The Potential of Home Health Test Kits
Health recommendations evolve over time, as well they should. Supported by studies designed to aid our understanding of very complex, mysterious body processes, rarely a day goes by without another piece of scientific literature adding to the existing body of knowledge. Further, many of these same studies also serve to remind us that while overall population health may be stagnating (or worse), individuals often have within their power the ability to help themselves.
Alongside this evolving knowledge a growing number of health-minded organizations are pushing the boundaries of — and expanding the markets for — foods, exercises, and other lifestyle activities in pursuit of better health. Further, many of their customer-consumers are looking for ways to measure the gains made possible by lifestyle interventions. No longer content with the basic information provided by the bathroom scale and perhaps the fit of their wardrobe, individuals are increasing electing to perform routine blood tests or, less invasive, spit into a tube, to peer inside their body and measure its internal performance.
Even still, the science and recommendations surrounding many of the objective test results is far from settled. For instance, answers to the following questions remain inconclusive:
1. What is the optimal cholesterol level?
2. What is the best ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3?
3. How high should testosterone levels be?
4. When should I check for Thyroid peroxidase (TPO) Antibodies?
5. What is a safe level of trans fats? And how much naturally derived trans fats are ideal?
Disappointing to those expecting precise responses reflecting the precise measurements, the good news is the laboratory analyses themselves are increasingly easy to obtain. Most consumers can go online and directly order the tests. Data can be collected, even if the exact meaning of the results remain unknown.
Furthermore, many of these tests do not require an appointment with a doctor, or even stepping outside the home. Tests can now be obtained through self-administered home kits, making specimen collection easier, more accessible than ever. This growing convenience can be particularly useful for those who are looking for answers to dietary “interventions” and would like to track what, if any, changes occurred inside.
Intrigued by this development, I recently performed the following tests using home health kits:
1. Ayumetrix Saliva Test report measuring estradiol, testroerone, cortisol and DHEA
2. Ayumetric Thyroid test report including TSH, fTE, fT4 and a-TPO
3. Omega Quant test report for Omega-6:Omega-3 and AA:EPA.
While one set of tests is simply a snapshot, a point of time insufficient to form a trend, awareness is often half the battle. Knowing there may not only be a consequence to a self-directed lifestyle experiment, but that it is measurable, can help make habits stick. Further, as science continues to explore the body’s inner workings, adding more to our base knowledge of how health can be achieved and maintained, familiarity with which measurements to look for and why will become increasingly valuable.
It’s an open secret in the broader health community — not just doctors and nurses, but nutritionists, fitness trainers, pharmacists and others who make up the majority of the health industry — that health is not an end state, but rather a set of daily decisions. Locking in the right habits is critical. Measuring our progress along the way — through blood and saliva tests, in addition to other — is yet another useful step to achieving our goals.
Poke and spit away!
About Aaron Benway, CFP, EA — Aaron is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)and IRS Enrolled Agent (EA). He co-founded HSA Coach, a digital tool to educate consumers on HSAs, track health expenses and other documents, and provide individual financial calculators, to help consumers get the most from their HSA and other savings. To help individuals directly with their financial planning and wealth management requirements he founded AB Financial Planning.
Prior to HSA Coach Aaron was the CFO of HelloWallet, a financial wellness software startup purchased by investment research firm Morningstar. Earlier in his career Aaron was an investor at The Carlyle Group and a nuclear engineer in the US Navy. Aaron has an Electrical Engineering degree from the US Naval Academy and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Aaron lives in the Washington DC area with his wife and two children.