Home » Unlocking Wellness at 40+: What Lab Tests Are Essential for Optimal Health

Unlocking Wellness at 40+: What Lab Tests Are Essential for Optimal Health

I have a good friend today and I love it when I find friends who are like-minded in our thinking and our approach but have a separate area of expertise that I can bring on for you so that you can better understand what you should be doing, especially when it comes to lab testing. My friend Ashley Fillmore is going to dive into this and also touch base on the different tests, who may need to be getting testing, who doesn’t, and what are your looking for in these tests. I don’t know about you, but I feel like we go on socials and see a test for this and for that, but do you even need them? Do you even know which one is best for you? Do you need to even spend the money on it? So, let’s see what you should be focusing on and what you should be ditching when it comes to testing for our optimal health! 


Ashley is a leading expert in sustainable weight loss who helps women heal their metabolism, balance their hormones, and achieve body-composition changes that last a lifetime.

So, let’s dive right into it!
Most of you go to the doctors at least once a year and they give you baseline tests.  For many women, can they get away with those baseline tests?
Women fall in the category of usually feeling really good! But we are all human so you are going to have days or nights where you don’t sleep well or are stressed out because you have a lot going on, but generally, if you can reflect over your days weeks, and months and say my energy is great, I can do what I need throughout the day, my clothes fit comfy, I am at my healthy weight, my appetite is great, I can nourish my body. Then you are doing well.  If you can check all those boxes, I would say surely, the annual tests or routine exams are all you would need which would include, blood work, mammogram, and ob appt.

Now I feel good and mostly healthy, but if I am experiencing some of the symptoms above, what are the next level of tests I may ask my doctor to run? 
Let’s say you aren’t feeling well and yes, it’s broad, it will look different for all of us!  It is very relative to the individual.  If you are a woman and regardless of your age, I would say if you are younger than 30 and you are gaining weight, you don’t feel healthy, you are not sleeping well, not having a regular cycle or you’re miserable, if your energy is off, if you can barely eat anything and gain weight when you look at food, then sure, if you check those boxes this is definitely a sign of doing a deeper investigation as to what is going on.  A part of this could be testing, but I would say instead of doing hormonal testing right away you can also start with a lot more basic things; diet, lifestyle, working, etc.  If you are doing everything right, and still checking these boxes, then definitely getting a test run can be an option, but you want to make sure you need the test, and it will be of value to you.

You can take a test and if your lifestyle isn’t dialed in, you are still going to struggle. You’ve invested money if you pay for them and aren’t covered, you are going to be spending money and end up no further ahead.  Do a full evaluation and have everything assessed then at that point you can determine if you need testing and if so, what type should you get done.  Contingent on your symptoms, what you are feeling, and what you are experiencing?

Start off with the basics first, building the foundation and looking in at 6 months and see where we are.  These are the results; this is where we are.  Now let’s determine if you even need testing!

“If deep inside you feel something is wrong and you feel something just is not right, I will never tell a client to hold off on getting medical care. Be your own health advocate and never push those feelings aside.”

One of the things I always tell my clients is this. What you are telling me right now, the symptoms you are sharing with me very much seem to be based on nutrition, your exercise, your lifestyle, I see what you’re eating, I see how you’re moving. A lot of these actions are leading to you feeling this way. I truly do believe that starting off with the basics, cleaning up your nutrition, your workouts, and your sleep, is a great place to start.  But if I have someone that’s really having some concerning symptoms, that is really complaining of just a new level of low energy and not feeling well, I will always say go see your medical doctor, as I’m not a medical doctor. If you do feel like something just isn’t right, it’s not going to hurt you to get testing to be safe.

We hear a lot about our thyroid, it’s the first test that pops up in our heads. At least for me, it did! The tests you work with, does that really give you a good idea of what is going on if there is a hormonal level or should you really blow out and do the T3, T4, and free thyroid in addition to the TSH test?

If you are experiencing a lot of the symptoms that would equal hypo and hyperthyroidism, then you should do these.  Definitely ask that you are ensuring you are doing the T4, T3 and definitely looking at reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies.  It can definitely take a deeper look into what is going on with your thyroid hormones.  If your thyroid isn’t functioning properly you are going to see other really nasty side effects, not just weight gain or weight loss.

When it comes to hormonal testing. Does it make sense for me to start to test estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone when we are feeling like we are in that perimenopausal stage to assess where I am or is it more about symptoms vs hormones? 

I help a lot of women that are perimenopausal and menopausal and there is a lot going on, different symptoms, and sometimes it is confusing.  Many different things you can question with a client.  The number one thing I would say is if you are doing all the things, not by your definition but also by an expert, and you are still not making progress, then we need to pause and test your thyroid function.  Get your sex hormones tested at your doctor’s office as well as several other tests you can do to see what is really going on; testing adrenal health, insulin, and glucose, Dutch testing will not only look at sex hormones but will look at several other hormones.

