Aug. 2022, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538239/. Accessed 21 Nov. 2022.
“Significance of HbA1c Test in Diagnosis and Prognosis of Diabetic ….” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4933534/. Accessed 21 Nov. 2022.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28215180/. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.
“Normal Fasting Plasma Glucose and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes ….” 1 Jun. 2008, https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(08)00231-3/abstract. Accessed 21 Nov. 2022.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4931851/. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167494308000824. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.
“Gamma-Glutamyltransferase: A Predictive Biomarker of Cellular ….” 12 Oct. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4620378/. Accessed 21 Nov. 2022.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4620378/. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.
Bradley, Ryan et al. “Associations between total serum GGT activity and metabolic risk: MESA.” Biomarkers in medicine vol. 7,5 (2013): 709-21. doi:10.2217/bmm.13.71.