Blood tests, that is! Learning to decipher these mysterious printouts can yield surprising insights into your well-being and can help you spot-and work to nix-potential problems.
1. Glucose: The carbs you chow down are converted into glucose, a type of sugar your body uses as fuel. It’s essential for life, but too much of the stuff long-term can indicated diabetes or lead to heart or kidney disease. A diet full of sugar and refined carbs is often the worst offender. Anything within the range of 70 to 100 mg/dL is considered normal, but mid 80’s is ideal.
2. Cholesterol: These lines paint a clear picture of your cholesterol, a fatlike substance that can build up and clog arteries or eventually trigger heart disease or a stroke. But it isn’t all bad news. HDL (“good” cholesterol) helps slay LDL (“bad” cholesterol), meaning you can never have too much HDL (aim for at least 60 mg/dL). Help lower your LDL but getting regular aerobic exercise, avoiding saturated fats, eating fiber-rich foods like lentils and almonds and getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids.
3. TSH: This helps regulate your thyroid, which in turn, keeps your metabolism moving (that’s crucial for weight control and energy). Low levels can translate into anxiety or weight loss; high levels can lead to fatigue, depression or weight gain. Either condition (hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism) is usually treatable with meds. Foods that contain iodine–like lima beans and shellfish–may help boost thyroid function