Things you need to know about CBC

CBC, complete blood count, is a group of blood tests which estimates the different components contained in your blood. Your blood is composed of different cells, namely, red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC) and platelets.

Red blood cells are the type of blood cells which work by delivering oxygen to the body’s tissues. They have a typical lifetime of 120 days and the bone marrow is responsible for the continuous replacement- production and removal of the aged RBCs.

Apart from measuring their total number in the blood, the effective functioning of the RBCs can be ensured by assessing:

  1. Hemoglobin

If RBCs function by transporting oxygen to various tissues, the value of Hemoglobin (Hb) in the blood determines the oxygen carrying capacity of RBCs.

  1. Hematocrit

Hematocrit or packed cell volume (PCV) is the measure of percentage of blood that consists of your red blood cells.

  1. Red blood cell indices (MCV, MCH, MCHC)

These indices provide information about the size of the RBCs and hemoglobin content of the same.

MCV, mean corpuscular volume, indicates the average size of your red blood cells

MCH, mean corpuscular hemoglobin, indicates the average amount of hemoglobin inside your RBCs

MCHC, mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, indicates the average concentration of hemoglobin inside your RBCs

White blood cells are those blood cells which are part of the body’s immune system and play a major role in determination of one’s immunity. Produced in the bone marrow, WBCs help your body to keep away toxins and foreign invaders. There are five different types of WBCs and each has a different function. They include neutrophils, lymphocytes, basophils, eosinophils, and monocytes. You can usually find them placed under the heading ‘WBC differential’ in your blood reports.

Platelets are tiny, colourless pieces of your blood which are incharge of the normal blood clotting mechanism. Basically, when there is an injury, platelets form clots at that site and help to stop the bleeding. They are also produced in your bone marrow.

Conditions that impact (increase or decrease) the full blood count are:

  1. Anaemia

Anaemia is a disease in which the total number of red blood cells decreases or the hemoglobin level drops to such a low level that it leads to reduced oxygen flow in the body. Reduction in oxygen levels results in symptoms like difficulty in breathing, getting tired easily, yellowish skin, irregular heartbeats, headache, brittle nails, weakness and so on. Anaemia can cause decreased levels of RBCs, hemoglobin and hematocrit.

  1. Dehydration

Dehydration is a condition in which there is lack of fluid intake and/ or too much fluid leaving the body (e.g. vomiting/ diarrhea). Even mild dehydration can lead to elevated levels of RBCs, hemoglobin and hematocrit.

  1. Nutrient deficiency

Certain nutrient deficiencies can bring about a great deal of fluctuations in your blood reports. Lower or higher levels of RBCs, hemoglobin, hematocrit, RBC indices and some of the differential WBCs can generally be due to deficiencies of one or more of the following nutrients- protein, vitamin A, C, E, B6, B12, folic acid, iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium and copper.

  1. Infection

Higher values of your white blood count are suggestive that the body is fighting off a bacterial/viral  infection while low levels can be indicative of an autoimmune disorder, malnutrition or overuse or side effect of certain medications. Levels of differential WBCs can, however, show you the actual stage of infection, whether acute or chronic. 

  1. Allergy

Presence of allergies or food sensitivities also can be identified via a CBC test. Eosinophils generally tend to be raised if there is a sensitivity to certain foods like gluten, dairy and food additives and preservatives. 

  1. Inflammation

Inflammation is a response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, toxins, damaged cells, or irritants such as excess insulin. Higher the inflammation, poorer is the internal metabolic health. Reduced levels of RBCs, hemoglobin, hematocrit and increased levels of WBCs and differentials are indicative of generalised systemic inflammation.

Apart from the conditions mentioned, higher exposure to toxins and oxidative stress can also lead to deranged levels of the blood cells.

If you are curious about your blood tests and want help in figuring them out, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to help you. 

References: 

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/4053-complete-blood-count

https://labtestsonline.org/tests/complete-blood-count-cbc

About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
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The real reason why you should be worried about high cholesterol levels

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance present in all cells of the body. It has always been regarded as ‘THE Culprit’ behind several health problems. High cholesterol levels have been blamed throughout time since the postulation of the great ‘Lipid Hypothesis’. This hypothesis says that a high intake of saturated fat raises blood cholesterol and secondly that high cholesterol leads to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Well, the hypothesis itself has miserably failed!

