There are many ways to test for the first and second force of Illness (called malnutrition, or what we have called the “sludge” factor and impaired metabolism or “burnout”). When we take in food, and digest and assimilate it, only the waste or unusable portion should be eliminated in the stool. If meat fibers or fats are showing up in the feces, then you are not fully breaking down and absorbing the protein and fats in your food. Your Naturopathic or Medical Doctor may order a comprehensive digestive stool analysis to determine if this is the case. Levels of the essential fatty acids and amino acids can also be measured in the blood also. Individual vitamins like B12 and vitamin D can be individually measured as can homocysteine – a major methylation and cardiovascular health marker.
Mitochondrial function can be indirectly tested by a urine organic acid profile – a relatively new and non-invasive way to indirectly measure certain factors related to metabolic function i.e., fatty acid and carbohydrate metabolism markers (B1, B2, B3, Carnitine, Lipoic Acid, CoQ10), Energy production markers (B complex, Amino Acids, Mg), B-complex vitamin markers (B1, B2,B3, B5, B6, Biotin), Methylation Cofactor markers (B12, Folate), Neurotransmitter Metabolism markers (Tyrosine, Tryptophan, B6, antioxidants) and Detoxification markers (Arg, NAC, Met, Mg, antioxidants).
Mitochondrial function can also be affected by pollutants, heavy metals, and so on. Many of the environmental contaminants can now be tested for in blood or urine.
One of the most important factors to test for is insulin resistance (IR). As I mentioned in the previous blog, IR is linked to obesity, arteriosclerosis, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes Make sure that your M.D. or N.D. orders HbA1c and serum insulin in addition to fasting serum glucose. Optimum levels of HbA1c and Insulin are below 5.5% and less than 40 (fasting) respectively in addition to a fasting blood sugar less than 6.0. In routine blood work, a lipid panel is done (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides). If the triglyceride-to-HDL ratio is greater than 4.3, this suggests a high probability of insulin resistance. The waist-to-hip ratio is an easy way to determine you tendency to IR. Divide your waist measurement at the belly button level by the hip measurement. For women, any value over 0.8 is associated with IR and, in men, any value over 0.9.
Thyroid dysfunction is becoming somewhat of an epidemic. In my opinion, everyone should have a full thyroid panel done early in their life to provide an individual’s “normal” levels. Optimal levels of TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone, should be between 1 and 2. Please be aware that the “normal” range is up to 4 – but the normal and “optimum” functional ranges are different. Free T3 should be measured as well as free T4 – because T3 is the more active thyroid hormone form. T3 is formed from T4. There are many factors that affect this conversion – including stress and female/male hormones.
In the next blog, we will consider the Third Force of Illness called “Inflammation” or “Heat”.