I visited Bangkok Hospital to get various biomarkers tested in order to establish a baseline for my health (lipid panel, hemoglobin, inflammatory markers etc). Before you can “biohack” you need to know what it is exactly that you’re hacking. I made an appointment online, confirmed within 48 hours, and upon my arrival I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place as it all felt like I was in a 5-star hotel.
I was greeted by friendly (not to mention attractive), English-speaking staff and given a high level of service and free sandwiches. Many of these doctors have studied in Europe and the US. The tests cost about $800 total and would be 2-3x in the US. I got a good deal but it pales in the comparison to other treatments like cardio-angioplasty that are 10x the price in the US compared to Thailand.
I thought I’d share my recent test results here. Why’d I do this? Not because I’m sick. I exercise several times a week, eat a low carb diet, and do 5 day fasts every three months. I’m healthy and feel great most of the time. But I’m interested to optimize. To squeeze out a little bit more energy where I can. Also, to catch anything before it gets serious.
I did a 23andme genetics test which was interesting. It tells you what SNP’s you have that “might” predispose you to certain risks, like Alzheimer’s and certain vitamin deficiencies. But whether or not those genes are expressed is determined by my diet, environment, and activity levels. In order to actually gauge a baseline of your health, you need to get tested.
- HIIT exercise 3-4 a week
- I use the sauna 2-3 times a week, 10-15 minute sessions
- Intermittent fasting. I only drink butter coffee in the mornings and eat my first meal around 12-1pm, and dinner around 6pm.
- Typical lunch: salmon, avocados, 2 tbsp olive oil, almonds, 4x eggs.
- Typical dinner: chicken, steak, avocados, baked yam
- 20-30 minutes daily meditation
- 2-3 cups of organic coffee every day
- Supplements I use: Curcumin extract (300mg capsules, 3-4 weekly), 1 tspn of pink Himalayan salt (daily), l-theanine (200m, 1-2 week), fresh lemon juice (2-3 times/week), Glutathione (1-2/week, 450 mg of goo)
- Mood/Energy: I wake up w/ energy, almost never groggy, healthy sex drive, and I rarely get sick.
- I don’t drink sodas or eat candy bars.
Comments on Test Results
Cardiovascular – HDL and LDL
Cholesterol 234 H mg/dL, Triglyceride 33 mg/dL, HDL–Cholesterol 101 mg/dL, LDL–Cholesterol 158 H mg/dL, VLDL 7 mg/dL
- Overall cholesterol is in the higher range, which isn’t necessarily bad. Not surprising since I eat like 6-8 eggs a day and lots of butter.
- HDL is fine, LDL is in the “higher range.” It can become a concern if other inflammatory markers are high and when it becomes oxidized. But elevated LDL by itself, regardless of what an insurance provider says, isn’t directly associated with cardiovascular risk.
- My other inflammatory markers like C Reactive protein are low (if cholesterol and fatty acids are high, then I’d be concerned) — but vLDL and triglyceride are low.
- The way to lower LDL is exercise and eating healthy fats — which is what I do daily anyways. Conclusion: I’m not worried about it….but I wasn’t able to get my cholesterol particle size tested…which would help me w/ a better breakdown. Will add this to the list next time (lpl b and APOb).
Researchers chose 30 studies in total to analyse. 28 studies looked at the link with death from any cause. Twelve found no link between LDL and mortality, but 16 actually found that lower LDL was linked with higher mortality risk – the opposite to what was expected. – https://www.nhs.uk/news/heart-and-lungs/study-says-theres-no-link-between-cholesterol-and-heart-disease/
LDL is what we call a carrier protein, and one of its important jobs is to carry a fundamentally important chemical to every cell in the body. This chemical is a critical component of cell membranes, serves as a brain antioxidant, and is the raw material from which your body manufactures vitamin D, cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. And this important, life-sustaining chemical is cholesterol. So the notion that LDL is “bad cholesterol” is flawed on two counts. First, it is, in and of itself, not cholesterol, it is a protein. Second, now that you’ve embraced all of its functions in human physiology, it’s clear that LDL is anything but bad. How could we castigate a part of our biochemistry so fundamental for life? LDL plays a particularly important role in brain health and function as you would expect based on the information above. In fact, you might expect that low levels of LDL might well be associated with compromise of brain tissue, and you would be right. — Dr. David Perlmutter
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone
“The pituitary gland at the base of the brain controls hormone production in your body. It makes thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, which tells the thyroid gland how much T4 and T3 to produce. The TSH level in your blood reveals how much T4 your pituitary gland is asking your thyroid gland to make. If your TSH levels are abnormally high, it could mean you have an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism.”