Why?

Cholesterol is the basic raw material made by the liver and brain.. Yes, the brain makes it’s own cholesterol (it’s that vital a nutrient). It is needed for the production and transportation of vitamin D, for the production of many hormones such—estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone and cortisol, for production of bile salts for digesting and absorbing fats and digestive fluids.

It makes up a major part of the membranes, surrounding cells and the structures within them, so lower levels cholesterol can cause poor skin tightness, further making it look dull.

The brain is particularly rich in cholesterol and accounts for about a quarter of all the cholesterol in the body. The covering around every nerve cell in the brain  is about one-fifth cholesterol. Communication between brain cells depends on cholesterol. It is not surprising that a connection has been found between naturally occurring cholesterol and mental function. Lower

levels are linked to poor cognitive performance. 

Additionally, cholesterol plays a big role in helping fight bacteria and infections. 

Cholesterol Phobia/Fear is nothing but a big fat lie, a big scam, because from what you’ve read so far, you would have learnt that cholesterol is associated with some major body functions including production of important hormones. Cholesterol-mania has led all the focus and energy around a fairly innocent molecule which has hardly any relationship with heart disease and made it a perpetrator while mainly ignoring the real causes of heart disease. 

Heart diseases are a wide range of health problems that arise due to blockage in the blood vessels of the heart. Following are the major drivers of heart diseases:

If lowering cholesterol numbers did prevent heart attacks or strokes, then there should be a significant reduction in the number of patients suffering or worse dying of heart attacks and strokes, simply because cholesterol numbers were successfully lowered, regardless of the particular drug or diet used to accomplish this, but we don’t see this occur neither in real life scenarios nor in clinical trials. 

What’s worse is that because cholesterol has repeatedly been held responsible to be the primary cause of heart diseases, conventional medicine focuses on artificially reducing this vital nutrient from your bodies to very low levels with the help of statins. 

Statins are a class of drugs often prescribed to lower high cholesterol levels. The benefits of statin drugs have been overstated and in fact, these drugs have been known to cause the following health issues

The only real reason you should be worried about high cholesterol levels is that there’s a possibility that your doctor might put you on statins. Statins are the real risk and not cholesterol. Lastly as Johnny Bowden rightly says in his book ‘The Great Cholesterol Myth’- In simple terms, we’d want to know: What are we risking, and what are we getting? Only when we know the answers to these two questions can we make a smart decision about whether to go on a statin drug (or any drug, for that matter).

Having said that, even though cholesterol is harmless in itself, when it is coupled with your poor health status (if you’re someone who is suffering from oxidative stress and high inflammation,insulin resistance), it can add on to heart problems.

If you or your loved ones are on statins or are worried about heart disease risk, reach out to us and we’ll be happy to talk to you. 

References:

https://academic.oup.com/qjmed/article/104/10/867/1591864

www.thincs.org 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5236032_The_fallacies_of_the_lipid_hypothesis

About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
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10 reasons why blood tests are important?

A blood test – sometimes referred to as a blood panel – is a laboratory examination of a blood sample that is usually extracted from a vein using a syringe and is used to check for a variety of things. Many blood tests do not have any special requirements while some others require the testee to be in a fasted state (not eating any food for 8-12 hours) before the test.

Approximately 70 percent of your dietary decisions are actually based on the blood report analysis. Different parameters are assessed in order to address the root cause of your symptoms/health problems.

But what is that these tests tell us and why are they so important? 

Here are top 10 reasons why analysing your blood is important:

  1. Deciding a dietary regime

The first and foremost importance of examining blood tests is before making any dietary changes. This will help you to decide on foods to be included and also the ones to be kept at bay. Further, it can also help you fix the deranged parameters with either food itself or with the help of supplements.  It also helps you maintain a track of how these changes have in turn impacted your body. 

Your body is different from everybody else, so your health program should also be fully customized based on your needs. By undergoing regular blood tests, you can get the exact numbers that will help you plan your dietary regime accordingly.

  1. Investigating the root cause of illness

If you are someone who’s suffering from a certain illness, then going for blood tests can be useful in finding out what exactly is causing the problem primarily. Symptom specific blood tests are advised by experts in order to find the possible reasons. For example, high levels of homocysteine are excellent predictors of a risky heart health.

