While needle pricks and blood draws can be highly intimating to many people, because of my hospitalization as a kid, I’m rather immune to getting pricked and prodded; so it doesn’t phase me much when I’m due for lab work. In fact, I find it pretty fascinating how much information we can gather from a simple, nearly pain-free test. I spend much of my energy focused on my wellbeing (albeit sometimes too much energy), so I enjoy being able to see how my efforts are playing out internally.
It’s been a solid year since I’ve had any sort of lab work done, so was I was excited to collaborate with InsideTracker to get a comprehensive blood and analysis as a way to check in on my health.
What is InsideTracker?
InsideTracker is a blood testing service that uses science to analyze your results with personal recommendations for nutrition, supplements, and lifestyle. The InsideTracker team is made up of experts in aging, genetics and biometric data, from Harvard, MIT and Tufts. Whether you are an elite athlete, stressed-out professional, or bust parent, InsideTracker optimizes your health by analyzing your blood, lifestyle and nutrition habits to help you achieve your personal goals — whether that’s increasing energy to chase your kids or going after a gold medal.
Curious to learn more about the biomarkers they measure and how it’s different from visiting your doctor? Get all that info and more here.
How does it work?
You simply schedule an appointment at your local lab, print off the lab slip from InsideTracker, and get your blood drawn at the lab. Your results are automatically sent to InsideTracker and are uploaded to your personal dashboard (mine only took a few days). You also answer a set of questions about your lifestyle, such as sleep, activity level and diet, in order to get the best personalized recommendations.
Once your results are uploaded and analyzed, you get an email with a link to your personal dashboard that’s chockfull of information. Even if you aren’t savvy with blood tests, they do a great job breaking it down and making it super easy to digest and comprehend.
I did the Ultimate Test, which includes 43 biomarkers. InsideTracker breaks your results down by At Risk (out of range), Needs Improvement (in range, but not optimal) and Optimal.
I had 4 At Risk, 8 Needs Improvement, and 31 Optimal.
My 4 At Risk markers were:
- LDL (“bad” cholesterol)
- Eosinophils (white blood cells)
- SHBG (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin)
- TIBC (Total Iron-Binding Capacity)
The 8 that “needs improvement” included: Vitamin D, HDL, TS (transferrin saturation), and magnesium — all on the low end. Again, all of these items are technically in the normal range, but not optimal according to InsideTracker.
When you review your results, you’re given nutrition, supplement, and lifestyle recommendations for each biomarker that is not optimal. They also include an explanation of what each biomarker is/why it’s important, and some even include an informational video clip.
The personalized recommendations are based not only on your results, but from the information you provide about your activity, diet, sleep, stress, etc.
TIBC (red) – At Risk
Vitamin D (yellow) – Needs Improvement
Cortisol (green): Optimal
So, am I changing anything?
After going through my personalized recommendations, I am definitely going to be more diligent with my Vitamin D supplementation (already knew my Vitamin D was low – like most Americans), and I plan to increase my fish/wild salmon intake for not only Vitamin D, but protein as well.
Of my 4 At Risk biomarkers, the only recommendation given was for LDL which was to decrease consumption of coconut oil (a.k.a. saturated fat). I found it interesting that InsideTracker didn’t provide personalized recommendations for the other 3 biomarkers that were out of range.
I honestly didn’t know how to interpret my SHBG and TIBC, but after consulting with my naturopath, these aren’t critical values that need priority attention. And while my TIBC was high and my TS was low (confusing, right?), I do have sufficient iron and am not anemic.
My 116 LDL is out of range (>100), but it’s not a huge concern to neither me nor my doctor. High cholesterol is hereditary in my family and is mostly likely not due to lifestyle. Plus, my total cholesterol is normal.
InsideTracker recommended I switch to a vegetarian or vegan diet, but this doesn’t fit into my current health goals (oppositely, I’m trying to add a bit more meat for protein).
As for the high eosinophils, it’s not an alarming value considering I have a history of higher eosinophils.
How much does it cost?
There are different plans ranging from $49 to $589. You can see all of them here. I did the Ultimate test, complimentary of InsideTracker.
Overall, I’m impressed with the service. It was super user friendly! Not only is the website with your personal dashboard easy to navigate, but they make the information understandable, even for someone who doesn’t have a background in nutrition.
While you don’t need a doctor to order the blood test/use the service (a huge perk!), I personally think it’s advisable to consult your health care provider before making any major changes — especially in terms of supplementation. You are able to print and/or email your results to your doctor. I chose to send them to my naturopth for a follow up appointment.
Would I do it again and/or recommend it?
Absolutely! You can even schedule to have a follow-up date in your profile so you’ll get a reminder to get your labs re-tested. If getting lab work done ever feels like a chore to you, this service makes the process headache-free. I think the information is highly valuable; however, I wouldn’t suggest replacing it for seeing your doctor.
With my holistic view, this comprehensive test of 43 biomarkers was largely helpful in adding beneficial information to the larger picture of my health, but it wasn’t the full picture. I have an extensive health history, and current chronic GI issues, so the few markers that are out of range are only small pieces of the puzzle. Again, I think this is why it’s important you use this service in conjunction with your health care providers (InsideTracker does encourage follow-ups with your doctor and to use your results as part of your overall medical/health plan).
Thanks, InsideTracker, for the inside look. While I’m happy it was a rather clean bill of health, my gut health is another story for another time…
Use this link to get 15% off any InsideTracker plan!
Lab work: fascinating or terrifying?
Do you get routine lab work?
Disclosure: I received a complimentary test from InsideTracker in exchange for this post. The information provided is my personal health information, and the review and opinions of the service are my own.