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A Clearer View of Health: A Guide to Understanding Comprehensive Bloodwork

With Jim LaValle, RPh, CCN

headshot jim lavalle

Season 8, Episode 13 | June 11, 2024

We all have the experience of going to the doctor and getting a traditional blood panel done — but are these labs really giving us the most comprehensive look at our health? Jim LaValle, RPh, CCN, recommends advocating for more. In this episode, he shares the markers he suggests working with your healthcare provider to test for and track — and why they are important — so you have a clearer picture of the state of your health.

Jim LaValle, RPh, CCN, is an internationally recognized clinical pharmacist, author, and board-certified nutritionist with more than 40 years of clinical experience. He has served thousands of patients using a metabolic model for health and is best known for his expertise in precision and performance health as well as integrative care.

LaValle is the founder of Metabolic Code Enterprises, a cloud-based health technology platform that helps practitioners and individuals pinpoint the metabolic roadblocks to health.

LaValle taught for 18 years as an appointed adjunct faculty member at the University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy and served as faculty at the College of Medicine at UC. He is former faculty at the New York College of Chiropractic and Oriental Medicine as well as adjunct faculty for the Masters of Integrative Medicine program at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

He is the clinical co-chair at the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and the Chair of the International Peptide Society. LaValle was the clinical director for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Performance Health Program. Organizations including Corvette Race Team, Orlando Magic, Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks, and Golden State Warriors have relied on his expertise for performance, resiliency, and return-to-play programs. He also works with first responders and military educating on program development to maximize recovery and readiness.

LaValle is the author of more than 26 books including Cracking the Metabolic Code and Your Blood Never Lies, as well as has authored 20 e-books and more than 200 articles.

LaValle currently serves as Chief Science Officer at Life Time. There he spearheads the development and implementation of scientific initiatives and strategic relationships to support MIORA, Life Time’s longevity and performance program.

There are certain blood markers that are typically not included in traditional lab panels but that can offer important insights about your current health status and potential risks. LaValle recommends working with your healthcare provider to test and track the following:

  • C-reactive protein (CRP): This is a marker for cardiovascular risk, as well as indicator for inflammation levels in the body.
  • Insulin: LaValle advises this in addition to testing for glucose. He explains that it’s possible to have a normal glucose test but still be pumping out too much insulin.
  • Iron and ferritin: If you avoid red meat and/or eat more plant-based, it’s possible to have iron levels that are too low. On the other hand, it’s also possible for iron to run too high if you eat more of a carnivore-style diet. If you have metabolic inflammation, you may have enough iron but may not be making enough ferritin.
  • Homocysteine: If this marker is high, it can mean you’re not methylating well; this can increase your risk of certain diseases. Methylation is involved in detoxification of all cells in the body and in making neurotransmitters.

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Transcript: A Clearer View of Health: A Guide to Understanding Comprehensive Bloodwork

Season 8, Episode 13  | June 11, 2024



Jamie Martin


Welcome to Life Time Talks, the podcast that’s aimed at helping you achieve your health, fitness, and life goals. I’m Jamie Martin, editor-in-chief of Experience Life, Life Time’s whole life health and fitness magazine.


David Freeman


And I’m David Freeman, director of Alpha, one of Life Time’s signature group training programs. We’re all in different places along our health and fitness journey, but no matter what we’re working toward, there are some essential things we can do to keep moving in the direction of a healthy purpose-driven life.


Jamie Martin


In each episode, we break down various elements of healthy living, including fitness and nutrition, mindset and community, and health issues. We’ll also share real, inspiring stories of transformation.


David Freeman


And we’ll be talking to experts from Life Time and beyond who share their insights and knowledge so you’ll have the tools and information you need to take charge of your next steps. Here we go.



Jamie Martin


Welcome back to Life Time Talks, everyone. We are excited for another episode. We’re going to delve deep into a health topic that all of us kind of encounter at different points in our health journey. You know the experience of going to the doctor and going through that routine checkup on an annual basis. One of the things that often happens there is lab work. And in this episode, we’re going to talk about kind of what is included in basic lab work and why we want to make the case for going a little bit deeper with some more comprehensive testing. And with that, I’m going to hand it over to you, David, to intro our guest, who you may have heard one time before on the podcast.