It’s going to impact weight loss, fat loss, energy, sleep, and sex drive.  But if you have gone through all the steps to change the things you have discussed and still not seeing results, then you have to look at testing this stuff and discuss other options.  Some of our tests will be covered under insurance so start with their doctors.

Dutch Testing – Is this a test that I need to go to a functional doctor, or can I get it through someone else?

Yes, it really depends on where you are located and your doctor.  Some doctors don’t even know what a Dutch Test is.  But some doctors do and take a more holistic approach, practice natural medicine, and know what it is.  But it doesn’t hurt to ask OR google and see if anyone near you offers that test.  It’s a test you do in the comfort of your home, you just follow the instructions. The test is mailed to you, you go through certain tests on specific days, and then you send it back. Afterwards, the person you are going to see can read that test for you.  From there you can make your lifestyle changes, nutrition changes, supplements, etc.  You can also re-test in the future to see what has changed or they feel great, and they do not need to re-test!

What does the Dutch Test actually test?
It is a comprehensive test and takes a deeper look into your hormones, all things related to your adrenal glands.  There are a lot of things that it looks at. Now as far as getting your thyroid tested, I think going to your doctor and having them do a full panel is where you would go. But if you are really concerned or experience a lot of the symptoms that we talked about earlier, you can take a deeper look and do a full panel, but when it comes to your sex hormones, or you’re worried about your adrenal health, your cortisol, which if you feel like you’re really struggling with elevated cortisol or low cortisol, which by the way, has a lot of symptoms too. This is a really great test to get, and it’s going to take a deeper look at a lot of different things. I love this test and I do feel like it is very comprehensive and takes a deeper look into all of the hormones.

The one thing I want to add is that if you’re going to get a full blood panel, I suggest that you do it fasted just so you can have a really clear idea of what your fasting glucose is, your A1C, and also, it’s going to definitely impact things like your cholesterol.

What is the advantage or disadvantage of doing a urine test vs a blood test?
It gives you a better analysis of the way the Dutch Test is getting assessed.  It looks at your hormones over a 24-hour period and is a more effective way to really take a look at your hormones.  You are taking that urine test at certain times, certain days, etc.  You have to follow the guidelines otherwise it will not be accurate data.  It allows the lab to measure things in a more effective way than simply going to the doctor and getting blood drawn.  The way you take this test, it is going to show your hormones and how they fluctuate throughout the day and not just in one moment of time.

Blood sugar. So many people were talking about this. We talked about doing these tests by fasting. What is the benefit of doing them fasting vs having some food in your system?

When you do your blood test and specifically glucose, doing fasted is key because you want to see what your fasting glucose levels look like.  You can also take your blood sugars throughout the day.  Caffeine, and stress throughout the day can raise your blood sugar so that is why fasting is more accurate.

Lipid markers – cholesterol, triglycerides.   Is this something we should monitor as I move into perimenopausal and menopausal age?

Yes, we should all monitor even those under the age of 40.  The goal is to get that good cholesterol as high as possible.  And if you are investing in nutrition coaching, or with your workouts, definitely paying attention to that can be encouraging because you will see those things improve when you clean up your diet.

Personally, being able to work with a person and have direct contact and have someone who can really troubleshoot and guide you through is very helpful when you are navigating all of this.  Start with symptoms first vs shoulds. Then build from there, start with those base-level blood tests, and physicals once a year, then build in how you feel.

Do your homework, do your work upfront, determine who you want to work with, ask great questions, connect with them, all of those things. But I always tell my clients, you know, when you go all in with one approach or one company, it’s really important to stick with that.  And I get it, it does get really confusing when you are following, people on social media that are essentially all say vastly different things. It can get confusing because you aren’t an expert, and you may not know what BS is and what’s real.

Be confident in your choices and what path you choose to take.  At times it can be really paralyzing because you don’t know what to do next.  Just try and step back and try a different approach.  Get help and then go all in with whom you get help, then focus on that and you will do great versus being confused and not knowing what to believe.

It’s very easy for us to buy our way into fitness but at the end of the day, we have to do the work even though we don’t want to. No one can skip that. You have to do the work. It’s time to stop beating ourselves up and feeling like things aren’t working for us because you aren’t doing something right.  When really the struggle is real for everyone.  We all have a day one. We all have to start somewhere.  The work isn’t easy and it’s hard for all of us in our own way.  Keep showing up, keep taking action and you will get the results you want.

What is the one thing that makes you feel magical? 
Really being able to make an impact on other women all around the world and to be honest, first and foremost my daughters.  They are 5 and 7 years old. They watch what I do, they copy me, and they do what I want to do.  So, teach them from a really early age to move their body the right way, nourish their body, and don’t starve it. Not one size is perfect, beautiful is all different sizes and shapes.  Don’t look like mom, look like you, whatever that is going to be is beautiful.

Then helping women realize they can really regain their health, you are never too old to start, and you are never too late. You can still live your best life and that really does light me up!


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