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Labs for longevity: Preparing for my Function Health labs

Our bodies are our homes for this time on Earth, and I believe it's incredibly important to take great care of them. They allow us to enjoy the pleasures of living, from the scent of fresh flowers to the taste of ripe fruit, the sun's warmth on our skin, the feel-good sensations of physical touch, post-yoga bliss, and so much more.

Our bodies are also strong communicators that try to let us know when something is off, however, many of us tune out or ignore those signals. By consuming unhealthy foods (especially sugar), alcohol, and drugs, we alter our ability to listen to our bodies. We also diminish our ability to connect with our intuition. But when we nurture our bodies with healthy habits, our mental, emotional, and spiritual health all thrive.

While I try to eat a clean diet and exercise 4+ days each week, I know there's still room for improvement. Mostly, I don't know what I don't know about the inner workings of my body, which is why I signed up for Function Health. Function tests 100+ biomarkers to let you know exactly what's going on inside—and what lifestyle changes you can make to become healthier, and even reduce your biological age.

What's biological age?

My husband runs a lifestyle consulting company, Thrivespan, and one of his main areas of focus is longevity—but rather than just helping people live longer, he teaches them how to live healthier, more fulfilling lives for as long as possible. He nerds out on longevity and reducing biological age is a common topic of discussion in our home.

Essentially, we have our calendar age, which is based on how many years ago we were born, and we have a biological age, which tells us how rapidly (or slowly) our cells and bodies are aging. This number could be higher, lower, or equal to your calendar years.

Dr. Mark Hyman, one of the founders of Function, is a physician and senior advisor at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He's 63, but his biological age is nearly 20 years younger, at around 43!

"It's not a mere number but represents a complex analysis of how our cells are aging, potentially offering insights into risks like health disease, cognitive decline, and lots of other health concerns," Mark shared in a video.

"Delving into the science a little bit, there's a fascinating world of epigenetics and DNA methylation behind the biological age calculation. Think of our DNA as a piano and the epigenetics as the piano player. The piano has a set number of keys, but the music played—the expression of those genes—is varies based on the pianist or external environmental influences: things like environment, diet, sleep, and stress."

The point of testing your biological age is that once you know your number—and the biomarkers contributing to it—you can make better health decisions to continue to bring that number down. That could include a more nutritious diet, more frequent (or different types of) exercise, improving your sleep, and reducing stress.

The Function Health lab test process

I signed up for Function a couple of months ago but had to wait to take my tests because I got a cold and wanted to wait until I was fully recovered so my results accurately measured my baseline health. Not only that, but as a woman, you have to wait until Day 2 or 3 of your period for accurate hormone testing, so timing is key.

I finally went for my first round of labs last week, and my second round yesterday. I had to fast beforehand (not even black coffee allowed), so I booked a morning test and drank 2 liters of water beforehand, which is a handy trick to help the blood flow easily. They took about nine vials of blood the first time and around seven the second time as well as a urine sample.

It was all fast and easy—the worst part was not being able to have coffee until 10:30a.m.! I had an organic plant-based smoothie with Four Sigmatic mushroom and adaptogen protein, a banana, and frozen berries to refuel, then carried on with my day. They say to avoid intense exercise on the day of your labs, but I went to an evening Pure Barre class anyway and felt great. (That doesn't mean you should do it!)

The waiting game

And now the waiting begins. Which, I'll admit, I haven't been good at. The results are made available as they come in, which can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks. Naturally, yesterday being day 8 after my first labs, I popped into my dashboard to check for results. There was nothing there yet, so I messaged the concierge team (available via text) and they said they'd let me know as soon as they're in.

I'm feeling a combination of curious, excited, and nervous. I'm curious to see what my health is really like. I'm excited to learn more so I can start optimizing. And I'm nervous that something might be wrong with me, which could spark a whole cascade of anxiety—but I'd rather know ASAP if something is wrong with me so I can take steps to care for my health.

Truthfully, I feel like this before most doctor's appointment or lab results. But I do it anyway. I want to know sooner rather than later. There are so many powerful preventative actions we can take for our health and lifespan, and if any of my markers are off, I want to do what I can to become healthier and more vibrant.

In my next post, I'll share more about my results and how they're going to influence my lifestyle over the next six months until I text again.


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