David Freeman


Yeah, we got Jim LaValle. He is our internationally recognized expert in integrative and precision medicine with more than 40 years of clinical and academic experience. He’s a board certified clinical nutritionalist and pharmacist who serves as a co-chairman of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and Injury Board and the chair of the International Peptide Society.


He is a course director in systems of biology and a clinical lecturer at George Washington University, as well as a health program director for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Additionally, he is the founder of the metabolic code and the author of more than 20 books, including Your Blood Never Lies and Cracking the Metabolic Code. Man, man, that’s a resume for you right there. Jim, how you feeling?


Jim LaValle


Feeling good, actually feeling really good.


David Freeman


Well, the timing of what we’re going on today talking about comprehensive blood work and how we can have a clear view of our health. I actually had my annual done this week. So this is great timing. And when we actually set the scene, I’ll tell you my experience, but maybe you can show or showcase exactly how it should look from a holistic, but more of the way we should evolve the way these appointments or these annuals go.


So I walked in, I always set my annual. I request like certain things, but you get your basic panel as far as blood work. They actually ask certain questions from a psychological standpoint to make sure there’s no depression. They look at you versus maybe they might do the blood pressure, this, that, and the third, but they looked at me and was like, you’re fit just off the looks versus actually knowing what’s going on inside the body. And I do request like a c-reactive protein to get checked testosterone levels, all those great things. And then after that, he asks how you feeling? Everything looks good. You’ll get your results here in a few days. If anything stands out or it might be a flag, we’ll reach out to you. That’s my current state of state. Let me know how it should look in a perfect world, Jim.


Jim LaValle


Well, the first thing is, is that just because you look great on the outside doesn’t mean there’s things brewing on the inside. So what we try to do and what I’ve done over the last four decades is create the exploration of, well, how far am I away from optimal health? Like there’s two things going on with the lab tests, right? The first one is, do you have an illness, right? Hey, is your blood sugar out of bounds, right? Like a real good basic example is blood sugar, man, because I got to tell you half the population is either insulin resistant or already diabetic.


And so a way we would look at that is say, because this is what happens. You’re going to get a call in a couple of days and they’re going to say, Hey, everything is normal. You’re good to go. See you next year and keep working out cause you look great. Right. And yeah, the other, the way I have always looked at it is, Hey, you know what? Here are the trends that I’m seeing that could be taking you in a different direction. Right. You’re heading towards developing some metabolic inflammation or otherwise the term in the literature is called meta-flamation. Meta-flamation leads to infla-aging.


And so, blood sugar, for example, see, yeah, blood sugar is normal, 65 to 99. The reality is that depending on which study you look at, there was one study with 47,000 lives over 10 years. Every point over 84 represents a 6% risk of being a diabetic in the next 10 years. So if you have a 95 blood sugar, you’re deemed normal, but you have a 60% risk of being a person with diabetes in the next decade. And by the time your blood sugars in the 90s, you’re already damaging your arteries.


The other study showed that for every point over 90, it represented a 9% risk of being a person with diabetes in the next decade. So if you have a 95 blood sugar based on that study, you got a 45% risk. Either one of those risks for me are too big a risk because once you become a person with diabetes, you got increased risk of dementia, increased risk of kidney disease, increased risk of heart disease, non-traumatic amputation, blindness from non-trauma. All of these things start to kind of go down this barreling path or road towards becoming the chronically unwell, which is what I’m really passionate about is how do we help people that are coming into a Life Time every day and they’re working hard, they’re changing their diet, but at the same time, we’re missing finding out where, what path are they on? Are they moving towards vitality and having that healthy way of life where you enjoy your 70s and 80s? Which is very interesting to me at my stage in life. Versus am I heading towards some kind of chronic illness?


And so that’s for me, that’s the way it should go is, David, I’m really interested in your labs because I see these trends. Your c-reactive protein, even though it’s at 1.5 and normal is zero to three, I want that down under 0.5. I want you optimized.


And any other number that I would see, I would want to discuss that with you and say, hey, what are you doing with your diet? How much are you training? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you snoring? Right. Cause you could have apnea and nobody’s picking it up. Nobody asks that of you because you don’t look like a guy that could be snoring. Right. Cause usually you think of big overweight people having that kind of problem. But the reality is we want to look at those labs and go, where are the trends that are giving you potential future risk.


