For men, the thirties is a critical decade when things start to change. My patients often report feeling like they don’t have the energy that they used to and generally feel tired. Many lose their six-packs and start carrying a spare tire around their waists instead.
What’s happening to my male patients?
In sum, men in their thirties can’t count on genetics to outweigh their environment and lifestyle choices. It’s tempting to write off these symptoms as “getting older” and avoid the doctor, but what people need to understand is that if you don’t take action now, it’s only going to get worse.
Through routine visits, I work with my male patients to maximize their health and prevent any serious problems from developing. One of the primary ways I do this is through diagnostic testing. At Parsley Health, we perform a vast array of diagnostic testing which is more extensive than the standard tests you find at other practices.
By checking more advanced biomarkers (measurable health traits acquired through lab testing, think of the indicator lights on your car’s dashboard) rather than simply testing to see if you have a particular condition, we can keep you healthy and promptly detect any problems that arise.
Keep reading to learn all about the most important health tests for men in their thirties and how we help our male patients use this data to get to the root cause of their symptoms and optimize their health.
What are the standard health tests for men?
Typical testing for men in their thirties includes:
- Complete metabolic panel (CMP) which provides information regarding your electrolyte balance, liver, gallbladder and kidney function.
- Complete blood count (CBC) which tells us whether your red (carry oxygen) and white (fight infection) blood cells as well as your platelets (stop bleeding) are healthy. It can detect anemia, leukemia and lymphomas as well as provide clues toward certain underlying infections including bacterial, viral and parasitic.
- Fasting glucose level (sugar level) which is a primary indicator of how well your body handles carbohydrate metabolism.
- Fasting lipid panel (total cholesterol, TC; triglycerides, TGs, low density lipoprotein, LDL; high density lipoprotein, HDL) which provides a baseline assessment of your cholesterol levels, which in turn are a marker of your cardiovascular health.
While all of these tests are valuable, they are only a start. There is much more data that we can gather to help keep you healthy.
As we enter the era of personalized medicine, we have the ability and responsibility to perform a much more extensive battery of testing which includes a baseline hormone test. Hormones are some of the most potent, important chemical messengers and imbalances can signal health conditions. For example, low testosterone can explain chronic fatigue, decreased motivation, depression, weight gain, difficulty gaining muscle mass, and decreased sex drive, amongst other things, while elevated estrogen levels might be to blame for weight gain or gynecomastia (excessive male breast tissue).
Like women, men in their thirties experience a drop in their testosterone levels. Other hormone levels also decrease. By knowing your initial levels, we can better understand your levels once they begin to decline. I test my male patients’ testosterone, free testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and DHEAS levels.
Many physicians screen for thyroid dysfunction using a thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Unfortunately, this test often incorrectly assesses thyroid functioning. At Parsley Health, we use a more comprehensive test which uses a TSH, free and total T4 and T3 (actual thyroid hormone levels) and reverse T3 (RT3). With this type of testing, we are better able to assess patients’ thyroid health.
Growth Hormone and Stress Hormones
Other hormones that are commonly overlooked are growth hormone and stress hormones. To assess my patients’ growth hormone levels, I look at their IGF-1 levels. As its name suggests, growth hormone is vital to growth but it also plays a large role in energy levels and athletic performance. Stress hormones are produced by the adrenal glands.
By testing saliva cortisol levels, I can assess patients’ adrenal health. If the adrenal glands are constantly stimulated (i.e. If you are under constant stress, from excessive exercise, work, relationships, or eating the wrong foods), your adrenal glands will produce too much cortisol.
In time, this over-secretion will cause adrenal fatigue, which leaves you with the opposite problem, too little cortisol. Adrenal abnormalities carry significant side effects, including fatigue, sleep disturbances, low energy, anxiety, depression, and weight gain (primarily fat). Without monitoring, symptoms may be incorrectly attributed to other conditions.
On the nutrition front, important markers include B12, folate, vitamin D, selenium and zinc. At Parsley Health we also test mercury and lead levels to ensure that patients aren’t at risk of poisoning from over-consumption of tainted fish or other environmental exposures. When it comes to diabetes, in addition to the traditional fasting glucose test, we look at insulin and glycosylated hemoglobin levels, as they give us a better indication of whether or not someone is on the diabetic spectrum.
We resolve chronic illness with 7x fewer prescriptions.
For years, heart disease was believed to be a slow, progressive clogging in the vessels of the heart or even a sudden blood clot. Today, we know that heart disease is actually caused by progressive inflammation, a process that starts decades before its symptoms emerge. Thus, to assess and ensure cardiovascular health, we need to identify the root causes of inflammation. To find the sources of inflammation, we examine gut health and test for allergens. If the gastrointestinal system is not healthy, the immune system is stimulated which can cause widespread inflammation. Allergens have a similar effect.
How to stay healthy in your thirties and beyond.
A man’s thirties are a bridge from his youth to adulthood. Knowing where your health is at this stage, will give you a better understanding of your health trajectory over the coming decades. At Parsley Health, we also work with our members to help them optimize their sleep, fill in any nutritional deficiencies through diet and a personalized supplement protocol, and reduce stress through practices such as meditation.
Through our extensive testing and personalized approach to medicine, we empower our members with the knowledge they need to optimize their health and live their healthiest lives.