Boosting my health via InsideTracker

By Henry Howard

As I write this, I am feeling healthy, approaching 1,000 miles running this year and apparently past a lingering lower-leg injury (searches for wood to knock on). Still, it’s impossible to know how my training, nutrition, life stresses and more are having an impact on my overall health.

That’s why I rely on science. Specifically, regular bloodwork analysis of dozens of key biomarkers and individualized recommendations via InsideTracker tests. InsideTracker develops its recommendations to improve areas that are rated “at risk” and even “needs improvement,” based on the subject’s activity levels, age and other biographical data, and more.

My most recent results, following a May 23 draw, are fairly consistent with my three previous tests, which were my best to date. I was interested in an update for two reasons. First, it had been almost exactly six months since my last test. Secondly, I’m heading into training for the Hennepin Hundred and wanted to get a good read on my health.

Whether you are training for an ultra marathon, 5K or are a weekend warrior of any type, I highly recommend an InsideTracker test to get a better assessment of your health. Get 20 percent off any InsideTracker test with my code: HENRYHOWARD.

My key takeaways

Of the 47 biomarkers tested during my May 23 blood draw, six were deemed at-risk, while seven were declared to be needing improvement. The other 34 were in the optimized area. That’s one additional marker (sodium) in the red zone but I am not worried about that, as you will see below.

After analyzing the data, here are some additional key takeaways:

1. Vitamin B12: This is an excellent sign that what I have been doing the past six months is working. Two of my previous three tests revealed my two lowest scores among the nearly 20 InsideTracker tests I have completed. However, the new one showed a dramatic increase — the third-best score ever. The new-to-me vitamin B12 supplement and my increased dosage (500 mcg per day) are paying off. Thanks, InsideTracker!

2. Cortisol: Another success is this level, which indicates stress related to intense and/or prolonged training, as well as stressors related to life and work. The May 2022 test showed my best score since April 2018. The 16.3 score still needs a little work to move into the optimized zone (15.8 and below) but is definitely better than the two previous scores of 24 and 21.9. The secret sauce for this improvement is actually a spread, for the most part. I’ve been having daily peanut or nut butter, and/or nuts, to address this issue.

3. Red blood cells: On the other hand, my red blood cell (RBC) count took a dive. For the first time in my years of testing, it fell into the danger zone, going from 4.5 to 4.1 (4.2 is optimized). Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to tissues throughout the body. A healthy number of red blood cells is critical to make sure your body receives the oxygen it needs to function properly. The InsideTracker report says, in part, ”Since you are a highly active individual, periods of heavy training or new workout modalities, may cause reductions in your iron group markers, including red blood cells. Timing the replenishment of your iron stores (from food and supplements) is key for maximizing absorption.”

4. Sodium: For the first time ever, my sodium level measured “at risk.” My initial hunch was right. The successful blood draw occurred one week after a different tech was unable get any blood. Just to avoid a repeat performance, I consumed more water than previously the morning of the draw. InsideTracker confirms this may have been the cause. “It (the sodium level) is impacted by your hydration level and controlled by your kidneys. Low sodium levels may be the results of overhydration before your blood draw. Still, my two previous sodium results showed a dropoff from where the levels had consistently been previously. It’s not alarming right now, just needs monitoring.

Action steps

After each InsideTracker test, I review the score, analysis and recommendations, and create a to-do plan for myself. Looking ahead, here are some areas that I will look to improve upon.

• Vitamin B12. In my previous post, I mentioned increasing my vitamin B12, saying, “The next test should yield some interesting data.” I’m sold. I’ll stick with my approach to vitamin B12 with the new supplement.

• Sleep. I was actually a little surprised that my cortisol level was improved. After all, I’ve been dealing with some sleep issues for at least several months. I’m experimenting with some supplements now, and may need to try a Whoop or similar product to get some good data to work with.

• Sodium. InsideTracker made a few recommendations that I will try out to improve this area. One is to use a sports drink after a workout to replenish the sodium lost. Easy. Among the foods that were recommended were eggplant (never had it), olives (not a fan but OK) and potato chips (seriously?).

Overall, I feel good once again about my health and fitness. But I feel even better knowing that I have science, real data and customized recommendations from InsideTracker to help boost my health even more.