Jamie Martin


And to that end, I mean, when you get your results, oftentimes they come in a virtual portal, you know, you see them come in and like that looks normal. But one of the discussions we’ve had on this podcast with our friend, Paul Kriegler, is that, you know, normal doesn’t mean you’re optimal. And so there’s a very clear difference. And you’ve already used that word optimal. But when you think about those ranges that are normal, I mean, I know one thing Paul has said is like, really, it’s actually just means you’re not sick. So how can we begin to use that information? As you’re saying, you’re looking for trends, but why has the system been OK with that normal range when it’s not optimal? What are you seeing as like the reason behind that?


Jim LaValle


Well, I mean, the reason is this. I mean, medicine evolved on a disease state model, right? Like we want to find out, do you have heart disease? We want to find out, do you have kidney disease? Do you have diabetes? Do you have colitis? You know, do you have bad allergies? Which is good, right? We want to cast that net and make sure that we’re getting people that are sick to understand where they’re at. But the difference is now we’re looking at a different question.


So there’s two questions that you need to ask. Now, the first one we already talked about, do you have a disease? The bigger question that I want people to understand. And I’m talking about people in their 20s. I’m not talking about wait until you’re 50 to figure this out. You mean you got to start looking at this when you’re young. And I’m fortunate. I was training hard when I was young. I got into this when I was 20 years old. Now I’m 63. The question for me is how far are you away from optimal? Like how well are you? Not how sick are you?


And that’s the difference we’ve evolved now. And this is happening in medicine. It’s coming now. People understand baby boomers. I’m 50 now. What do I do in order to be vital? Interestingly, and what we’d call the millennials and younger populations. This is a key question that they want answered. They’re interested. You know, people in their 20s today are interested in the science. Like, what’s the science telling me that I can do?


So whether you’re listening to podcasts from folks like Peter Attia or Huberman or listening to Joe Rogan, right? A lot of people are listening to a lot of noise out there. And I have to say that some of that noise is pretty accurate. And some of that noise is pretty embellished, right? But that’s all but it doesn’t matter because the narrative that’s being pushed today is what do I do to optimize myself? How do I reduce my risks in the future? How do I keep feeling as best I can as long as I can?


Because you know what? People that are in their 20s have parents that are in their 50s, 60s, maybe even 70s that maybe didn’t have that attitude. And now they’re watching family members who are incapacitated or dealing with chronic problems and living in doctor’s offices and on a bunch of medications. And we want the other path, right? How am I going to pick food as my medicine? How am I going to use nutrients as my protectors and my optimizers? How am I going to optimize stress? How am I going to understand how to train better so that I’m actually training to get results and not just for my ego? Right. That I think — that’s the parts that are so important for people today.

David Freeman


I like that. So, I mean, let’s empower our listeners when they go in for a lab or for their for the annual for that matter. Like what are certain things they probably need to ask for that might not come within the traditional lab?


Jim LaValle


Sure. Yeah. So I mean, you did bring one up. C-reactive protein. That’s a biggie because C-reactive protein is a marker for cardiovascular risk, but it’s also a marker that just shows inflammation in your body. So you know how this goes, right? I mean, I’m a recovering exercise addict. You know, I love to exercise. I want to push the envelope. I’ve done that my whole life. And what I grew to understand over four plus decades, and I’ve been training since the age of 13, right? So I got 50 years of lifting some iron and getting out there and moving. It’s not just about how much you train. It’s about how well you recover. And getting people to recover correctly, C-reactive protein is a big one for that because you don’t want chronic inflammation building up in your body, putting you at risk for injury even, right? So C-reactive protein, that’s a biggie.


And just don’t ask for a glucose, get an insulin as well. You could have a normal glucose, but you’re pumping out a bunch of insulin to make that glucose normal. And the problem with that is, is if you’re pumping out a bunch of insulin, because maybe you’re eating too many carbs or eating too many sweets and you have that mindset of, I can eat what I want because I’m exercising. That’s the wrong mindset, right? So insulin’s real important because when your insulin goes up, your adrenaline goes up and when adrenaline goes up, your blood vessels get small and now I got a blood pressure issue. OK, so glucose and insulin, big deal.


The other thing I find that people miss, they don’t get iron and ferritin. So a lot of people now, staying away from red meat, go and plant based and they don’t realize one of the reasons they’re fatigued is because they’re anemic. They got too low iron or if you have metabolic inflammation, you have enough iron but you don’t make enough ferritin. And why that’s important is when your ferritin goes low, you’re going to get lightheaded. You’re going to get palpitations. You’re going to feel like it’s heavy to get your legs up and down in steps. But at the same time, you can work out in the gym and feel fine. Right. And so iron ferritin, real important. Most people don’t get that measured.


