As a Nutritional Therapist, my job involves helping clients find the root cause of their health concerns, then guiding and supporting them towards taking control of their own health. This includes a detailed investigation into their previous and current health history as well as their lifestyle and other factors.
Often it’s necessary to delve deeper into the underlying causes, especially when there are no obvious symptoms, for example, a skin rash or indigestion. One way of doing this is by means of functional testing. This could be anything from a food intolerance test to an adrenal function test. Such tests are specific and specialised and can provide a helpful indication as to what’s going on inside the body. GP services provide some tests on the NHS, but these are generally undertaken when the patient is already suffering noticeable symptoms of ill health.
Functional tests are usually obtained via a Nutritional Therapist who must be suitably qualified and registered with the appropriate associations and the testing company concerned.
However, with more people taking in an interest in their health, there are many tests available which can be purchased by anyone, either over the counter in a pharmacy, online or directly from the testing company.
Preventative health is all about taking control of our health before disease sets in and functional testing can play a key part in helping us do this.
Rather than waiting until we start experiencing adverse physical health symptoms, we can now take advantage of such tests to help us spot underlying deficiencies or problems before the disease process is underway and begins manifesting as unwelcome symptoms.
Thriva home testing
One type of Do It Yourself home test is supplied by the company Thriva who started up in 2016 with the aim of building the world's first preventative health service.
At the time of writing, tests include the Essential, Baseline and Advanced.
Essential: Cost: £24 per test
This test tracks two main health indicators related to risk factors for cardiovascular disease and liver function. Cholesterol biomarkers include: (LDL cholesterol, cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol and cholesterol ratio). Biomarkers for liver include: (Alkaline phosphatase, gamma GT, albumin, globulin, alanine transferase, bilirubin and total protein).
Baseline: Cost: £49 per test
The Baseline test tracks key indicators of internal health. Within the baseline test you’ll find out the following:
B12 (total), Cholesterol biomarkers: (as per the Essential test). Liver biomarkers: (as per the Essential test). Plus: Vitamin D biomarker: (25-hydroxy Vitamin D); Iron Profile biomarkers: (Ferritin, Iron, Transferrin saturation and TIBC - see Thriva for more details on this).
Advanced: Cost: £69 per test
The advanced test is the most comprehensive and provides a detailed insight into a variety of key internal health systems. This test includes all the biomarkers as per the Baseline test plus Diabetes biomarker: (HbA1C) and a Folate biomarker.
How does it work?
The company works on a subscription basis, whereby you choose to subscribe to a particular type of test. You always have the option of choosing a different test at a later stage. The idea is that you receive a new test on a regular timescale in order to track your progress.
So for example, if you found your Vitamin D levels were too low or cholesterol too high, you could schedule another test kit for 3 months’ time, and in the meantime work on improving your levels. You can then see whether what you are doing is working after taking the next test.
If you find that everything is fine and normal when you receive your results, you can still schedule another test for 3 months or any number of months/years later that you wish. Or you can order a one off testing kit and cancel any repeat orders.
To order a test, you create your account online and fill out some basic information about yourself. Then you choose the test you’d like, order and pay for it. Barring any hold-ups with the postal system, you’ll receive your kit the next day.
Taking the test
The Thriva tests are finger prick tests. This means you need to use the lancet provided to draw the blood needed for the test. Depending on which test you order, you’ll receive one of two types of test tubes. They do provide clear and easy to follow instructions for drawing the blood and just a small amount is needed to fill the test tube. There are spare lancets provided if you need them.
Once you’ve done that, simply place the test tube into the protective casing and pop it into the supplied freepost envelope together with your completed form stating the date and time the sample was taken. Ideally post as soon as possible after taking the sample.
Once your test has been received at the lab and analysed, you’ll receive an email letting you know. This is usually pretty fast, within 48 hours after the lab has received the sample. You can then log in to your account and view your results online. My latest result was received online 24 hours after I posted my blood sample!
You’ll see a breakdown of each biomarker tested, together with a small graph showing where your results lie. By clicking on ‘View More Details’ you are taken to another page with more information about that particular marker, what its function is and how it can affect your health if levels aren’t within the range. You are given a brief report by a qualified doctor, together with some general information on how you can best try to improve your results.
As stated in the note below from Thriva, the doctor's note isn't personally related to your own results. Rather, pre written answers will be displayed alongside your results.
Thriva also display the following note:
‘The information presented here is general, and not related directly to your personal results. Thriva conducts numerous tests to build a picture of your health status. No one of these tests should be interpreted in isolation from other results. If you are unsure of what your results mean or have any concerns, you should discuss your results further with your GP.’
Here are a couple of screen shots of my own results:
Nutritional therapy support
While the information provided with your home test kit is insightful, you may feel you need additional support with improving your results. A nutritional therapy consultation can help with guiding you towards making beneficial dietary and / or lifestyle changes to help you improve your results and your health. If you'd like to know more, please contact me at: Contact.
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