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Using Biomarkers to Track & Improve Metabolic Health
Table of Contents
What Are Biomarkers?
Biomarkers, or biological markers, mainly aid in measuring a person's biological state or metabolic health. More specifically, a biomarker is "an objectively measured and analysed trait that indicates normal pathogenic processes, biological processes, or pharmacological reactions to a therapeutic intervention".
Biomarkers, such as cholesterol levels or blood pressure, help monitor and forecast health conditions in people so that one can plan appropriate treatment action. Biomarkers can be used alone or in combination to measure an individual's metabolic health or illness.
What are the Biomarkers of Metabolic Health?
1. Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin sensitivity is the ability of cells to respond to insulin effectively and efficiently. This is necessary for your body to utilise glucose to get energy, store it in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscles for later use and conduct other biological functions.Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that aids in absorbing blood sugar for storage and energy. It helps glucose storage in the liver and muscles and regulates the body's carbohydrate, lipid, and protein metabolism. Insulin regulates the quantity of glucose in your bloodstream at any given time.
Blood sugar levels increase after eating. The level of glucose in your bloodstream starts to fall due to this absorption. The pancreas will then begin to secrete glucagon, which causes the liver to release sugar that has been stored. The combination of blood sugar and glucagon keeps the level of blood glucose in your body and brain at a constant level. Insulin resistance causes cells to not respond adequately to insulin, making it difficult for glucose to enter them. Their blood glucose levels grow with time, even if their bodies produce more insulin because their cells stubbornly resist it. Insulin sensitivity and resistance are opposites of each other with resistance being harmful and insulin sensitivity being favourable to our health.
2. Blood Glucose
Glucose refers to the sugar that the body obtains from the meals one eats and utilised for energy. Blood glucose is the glucose that goes through the bloodstream to the cells.When blood glucose level is too high, it may cause various problems in your body. The high levels indicate that the body isn't producing enough insulin or isn't utilising it efficiently. Normal blood sugar levels should be below 140 mg/dL.
The Glycaemic Index (GI) measures how quickly food is absorbed or digested by the body, impacting the blood glucose level. Consuming food with a low GI helps in maintaining a lower blood sugar level. Low GI to intermediate GI foods includes barley, yoghurt, legumes, beans, oats, etc.
3. HDL Cholesterol
Total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels are the standard cholesterol indicators that are measured. HDL is affectionately known as the "good" cholesterol, while LDL is known as the "bad" cholesterol. Cholesterol is essential for hormone regulation and cell function, but it may cause trouble in excess quantities. For the most part, high HDL cholesterol helps remove cholesterol from blood vessels and processes it by transporting it back to the liver. It can help reduce plaque accumulation in the arteries because it functions as a scavenger. You want your HDL levels to be greater, but you also want your LDL levels below 100. An NMR lipid profile can help you estimate the size of your tiny LDL particles and your oxidised LDL levels.
4. Blood Pressure
A value of 135/80 is a risk factor for metabolic health syndrome, albeit there is no exact standard. If your blood pressure is consistently greater than 125/75, you may have a minor or serious metabolic health condition. So, keep track of your previous measures, especially if they've been very high in the past.
5. Waist Circumference
Fat isn't all made equal. In fact, visceral fat around your stomach is significantly worse for your health than fat found elsewhere in your body. It produces hormones and inflammatory proteins leading to more metabolic health disorders such as diabetes and heart disease. Visceral fat is more metabolically active compared with other fat in your body, known as subcutaneous fat. People place such a high value on the scale that they overlook the significance of waist circumference. You might be the right weight yet have a large waist circumference, which means you have more visceral fat.
The scale is a simple initial metric for rapidly gauging how you're doing, but other crucial general health assessments are helpful. Just one of the following risk factors raises your chances of metabolic health disorders like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or stroke. Having several risk factors increases your chances of these health problems even more. Total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and an NMR Lipid Profile are additional measurements that might provide value (including small LDL and oxidised LDL).
The truth is that you may spend decades without seeing metabolic health abnormalities in your own body. However, taking immediate actions to prioritise your metabolic health and well-being, learning what's going on inside the book, not just the cover, can make all the difference in the long term. Using science to support your health and fitness will assist you in identifying these issues. Knowing what's happening inside the body can help you design the correct strategy to improve your metabolic health and fitness, whether it's a lack of energy, insufficient sleep, even frequent colds.
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.