And there’s this whole new area of study called ferroptosis where when your iron levels are too high, they could be too low. Or maybe you’re, hey, I’m a big believer in the carnivore diet. I’m going to eat meat. And more meat. And when I want my dessert, I’m going to have meat ice cream, right? Meat, meat and more meat. And the reality there is, is if you’re running iron too high, iron actually triggers damage to your cells. So you don’t want to overdo it. And then depending on what your gene type is, like if you’re an APOE 3, 4, or 44, which you can get on a lab test if you want to know that. If you eat a higher saturated fat diet like red meat, coconut oil, lots of cheese, which a lot of times is in these kind of more ketogenic diets, you’re actually going to drive your risk of heart disease, dementia and kidney disease fourfold. So iron, ferritin, glucose, insulin, c-reactive protein.


The other biggie that doesn’t get measured a lot is homocysteine. And homocysteine is important because if it’s high, it means that you’re not methylated well. And when methylation is important because it involves detoxification of all your cells in the body, it’s involved in making neurotransmitters so that you can think clear and feel calm. It’s incredibly important. And when homocysteine is high, it increases risk of kidney disease, heart disease, and dementia. Cool thing about homocysteine is something as simple as taking a B complex can help to correct that. So homocysteine, a real important marker that a lot of people miss, all right? So that one’s big.


The other thing that I want to point out is a lot of times when you’re getting what’s called the comprehensive metabolic panel or the CBC, where you’re looking at red blood cells and white blood cells and kidney function and all those kinds of things, you want to pay attention to those things. I mean, I can’t tell you how many people have kidney function that’s poor because they’re dehydrating. Their magnesium pool is low, their potassium is low, their electrolytes are off and they’re working out a bunch and they go, yeah, I drink water. Well, you may need electrolytes and that’s a common thing. The more you train, the more you need the electrolytes.


And then we start getting into some other very interesting things. You mentioned you get your testosterone done. When I measure hormones in men and women both, I like to look at what’s their testosterone. What’s their sex hormone binding globulin? Do they have enough free testosterone? Do they have enough bioavailable testosterone? What’s their estrogen levels like? Both in men and women. So women should have an estro — men and women — have an estradiol and estrone. Men need a little bit of estradiol. It’s cardio protective. So you don’t want to have zero estradiol, but you don’t want to have a lot. When men have a lot of estrogen, that means you’re going to put on more fat. They’re going to get a little more breast tissue accumulation. And for women, you want to understand that relationship of testosterone, estrogens, and progesterone, especially for women. Because a lot of women, their progesterone levels are low, and that leads to feeling anxious, feeling nervous, having estrogen dominance, which is problematic, right? So the sex hormones are really important for us.


And it’s not just for people in my age category, obviously for women, if they’re having symptoms of PMS or their perimenopausal, they need to know about these things in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Because here’s the deal. When your hormones are off as a woman and you’re not getting adequate calcium to build your bone density, you have to realize that when you hit menopause and your estradiol just drops off the canyon, right? You just not making it anymore. You’re going to lose 25% of that bone density. If you’re not looking at how I’m going to optimize my hormones as I’m aging.

And the same thing for men, a lot — real popular for men to do bioidentical hormone replacement now, right? They’re doing BHRT. I’m finding more men in their twenties now with low testosterone than I ever found before. And then there’s, there’s complications to that, right? David, you know, people are walking in the club, you got 20 year old dudes reading stuff on the internet and they’re taking SARMs. Select, you know, they’re androgen receptor modifiers. So SARMs, which are being promoted for muscle growth and getting lean, problem is when you stay on those for a long time, you could end up dropping your testosterone out to the age of an 80 year old.


So it’s really important to look at those kind of numbers. You know, what’s going on? And if I wanted to expand, what I think is really valuable, I think an advanced lipid panel, an advanced lipid panel just doesn’t say what your HDL and LDL is. It’s looking at the sub fractions of what’s making up your lipids. So am I making bad actor lipid particles that are damaging my arteries and leading me to plaque or an oxidative stress? Basically your rate of rusting in your body. Or am I making good lipids that help me build hormones, protect my brain, and it’s helping me reduce my cardiovascular risk?


