🔥 Metabolic and Endocrine Health Biomarker Test

Every day thousands of chemical reactions happen inside your body’s cells. All of these reactions are collectively called metabolism. These reactions do not occur randomly: they are strictly coordinated and organized by substances in the body called hormones.

The endocrine system is made of glands that are responsible for producing and releasing hormones into your blood. There are two types of glands: endocrine and exocrine.

Endocrine glands are fully a part of the endocrine system, making and releasing hormones (for example, insulin and estrogen) into the bloodstream. Exocrine glands do not release hormones. Instead, they release substances through ducts to the exterior of the body (such as sweat and saliva).

Some organs in other systems have a secondary endocrine function besides their primary function. For example, besides pumping blood, the heart in the cardiovascular system produces hormones and releases them when necessary. The same happens with the kidneys, liver and gonads, among other organs 1,8,9.

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The thyroid is one of the glands of the endocrine system. It is located in the neck and controls the body’s metabolism with two key hormones: T3 and T4. Most cells in the body need these hormones to perform metabolic reactions.

The thyroid is able to make T3 and T4 by taking up iodine from food. This is an essential step that other glands are not able to do. Thus, to have good metabolic health, it is essential to assure a healthy intake of iodine daily and a healthy thyroid.

The most common problems in this gland are when it produces too many hormones (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism). If there is too much T3 and T4 hormone in the blood, then the body’s metabolic activity will speed up and people usually feel anxious, lose weight and have rapid heartbeats and tremors. In contrast, if there is too little T3 and T4 hormone, then the symptoms will be around a slow metabolism, including fatigue, slow heart rate and weight gain.

The thyroid produces T3 and T4 in a regulated manner thanks to the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a small gland in the base of the brain and controls the number of hormones the thyroid produces. When T3 and T4 levels are low in the blood, the pituitary gland produces and releases Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which will stimulate the thyroid to make more T3 and T410,11,12.

A TSH test measures the levels of TSH in the blood. By measuring this, one can understand whether the levels of thyroid hormones are healthy or not.

TSH test

Normal Range:  0.45-4.12  mIU/L (milli-international units per litre)13

The pancreas is a gland that produces both essential hormones for the body and other substances essential for the digestive system. One of the most important hormones produced by the pancreas is insulin1.

Insulin is essential for all humans because it binds to cells and allows glucose to enter them.

Glucose is the main source of energy for the body’s cells. It’s particularly essential that cells have a continuous supply of glucose, so the body strictly controls the amount of glucose that enters cells.

After eating, glucose levels in the blood rise. This signals the pancreas to produce and release insulin into the bloodstream, which will let glucose enter most cells in the body so that they can make use of the energy. When glucose enters the cells in the body, its levels in the bloodstream will go down. Since there is no longer free sugar in the bloodstream, the pancreas will no longer produce and release more insulin, since it is no longer necessary.

Without insulin, cells cannot uptake glucose that accumulates in the blood. Even though blood glucose levels are high, cells are “starving” because they cannot transport sugar inside. This leads to a feeling of hunger even though the blood has high levels of glucose 1,10,14.

Glucose test15:

Normal Range (expected from non-diabetics): Between 4.0 to 5.4 mmol/L (72 to 99 mg/dL) when fasting ; up to 7.8 mmol/L (140 mg/dL) 2 hours after eating

If there’s too much sugar in the bloodstream, then the pancreas continuously produces and releases insulin. However, if blood levels of sugar stay high for a long time, cells stop responding to insulin. This means insulin slowly stops working in cells and sugar can no longer be used, accumulating in the bloodstream. In this state, cells have become insulin resistant which may lead to diabetes type 2, the most common form of diabetes.

Yet, lifestyle changes can still reverse the situation and turn cells more sensitive to insulin. Physical activity, avoiding sugary foods and getting enough sleep could help to prevent patients from developing type 2 diabetes.

While type 2 diabetes develops as a consequence of lifestyle, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. This means the immune system attacks its own pancreatic cells. Consequently, the pancreas of type 1 patients loses the ability to produce and release insulin. With low levels of insulin in the body, cells cannot use the glucose that starts to accumulate in the blood. By this stage, symptoms start to appear and patients will need to be provided with insulin externally.

Monitoring glucose and insulin levels is relevant, especially in people who are prone to insulin resistance14,16.

Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. When there’s a lot of glucose in the blood, glucose binds to hemoglobin – this is called glycated hemoglobin. Once attached, glucose will stick to hemoglobin throughout a red blood cell’s life (around three months).

People with poorly controlled diabetes have high amounts of sugar in the blood, thus high amounts of glycated hemoglobin. It’s possible to measure this with an A1C test.

An A1C test measures the amount of glycated hemoglobin, meaning it provides an overall measurement of glucose levels in the past 3 months17,18,19.

A1C results cannot be applied in the same way to everyone. In general, keeping a value of glycated hemoglobin less than 7% can reduce diabetic complications in people already diagnosed. Even though A1C tests provide a way of closely monitoring glucose levels, it is still recommended to speak to a healthcare provider about the optimal results one should target.

A1C test ranges20:

Normal Range: below 42 mmol/mol (6.0%)

Prediabetes: 42 to 47 mmol/mol (6.0% to 6.4%)

Diabetes: 48 mmol/mol (6.5% or over)

For diabetic patients, staying below 7% levels is recommended, but this number may vary from person to person.

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