How to improve your biomarker measures

The various biomarkers included in the My Nightingale results form the basis of your metabolic health. Here’s how you can improve them.

Biomarkers are the blood-based molecular markers that reflect the most intricate details about your health and wellbeing. To give you a deep dive into your metabolic health, the My Nightingale blood test and app includes different biomarkers. Often, a bunch of biomarkers are linked to each other and together affect a particular aspect of health. Nevertheless, it is important to know how you can improve each of these biomarkers with lifestyle changes so that you can always stay healthy.

Total Cholesterol

Keeping your cholesterol levels under check is important for your heart health. If your total cholesterol is high, studies show that by changing your diet alone you can reduce it by 5-10%. So, replace animal-based fats (dairy, meat products) and refined carbohydrates (sugary drinks, sweets, white bread) with plant-based fats (plant oils, nuts), fatty fish and whole grains. Of course, you can see better results if you combine it with exercise. It doesn’t have to be long and hard sessions. Research shows, just 20 to 40 minutes a day of endurance sports (brisk walking, jogging, cycling or swimming) is enough to improve your blood lipid profile.

LDL-cholesterol

LDL-cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, is often referred to as the "bad” cholesterol. Excess of it can clog your arteries and thus not good for your heart. Although exercise and weight management help in reducing LDL-cholesterol, science says, diet is the most effective way to control your “bad” cholesterol levels. A high-fibre diet, especially oats, which are a rich source of β-glucan is known for its LDL-cholesterol-lowering properties. So, consider including more oats to your everyday diet. Also, replacing animal-based fats and refined carbohydrates with plant-based fats and whole grains might improve your LDL-cholesterol levels.

HDL-cholesterol

HDL-cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, is also called the "good” cholesterol. That’s because HDL, the lipoprotein, helps in removing unnecessary cholesterol from your body, thereby reducing your risk of heart disease. Physical activity, diet and being overweight are the major factors that affect HDL-cholesterol levels. Smoking also has an adverse effect on your "good" cholesterol levels. Research shows, including a few hours of endurance activities (jogging, cycling, swimming) in your weekly routine can help increase your HDL-cholesterol levels. Also, adopt a fibre-rich diet to increase your “good” cholesterol levels.

VLDL-cholesterol

VLDL-cholesterol, or very low-density cholesterol, are also “bad” cholesterol and not good for your heart health. To lower your VLDL-cholesterol levels, adopt diets that combine a lot of fruits, vegetables, nuts, wholegrain, fish and vegetable oils. Take inspirations from the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet or the Nordic diet. Also, studies show, including 20 minutes of exercise in your daily to- do list can lower your “bad” cholesterol levels.

Triglycerides

Like cholesterol, triglycerides are also fats excess of which are not good for your health. Medical studies show, exercise and weight loss, especially losing abdominal fat, helps in lowering triglyceride levels. Also, excess of refined carbohydrates, sugar and alcohol are big contributors to spiking your triglyceride count. Of course, you can still enjoy all of the above things...just in moderation.

ApoB

ApoB, or Apolipoprotein B, is a protein that helps “bad” cholesterol molecules (LDL- and VLDL- cholesterol) circulate in your blood. Since ApoBs are attached to LDL-cholesterol and VLDL- cholesterol, in order to lower your ApoB levels follow the same advice as for LDL-cholesterol and VLDL-cholesterol.

ApoA1

ApoA1, or Apolipoprotein A1, is a protein that helps “good” cholesterol molecules (HDL-cholesterol) circulate in your blood. Since ApoA1s are attached to HDL-cholesterol, in order to lower your ApoA1 levels follow the same advice as given for HDL-cholesterol.

Glucose

Blood glucose is simply the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. And glucose is needed to produce energy in your body that comes from what you eat and drink. To maintain your blood glucose levels, medical science says, weight management is crucial. If your glucose levels are high, research shows that physical activity of around 2 to 3 hours per week lowers blood glucose. Also, switching to a high- fibre diet, or a low glycemic index diet can help normalise your blood glucose. For instance, carrots, chickpeas and lentils, avocados, apples, and slowly cooked oatmeal (not instant porridge) are all high- fibre food that ranks low on the glycemic index.

PUFA%, Omega-3% and Omega-6%

Omega-3% and Omega-6% tells you how much of your total fatty acid count is omega-3 and omega-6, respectively. Together these two make up your total polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) count. They’re considered good as they are essential for building healthy cells, have anti-inflammatory properties and improve heart health. For instance, research shows that having an omega-3-rich diet can reduce your cardiovascular disease risk. Similarly, studies have found that a higher omega-6% is associated with a lower type 2 diabetes risk. So, try to include PUFA-rich food in your diet. For instance, oily fish, canola oil, walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds are high in omega-3 content. Then, vegetable oils such as olive oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, almonds and pumpkin seeds are rich in omega-6.

MUFA% and SFA%

MUFA% and SFA% tells you how much of your total fatty acid count is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and saturated fatty acids (SFA). While you should keep an eye on the SFAs in your food, MUFAs are actually good when they are part of your diet—olive oil, avocados, peanuts, fish and such. That’s because it’s not the MUFAs in your food that add to your “bad” fats count, it’s the SFAs. The medically recommended way to reduce your SFA intake is to replace them with omega-3 or omega-6 rich food. So, instead of butter and other animal fats, switch to plant-based oils like olive oil and canola oil. Also, trying to eat less meat and include more fish in your food.

GlycA

Glycoprotein acetylation, or GlycA, is a new biomarker for low-grade inflammation that is associated with risk of diabetes, heart, kidney and liver problems. Recent scientific studies show that weight management is crucial to maintain low GlycA levels. Also, exercising around 2 to 3 hours of endurance activities (brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming) can help. Sleeping well and less stress may reduce inflammation as well.

While My Nightingale baseline blood test helps you understand how each of these biomarkers affects different areas of your health, the follow-up tests show, how by track these health markers regularly, you can know which lifestyle choices are working the best for your health.