And one of the important ones is lipid particle size. And it turns out — it could be called LDLP. And the reason that’s important is that if you’re under a lot of stress or your blood sugars are up or you’re under chronic inflammation for any reason, you start to make smaller LDL particles. So you can think of the inner lining of your arteries as a tennis net, right? If I try to throw a softball through a tennis net, I don’t think I’m going to get many softballs through a tennis net. Even if I’m [INAUDIBLE], I’m going to throw that ball at a hundred miles an hour, I’m not getting through that tennis net. If I start throwing BBs through the tennis net, I’m going to get a lot of those BBs through the tennis net. The size of your LDL cholesterol will dictate if it penetrates that tennis net, that inner lining of your artery. And that’s when your immune system attacks in order to protect you. But it calcifies that LDL cholesterol.


So I like when people do advanced lipid panels because I can shut off earlier what’s going on that leads them to our number one killer — 600,000 people die this year due to cardiovascular disease. Right? And so that’s really important. And remember this too, more women will die of heart disease after menopause than men. So we tend to think of it being, yeah, men end up getting heart attacks, women don’t, not the case. It’s really important for both men and women to understand that.


And I got to tell you the other one, you got to have vitamin D because vitamin D is going to tell us about and look at your calcium level and look at your magnesium levels. And I like red blood cell magnesium. I think it’s more accurate because if you break a hip or you know, you crack a hip when you’re 60 or 65, 20% of those people will die. 50% will not walk independently again. And if you are already on a walker, you now go to a wheelchair. If you are not on a walker and break that hip, now you need a walker. So you degrade your mobility. And I got to tell you, three in 10 cases of osteoporosis are now men. And it’s because their testosterone is lower. They’re on proton pump inhibitors because they got GERD or acid indigestion and they’re just taking stuff so they can keep eating their chicken wings and nachos all they want and not belch. Right? It’s like, I can’t take that antacid or I need to take that antacid because they haven’t been willing to change their lifestyle or they haven’t been directed to change it. And when you’re on that kind of medication, you block the absorption of D, calcium, magnesium, protein and B12, all of which are incredibly important. And that’s called a drug-induced nutrient depletion.


And so, you know, it’s really important that we like move those big levers of what causes us to die, right? Bone fractures, heart health, blood sugar. Average diabetic, you’re going to live 12 to 13 years less than a person who doesn’t have diabetes. So these are big things that you can correct.


And exercise and diet, why do I love Life Time? And I got to tell you guys, I love our concept of MIORA, our longevity centers that we’re launching because we face these issues just spot on and go, what are we going to do to change it? Right. And you have in one facility, that ability to have good nutrition guidance, expert training, and now that ability to kind of look at labs, guide people on their wellness journey and optimize them.


And that’s why I’m passionate about what we’re doing together, because I think this is the area where you got what I call the people in the gray, right? They’re not sick, but they’re not at their best. And they’re just a, the next step, I always talk about, you know, if I’m a mile away from the Grand Canyon, my next step isn’t such a big deal. But if I’m at the edge of the Grand Canyon, that same one step becomes a pretty big deal, right? And that’s how you’ve got to look at your health.




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Jamie Martin


One other test that I wanted to ask about, because I know this is something I’ve been directed to ask about, is thyroid. So there’s a variety of different thyroid tests, and why would that be important for people? And what would indicate maybe from a basic lab test that deeper thyroid testing is needed?


Jim LaValle


Well, you know, it’s interesting. Thyroid, what a great question. I mean, thyroid is so important because when you have adequate thyroid hormones, every cell in your body is making adequate energy. And you can even be making 30 plus packets of energy with every molecule of glucose that comes into you, or you could be making two. Do you want two packets of energy or do you want more than 30 packets of energy, right? And so thyroid, the basic thyroid test is called thyroid stimulating hormone, right? TSH. And according to the American Society of Endocrinology, once your TSH is above 2.5, you should be considered for medication. The range basically goes to 4.5.


And what are you going to see when you have low thyroid? Well, out of 30, your eyebrows can be gone. Skin can be dry. Mood can be low. You can be constipated. You absorb 50% less nutrients with low thyroid. So you’re eating nutrients, taking nutrients and not absorbing them. But if you want to really look at thyroid and try to get an eye towards how good it is, you’ll want to look at what’s called T4 and T3. These are the two principal thyroid hormones. And what you usually look at those is called free T4 and free T3. Meaning these are the thyroid hormones that are active and your body utilizes and you want those optimized. The other one that people don’t look at enough is thyroid peroxidase.


