Posts Tagged ‘best online lab tests’

What you should know about CRP

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What you should know about CRP

CRP is C-reactive protein, a protein found in the body that reacts to the inflammatory response. Called a complement protein, CRP and other proteins like it respond to tissue damage. These proteins and other aggregates of the inflammatory, cause a reaction to help repair when there is an injury anywhere in the body. This quick reaction to tissue damage and inflammation is part of our immune response.

Reactions to Inflammation

Due to this reaction, CRP levels are understandably elevated after surgery or accidental physical trauma. CRP levels are also affected when the body undergoes vascular events that leave tissue without oxygen, such as heart attacks or strokes. CRP levels are often watched after myocardial infarction or heart attack, along with other blood tests to prevent another episode.

CRP & Infection

When someone is actively fighting infections, like appendicitis, influenza, or pneumonia, CRP levels will also be elevated. CRP levels, along with white blood cell counts, are a big determinant when physicians decide if a treatment is effective at eliminating the infection.

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Autoimmunity and CRP

When the body’s immune system starts to target its own cells, it is called Autoimmune disorder.  Some examples of autoimmune diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, lupus, and hypothyroidism in some cases. In addition to physical symptoms of pain and fever, autoimmune diseases will increase the inflammatory response. C-reactive protein levels are often evaluated by doctors, again, with other tests, to help determine the severity or progression of the disease or episode.

CRP & Heart

Because CRP is elevated after a heart attack, most doctors will follow its levels in patients after coronary events. If initial levels of CRP are over 2.4 mg/dL, they are considered at risk for coronary events.  It is desirable to have CRP levels less than 1.0 mg/dL. Statin drugs treated for hyperlipidemia reduce CRP levels, another reason to keep at-risk patients on these drugs. It is evident that patients who have consistently higher CRP levels are more likely to have hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

Some cancers may elevate CRP levels and is often very high during acute or chronic kidney failure. A CRP blood test alone will not diagnose a single disease but can be significant in the presence of other symptoms.

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Why is a Complete Blood Count blood test important?

A complete blood count (CBC) is the go-to test to analyze the three main types of cells within the blood: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red blood cells contain a molecule called hemoglobin that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues. A CBC shows the number of red blood cells, their size and shape, and the concentration of hemoglobin within each cell. Red blood cells can be low if a person has been losing blood or if they have anemia (low hemoglobin levels). If you are diagnosed with anemia, your doctor will then order more specific tests to determine if your anemia is the result of recent blood loss, low iron levels, or a vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency.

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The white blood cells are a key player in the body’s immune system, defending you against potentially harmful organisms. A CBC gives a total white cell count and the percentages of the different types of white cells, which can help your doctor determine what sort of infection your body is fighting (bacterial, parasitic, etc.). Additionally, leukemia, which is a cancer of the bone marrow, can be diagnosed if abnormal white cells are present in the blood.

A blood platelet count in the normal range is necessary to ensure the blood clots as it should, preventing excessive blood loss from injuries or surgery

 


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Why Low-Fat Diets Fail?

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Why Low-Fat Diets Fail?

One of the most common misconceptions people have when trying to lose weight is that they need to cut out fat or eat foods that are labeled low-fat in order to achieve their goal or live a healthy lifestyle, however by doing this you could actually be doing more harm than good. Reducing fat often leads to a higher intake of refined carbs, and cuts out healthy fats that your body needs. Research has found diets with high amounts of saturated fats are associated with a higher risk of heart attacks and high blood cholesterol levels.

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So, instead of taking an approach that completely eliminates or significantly reduces fat, you should opt to include healthy unsaturated fats in your diet. Healthy fats are actually an essential macronutrient because they help your body absorb nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K, and antioxidants. Omega-3 fats optimize heart, nerve, and brain function. You should include healthy fats into your diet like avocados, olive oil, nuts, and fish, and try to limit your consumption of “reduced-fat” fat foods that are high in refined carbs and added sugars. A healthy diet includes healthy fats, primarily unrefined carbohydrates, and protein.


