When it comes to your health, you might think you’re taking all the precautionary measures. You’re eating a healthy diet. You’ve started exercising. You’ve finally quit smoking and even cutting back on the alcohol you consume.
All’s good, right?
The fact is, many people are not taking the time to get regular health testing, which can tell you more about how the body is working on the inside. Far too often we just look at external factors. We assess our body weight, how much fat we’re carrying around the abdomen and look at other factors that we can easily monitor – like how out of breath we are when climbing a flight of stairs for instance.
And while these can all be excellent ways to get a glimpse into your health standing, they definitely do not tell the full picture. Sometimes, you just need to go deeper.
That’s where medical testing comes in. There are some routine tests that all adults should be getting as the years pass by to help keep tabs on important health measures that can tell you a lot about your health future. Remember, prevention and early treatment are the two best ways to stay disease free in the long-term, but if you aren’t monitoring your health closely, you won’t know when early treatment is necessary.
So all of this said, let’s take a closer look at the 5 important tests that you should be doing on a regular basis to keep yourself feeling great and your health optimized.
1. EKC (Electrocardiogram)
Most of us have heard of an EKG before. We typically associate this test however with those who are experiencing serious heart health issues and need to be under direct watch.
But, as it turns out, everyone should be getting one done from time to time. Most doctors simply don’t order them for their patients so unless you request it, chances are, you will go without.
An EKG is going to monitor the thickness of the heart muscle, which can then give you a clue into how hard it’s working on a daily basis. When heart muscle hypertrophy occurs, this means the heart is growing larger due to elevated use.
Unlike building your biceps where hypertrophy is a wanted side effect, hypertrophy when it comes to your heart is not.
If this is taking place, it could be a sign that further heart tests should be run and you may need to start making some heart-focused adjustments to your lifestyle. There’s also going to be a good chance that your cholesterol levels are high and you may have elevated blood pressure as well.
This test is a painless procedure to do so there’s no reason to put it off any longer.
Interestingly, one simple at-home test you can do to help assess your risk for heart disease is a grip strength test. When you have weaker grip strength compared to the norm, this can increase an elevated risk for heart disease. Do keep in mind though this test should never replace proper heart-health tests like the EKG and others such as the C-reactive protein, and limited CT scan, however it can be a way to help you figure out whether you should be doing further investigation.
Prevent Heart Disease Now:
What are some of the best things you can start doing right now to help reduce your risk of heart disease?
Two key factors are your salt and sugar intake. Start assessing how much of each of these you are taking in and make sure that you’re doing all you can to reduce them. Sugar has become one of the biggest game players in heart disease as it is linked to rapid weight gain. Look for hidden sources of sugar in your diet such as in dairy products, condiments, and even bread.
In addition to that, consider using a high quality probiotic such as P3-OM as well. Keeping the healthy bacteria in your gut at optimal capacity can help reduce bad cholesterol levels and help prevent your arteries from thickening and your heart from having to work so hard.
2. A Blood Lipid Test
The next test that could possibly save your life if done early enough is a blood lipid test. This is done through simple blood testing, so it is also a relatively painless procedure and is going to help to determine your triglyceride levels and cholesterol profile.
Why does this help?
Looking at your blood lipids can not only also help you get a better idea of whether you might be at risk for heart disease, but in addition to that, also help you assess whether metabolic syndrome is a potential health concern for you.
Those who have high triglyceride levels are more at risk for metabolic syndrome, which is a condition where you typically suffer from insulin resistance, high blood pressure, excessive fat around the abdominal region, and a poor cholesterol profile.
Those who are suffering from these things are far more likely to wind up suffering from diabetes, heart attacks and stroke, so if you are a candidate for metabolic syndrome, it’s time to start doing whatever you can to reverse it. This includes nutrition and exercise changes as a foremost priority.
While diabetes tends not to be all that life threatening, it is a condition that, should you come down with, will impact you for the remainder of your life. Often, in today’s times where type 2 diabetes is running rampant, this is something that you do have control over. By eating healthier and exercising, thus improving your insulin sensitivity, you can really help put the brakes on diabetes development.
And because heart attacks and strokes can be fatal, they aren’t something to be taken lightly either. A simple blood lipid test can give you a glimpse into your risk factor and help you stand up and take action if you’re higher than normal.
Prevent Insulin Resistance Now:
One of the best ways to prevent insulin resistance is by introducing high intensity exercise into your workout plan such as interval cardio or a resistance training activity. By building more lean muscle mass tissue, you provide a place where carbohydrates (glucose) can be stored and as such, prevent the chances of experiencing high blood sugar levels after consuming a carbohydrate rich meal.
In addition to that, also focus on decreasing your carbohydrate intake while increasing the fiber you consume in the few carbs you do eat. You want to minimize your sugar intake as much as possible because sugar can cause blood glucose levels to spike, insulin to come into the picture, and your body to eventually stop responding to insulin as it should.
3. Colorectal Cancer Screening
Cancer is a devastating disease that is touching more and more people’s lives today. If you’ve never had cancer yourself, chances are someone close to you has and you’ve already experienced first-hand how much of a struggle it is. Not everyone walks away from cancer, so doing all that you can to prevent it now is definitely in your best interests if you hope to lead a long and healthy life.
