On November 14, 2009 – I attended the Nutrilite Sports Nutrition Blogger Event which included a complete health assessment.
Well, the results are in and today, while under no obligation to do so, I am exposing it all!
The assessment included a fitness test, various blood tests, blood pressure test, bone density test, and an overall health score index.
The whole point of this test was to assess our current health, and use the results as an index to assess any current or future risk factors for possible chronic diseases. Although it may seem like the company Nutrilite is all about supplements, you may be surprised, just as I was that their main motivation is based on optimal health. And to help people get there, they are really big on making people aware of the importance of proper habits in all areas of one’s life, knowing about the 8 pillars of optimal health and decreasing the risk factors accordingly.
So today I am doing something I have never done before. I am going to bear it all, and share with you my health results, with nothing held back.
Personal Health & Nutrition Background
Up to this point in my life I have enjoyed excellent health – no allergies, no broken bones, no surgeries, no major illnesses, not even the flus. Up until about 2 and a half years ago the only things plaguing me would be the very odd tension headache, and one or two colds a year – nothing else. Today – I can quite honestly say – nothing ails me. Yes, I do consider myself lucky, but I know there is so much more than luck to do with my past and current state of health. It has much more to do with my lifestyle habits.
Age wise – this past year I just turned 30 – and honestly I do not like to announce my age, so this is the only time that you might be hearing it. However, not for the reasons you think. Generally speaking, I have no problem with what age I am. What I do have a problem with is that I learned enough to know that our calendar age is by no means a direct indication of our more accurate age – our biological age. What if one feels and looks 35 per se, but is actually 45 or vice-versa? I don’t agree with locking ourselves into a conditioned image of what a certain age is supposed to be like. Anyway, hopefully you get the picture.
Weight wise – my weight has been steady within the same range for about the past 15 years. Yes, I know what some of you may be thinking… but again I totally owe it to being conscious of my habits and monitoring my weight in a healthy way annually. I have never dieted in any way in my life, or restricted myself in any unhealthy manner.
I am of a smaller build, being only 5 feet 3 and a half inches, and 110 pounds. The most I ever weighed was 120 pounds and that was my first year of university (that darn stress…) The only thing that has changed over the years is my body composition. Although I still feel great, and look really healthy, I definitely had a little more muscle and less fat. So I would honestly not mind working on that a bit and getting back more muscle, specifically in the abdominal area.
Diet - up to just over 2 years ago, I ate an omnivore diet, with dairy making up a huge portion of every day. Milk every morning, was like a ritual as was a daily yogurt and some cheese(s). I was raised on home cooked meals. However, I did not consume too many meats, or enough fruits or vegetables. Fast food and junk food was literally nonexistent. Than at the start of October 2007, I went vegetarian (meat free), eventually removing dairy, eggs and all refined sugar and heavily processed food. In January 2009 I went vegan.
I also do not drink any alcohol and have never smoked.
Exercise – has been on and off for years, and honestly never enough of it. During my late teen years I was an avid swimmer during the warmer half of each year. During most of my 20′s I was an avid walker and a bit of a dancer, with some hiking and biking. There was some flexibility and resistance training thrown in here and there into the mix. While I was quite active the warmer parts of the year, it seems I would lose any benefits I got, during the colder months of the year, as I am not one for typical indoor exercise routines.
Okay, so that is roughly where I was and am at, now let’s see what Nutrilite’s tests had to say about my health up to this point…
Consultation with Dr. Duke – Medical Doctor for Nutrilite
The consultation with Dr. Duke was really enjoyable as we got to talking a lot about optimal health – my favorite topic. Dr. Duke began with the idea that optimal health is not just being free of disease, but reducing disease risk factors of chronic disease. Thus the main point of such a health assessment is to help everyone identify their risk factors, what to reduce and work on.
Before I share the results with you, I have to honestly tell you, I was pretty sure I knew what the results would be like, especially that I do try to go for some basic blood work annually. And although I was right to think so, there were a couple of surprises…
To test our fitness we were subjected to a flexibility test, a grip strength test, body composition, waist to hip ratio and blood pressure.
The flexibility test evaluates the flexibility of the lower back and the flexibility of the muscles on the back side of the leg.
The grip strength test provides a very reliable assessment of the general upper body muscular strength.
I wasn’t expecting to have athlete like results, but in both areas I was barely at average. In fact my flexibility was way lower than what I ever would have imagined. Good thing I started Moksha Yoga since last month, (a form of hot yoga) which I am committed to doing on a regular basis from now on.
The body composition test indicates how much of our body is fat. Okay, so now for my fat percentage – jeez, I can’t believe I am sharing this with everyone….
Dr. Duke explained that women are typically between 22% and 27%. However, anything of 27% or more is a serious risk factor for various diseases. My result was 21%. While my number may seem fine, based on what I told you about myself above, I know it would be to my benefit to be at say 19%. While I am generally happy with my muscle tone, this would improve my composition even more, and as we age it is to our benefit to have more muscle, and less fat.
My waist to hip ratio is another important health index, as it matters greatly where we carry our far. Abdominal fat for example is the most indicative of being a risk factor for disease.