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The Relationship Between Blood Sugar and Dementia

Keeping your blood sugar levels under control is a proven practice to help prevent diabetes. A simple blood test can provide you with important information about your fasting blood sugar level, glucose levels, and your risk for diabetes. But there may be other uses for measuring blood sugar than diabetes alone. Research shows that seniors that keep blood sugar levels low can help keep your brain healthy and prevent dementia. Among non-diabetics, those who develop dementia have higher fasting blood sugar levels. Those with higher glucose levels are 20 percent more likely to develop dementia. Among diabetics, the increase in the risk of dementia is even higher – 40 percent higher in those with higher blood sugar levels. Whether you’re diabetic or not, adopting a lifestyle to help control blood sugar levels is good for the brain and may help you avoid developing dementia. Here are three proven ways to lower your blood sugar:

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  1. Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, even losing 10 to 15 pounds can help lower blood sugar levels.
  2. Get regular aerobic exercise such as brisk walking for 30-plus minutes daily. The exercise helps burn up extra sugar in the blood in both diabetics and non-diabetics.
  3. Choose healthy meals – high in fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and legumes. Eat foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and limit red meats and high-fat dairy products. Follow a low-glycemic diet by avoiding soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks. And limit potatoes, white bread, white rice, and other refined grains.

If you are a diabetic, you should monitor your blood sugar levels daily and adopt healthy lifestyle habits to prevent complications from this disease. Your doctor may also adjust your medications to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range, as measured by an A1C level of less than 7 percent.


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Are Food Labels Tricking You?

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Are Food Labels Tricking You?

There are a plethora of options at the grocery stores that make claims like “No Artificial Colors”, that increase the want for the product because they are seen as the “healthier” option, however, this may not always be the case. The food manufacturers choose the wording on their products’ packages very carefully to increase the desirability of their products as long as it fits in the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration.

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Often times the claims that are made on food labels are not what the consumer thinks they are getting. For example, a product could say it is low in sodium, but according to the FDA, it just means it has 140 mg or less per serving. Another example would be when the words ‘simple’, ‘natural’ or ‘free from’ are plastered on food packaging, it is not verified by the FDA. In this case, be sure to check the fine print to see what the company’s definition is for the terms they have on their food packaging. Unfortunately, it is up to the consumers to figure out if a product is healthy or not. You have to read the nutrition label on each package in order to tell if the product is actually a healthy option or not. When reading a nutrition label, pay close attention to sodium, type of fat, sugar and whole grains.


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How to Improve Sleep Hygiene

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How to Improve Sleep Hygiene

Getting enough quality sleep is such an important aspect of good physical health. It is the time where your body heals and repairs itself. Sleep deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Your ability to function during the day depends on the amount and quality of sleep you are getting. The following are steps you can take to better your sleep hygiene:
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  • Set up a healthy and realistic sleeping schedule
  • Stop eating 2 hours before bedtime
  • Don’t drink fluids after your last meal, this will decrease the chances you’ll have to wake up to use the bathroom
  • Reduce the amount of blue light you get an hour before you go to bed. Bluelight comes from computer, television, and phone screens, and this type of light arouses the brain.
  • Avoid napping throughout the day. If you do take a nap, make sure it is before 3 pm, so that you are tired by the time it’s time to go to bed.
  • Ensure your room is a tranquil space for you, especially your bed
  • Establish a nighttime routine
  • Set up relaxation techniques you practice before going to sleep
  • Wake up at the same time every day
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine, especially close to the time you go to sleep

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Your Morning Routine Can Help Increase your Productivity throughout the Day

The start of your day can be a crucial part of your productivity for the rest of your day. Setting up a good morning routine can set the rest of your day up for success, even if you are not a morning person. In fact, it can even help you become a morning person! Having a good morning makes you feel accomplished and will motivate you to complete the next task of your day, and so forth. It will help maximize your energy and keep a positive mindset. It is important to be consistent in order for you to start seeing benefits, it takes about 21 days to create a habit. The following are some steps you may want to include in your morning routine:

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  1. Wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Practicing this will establish a sleeping schedule and prevent procrastination throughout your day.
  2. Open your blinds, getting natural light first thing in the morning will reinforce your circadian rhythm; it will help you wake up.
  3. Drink 16 ounces of water. Doing this on an empty stomach will kickstart your metabolism, flush out your toxins, and it hydrates you.
  4. Start meditating. It has been shown that meditation helps reduce anxiety, improves concentration, and helps set a positive tone for the rest of your day.
  5. Write morning pages for 15 minutes. You essentially just write whatever comes to mind for 15 minutes straight, this helps to clear your head of all unnecessary and unproductive thoughts.
  6. Complete a workout. This will help you release endorphins and feel accomplished after you have finished. You also don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day, so it’s one thing you can cross off your to-do list.
  7. Avoid using your phone in the morning, this puts you in a reactive state instead of a proactive one.