- There are a lot of things measured here — free T3 (Free Triiodothyronine), T4 (Free Thyroxine) and TSH. Are all normal or low (good). Free T4 (Free Thyroxine) 1.43 ng/dL Free T3 (Free Triiodothyronine) 2.80 pg/mL
- People that are very stressed have elevated levels of T3. The higher your TSH the more your brain is working to release hormones.
- My TSH is OK, right at 2. Nothing to be concerned about.
IGF-1 Growth Hormone
150 ng/ML (“low” for normal range)
“Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) is a hormone that is similar in structure to insulin and works with Growth Hormone to reproduce and regenerate cells. Growth Hormone, made by the pituitary gland, stimulates the liver to produce IGF-1 and IGF-1 subsequently stimulates growth in cells throughout the body, leading to growth and development (as in the womb and through adolescence), strengthening of tissues (improving bone density, building muscle), and healing (skin, bones, gut lining, etc.), depending on what the body needs.”
- High IGF-1 present in young adults and declines with age, leads to muscle/bone atrophy, osteoporosis, and linked to various cancers.
- The Trade OFF: Studies on low IGF-1 increasing longevity in mice are inconclusive, although Rhonda Patrick’s seems bullish on it, calling it a “trade off” (high IGF = more muscle, more energy, low IGF = longevity). Low IGF1 effects libido etc. So, if I want more energy/to build muscle faster, there’s room for me to raise this.
- Potential Solutions: 1) Drink Colostrum 2) CREATINE supplement. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18443138
- Rhonda’s Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjSl4n_KdOY
- Trade off notes http://blog.wellnessfx.com/2013/09/04/igf-1-trade-performance-vs-longevity/
- Summary of IGF https://joshmitteldorf.scienceblog.com/2015/09/04/hgh-and-igf-promise-and-danger/
My HOMA IR Score (Insulin/Glucose Ratio )
My insulin levels were 5.61 uU/ml. You want your insulin low, generally speaking. Insulin resistance is a leading cause of type 2 diabetes. Happy with this number.
- Ideally you want this ratio to below. My ratio is 1.19. Anything below 3 is considered very good and 5 means you have severe insulin resistance. I’m far away from diabetes.
- I used this simple calculator online: http://gihep.com/calculators/other/homa/
Cortisol and DHEA
- I’m not a stressed out guy, so no surprises here.
- Cortisol is low (stress is low) — 7.380 ug/dL.
- (These levels can be different throughout the day of course)
- DHEA is fine at 301.00 ug/dl. Good levels and my adrenal function is healthy. Low risk for depression.
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)
54.47 nmol/L (“high” for normal range”)
SHBG is a protein made by your liver. It binds tightly to three sex hormones found in both men and women. These hormones are estrogen; dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and testosterone. SHBG carries these three hormones throughout your blood.
- This is one of the least studied hormones, so was hard to find much about it.
- “Our study reveals that lower SHBG is more strongly associated with metabolic syndrome and its main components than lower IGF-1” (I am high SHBG and low IGF1 not worried)
- High SHGB likely because of low E2 levels and moderate testosterone levels.
- Also, Low Vitamin D levels CAN cause SHBG to increase.
- Low protein intake also correlated to high SHBG.