For women a normal waist to hip ratio is less than 0.85
For men a normal waist to hip ratio is less than 0.95
My waist to hip ratio was 0.746 – so all good there.
Finally, a blood pressure test was also done. Normal blood pressure is anywhere from 110/70 to 120/80 depending on which source you consult. My blood pressure is normally on the lower to normal side, so it was no surprise to hear that it was 110/78.
Vitamin D test
Now here is where my first shock came…
According to Dr. Duke, a deficiency of vitamin D is below 20ng/mL – insufficient vitamin D is between 20-37ng/mL and sufficient is greater than 37ng/mL. My result was 13ng/mL – yes only 13!!!
Now here is why this was a shock for me. I would normally not have been surprised to hear that my levels were low, as according to the new world levels, Dr. Duke stated that 90% of the world’s population today is deficient in vitamin D. The reason I was shocked was because I just went for a vitamin D test a month before this test through my family doctor’s office and was told that I had completely normal numbers. (In Canada the units of measurement are nmol/L and mine was 128nmol/L).
Here are some numbers to help you make sense of any vitamin D results you may recieve:
Previously considered ‘Normal’ 25-hydroxyvitamin D lab values are:
20-56 ng/ml OR 50-140 nmol/L
Some current suggestions for the Lowest Optimal 25-hydroxyvitamin D values are:
45-50 ng/ml OR 115-128 nmol/L
So I am not sure, how within a month I can be both normal and deficient, but I am definitely going to be looking into this further, as vitamin D is perhaps the most important vitamin that we are aware of today. If you are not aware it has been linked to not only being preventative for most cancers and immune diseases, but can also work as a cure in many cases. The huge world deficiency explains quite a bit why we have so many cancers and infectious diseases sweeping through the population.
What bothered me most were the stats that Dr. Duke told me. According to old values, 60-70% of the world is deficient in vitamin D, where as according to new world values for optimal health 90% of the world population is deficient in vitamin D. This to me says that there is something much deeper and serious going on. We as humans have always been able to naturally synthesize vitamin D from the sun, but today this does not appear to be the case, so what’s up?
I asked Dr. Duke what he thought as the reason for this, and he said there is very little food with vitamin D that people eat. I asked him if where I lived (in the Northern Hemisphere made a difference), and he said research is showing that is no longer the main concern. He says that there are so many cases of men, who work with no shirts in tropical regions being deficient. So this begs the question to me, is it something about the sun and atmosphere, is something up with the numbers the health facilities are giving, or is it something that is blocking proper synthesis in our bodies? Either way I will be looking into this much, much more…. and strongly urge you, no matter what age you are to get yours checked as this is a critical vitamin to protect us from the worst diseases today.
Due to my plant-based and natural diet these numbers were exactly where I expected them to be, not only normal, but optimally low.
Normal cholesterol = 140-200mg/dL Mine = 131mg/dL
Normal LDL cholesterol = 66-130mg/dL Mine = 65mg/dL
Normal VLDL cholesterol = 6-35mg/dL Mine = 7.4mg/dL
Normal HDL cholesterol = 40-80mg/dL Mine = 59mg/dL
Normal Triglycerides = 10-150md/dL Mine = 37mg/dL
Normal Chol/HDL ratio = less than 4 Mine = 2.2
Sugar Metabolism/Insulin Resistance (fasting)
Again, due to the fact that my diet has no refined sugar in it, or any white processed grains. These numbers were where I would expect them to be.
Normal Insulin = less than 5 ulU/L Mine = 2.8 ulU/L
Normal Glucose = 65-99mg/dL Mine = 84mg/dL
I have been told since I was a teen that I had low iron. In my teens all I heard is eat more meat. It wasn’t until I studied nutrition in university that I realized there could have been so many other factors for iron balance and absorption like vitamin C and the B vitamins that could have played a role. Anyway, although as a young person I did take some iron pills here and there, by my 20′s stopped worrying about it because I felt great. I have always felt amazing energy wise, and never once had any symptoms that would indicate low iron balance.
When I adopted a vegan diet, my iron stores (serum ferritin) did fall a bit – but upon reading literature on this, I found out that it is quite normal as the body learns to readjust to extracting iron out of plant-sources, rather than animal sources, which is a little tougher. This still made no impact on my energy or health levels, but I did take a high quality supplement for a little bit just to help my body out a bit.
So when Dr. Duke told me my iron was low, this was no surprise to hear. However, as I finally had a chance to talk to a doctor who cared so much about optimal health through nutrition, I asked Dr. Duke if it was possible that given how great I have felt all these years with supposed “low iron” that this was actually my body’s normal? To this Dr. Duke said, “very much so, yes”. He said that based on my ferritin number the people he counsels would have been tired and falling over, and given how I feel, I can be statistically speaking one of those outliers. So my so called “low iron” based on medical averages of the general population, could actually be quite normal for me, especially given that all the other numbers related to iron are normal. This was great to hear, because it has been what my gut instinct was telling me for a long time now.