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What is H. Pylori Infection

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What is H. Pylori Infection

Helicobacter Pylori is a bacteria that causes an infection in the stomach and is one of the main causes of peptic ulcers, and gastritis, which could lead to stomach cancer. The bacteria break down the inner protective coating of the stomach, and this may cause inflammation. About 30 to 40 percent of people in the U.S. have H. Pylori, and often people don’t realize because the bacteria usually do not cause symptoms. Peptic ulcers can be caused by the bacteria, and burning pain in your stomach particularly when on an empty stomach.

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The burning sensation can last from minutes to several days.  Peptic ulcers can also cause bloating, nausea, and weight loss. Your primary care physician may conduct a stool, blood, or breath test for H. Pylori if you present symptoms of an ulcer. Treatment includes antibiotics and acid-reducing medication, and after treatment, you will have to go see your physician to take another H. Pylori test to ensure the infection is gone. Scientists are not sure the cause of H. Pylori, but they think it may be spread through unclean water or food. There is also no vaccine to prevent this bacteria, so you should eat food that is prepared properly, drink water from a safe source, and wash your hands after using the bathroom and before eating.


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Can Green Tea and Coffee Help your Heart Health?

Green tea contains compounds called catechins that help regulate blood pressure and improve blood flow through an anti-inflammatory response. Similarly, coffee has caffeine and quinides compounds that affect our health positively although through a different mechanism. It is important to note that tea and coffee as good dietary practices do not include those drinks that are laden with fat and sugar. There has been an increase in both tea and coffee consumption, but those extra large lattes and teas can contain high amounts of fat and sugar when cream, milk, and sugar are included.

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The US Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion states that a 6-ounce cup of black coffee contains just 7 calories and adding some half & half and you’ll get 46 calories. If you flavor a liquid nondairy creamer, that will set you back 48 calories. Adding a teaspoon of sugar will add about 23 calories. Regular coffee, without the heavy cream & sugar, has been linked to a range of benefits that reduced the risk of Type 2 diabetes and to have a protective effect against Parkinson’s disease. Be cautioned: drinking coffee and tea is not cause and effect as there may be other lifestyle habits amongst java and tea drinkers that lead to reduced risk of disease. So, if you are someone who enjoys a cup ‘o joe or has some tea every morning, there’s no need to stop.  If you don’t, maybe enlist a friend for some tea, that is, after you do your exercise and eat your healthy meal.


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How Stress is Affecting your Overall Health

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How Stress is Affecting your Overall Health

You may be living a fast-paced life which could mean you are under constant stress. The effects of chronic stress can be detrimental to your overall health. Some symptoms of chronic stress include anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, and irritability. The following are possible effects of stress on different systems in your body:

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  • Immune system: Chronic stress means you are releasing stress hormones constantly and this can weaken the immune system and decrease your body’s response to viruses and bacteria. A weakened immune system also means the recovery period of an illness or injury is longer.
  • Digestive system: The liver creates extra glucose when under constant stress, which could increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. It can also cause an increase in stomach acid and this can increase the chances of getting an ulcer or for existing ulcers to act up.
  • Cardiovascular system: The heart pumps blood faster when under stress, thus raising blood pressure and increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
  • Muscular system: Muscles tense up when under stress, however, if the stress does not subside, the muscles will not relax. Tense muscles can cause headache, and body ache, and in the long run, this can lead to a reduction in exercise.
  • Central nervous and endocrine systems: The central nervous system is responsible for your flight or fight response which is activated under stress. The hypothalamus sends signals to the adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones increase heart rate and send a rush of blood to your heart, muscles, and other important organs. Chronic stress can also cause eating disorders, social withdrawal, and alcohol/drug abuse.

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