All the amazing things a drop of blood can reveal about your health
We all know that our blood can tell us a lot about our overall health. We will do a blood test when we want to learn about nutritional deficiencies, markers of autoimmune disorders, hormonal imbalances… the list is long.
What may shock you is how much we can learn about our health from a simple finger prick.
First of all: what is blood?
Most of us know that its main job is to circulate oxygen and fuel to the cells of our body and remove carbon dioxide and metabolic wastes. But blood is much more than that. It is a complex “organ” that is essential for so many aspects of our physiology. For example, the suite of specialized cells in our blood form an essential part of our immune system, our defense against disease.
But did you know that blood is also our internal information highway? An incredibly complex array of chemical messengers – like hormones for example – travel through our bodies in the blood. They convey biological information about the performance of various organs and body systems, as well as data about the external environment. This information keeps us alive by coordinating our body’s finely tuned response to internal challenges and changes in the outside world.
So how does the blood test work?
These chemical messengers are often present in minute amounts, but advances in technology allow us to detect even the most subtle changes in a single drop of blood. In this context, chemical messengers are called biomarkers, and changes in the levels of these biomarkers can tell us a lot about our health and well-being.
Biomarkers are a window into our metabolism, immune system, hormonal status, etc., and how these systems respond over time to changes in our lifestyle, environment, or health status. The complex relationship between our genetics, our environment, and our daily decisions influences circulating levels of a panel of established biomarkers known to respond to changes in our sleep, stress, energy levels, nutrition, and diet. exercise, inflammation and alcohol consumption.
By tapping into our biological information highway, we can better understand these relationships. Measuring the response of biomarkers to changes in our lifestyle helps establish a connection between how you feel and what is actually happening in your body. It offers new opportunities to modify our behavior and decision-making for better health and well-being.
And what can they tell us?
For example, the hormone cortisol is released in response to stress and low blood glucose. Cortisol has a range of effects, including raising blood pressure, blood sugar, and suppressing the immune response. Altered cortisol metabolism may play a role in obesity, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance. Other blood proteins called interleukins can indicate inflammation and response to exercise.
The real power of this approach lies in the simultaneous measurement of a panel of several biomarkers, capturing a range of biological information. Having the sensitivity to do it in a drop of blood with a simple finger prick makes this approach accessible to many.