Last month I posted Day 30 of my pushups challenge on my Facebook Story, and a friend replied:
“I need to exercise, too, because I have high cholesterol.”
She was a year older than me, so it made me wonder what my health status was. How is my cholesterol? How are my kidneys and liver doing?
Curious with your health status? Go see a doctor.
A week before my health card was due to expire, I scheduled an annual physical exam (APE).
APE usually includes the following:
- complete blood count
- chest x-ray
- doctor consultation
The four tests won’t tell me what I want to know about my kidneys, liver, and cholesterol.
So, during the consultation, I asked the doctor if I can request for tests to check if the said organs are still functioning well. The tests she ordered were HBA1C and Blood Chemistry. Now, I’m not from the medical field, but a quick Google search informed me what these tests are for:
HBA1C (Hemoglobin A1 C): CDC.gov explains it as “A simple blood test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months.” The doctor requested for this as both sides of my family has history of diabetes.
Blood Chemistry Test: Stanford Medicine explains it as “A blood chemistry study is a procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease in the organ or tissue that makes it.” This is the test that will answer my health curiosity.
Both tests are done by blood extraction, but you need to have fasted for 10 hours. Unfortunately, I drank a bit of water – enough for me to swallow my morning meds – a few hours before the extraction. The doctor said it was okay to go through with it, but the medical technologists were firm – no fasting, no blood test. I had to go back the next morning for these two tests. It wasn’t a hassle because I really wanted to know if my kidneys and liver are okay.
As soon as I got the results, I tried to interpret what each term was with the use of Google.
My HBA1C or my average blood sugar over the last three months was normal. The reference range was 4.27-6.07, mine was at 4.91. I wasn’t prediabetic (or so I think after a quick Google search of “what’s the range of prediabetic mmol“)
Blood Chemistry Results
Fortunately, my kidneys and liver are not damaged by 14 years (and counting) of taking anti-seizure medicine. (See Creatinine Test and AST Test).
However, two of the 11 tests here were over the reference range:
CHOL HDL DIRECT: High-density lipoprotein (or the good cholesterol) was over by 0.23 mmol/L.
LDL: Low-density lipoprotein (or the bad cholesterol) was over by 0.14 mmol/L.
Why is my LDL high?
It bothered me. I exercise 3-4x a week, and eat relatively healthy foods, but why is my bad cholesterol still high? A friend explained that since high cholesterol was a phenotype in my family, it’s sure to be passed on to me. I can’t fight the course of biology, but what I can do is to not make it high in an alarming sense. Maybe if I didn’t exercise regularly, that LDL would be higher.
All these were Google-based interpretation, and Google, although full of information still can’t replace a trained physician. So, I had a checkup with my neuro (really, I just needed a new prescription). I showed her the results, and though some were high, they were not that alarming. Yehey!
5 Healthy Habits
People have lots of excuses for not [insert a healthy habit], but what worked for me is knowing my why. Sounds overrated but it’s true.
Something we all must do but not all of us do. Usual excuse is lack of time. The truth is it’s not lack of time but rather a lack of motivation. My dad had a heart attack when I was in high school (I can barely remember it), and that motivated me to live a healthy lifestyle.
You don’t need a gym membership for this. All you need is what you have right now – your body! Find a physical activity that you enjoy and do more of it. It can be dancing, gardening, or walking. There are also lots of exercise videos on YouTube that you can follow.
Drink green tea
Tea doesn’t taste good, don’t mind how it tastes because you’ll get used to it. Just think of the benefits you can get from drinking tea: boost heart health, lower LDL, protect the brain from aging, and prevent Type 2 diabetes. There are a lot more benefits, so look into it, and consider drinking it daily!
Drink lots of water
I won’t enumerate the benefits of drinking lots of water because you can Google that. What I want to tell you is how oddly satisfying it is to see your pee as clear as the water in the toilet.
The common excuse why people don’t drink water is because it’s tasteless (uhm, yeah?). To add flavor to it, some advise to put a sliced lemon. If that would work for you, go ahead! I prefer drinking “basic water” but I like it super cold.
The secret to drinking more is to have a trusty tumbler with you all the time even if you’re just at home! If you like cold water like I do, get yourself a big insulated tumbler (mine is 32 oz), you can add ice and it will keep your water cold for hours. Set a goal of how many refills you’d make throughout the day, and you’re good!
Eat healthy food
This is common sense. If you want to be healthy, eat healthy. Eat in moderation. As they say, you are what you eat. Eat more veggies, reduce the junk food.
Stop your vices
Easy for me to say since I don’t smoke or drink. I have family members and friends who smoke, and they tell me how hard it is to stop. To stop you need to find a stronger why.
These are simple healthy habits one can do today. Some people have reasons for not being able to do one of these (or maybe all of these). But if you love your family, you’d want to be healthy for them.
PS. I wrote this because I want to have a record of my 2022 APE results, and want to share some healthy habits I do.