“Several small scale studies of the relation between dietary composition (fiber, caloric, and protein intake) and SHBG levels show conflicting results. In women, a high fiber diet was shown to decrease SHBG levels (13, 14), whereas vegetarians (women and men) were reported to have increased SHBG levels compared to nonvegetarians (14–16). In another study, women with anorexia who were given increased calories had a decrease in SHBG levels (17), whereas other research indicates that a very low calorie diet results in a doubling of SHBG levels over a short term in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (18). Reed et al. (12) noted that normal men fed a high fat diet had a decrease in SHBG levels, whereas a diet low in fat resulted in an increase in SHBG levels. Vermuelen et al. (19) noted that a high protein diet increased SHBG levels. However, in rabbits fed a diet low in protein, there was a marked increase in SHBG levels (20).”
A good article on increasing testosterone: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/article/biohacking-articles/how-to-biohack-your-testosterone/
16.0 pg/mL (below normal range). Estradiol is the main, active estrogen in the body. It is important for female and male sexual health and reproduction. It also helps with brain and thyroid function, as well as with bone and skin health. In this post you will learn more about its associated diseases and how to change your levels of estradiol
- Cons of high E2 – Estrogen may activate certain cancer-causing genes (BRCA1, BRCA2, etc.), which increases the risk of breast cancer and endometrial cancer.
- Pros of high E2 – Increased brain function
- Cons of Low E2: correlated with impaired brain function
- This is linked to my high globulin levels and possibly Vitamin D.
Creatinine and Blood Urea Nitrogen
- Kidney function markers are fine.
- (FYI These two markers would be elevated if you exercised the day before)
- Albumin, globulin, ALT and AST levels all fine.
- I don’t drink much alcohol and take breaks from drinking alcohol, 3-4 week breaks. Did a 5 month break from drinking earlier this year. I also drink lots of green tea.
Vitamin D affects all sorts of processes and low levels are associated w/ cancer, bone density, cognitive impairment, asthma, hair loss, weakness fatigue, depression…just to name a few.
This is perhaps the main one that stood out to me. My 23and me genetics test found that I had a Vitamin D Binding protein, which is associated with low levels of vitamin D, so I had a hunch my levels could be low.
And low and behold, I have low vitamin D3 levels! (25-OH Vitamin D3 33.18 ug/L, where as 35 and above is average range). It’s interesting as low vitamin D levels are correlated with high SHBG (which I have), which affects testosterone production. Could all of these be related? And could it be as simple as me getting more Vitamin D? Maybe. There’s only one way to find out. I already get a lot of sunlight and eat foods rich in vitamin D, so supplementing is the best solution.
- Vitamin D dosing https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/i-tested-my-vitamin-d-level-what-do-my-results-mean/
- The relationship between SHGB and IGF-1 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320167902_Relationship_between_Sex_Hormone-Binding_Globulin_SHBG_and_Insulin-Like_Growth_Factor-I_IGF-I_with_Metabolic_Syndrome
- Study on SHGB. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/85/1/293/2854619
Summary of supplements to start taking
- Overall I’m healthy and I feel fine — nothing major, but there are a few things that I can tweak.
- It’s possible that my low Vitamin D3 is influencing some of these other biomarkers like low E2 and high SHGB. The easiest way to address this is by supplementing, and I’ve started to take Vitamin D3 – 1,000 IU per day, which generally raises serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels by 5-10 ng/ml
- For IGF1 — Colostrum (https://www.amazon.com/Symbiotics-Colostrum-Plus-Powder-21-Ounce/dp/B000BREOR2) Also 5 grams Creatine before a workout for IGF1
- I wasn’t able to test everything I wanted to, so I’ll be looking for a more advanced set of blood panel tests in the next couple of month. For example, Selenium, APOB’s, ion/minerals, a more comprehensive lipid panel, and a microbiome/stool analysis. That said, I’ve got some action points and a good baseline for where I’m at. Next time I can compare my vitamin D etc. in 2-3 months to measure how supplementation has affected these levels! There’s a good company I’ve heard about that runs these comprehensive tests called Wellness FX.