A 6-pack Doesn’t Make You Healthy: How An Annual Blood Screening Could Save Your Life

If you were to go into a gym, and someone asked you which person pictured above was healthier, odds are you would probably choose the person on the right.

That is how our society works. We have come to accept health as something that can be evaluated solely from the outside. People with bodies like Chris Hemsworth or Scarlett Johansson are automatically deemed healthy. The leaner person is automatically considered healthier than the person rocking the Dad bod. Disclaimer: generally, those with leaner physiques are actively engaged in healthy lifestyles: they exercise regularly, they stay away from processed foods, eat plenty of whole foods, and get enough sleep each night. But your physique isn’t the only thing that makes you healthy.

Preventive vs Reactive Healthcare

We live in a world where healthcare is reactive. Most doctors only see their patients when they present symptoms. You go to the doctor when you’re sick or in pain, they diagnose you with a medical condition and prescribe you medication or some form of treatment to help you start feeling better. What about healthcare that is preventive? When was the last time you went to the doctor to learn about ways to prevent chronic disease? When was the last time your doctor assessed your health from the inside out? If you have a physique like Chris Hemsworth or Scarlett Johansson, your doctor has probably never questioned what your health looks like from the inside.

Enter annual blood screenings. Annual blood screenings consist of comprehensive blood panels that have the power to reveal whether or not you have Type II Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, or if you’re at increased risk for heart attack or stroke. Do you make up part of the 33% of Americans that have Prediabetes? If you do have Prediabetes, are you part of the 88.4% of Americans that don’t even know they have it? These are all things that appearance or body composition don’t tell us about general health. This is why knowing your numbers for different biomarkers of health like LDL and HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose are so important. Health is so much more than appearance.

What Can I Do Then?

Some of you may be thinking: okay, great. Health is more than just how I look. But how can this save my life? BeniComp has created a supplemental health program named IncentiCare that emphasizes preventive health through annual blood screenings, participant education, and sustainable lifestyle changes. We have seen the impact that an annual blood screening can make first hand. After the health screenings, our Clinical Team meets to discuss health results. We identify which participants have the greatest health risks, and prioritize which participants need to receive proactive outreach calls. On our calls, we explain their health results, the risks associated with them, and refer them to appropriate points of care. If their health results can be improved through lifestyle changes, we offer free, one-on-one health coaching paid for in full by their company.

Last year, we had a participant that completed an annual health screening with many in-range biomarkers. His BMI was in the optimal range, his blood pressure was in the optimal range, he wasn’t a smoker… you get the point. From the outside looking in, this man was in perfect health. But here’s the kicker… his liver enzymes were considered to be very high risk, in the critical range- a range where immediate referral to his primary care provider was absolutely necessary for his safety and well-being. After receiving a call from our Clinical Director, he went to his doctor and had further blood tests done. The additional blood tests revealed that he was suffering from Hepatitis C, a virus that he had contracted from a tattoo gone wrong. His participation in an annual blood screening prevented his condition from developing into end-stage liver disease, which would have required a liver transplant. Participation in an annual blood screening literally saved his life.

And the benefits don’t stop there. We recently talked to a woman who is 5’5, 130 pounds, and has a BMI in a healthy range with normal blood pressure. From the outside looking in, she’s considered healthy. Here’s the kicker: she’s actually a prediabetic. She’s a healthy weight and looks healthy from the outside, but on the inside, her blood sugar is out of control. And she didn’t know this until she got her results back from her annual blood screening. She was part of the 88.4% of Americans with Prediabetes that don’t even know they have it!

Make Blood Screening Results Actionable With Lifestyle Changes

For many participants, learning what their numbers are, and what their numbers mean inspires them to start making healthy lifestyle changes. You can’t improve your health if you don’t know that something is wrong. That’s the beauty of the annual blood screening: awareness and prevention. Annual blood screenings make health results actionable. They give people a chance to learn about measures of health like blood sugar, and then they provide the education and resources that allow participants to make lifestyle changes to improve their current health status. Annual blood screenings help identify health problems from the inside out and give people a chance to solve these problems before they turn into a chronic disease. Annual blood screenings are a tool for lifestyle intervention. They increase awareness and help others realize that there is more to health than just appearance. Annual blood screenings are a tool that can be used by everyone- lawyers, carpenters, car salesmen, corporate employees, and even your own healthcare provider. When was the last time you assessed your health from the inside out?