Are You Healthy?

I feel good, but how do I know if I am healthy?

My 60-year-old brother-in-law went out to eat breakfast on a Saturday morning in September, while his wife was out of town.  He came home, put on a pot of coffee and settled down on the sofa in front of the television to wait for it to brew.  He died a few minutes later... with the remote in his hand.  He was overweight, but not excessively so.  He was a physician and worked very hard, but had no obvious signs of health problems.  He felt fine.  His family is DEVASTATED.  How could this "just happen?" 

We all have reasons to think that we are healthy...  

  • "I'm thin"
  • "I work out"
  • "I don't smoke"
  • "I'm a runner"
  • "I eat a lot of fish"   

What Are "Excellent Health" Markers?

There has been a lot of research done over the years about health and disease. We all know what we think we should do based on the latest news story.  But, I have been digging a little deeper to find out what the experts are saying about some objective measures for excellent health.

Of course, most of the "markers" you are accustomed to are "average" markers. Unfortunately, nearly one out of two people with "average" markers will have a heart attack, a stroke or even a cancer diagnosis.

That's why you will want to get your numbers better than "average."

I've come up with 12 objective markers for "excellence."  If you "pass" each one of the twelve, "Congratulations!"  If you miss the mark on any of them, it would be wise to research how you can climb out of your rut and get back to the top of the ladder - back to excellent health!

You are the only one who can do it - you are the one in charge of your health. Do not leave your family DEVASTED.

How much do you weigh?

EXCELLENT HEALTH MARKER #1:
A BMI between 20 and 23

It has been found through a number of studies that the risk of dying of heart disease or of developing cancer increases among those in the upper half of the normal BMI range. Therefore, it is recommended that you maintain a BMI between 20 and 23. If your Body Mass Index is 25 or above, you are considered overweight. 

You can read more about your BMI by clicking here.

What is your cholesterol?

EXCELLENT HEALTH MARKER #2:
A total cholesterol level (without medication) below 150

The Framingham Heart Study is a fifty-year project that has analyzed medical data from several generations of residents in Framingham, Massachusetts.  Former director of the study, Dr. William Castelli, has boldly said that no one in Framingham who maintained a cholesterol level lower than 150 mg/dL has had a heart attack.

A person who maintains a blood cholesterol (without medication) under 150 mg/dL for a lifetime will not develop coronary artery disease - even if he/she smokes, has a family history of coronary disease, suffers from hypertension, and is obese!

To find out your cholesterol level you will need to check with your physician.  Alternatives include a visit to an "Any Lab Test" location in your town and pay $50, or check with your local blood bank about a FREE cholesterol screening when you give blood.

What Is Your LDL Cholesterol?

EXCELLENT HEALTH MARKER #3:
An LDL cholesterol level (without medication) <70

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is "bad" cholesterol.  Elevations in LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol are risk factors for cardiovascular disease as well as early Alzheimer's.

An LDL of "70" will stop the progression of disease. However, if you already have disease, you will want to get your LDL down to "50" as that is the level you need to "reverse" your disease.

What about your HDL?

Your HDL doesn't really matter unless you are eating a high fat, standard American diet and then you want it to be high.

Your HDL is like a garbage truck which eliminate EXCESS CHOLESTEROL which you consume through your diet to the liver to be excreted in the bile. The more junk and excess cholesterol you have in your bloodstream, the more garbage trucks you need, hence a higher HDL for the AVERAGE "overweight" American.

What is your blood pressure?

EXCELLENT HEALTH MARKER #4:
A blood pressure reading (w/o medication) of 110/70

High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the most common chronic conditions in the U.S.  Numerous studies warn that if you have one chronic illness, you're likely to get sick with an additional one.  In 2004, Americans on Medicare saw an average of seven different physicians in a year. 

To find out your blood pressure you will need to check with your physician.  