Read more about Homocysteine: https://www.thrivefnc.com/blog/know-this-amino-acid-homocysteine/ 

  1. Functioning of organs

Routine examination of vital organ parameters (liver, kidney, thyroid, etc) can give you a general overview of what is happening inside the body. Altered levels within these organ function tests might indicate an array of prevailing conditions (inflammation, alcoholism, toxins and plant antinutrient damage, infection, drug abuse or metabolic diseases). Further tests may be done to determine more precisely the extent of the damage.

  1. Weight issues

If your weight is stagnant despite your strenuous efforts towards reducing it, there might be a possibility of an underlying problem which can be detected upon blood examination. Excess weight can be a sign of hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance, toxin build up or heavy metals accumulation. You can clear the mystery behind your unchanged weight by taking blood tests.

  1. Infection

Sometimes pathogens can enter your body, evade the immune system and result in hidden infections likely to be manifested cause chronic fatigue syndrome or something as grave as stomach cancer.

Common bugs causing these hidden infections include Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Human Herpes Virus (HHV-6), Parvovirus (Parvo B19), Mycoplasma sp., Borrelia Burgdorferi and chronic mold and mycotoxin exposure. H-pylori is yet another toxic microorganism which is capable of destroying your gastrointestinal health. All of them can be brought to notice by blood inspection.

  1. Nutritional status

Regular blood testing can ensure you check for deficiencies and  you don’t miss out on the required amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in your body. Lack of essential nutrients in your body can not only lead to minor health conditions like a headache or constipation but can also indicate serious situations like neurological disorders, muscle impairment, diseases of the bone and joint, and metabolic disorders. 

  1. Hormonal balance

Hormonal imbalance can devastate your mood as well as your health. Also, problems like erectile dysfunction, infertility, low libido can all grow out of poor hormone levels. These can only be diagnosed through blood tests.

  1. Food allergies

Food allergies can make your life miserable, worse if left undiagnosed. Blood tests can measure your immune system's response to particular foods by measuring the allergy-related antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE).

  1. Autoimmune diseases

The possibility of autoimmune diseases can also be ruled out by blood examination. One of the most common blood tests for detecting autoimmune disorders is ANA (antinuclear antibodies). Specific tests are available for testing probable antibodies attacking your internal organs. E.g-Thyroid antibody testing is usually recommended if there are continuously fluctuating or unchanged thyroid hormone levels in the body.

  1. General state of health

Regular blood examination plays an important role in maintaining your overall health and fitness, just like diet and exercise. If you are serious about living a long and healthy life, then take your blood tests seriously.

We at ThriveFNC analyze the core systems that allow your body to function properly. This means looking closely at the foundation blocks for good health including hormones, digestive health, immune function and nutrient status. We also check for allergies, chronic infections or toxins, build up of environmental toxins or heavy metals and clogged detoxification. 

So partner with us to get to the root of your health problems and to do away with them. Let’s get functional nutrition in action!

References-

  1. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-tests#:~:text=Blood%20tests%20help%20doctors%20check,thyroid%2C%20and%20heart%E2%80%94are%20working
  2. https://www.abbott.com/live-healthy/know/knowing-in-advance/importance-of-blood-tests.html
  3. https://www.srlworld.com/blog/10-reasons-why-you-should-regularly-go-for-blood-tests/
  4. https://www.blallab.com/blog/reasons-for-blood-test/
  5. https://www.health-tests-direct.com/reasons-for-blood-tests/
  6. https://hypothyroidmom.com/when-chronic-fatigue-is-caused-by-a-hidden-infection/?__cf_chl_captcha_tk__=63e59be2cd3cdc14e432bfd2edeaff30b93c7631-1601373773-0-ATOlWbPTwdg8bN3UbFOPKzgow7ybngytXJAwsjQrixf1O4fc3-_ZXnnrbaskVo_y6YCKF-eDDlAjh07xcRpJc0u-P3_dAnEYuoCR2BzvvP4KR523t4UDiHvT96KXZIZfCdHzpLdXSzE0wHPbXvdy7AZHdKMM6gnNn3D-W4jDJlS3q2pxu64xxuhugGpyAt6fHJR2imxihM-kaHjELVzOEyv8-3p3aXxKfFHNpoXgT8INABK1NAhVkdPvEzfa4zBZUtBxlMxy0I1gx2NxM2GlCKOA1Kh2eKOiy7xYsTnPjyGTzUxLVfELGiPcD6EaEf2GeHxYmrjULIZoAB-qLGseRSZA4u0HH2BBkl1uo-5Na_-Igyjp7ZdDyASiJnyb38D1-sX0zJuHJW4WEOayXdTU2F3-NVQ8zlXJlTz-1Dsx020tDFz7N40SKdfc6t0vwTNVc0Ch4FwXTIwG6Rf9Ybm5NLeaSYGKpS-GY8DQL8xhZna_H2ilo-E9mjyoDr5og0AzrFSsIoqQZu87A59A_VAGF0uXKW4-zLLKrrkNUrLy3qKNjNNemhr4srdMosdZfQQ4qg 
About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
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Know this Amino acid- Homocysteine

