What a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel Tells Us - Part 2
The comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) blood test tells us a whole bunch about how things are getting along in our innards. Stuff that’s really good to know.
Last week I covered the blood sugar, calcium, kidney function and electrolytes parts of the test. If any of those babies go down, so do you.
Today I’m finishing up the CMP with the protein and liver function parts. Again, both have a huge impact on our health.
We get four readings for protein levels and four more for liver function. Each reading shows where we stand in the “reference interval” (normal range) for each.
Protein This section tells you if you’re getting all the protein you think you are. Do you get enough to meet the very specific needs of your body? No one-size-fits-all guesstimating, but facts.
And if you eat enough protein, are you absorbing it or just passing it through? Anybody with endo problems–or those past their 40th birthday, for that matter–can get caught in this mixmaster.
Age lowers stomach acid levels. Low thyroid can bring along low stomach acid. And since low stomach acid has the same symptoms as high stomach acid, you end up misdiagnosed, chugging antacids and making things even worse.
Well, Bunky, that’s a problem. Without enough acid, your stomach can’t break down the protein you eat into something it can use. That’s problem enough, but then it dumps the half-processed mess into your small intestine. I mean, it has to go somewhere.
If you have adrenal problems, chances are good your small intestine is already whacked. And if it’s not, it soon will be. Your intestinal lining gets shot to pieces, and the undigested food leaks into places it was never meant to go.
Can you say “irritable bowel syndrome?” How about “food sensitivities?” Or “digestive fandango?”
And, of course, we make muscle from the protein we absorb; no protein means saggy muscles. Exercise tones muscle, but you need protein to have anything to work with.
So this is important. And nobody talks about it. Which, as you might guess, I see as an invitation.
• Total Serum Protein How much protein do you have in your blood? You want to be in the groove here, somewhere in the reference interval.
But total protein doesn’t tell the whole story, so you get a count of two types of protein, albumin and globulin.
• Albumin Your liver uses the protein in your diet to create albumin–if you get enough and your stomach can deal with it. Good albumin levels mean you’re not closing in on disease; low levels mean your health isn’t all it needs to be.
Dehydration can throw this test off, as can swilling down too much water–or other liquids. If you feel healthy, get another test before you decide the end is near.
If your stomach can’t break down protein, diarrhea seems intent on moving in to stay, you have endocrine problems or your liver or kidneys are off the tracks, your albumin levels take a hit. Fortunately, if we decide to make the effort, we can fix this kind of stuff.
• Globulin Globulin includes antibodies, enzymes and the protein that takes the enzymes on their appointed rounds to keep our body processes going. Our body custom-makes enzymes 24/7 to meet our moment-by-moment needs. Taking enzyme supplements may help, or it may get in the way of what our very smart bodies are trying to do.
If you have constant infections–including parasites–globulin runs high.
Active food sensitivities jack up globulin levels, too. You may end up with a diagnosis of an auto-immune disease, which may or may not be valid. So figure out what your body doesn’t like coming down the chute–which may be the very things you crave, your favorites–and quit eating it until and unless you get your innards in better shape.
• A/G - Albumin/Globulin Ratio It’s great if your albumin/globulin ratio is about 2 to 1.
Of course, when albumin or globulin are out of range, the ratio will be, too. Work on the problem, then get retested.
If your ratio is negative, you’ll want to think about raising your stomach acid. Untreated or improperly treated hypothyroidism can mean a high ratio. As can a high carb diet or over-enthusiastic adrenals (or cortisol meds).
Liver problems sink the A/G ratio like a stone. But not until you’ve lost about 80% of your liver function, so don’t depend on this test to determine how you liver’s doing.
Liver Function Bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, AST (also called SGOT) and ALT (also SGPT) check on your liver’s well-being.
• Bilirubin The liver sends the waste product bilirubin on its way via bile, and this test checks liver, gall bladder, lymph system and spleen function.
Low values are accepted as okay, but high values get attention.
However, some people naturally run high bilirubin levels, signifying nothing. If bilirubin is a little high, but the other liver function tests are good, you’re probably good to go. Get retested and track it.
High bilirubin turns your skin and eyes yellow, a sign you have hepatitis, some other liver problem or an obstructed gall bladder. Good nutrition (she said, jumping up and down again) can turn the ship around, so don’t be eager to get rid of body parts.
• Alkaline Phosphatase These are enzymes found in the liver, pancreas, bone, small intestine, placenta and kidneys.
According to everything I read, it may tell you that there’s a problem somewhere. And since contradictions abound, even that generic announcement may be up for grabs.
Warning flares went off when I read that alkaline phosphatase has to have a super alkaline pH of 10 to work. Our bodies will not permit super alkaline anything into the blood, what with alkaline blood causing death and all. From conception to the final curtain, our bodies protect our blood–even if it’s the last thing they do.
So is this another blood test that misses the mark? Dunno. Information is sparse and contradictory. Perhaps the unreliability of so many other blood tests has made me cynical.
That said, results come in high when bones are growing quickly–as in children and pregnancy. Low levels often mean vitamin/mineral deficiencies, including vitamin C, B6, B9 and/or zinc.
• AST (Aspartate Transaminase)/SGOT (Serum glutamic/oxaloacetic transminase)
Holy moley, Bunky, it’s like they’re talking Pig Latin so we can’t understand! Let’s see if we can dope this out.
First off is that word “aspartate.” Our stomach converts the protein we eat into amino acids, which our bodies use to create the enzymes that keep everything going.
Aspartate is one of those amino acids. When it’s hanging out with its amino acid buddies, all is well. But when aspartate goes solo, Katy bar the door! On its own, it revs the hypothalamus to toxic levels–whilst also whacking at the liver.
Aspartame is a stripped-down version of aspartate, which makes it even worse. Including aspartame in your diet can skyrocket your AST levels.
Alcohol and/or cocaine increase AST levels, too.
As do statin drugs, anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), anti-fungal meds and some antibiotics. If you take any of these meds, the doc should order this liver panel to see if your liver’s getting beat up.
By the time your AST levels elevate, though, you have liver damage, which is not a good thing. But it’s not so much an “abandon hope, all ye who enter here” kind of thing as a “get serious about your health” thing. Moving to Health talks about repairing liver damage, for instance.
• ALT (Alanine Aminotransferase)/SGPT (Serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase)
While mainly a test for liver problems, ALT levels can point to thyroid disease, lead poisoning and severe heart attacks.
Using alcohol can damage the liver and elevate ALT and AST results. You have to stop drinking.
A fatty liver, usually from eating the Standard American Diet, is non-alcoholic cirrhosis. While medicine takes a pretty casual approach to fatty liver, we need to take any liver damage seriously.
Using barbiturates, narcotics, aspirin and/or methotrexate can give a false, high ALT reading.
If the doc orders the CMP test, insurance covers it. If you’re on your own, check places like here or here.
Until next time then.
God is good,
P.S. Remember. I'm not a doctor, just a patient like you. Luckily for both of us, I've been studying this stuff for years. Knowledge is power.
This was emailed to me by Bette Dowdell
Permission to post was granted by Bette Dowdell
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