Alternatives include a visit to your pharmacy (CVS, Walgreens) where you can use their FREE blood pressure cuff.  Sit quietly for a minute and then do the test.  Repeat the test 3 times with a rest in between.  Write down each reading.  When finished, add the top numbers of your three scores and divide by 3.  Do the same with the bottom numbers. This should give you a good average of your blood pressure.

What is your triglyceride level?

EXCELLENT HEALTH MARKER #5:
A triglyceride level less than 100 mg/dl

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that a triglyceride level of 99 mg/dL (1.1 mmol/L) or lower is considered "optimal."

If you get your total cholesterol and your LDL cholesterol down to the "excellent" range, your triglyceride level will come down below "100."

To find out your triglyceride level you will need to check with your physician.  Alternatives include a visit to an "Any Lab Test" location in your town where you can pay $50 for a lipid panel which will give you your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

What is your hemoglobin level?

EXCELLENT HEALTH MARKER #6:
A hemoglobin level of 13.7 gm/dl

Hemoglobin is usually measured as part of a complete blood count (CBC) from a blood sample. Hemoglobin measures the amount of iron in your blood. For more information about hemoglobin, click here.

How much inflammation do you have?

EXCELLENT HEALTH MARKER #7:
A CRP level <1

Low risk: <1.0 mg/L
Average risk: 1.0-3.0 mg/L
High risk: above 3.0 mg/L

To find out the level of inflammation in your body, you will want to get a blood test called the hs-CRP.  Chronic inflammation is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, asthma, bronchitis, or even Crohn's disease.  We don't know if the disease causes the inflammation or whether the inflammation causes the disease.  But, scientists do know that if your CRP level is high, you may have some underlying disease processes going on in your body.

To find out your CRP level you will need to check with your physician.  Alternatives include a visit to an "Any Lab Test" location in your town and pay $80.

What is your homosteine level?

EXCELLENT HEALTH MARKER #8:
Homocysteine Levels <13 micromoles

Homocysteine levels are measured by taking a blood sample. Normal levels are in the range between 5 to 13 micromoles (measurement unit of small amount of a molecule) per liter. 

To find out your homocysteine level you will need to check with your physician.  Alternatives include a visit to an "Any Lab Test" location in your town and pay $99.

What is your blood sugar (glucose) level?

EXCELLENT HEALTH MARKER #9:
Glucose Level between 50 mg/dL and 99 mg/dL

Diabetes (mellitus) is a disease characterized primarily by elevated sugar levels measured by a blood test usually taken after 6 to 8 hours without food (a fast). Normal fasting blood sugar values vary among healthy people between 50 mg/dL to 99 mg/dL.  Levels above 100 mg/dL suggest impairment of the body's blood sugar-regulating mechanisms (impaired glucose tolerance = IGT) and a level above 126 mg/dL is defined as diabetes

To find out your fasting glucose level you will need to check with your physician.  Alternatives include a visit to an "Any Lab Test" location in your town and pay $99.

Do you smoke or use drugs?

EXCELLENT HEALTH MARKER #10:
No smoking, using snuff or recreational drugs

This is a "Yes" or a "No."  You already know that if you are using tobacco or other drugs you are not giving your body a chance for Excellent Health. The only way you can pass this Marker is to give up the habit.

What is your TSH?

EXCELLENT HEALTH MARKER #11:
TSH levels (Thyroid) between 0.4 and 2.5 mU/L 

Many tests show normal results to be in the range of 0.4 and 3.75, but levels higher than 2.5 mU/L could mean more heart disease.  Mild hypothyroidism is associated with higher cholesterol levels and increased risk of congestive heart failure among older adults.  Treatment recommended for a mild deficiency is usually a generic brand of levothyroxine.

Do you measure once every year or two?

EXCELLENT HEALTH MARKER #12:
Get tested and keep track of your test results at least once a year

Copyright © 2010-2015, Melinda Coker and with Splash!, LLC.  All Rights Reserved. 

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