It's dinnertime and all you want is a huge bowl of peppermint ice cream. But why? Is it due to PMS, blood sugar swings, food cravings, illness, or perhaps just a susceptibility to crafty advertising? That’s the tricky thing about our bodies—figuring out what is actually going on inside them takes a weird mash-up of science, voodoo, and cosmic luck. One of my greatest fantasies (ready to find out how truly geeky I am?) is to have a computer screen attached to my brain that would tell me exactly what's going on inside my organs at any given time. While so far that's not a scientific reality, I did get one step closer to living my dream when I got to try out a new service called Inside Tracker that analyzes your bloodwork and then recommends an optimal nutrition and exercise plan tailored to you.
Professional athletes have been using these types of tests (generally based on blood tests and questionnaires) for a long time, but they've recently gained popularity among regular health-conscious people. Some gyms, like Lifetime Fitness, even offer their own in-house version. But what do they offer that your regular doctor can't? The difference is that your doctor is mostly interested in diagnosing dysfunction in your body, and being "not sick" is not the same as being "healthy."
Inside Tracker and other types of voluntary testing aren't for diagnosing disease but rather for helping people achieve optimal health and maximize their athletic potential by showing them how to get critical measurements within "an optimized zone for your special cohort: age, gender, race, performance needs."
All you have to do is go get your blood drawn at a local lab and within a couple of days, you'll get your results, along with recommendations about how to improve your numbers. The basic test examines your folic acid, glucose, calcium, magnesium, creatine kinase, vitamin B12, vitamin D, ferritin, total cholesterol, hemoglobin, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. You are then given recommendations on which foods and supplements to include in your diet and which to avoid. The end goal is to help you tweak your diet and exercise routine to get the most out of your performance.
Do these tests work? At the very least they provide you with more information to talk to your doctor about specific health concerns you may have. My results were very interesting, and while my numbers revealed I am very healthy, there were a couple of red flags that popped up. I'm glad I know about them now before they started to cause any illness. Did it make me a better athlete? The jury's still out on that one!
Interested in trying it yourself? Learn more and sign up on the Inside Tracker website.