So you think your healthy?
You workout, manage your weight, watch the food that you eat, but how do you know that is enough and your body is responding properly?
Bottom line..without tests for verification YOU DON’T KNOW.
But before we get to the tests, what is considered the Baseline of Health?
There are many different definitions but we believe the true Baseline considers physical and mental health combined.
Stanford Health SCOPE defines the baseline as: Two basic components: existing illness and potential future illness. Your current baseline has been shaped by your medical, social and family history and is constantly being influenced by common factors in everyday life.
“A health-care baseline is essentially where you are “at’ on the broad, complex spectrum of physical, mental and emotional health,” explains Mary James, MD, an internal medicine physician at Stanford. “This can be a critical starting point for achieving future health goals.”
The FIVE key components to establishing a Baseline for Health are:
- Physical–bones, joints, prevention of life altering diseases
- Nutritional–feeding your body proper micro & macro nutrients to function at the level you desire
- Mental–learning to identify when to get help and how to handle the curveballs of life
- Emotional– strong connections to other people to support each other
- Sleep–without the right amount of sleep our bodies revolt and are unable to perform to the best of its ability
Most people consider their physical & nutritional goals when reviewing their health. But how many really consider their mental, emotional health as well as sleep patterns to determine their overall wellness level?
So how do you establish a Baseline?
Let’s start with physical since it is the easiest to measure. Most likely if you workout or perform some type of physical activity 2-4 days per week you have some level of physical fitness. There are several tests that measure your physical level and can even predict if you are in the dangerous category of Heart Disease, Stroke and even Type 2 Diabetes.
VO₂ max test (often referred to as an oxygen uptake) is the most accurate in determining your cardio respiratory health. It determines how much oxygen your body can absorb and use during exercise. National Health Institute Description
While oxygen uptake is more frequently used for athletes, is not just for athletes. It is a way to determine cardiorespiratory fitness in anyone. Medical professionals can use it to determine your heart and lung health.
Everyone — no matter their athletic ability — should try to increase their cardiorespiratory endurance. According to research, a higher VO₂ max is associated with a lower risk of death.
DEXA Scan is always considered the best way to measure bone health and determine if a person has osteoporosis. Few people are aware that a DEXA Scan can provide vital information including the composition of the body including bone, fat and lean muscle mass. With the breakdown between fat and muscle a DEXA Scan can also identify dangerous visceral fat, the hidden fat that is wrapped around our organs and is the leading predictor of Heart Disease, Stroke and Type 2 Diabetes. Three of the top 10 deaths for people in the United States according to Medical News Today.
If your DEXA Scan indicates the presence of more than 5lbs of visceral fat it is highly recommended that you follow-up with a physician for further testing including a having a possible CT or Echocardiogram of the heart and blood tests to determine AC1 Score for Diabetes.
Nutritional – Properly feeding your body is very important. Ensuring that you are eating the right foods with the right amount of nutrients is also important.
A Metabolic Test also known as a Resting Metabolic Rate or RMR determines how many calories that you burn normally at rest. This will help you determine how many calories you should be consuming to (1) lose weight (2) maintain weight or (3) gain weight.
Once your goals have been established you can create a nutritional plan and that identifies a meal plan that includes both Macro Nutrients (Fats, Carbohydrates & Protein) and Micro Nutrients (Vitamins and Minerals.) This article by HealthLine explains the difference between the two and why it is important to consider both.
Mental & Emotional Health – Although we have made great strides in the last few years into improving mental and emotional well being there are still stigmas preventing people from considering this as part of their overall health. Depression, anxiety and a host of other factors prevent us from living our best lives daily.
The good news is that the stigma is lessening and there is help. If you are unsure if you’re having the blues or suffering from a mental health condition this assessment tool provided by Mental Health America is an excellent resource for self check and provides resources to connect professionals that can help you better understand your issues and improve your mental health.
Sleep – The final component in establishing your Health Baseline is sleep. Every one of us will spend around a third of our lives asleep. The amount and quality of sleep you enjoy have a lasting impact on you when you’re awake. It affects your mental fitness, physical well-being, and even your risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as obesity, depression, and type 2 diabetes (do you see a consistent theme here?) One of the easiest ways to track your sleep is to use a sleep tracker including Fitbit, Apple Watch or Oura Ring. These items track your movement and based upon that use an algorithm to determine if you are getting enough restful sleep. While they are not exact they do provide a general idea of your quality of sleep and if you find that the quality of sleep is lacking you can visit a health professional who can complete a more indepth sleep study to determine if you have a condition called Sleep Apnea where you stop breathing at night.
The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible, making severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability likely.
You might also feel quick-tempered, moody or depressed. Sleep Apnea is also associated with the following conditions:
- High blood pressure or heart problems. Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. Having obstructive sleep apnea increases your risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) or heart problems.
- Type 2 diabetes. Having sleep apnea increases your risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
By establishing your current Baseline for all five of these factors you can then track changes and consistently work to improve your overall health. We have attached a tracker here that you can utilize to track your health and improvements going forward.