Normal Serum Iron = 35-155ug/dL Mine = 126ug/dL
Normal Serum Ferritin = 25 -100ng/mL Mine = 13ng/mL
Iron Binding Capacity = 250-450ug/dL Mine = 308ug/dL
Normal % Saturation = 15-55% Mine = 41%
This is a liver enzyme that helps detect liver disease or damage. It is also one that metabolizes alcohol. I don’t drink any alcohol, have not for over 2 years now, and am not one for prescription medication, so I was not expecting this to be a problem at all, and indeed it wasn’t. Normal is 0-60 and mine was 14.
This is an amino acid from protein breakdown that can be indicative of a risk for heart disease. Normal is to have below 15umol/L and I was at 8.9umol/L.
Folate (Folic Acid)
This is a B vitamin that is super important to many cell processes. Its presence is super important to women of childbearing age, but it is critical to everyone for proper red blood cell production and decreasing various disease risks. Normal is anything over 5.4ng/mL and mine was 13.61ng/mL.
This B vitamin is also super important to many cell processes including proper functioning of our nervous system and proper red blood cell production. It is also a vitamin that is very necessary to monitor on vegan diets, most vitamin B12 sources are animal-based due to the bacteria they contain. Normal is 211-911pg/mL and mine was 581pg/mL. Dr. Duke said ideally people should be in the 500-600pg/mL range, which was great to hear.
High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein
This is one of the primary compounds indicative of inflammation within the body. Normal is below 1mg/dL and mine was 0.64mg/dL.
TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
This is a very important hormone that regulates the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, which influences many reactions, including proper metabolism and energy use. Normal is 0.35-5.5 and mine was 1.45.
Aside from the vitamin D, this was the only other area that I was faced with a rather surprising result. Dr. Duke explained that my bone density is lower than it should be for my age, and puts me at a medium risk for osteoporotic fractures.
I found this a little surprising, I guess for several reasons based on my diet and lifestyle for the majority of my life. After all remember I lived on a lot of dairy for the first quarter of my life, and if dairy is supposed to be so good for bones, it seems like it wasn’t helping me much. But in all reality, I had another suspicion. I have read in a lot of literature that women like me who are of a petite or small build, are often misdiagnosed with osteoporosis when they are older, when in fact they are not. The machines are calibrated to pick up small bones as being osteoporotic, when in fact they may be quite normal.
I asked Dr. Duke if this was a possible explanation and he said that indeed smaller build people do not need the bones to be as big, but if I am highly active the bones should be more responsive and show a better number. Well, knowing that I am not highly active, I am thinking that this may not be as big of an issue as the numbers would like to show. I mean don’t get me wrong, I know I need to be more active on a regular basis, but at the same time, I do feel very confident about my bones.
Dr. Duke also added that in his opinion, even though he was a vegan for 4 years, and is currently a vegetarian, it is very difficult to get enough calcium on a vegan diet. I know many vegan and raw foodists may disagree. For me good bone health also factors in our acid-alkaline balance, as well as magnesium and silicon levels, not just calcium. There is also the issue of the vitamin D, which may be a part of this. Ultimately I would not rule out a calcium supplement, but only if it comes with magnesium in a 1:1 ratio, but ultimately will be making more of an effort to be physically active.
This is a special health score calculated using an inclusive formula, that Nutrilite has put together to rule out any sources of error that are associated with things like the BMI, waist to hip ratio and percent body fat. My score was 0.81 which is in the ideal range.
Ideal for Men = 0.64-0.84 Ideal for Women = 0.74-0.87
Normal Men = 0.85-1.0 Normal for Women = 0.88-1.0
Moderate Risk for Men = 1.0-1.13 Moderate Risk for Women = 1.0-1.13
High Risk for Men = >1.13 High Risk for Women = >1.13
In conclusion, Dr Duke explained that at this point and with these habits in my life I am not at risk for any major diseases like heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome or even cancers. My main areas of improvement should be getting my vitamin D levels up to make sure that cancer risk factors don’t become an issue, and of course making sure I am active regularly to benefit all areas of health, including my bones.
At no point during the consultation did Dr. Duke try to get me on any supplements from Nutrilite. He simply explained the results, told me what could be of benefit to me, like the vitamin D and asked if I was interested. As I would like to do some reviews on Nutrilite products, I picked a couple that I would like to try. It was actually a really great experience to talk to Dr. Duke and for perhaps the first time in my life talk to an MD who cared, listened and considered diet and lifestyle habits above all else.
So in the end, my results were as I explained to you, as expected. I love the plant-based lifestyle I have adopted and feel truly amazing every day! There is no doubt in my mind that my body is enjoying as clean and natural way of eating as possible.
I am so grateful for this thorough health testing, and strongly encourage everyone to have a general idea of their own blood work on an annual basis or so, just to have a better idea of what is going on inside of your body.
We can be healthy – optimally healthy in fact, feel great everyday and live long, but it starts with the right diet, physical activity, sleep, thought patterns and overall healthy lifestyle habits. In the end the choice is yours. By looking at our health on a deeper level today, we can be prepared to deal with what we may be facing in the future.
Your health starts with you – so be proactive today, to enjoy the benefits into all the tomorrows to come!