Hcy, short for- Homocysteine (hoe-moe-sist-een) is an non-essential toxic amino acid derived as a by-product of protein metabolism in the process of conversion of Methionine to Cysteine. 

Methionine is an essential amino acid, meaning it cannot be produced by the body, hence should be provided through dietary sources. On the other hand, Cysteine is a non-essential amino acid which can be made in the body using Methionine. 

Methionine ————-> Homocysteine ————–> Cysteine

This is done by a process called Methylation and is highly dependent on vitamin derived cofactors, vitamin B12, Folic acid and vitamin B6. If this process is dysfunctional it causes a build-up of homocysteine in the bloodstream. 

The level of homocysteine in the plasma is increasingly being recognised as a risk factor for disease and seen as a predictor of potential health problems.

Your homocysteine levels (or H Score) are more important than cholesterol, your blood pressure and even your weight as a measure of your health. In recent years high homocysteine has proven to be a reliable indicator of risk for heart attacks, strokes, memory decline and Alzheimer’s.

Your homocysteine level or H score is well worth knowing – it’s more important than your cholesterol level.

For example, a massive US survey of 136,905 patients hospitalized for a heart attack found that 75 per cent had perfectly normal cholesterol levels and almost half had optimal cholesterol levels! Elevated homocysteine levels affect the interior lining of blood vessels in the body, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis or narrowing of blood vessels and can also increase formation of clots. This can result in early heart attack and stroke.

 Why is Methylation important?

The methylation cycle helps us to operate both physically and mentally, so it may not be surprising that many different functions in the body use this process. 

Some functions include nervous, cardiovascular and immune system activity, as well as energy production, heavy-metal detoxification and hormone balance. Another important bodily function that methylation is connected to is DNA (1).

Methylation is a process that is essential for our DNA to work properly, and it may be the link between our environment, nutrition and disease.

Methylation and homocysteine though get caught in a vicious cycle.

Excess homocysteine build-up will result in a dysfunctional methylation cycle and if your methylation process is dysfunctional due to deficiencies of B-12, B-6 and Folate it will result in a buildup of homocysteine leading to condition called hyperhomocysteinemia.

About Hyperhomocysteinemia 

Hyperhomocysteinemia is a state in which excess homocysteine is present in the body i.e above normal levels. As stated earlier, as per our optimal health guidelines, your H- Score should ideally be below 6.

Causes-

The most common cause of hyperhomocysteinemia is an enzyme defect associated with homocysteine metabolism. Dysfunction of enzymes and cofactors associated with the process of Homocysteine conversion can possibly be causative factors.

Genetic errors in enzymes or absence of these enzymes are directly linked to the higher level of homocysteine. A deficiency in CBS i.e.,Cystathionine beta synthase is the most common reason for an increase in homocysteine because CBS converts homocysteine to cysteine (3).

Some other factors include:

-Diets deficient in nutrients which help in lowering homocysteine levels like- Folic acid, Vitamin B6 and B12, Zinc and TMG (trimethylglycine)

-Excessive Methionine (Protein) intake

-Certain diseases- Chronic renal failure as a result of which there is reduced elimination and Hypothyroidism in which antithyroid drugs can possibly cause the increased amounts. Also malignant tumors can cause Folate deficiency and altered Homocysteine conversion (3)

-Side effects of some drugs such as proton pump inhibitors, cholestyramine, metformin, methotrexate, nicotinic acid (niacin), fibric acid derivatives, and oral contraceptive pills (3)

 -Poor lifestyle – especially smoking and high coffee and alcohol intake

-In youth, elevated levels of homocysteine may arise due to sickle cell disease or nutritional factors. Studies have shown that consumption of meat and dairy based products can also bring about an increase in circulating levels of Homocysteine (4).

