It is important to learn how to regularly monitor your own health, even if you have a doctor or other healthcare professional looking out for you.
More than 70% of all chronic diseases are preventable especially when detected early. And, far too many serious medical conditions go undetected for years due to the lack of proper health monitoring.
The most simple and inexpensive way to assess your current health and your future risk of chronic disease is with basic blood testing.
Unfortunately, getting a comprehensive blood test through the conventional healthcare system can often be a challenge. The testing that your doctor is able to order for you may be dictated by your insurance company, or your physician may be unwilling or unable to order specific tests.
The good news is that there is an increasing number of labs that allow people to order their own blood testing at a reduced cost, such as DirectLabs®.
Before we take a look at how you can get your own blood tests, let’s address some of the most common misunderstandings about blood testing.
Misconceptions about blood testing
Here are three common areas of confusion surrounding the topic of blood testing.
‘I only need to get a blood test when I am sick.’
Doctors use blood tests to diagnose illness, however many of these same blood tests can be used to determine your future risk of chronic disease.
Understanding what your blood work looks like when it’s healthy can help you to catch the beginning stage of chronic illness before it becomes more difficult to reverse, expensive, and time-consuming.
‘My doctor already orders a comprehensive blood test during my physical each year.’
I have seen many of my client’s blood tests that are included with their annual physicals and, in most cases, the blood tests ordered are not a comprehensive assessment of health.
But, there is a reason for this. Your doctor’s priority is to diagnose and treat disease when it occurs. Whereas, the proactive approach to blood testing is to regularly screen your body for any changes that may represent the red flags of chronic disease.
When you are in control of ordering your own blood test, you can monitor all aspects of your health, such as:
- Vitamin D and other vitamins
- Blood sugar balance and diabetes risk
- Inflammation levels
- Thyroid health
- Cardiovascular health and disease risk
- Blood markers of aging and longevity.
‘My blood tests are all in the normal lab reference range, which means that I am healthy.’
For every blood test, the lab includes a reference range that is considered to be ‘normal’. The problem is, this range represents 95% of the population, based on a bell curve. And, we all know that 95% of people are not a good representation of health. So, for many basic blood tests, there is a narrower range that represents optimal health and function.
You can very easily be within a ‘normal range’ on your lab report, but outside of what is optimal for you and your long-term health and well-being.
One important takeaway is to do blood testing regularly so that you can easily identify deviations from your typical values. This may be a signal of problems brewing under the surface.
I offer my clients a specialized assessment of their blood test from the standpoint of optimal function and preventing disease, rather than just diagnosing disease. And, with this information, they aim to move beyond the health of the average population and begin to optimize their habits for optimal health and longevity.– Dr. Alexis
If you really want to understand your health, the benefits of getting an independent blood test are obvious, but who exactly is this best suited for?
Who should get a blood test with DirectLabs®?
Here are some of the most common reasons that you may choose to order a blood test with DirectLabs®:
- You need affordable testing because you do not have health insurance or you have a high deductible.
- You are interested in improving your health and want to understand any underlying problems that may lead to developing a chronic disease in the future.
- You want to get a baseline of your current health before making a big change to your diet, lifestyle, or a fitness routine.
- You want to regularly screen yourself for chronic diseases that run in your family.
- You have a chronic disease and have been unable to identify the underlying root cause.
- You haven’t had a blood test in over 12 months and want to get your head out of the sand so that you can start taking control of your own health.
There are many reasons to get a comprehensive blood test. When it comes to your health, focusing on prevention is always better than needing to find a cure. And, the best tool for helping you to prevent disease is regular blood testing.
How to order your own blood test
DirectLabs® is a direct-to-consumer blood test provider. This means that they work directly with you, instead of requiring a physician’s lab order, and offer a full range of diagnostic tests.
Ordering a test from DirectLabs® is a little different than when your doctor orders one for you. But, the entire process is designed to be simple and stress-free.
Step 1 – Search for the blood tests that you would like and add them to your shopping cart. See below for my recommended blood testing packages — from basic to comprehensive.
Step 2 – When completing your order you will be asked to register with a username and password. Make sure to check the box that you are a “Customer/Patient”. Save your MyDLS® login information! This is where your blood test results will be posted when they are ready.
*You need to be 18 years of age or older to order a blood test.
Step 3 – Within 2-4 hours of placing your order, you will get an email with your requisition document. PRINT out the requisition document to take with you to the lab.
Step 4 – Take your printed document to the lab indicated in your MyDLS® account. DirectLabs® works with Labcorp and Quest labs across the country, with the exception of NJ, NY, and RI (these three states do not allow for direct-to-consumer lab testing). Click here to find the closest lab to you.
Step 5 – Most test results are available in as little as 24-48 hours after your blood is drawn. The analysis will be uploaded for you to view in your MyDLS® account when it is ready and you can request that it be sent directly to your healthcare provider.
To help make the decision a bit easier, here are two blood test packages that I use when analyzing the health of my clients.
My recommended blood testing packages, explained
The following two blood testing packages — basic and comprehensive — are designed to give you key information about your health.
Dr. Alexis Shields – Basic Annual Blood Test $329
This test is a great option for an annual physical. It includes 14 different tests designed to assess your general health and well-being in the following areas:
- Immune system and anemia
- Kidney and liver function
- Blood sugar levels
- Vitamin D
This test is best suited to a healthy person without a chronic illness who would like to have a basic overview of their health. With this information, you can identify any red flags, such as low vitamin D or rising blood sugar levels, so that you can stop the progression of disease in its tracks.
Dr. Alexis Shields – Comprehensive Annual Blood Test $699
This comprehensive annual blood test is designed to give you deep insights into your health. The package includes 24 total tests including the 14 tests in the Basic Annual Blood Test plus the following:
- A more comprehensive assessment of blood sugar levels;
- An in-depth analysis of thyroid health;
- More detailed information regarding inflammation;
- A wider range of vitamins;
- More information regarding cardiovascular risk;
- Tests related to aging and longevity.
This is the perfect test for someone who is interested in optimizing their health or someone who wants to get to the bottom of a chronic health issue.
*It is also possible to add-on the reproductive hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, and SHBG.
Take control of your health
Blood testing helps to paint a picture of your current health and provides a crystal ball for your future risk of chronic disease.
It has never been easier to access the testing needed to take your health into your own hands. Whether you want to optimize your health or determine the underlying cause of a health issue, regular blood testing is a key part of the process.
Take a look at the DirectLabs® testing packages and find the lab nearest you.