One particular type of cancer that you’ll want to ensure you’re getting screened for is colorectal cancer. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of death in America for both men and women according to the American Cancer Society, so it’s one cancer to pay attention to. The society notes that there were 95,520 new cases of colon cancer seen in 2017 and 39,910 new cases of rectal cancer experienced as well.
The current stats for your lifetime risk of developing this cancer stand at 4.7% for men and 4.4% for women. It’s also expected, again according to the American Cancer Society that there will be 50,260 people who will pass away from colorectal cancer in 2017. By the time you are 50 years old, you should be getting a screening done for this disease.
The good news however is that the rates of colorectal cancer are decreasing as the years go on as better screening methods are now being established. We are able to find colorectal polyps more often and have these removed before they turn into cancers. Thus, this helps many side-step the disease. This said, do keep in mind that you have to do the screening in order for it to be effective. Many people are not doing the screening and as such, aren’t getting the protection that this test can offer.
While getting a colonoscopy is never going to be a fun time, consider it a mandatory procedure after you blow out the candles on your 50th birthday.
Prevent Colorectal Cancer Now:
Some of the best ways to prevent colorectal cancer include making sure your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables as these provide key antioxidants that can help ward off cancer development, keeping your alcohol intake to a minimum, quit smoking, as well as maintaining a healthy amount of weight through proper diet and exercise.
You’ll want to take similar steps to prevent colorectal cancer as you would any other type of cancer, so keep these basic lifestyle changes in mind. With this cancer in particular however, adding enough dietary fiber to your menu seems to really help as it regulates your bowels and ensures a healthy digestive tract.
4. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening
The next test you’ll want to be sure you don’t pass up is an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening test. This condition occurs when an enlarged blood vessel in the stomach ruptures without warning. Sadly, there are no signs or symptoms of this condition, so unless you are getting your health screening tests done, you are unlikely to know it’s going to occur. Instead, it will take you by surprise and could even take your life as they do prove to be fatal in 90 percent of all cases.
The current recommendation for this screening test is to have it done between the ages of 65 and 75 if you have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in your lifetime. If you are a non-smoker your risk of this condition is much lower, so you generally won’t have to worry about being tested unless your doctor feels that it may be warranted.
Prevent Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms Now:
When looking at what you can do to prevent abdominal aortic aneurysm, you need to look carefully at the cause of this condition. The top three causes are smoking, high blood pressure, and vacuities (vascular inflammation), so taking steps to reduce these three health problems will position you in the right direction.
Seek help to quit smoking using any one of the many different methods out there including the patch, gums, or simply quitting cold turkey.
Lower high blood pressure levels by exercising regularly, reducing your salt and sugar intake, and losing any excess weight you may be carrying.
5. Depression Screening Tests
Finally, don’t be so quick to overlook that blue mood. If you’ve been feeling down more than you’ve been feeling up lately, it may be time to visit a mental health professional and get a screening test done for depression.
Sadly, many serious cases of depression go completely unreported as people either don’t realize they are suffering or are too ashamed or embarrassed to seek the treatment they need for it.
But, depression can become very serious. More and more people are taking their lives due to mental illness in today’s society, so you want to ensure you aren’t putting yourself in jeopardy.
There are many natural and medical treatments for depression, even in milder cases, so it’s worth getting checked out for if you even have a suspicion you may be suffering.
Often times all it takes is a few lifestyle modifications including exercise to help you come out of mild depression and start feeling more like yourself again.
Prevent Depression Now:
To help with the prevention of depression, start partaking in a regular exercise program. Exercise has been shown to help lift your spirits and may help combat feelings of negativity and sadness.
In addition to that, consider a high quality probiotic supplement such as P3-OM. Research has illustrated that those with adequate amounts of healthy bacteria in their gut may have extra protection against depression.
So there you have the top five health screening tests you should be taking in order to help optimize your health and potentially save your life. If you’re not currently being offered these by your doctor, be sure to inquire about them yourself. They won’t always be prescribed to the general population, so take charge of your own health and be sure that they are requested for you.
Fuller, Roy. “Probiotics in human medicine.” Gut 32.4 (1991): 439.
Shaban, N., K. A. Kenno, and K. J. Milne. “The effects of a 2 week modified high intensity interval training program on the homeostatic model of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) in adults with type 2 diabetes.” The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness 54.2 (2014): 203-209.
Salmeron, Jorge, et al. “Dietary fiber, glycemic load, and risk of non—insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in women.” Jama 277.6 (1997): 472-477.
Slavin, Joanne L. “Dietary fiber and colon cancer.” FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY-NEW YORK-MARCEL DEKKER- (2001): 31-46.
Cooney, Gary, Kerry Dwan, and Gillian Mead. “Exercise for depression.” Jama 311.23 (2014): 2432-2433.
Foster, Jane A., and Karen-Anne McVey Neufeld. “Gut–brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression.” Trends in neurosciences 36.5 (2013): 305-312.