Such high levels of circulating Hcy pose a threat for underlying diseased conditions across different age groups, right from little children (high homocysteine levels have been associated with autism like symptoms) to the elderly. 

In pediatric populations, Hcy levels are important not only for cardiovascular disease, obesity, and renal disease, but the most interesting evidence concerns study of elevated levels of Hcy in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (5).

 In another study, Homocystinuria was observed in newborns. Homocystinuria is a disorder of methionine metabolism, leading to an abnormal accumulation of homocysteine in blood and urine which is normally not detected in appreciable quantities in blood and urine (6). These high levels show probable vitamin b12 deficiency, MTHFR deficiency (6). The enzyme MTHFR is necessary for conversion of Homocysteine to Methionine and high circulating Homocysteine levels were observed because of apparent Folic Acid deficiency. Folic acid is needed for the functioning of MTHFR enzyme. The detection of these deficiencies early in life can help in timely course of action for treatment.

Studies of children and adolescents indicate elevated homocysteine levels are linked with elevated blood pressure levels and increased weight (7). 

Moreover, high levels of Homocysteine have the ability to damage blood vessels (3) and it is because of this reason that it is considered as a potent risk factor for the development of Cardiovascular diseases.

Some studies have found Hyperhomocysteinemia to be the underlying cause behind age related macular degeneration (AMD) as a result of increased inflammation. AMD causes loss in the centre of the field of vision, thus leading to blurred vision (3). Hearing loss is another disease provoked by high blood homocysteine level and is thought to be due to direct damage to neurons (3).

In pregnancy, Hcy levels were investigated in relation to the increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as baby born smaller in size than usual, high BP during pregnancy, recurrent abortions, low birth weight, or growth restriction within the uterus (5)

Further, research also revealed a relation between Ovarian cancer and high homocysteine levels due (8). Also, in a study conducted with postmenopausal women, hyperhomocysteinemia happened to cause colorectal cancer (3).

It is documented that Homocysteine affects bone mineral density.This could result in bones becoming less rigid, increasing the chances of fracture (9). High levels of Homocysteine are known to disrupt insulin signaling, thus, causing insulin resistance (4). Research has also shown hyperhomocysteinemia to cause Alzheimer’s disease due to its ability to worsen Beta-amyloid plaque formation, which are known to lead to the onset of the disease (10).

Finally, a focus on the principal pathologies of the elderly (cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease, osteoporosis and physical function) are also presented due to high homocysteine levels. Elevations in blood homocysteine levels have shown to be associated with common problems seen with aging, such as cognitive impairment, dementia, depression, osteoporotic fractures, and functional decline (11).

It is said that Hcy is one of the best predictors of overall health and even the risk of death.

So you see, it’s important to keep your homocysteine levels below 6, tribe. It is an important marker of internal health and the earlier you identify the build-up, the better it is for you.

The good news is that homocysteine levels can be tested and high homocysteine levels can be normalised through ThriveFNC’s approach (because we get to the root cause of your high levels). 

Get your homocysteine levels checked at the earliest and reach out to us at ThriveFNC to learn how to bring them down to normal levels. 

References:

  1. Methylation-https://www.bioceuticals.com.au/mobile/article/all/all-about-methylation-and-what-you-can-do-to-keep-yours-healthy
  2. https://www.foodforthebrain.org/alzheimers-prevention/methylation-and-homocysteine.aspx
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29552692
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5741875/ 
  5. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/21/4/1421/htm
  6. https://academic.oup.com/clinchem/article/50/10/1769/5640076
  7. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/133/8/2643/4687989
  8. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0959804997001214
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23449525/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16189268/
  11. https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/60/9/1190/560525
  12. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/133/8/2643/4687989
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5741875/
  14. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=167&ContentID=homocysteine
About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
SHARE THIS!
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