Firstly, I want to preface this blog by stating that B12 aside, if you are eating a 100% whole food balanced plant-based diet then you are more than likely getting far more micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) than you were on your previous animal-based diet. And on top of that, a whole food plant-based diet offers you a clean source of amino acids, carbohydrates and fats, compared with animal and processed foods. Despite the clear benefits of moving to a plant-based diet I still think getting a baseline blood test before you transition is incredibly useful for a few reasons:
Please note your Doctor may also recommend you test for other specific health markers like testosterone, T3/T4 hormones, albumin/globulin or others if you have a certain illness or have symptoms that warrant such tests. What I have listed are just the high-level health markers for an otherwise healthy person to check when transitioning to a plant-based diet.
If you are not having Iodised salt, dulse, wakame, nori, kelp (or another iodine-rich sea vegetable) or an Iodine supplement etc then I would recommend performing a Urinary Iodine test.
When you get your blood test results each specific test will come with a healthy range/population norm which your result is compared to. This tells you if your results are considered ‘normal’ or not. If you find something abnormal with your test results usually it is easily corrected by looking at the foods you are consuming or adding a supplement to your daily/weekly regime which is something you should work through under the guidance of your Doctor, Nutritionist or Dietician. Of course, I have many blogs on this website which go through various nutrients and where to best find them in your diet such as Iron, B12 and Omega 3’s. The Plant Proof Grocery tips blog is also useful for identifying food groups you may be missing within your diet.
It’s very important to note that typically when transitioning to a 100% plant-based wholefood diet your Total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) and triglycerides will drop considerably. Globally it’s recommended total cholesterol is below 220mg/DL to avoid cardiovascular events, however, in reality, the science shows that cholesterol sub 150mg/DL is actually preferable to avoid cardiovascular events (1).
This really depends on your own personal circumstance. If you are otherwise healthy and not undergoing any form of treatment for a specific illness than I usually recommend a blood test before you transition to a plant-based diet if possible (to see your baseline) and then one at 6 months, 12 months and then yearly thereafter. After a couple of years with no abnormal results, you may then move to a 24 months test. I certainly recommend ongoing tests but as you are growing more and more confident with your transition and seeing great results you can ofcourse space these tests out.
Ask yourself how much time you’ve dedicated to setting up a piece of IKEA furniture, lifting weights, watching the Kardashians, adding some new mechanical piece or function to your car etc. Your greatest asset is your health and in my view, too many of us float through life with very little regard for the precious vessel that allows everything we experience in our physical life to be possible. Without your health chances are you cannot experience everything you love to do on a daily basis. I hope that puts things in perspective – I know it does for me.
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