It came as no surprise to me that amid a peak training period my inflammation rated “at risk’ during a recent InsideTracker blood draw.
The blood draw, which was taken Feb. 10, followed my first 50-mile week of training as I gear up the Bel Monte 50K in March, followed by the Zion 100K in April. But what makes InsideTracker useful is that it does not just generate data, it offers context on what that data means as well as customized recommendations.
For example, beyond the measurement for inflammation, it showed my white blood cells were also “at risk.” A white blood cell count is also an indicator of inflammation. While my 3.9 score is still considered “at risk,” it is increasing from the past several tests and is edging closer to 4.2, which is considered “optimized.”
InsideTracker’s recommendations to combat inflammation include eating more foods like chia seeds, avocado, chickpeas, almond butter, various kinds of nuts and more.
I have been using InsideTracker for several years now and its personalized analysis and recommendations have been a boost to my endurance running. It’s impossible to really know what is going on inside without these tests.
InsideTracker is recommended for athletes of any skill or experience level, as well as anyone else wanting to learn more about various markers that define their health. To learn more, visit InsideTracker.com and use my code for 15 percent off.
While I have regularly had my blood work tested and analyzed by InsideTracker, I was really interested in this particular test for a couple of reasons. First, it is the first real assessment of a test since I have gone almost completely vegan. Secondly, the test is the first since my first 100-mile race last November and comes amid a buildup for my big races this spring. And, of course, it’s a good way to analyze the impact of the changes I have made since the previous test.
From the February test, I also noted an increase in my cortisol level. That indicates stress level and it came as no surprise that given my increased training and elevated levels of stress related to putting my father in assisted living.
The cortisol level rated 24.6, just below the “at risk” level of 25 and the highest score I’ve had in all my InsideTracker tests. Recommendations include doing regular yoga and/or meditation, and eating food like salmon, chia seeds, nut butters, various kinds of nuts, quinoa and more.
Beyond the expected readings for inflammation and cortisol, here are three key takeaways from that February blood draw.
InsideTracker measured 42 biomarkers, 26 of which were deemed to be optimized, increasing from the 24 during my last test. On the other hand, nine were considered ‘at risk,” an improvement from the 13 last time. There were seven in the “needs improvement” category.
Overall, my iron group rated as “needs improvement,” which has been consistent throughout my time working with InsideTracker. Specifically, the blood iron category soared to 265, far above my last test which measured 170. (The optimized zone is 75 to 113.) There is an easy correlation here as my running coach recommended daily iron supplementation during training. I am adapting InsideTracker’s recommendations and changing that to just take the iron supplement on heavy workout days as a way to reduce the iron levels but target the days when I most need it.
My Vitamin D levels are barely out of the optimized zone. The good news, however, is that the rate rose slightly from 30 in the September test to 31 now. It’s worth noting that 32 is the bottom of the optimal range. I’m pleased with the slight progress, given that during winter there is less natural sunlight so the Vitamin D supplementation I’ve been doing has been working.
Time to eat
One thing I really love about InsideTracker’s recommendations is the useful food recommendations they provide based on your own diet preferences. As a Celiac, my diet must be gluten-free, and in recent years I have become around 95 percent vegan. For my InsideTracker recommendations, I selected a diet that includes meat-free, dairy-free and egg-free.
In taking all the data into consideration, InsideTracker recommends: chia seeds (daily tablespoon), avocado (one cup daily), chickpeas (one cup, four times a week), toasted sesame seeds (one ounce daily), rolled oats (one cup daily), pecans (one cup chopped daily), sunflower seeds (one cup daily), almond butter (one tablespoon daily), pistachio nuts (one cup daily), almonds (one cup daily), Navy beans (one cup four times a week) and quinoa (one cup daily).
That sounds like an incredible amount of nuts each day. I’ll definitely put more emphasis on almond butter, chickpeas, avocados, chia seeds and quinoa while having some nuts on a daily basis. It’s also worthwhile to look back at progress from my goals after my test five months ago.
After my September test, I included some next steps in my blog. Here they are along with a progress update:
Avocado: Have some daily. Not daily but I have been eating them more frequently.
Chickpeas: At least four times weekly. Achieved.
Nuts: Hit daily target of consuming nuts or a nut butter. Achieved.
Water: Increase water consumption, especially with warmer weather here. I didn’t measure it but have done pretty well with water intake.
Seeds: Increase chia seed to daily. Achieved.
New proteins: Include more tofu, teff, Navy beans and adzuki beans in my diet. I have worked more tofu into my diet and beans in general; but have not specifically increased Navy or adzuki beans to a meaningful level.
Rest: Sleep longer. Needs work.
With my new set of data and recommendations from InsideTracker, here are the goals for the next several months:
Nuts: Continue to hit daily target of consuming nuts or a nut butter.
Iron: Reduce supplements to only hard workout days.
Proteins: Include more tofu, teff, Navy beans and adzuki beans in my diet.
Mindfulness: Include more meditation and yoga into weekly routines.
Rest: Increase average sleep to seven hours per night.