We’ve talked about how your story begins with the fact that DNA determines an overwhelming amount of information about who you are, what you look like, and how certain environmental factors influence your overall health. We’ve also talked about how the state of your microbiome, which is the important and complex social network of microorganisms that coinhabit your body, contributes to the development of a strong immune system and your overall wellness.
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Let’s continue to connect the molecular dots of your life story.
At The Institute for Human Optimization, understanding your story is a critical element in our approach to your healthcare. Genomic testing enlightens your predisposition to certain health vulnerabilities. Microbiome testing shines the light on how microbial imbalances in your body manifest in illness and disease. And last but definitely not least, comprehensive biomarker testing gives you a snapshot of your current state of health. This enables us to take a deep dive into your story and translate your unique book of life. We gain insights about you individually, and we learn how we can leverage this information to help influence clinical decision making.
Biomarkers, portmanteau for “biological markers,” are measurable substances, usually proteins encoded by DNA, which provide useful information about medical conditions or disease processes. They are found in blood, urine, saliva and various tissues. They help establish a baseline health status, serve as an early warning sign of potential health concerns, and provide objective goals which can be clinically monitored and used to track your progress.
There are two main ways of assessing biomarker ranges.
The pathological range is used to diagnose disease. Typical reference ranges provided with laboratory testing results are reported in “pathological ranges.” They are generated in reference to all available laboratory results. These usually reflect any number out of this range as having an underlying potential disease process, and see the disease diagnosis as an endpoint in care.
The functional range is used to assess risk for disease before it develops. The Institute for Human Optimization uses this information to help identify and prevent specific conditions using a proactive, preventative approach. We not only asses your basic, conventional biomarker standards, but we take it a step further towards health optimization and disease prevention. Jeffrey Bland, PhD, FACN, FACB, considered the Father of Functional Medicine by many, states in an IMCJ article, “In the functional medicine model, the word function is aligned with the evolving understanding that disease is an endpoint and function is a process.” This is a significant distinction that illustrates the importance of connecting those molecular dots throughout your life and how your life journey resulted in your current state of health.
What can my biomarkers tell me?
The Institute for Human Optimization uses advanced biomarker and functional medicine testing to assess how an individual responds to personalized treatment for various health conditions. Providing precise, targeted therapy can be utilized to support physiological pathways and be used to enhance favorable gene expression to promote health and wellness.
We offer over one hundred advanced biomarker tests that can be used to optimize your health.
Here are some examples:
BLOOD LIPID MARKERS – Assessing cholesterol particles helps evaluate heart health and hormonal influences. An example of one of these biomarkers is very low-density lipoprotein (vLDL). University of Michigan Health Library explains that the main purpose of vLDL “is to distribute the triglyceride produced by your liver. A high vLDL cholesterol level can cause the buildup of cholesterol in your arteries and increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.”
COMPLETE BLOOD COUNT – Red and white blood cells are foundational to wellness. While problems are rare, they often go undetected. Hemoglobin, which measures the total amount of the oxygen-carrying protein in the blood, is one level that is checked with this test panel. If the level is low, it can indicate anemia, which according to The University of Rochester Medical Center, “can be caused by blood loss, decreased production of red blood cells, or increased destruction of red blood cells.” The complete blood count also helps us identify and evaluate your overall health, as well as detect a variety of diseases and conditions, such as infections and blood disorders.
COMPREHENSIVE METABOLIC PANEL – We don’t overlook the basics. These standard markers help us flag problems. This panel evaluates your liver, kidneys, electrolytes, blood sugar and more to provide a picture of your overall health. For instance, in addition to other minerals, potassium is one of the important mineral/electrolytes included in this panel, as it helps to keep fluid balanced in your body. UW Health indicates that, “A potassium level that is too high or too low can be serious. Abnormal potassium levels may cause symptoms such as muscle cramps or weakness, nausea, diarrhea, frequent urination, dehydration, low blood pressure, confusion, irritability, paralysis, and changes in heart rhythm.”
HEAVY METALS AND ENVIRONMENTAL TOXIN MARKERS – If your body is storing harmful toxins, we test for common culprits like mercury, lead and arsenic. Vibrant Wellness, one of our testing partners, asserts that, “Heavy metal toxicity is under-represented as a root cause of illness and disease in humans, is thought to affect over 1 million individuals annually, and can affect virtually all biological systems within the human body.”
INFLAMMATORY MARKERS – Chronic inflammation is harmful to many areas of your wellness. We test for levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is made in the liver when there is inflammation in the body. This can be protective, but research shows that prolonged excessive inflammation can indicate infection or higher risk of disease.
DIABETIC MARKERS – We look for early warning signs and make adjustments to your diet and lifestyle to ward off disease development. One of the ways we do this is by measuring your Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), which shows the average amount of glucose present in the blood within the past 2–3 months. Research has determined that, “HbA1c is an important indicator of long-term glycemic control…HbA1c not only provides a reliable measure of chronic hyperglycemia, but also correlates well with the risk of long-term diabetes complications.”
HORMONE MARKERS – Hormones are involved with everything – including the way you look, the way you feel, and the energy that you have. Identifying dysregulated patterns can be the missing link in your health. Cortisol, well-known as the “stress hormone,” is a glucocorticoid that plays a key role in our body’s response to stress and glucose metabolism, and modulates many physiological and psychological processes. Studies show that chronic elevation of cortisol can result in depression, abdominal obesity, and mineral loss from bone, among a long list of other effects.
VITAMINS AND MINERAL MARKERS – Vibrant America, another one of our testing partners, shares this information about the importance of measuring your body’s vitamins and minerals: “Your genetics, aging, lifestyle, chronic illness, and medications all affect your cellular nutrient absorption. The intracellular portion of [our] micronutrient test takes all the above factors into consideration to identify [your] cellular nutrient absorption status. This test can reveal a person’s functional nutritional status over a [4-6 month time period].”
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACID INDEX – Your balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats is important for heart health and inflammation. Great Plains Laboratory, which runs our essential fatty acid testing, points out that, “Many studies have shown that people with higher (vs. lower) omega-3 index levels are at decreased risk for a variety of diseases. These include heart disease, stroke, dementia, and depression to name a few. These people even live longer than those with lower levels.”
How can The Institute for Human Optimization assist me?
Understanding the relationship between measurable biological processes and clinical outcomes is vital to expanding our arsenal of targeted treatments for all diseases and for deepening our understanding of normal, healthy physiology. There are a number of advantages to using biomarkers to gauge your progress towards your health goals.
Biomarker testing allows The Institute for Human Optimization to make more precise diagnoses and prescribe more effective, personalized treatments. It also helps us predict disease and take preventive measures to avoid unnecessary treatment. When we combine that with what we know of your unique genetic blueprint and how it’s being expressed, you’ll be able to optimize your health like never before!
We provide the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:
· Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.
· Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.
· Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.
· Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.
Let’s connect the next dot together.