So antibodies to your thyroid and thyroglobulin antibodies. Am I, is my body attacking my thyroid? And that’s becoming more prevalent today because of gut permeability problems. So people have what’s called, you know, leaky gut is the popular term. We call it gut permeability. Because when that gets permeable, you start to react to foods that haven’t been fully broken down. So high leptin foods, all of a sudden you’re allergic to peanuts or you notice gluten is a problem. You have gluten sensitivity. You’re holding water. You’re getting achy because of it. Or maybe it’s dairy, right? Those kinds of things occur.


The only thing I want to bring up in relation to thyroid is that if your cortisol levels are high, and that’s one I didn’t mention and I think everybody should measure. If your cortisol levels are high, you tend to inhibit thyroid, inhibit sex hormone production. So stress hormones sit at the top of the feed chain. And then you look at that in relationship to where was my thyroid at? Do I feel tired? Is my skin alligator skin, right? But those are important things to consider is that, you know, one is my thyroid being optimized? Do I have good free T4 and good free T3? And the big issue around cortisol is, you could have plenty of T4 called thyroxine. But then when you have elevated cortisol, you do two things. You don’t convert to your active thyroid hormone T3. So you have a good T4 number than a low T3, right? So you’re like that. The other thing that happens is you make something called reverse T3. And you’re making reverse T3 and that binds to the thyroid hormone, but it doesn’t have any activity.


Now, why would your body do that? Right? You got to think, well, you know, I’m always thinking of relationships in the body. Why would your body do that? Well, it turns out that it’s a protective mechanism. So as you’re under more and more stress, your heart rate’s going up and you know, you only get so many beeps. So the way your body can compensate for you being under stress and you raising your heart rate on a baseline above 62, right? We want heart rates below 62 is ideal for resting heart rate. Is it turns, it gives a mechanism to turn off your thyroid so that it’s not stimulating excess heart rate. So there’s always a give-get. And what we’re trying to do is say, how do you balance all these things out that you’re not perpetually in a give-get at the expense of an efficient metabolism.


Jamie Martin


This is so complicated. This is a lot of information for people to take. And I think what’s so important though, and you’ve alluded to this and you’ve said it, all of these systems and many of these, the hormones, the different measurements, they’re all connected. They influence one another. So it’s really this, we talk a lot about how when you get better sleep, you tend to eat better, you tend to move more and you know, one healthy habit can lead to another. That’s what’s happening internally in our bodies too. So I know you mentioned the importance of the interconnectedness of our systems and being aware of that. That’s so important that people understand that everything’s connected. You’re not just a thyroid, you’re not just adrenal gland, you’re not just a liver, you’re a body, and your whole body is talking to each other.


Jim LaValle


You know, one of the reasons we developed the Metabolic Code platform and, you know, so excited to roll the Metabolic Code platform out into a Life Time is that what the Metabolic Code does is it looks at those relationships and all your labs and all of your questions, your symptoms and your biometrics and your heart rate and your blood pressure all go flowing into the algorithm and it calculates where are you the most at risk? What area do you need to work on?


Because, you know, but in my opinion, I never met a supplement I didn’t like. Right. I never, you know, I love I love bioidentical hormones. I love peptides. I love it all, you know, but you can’t take it all. And a lot of times people are taking so many things but they’re still not getting the results that they’re looking for because it hasn’t been targeted to meet where am I at? What is broken that I can fix? And I think, you know, it, you know, it was interesting when we developed the platform, you know, it’s easy to make the simple, simple, right? I’m going to, your blood sugar is off. I’m going to give you chromium, right? You know, one to one, you have high lipids, give you something, the lower lipids, whether it’s red yeast rice or medication.


It’s also easy to make the complex complex. You know, so you go to the docs, somebody that’s into this and they give you 15 pages of lab tests. And then you got little notes, little squiggly lines, happy faces, you know, frown faces, arrows up, arrows down, take B6, do this, do that. And you go home and you, when you’re listening, you’re going, my gosh, this is fantastic. This doctor really cares. And I really get it. By the time you get home you forget 88% of what you were told within 48 hours. And so what’s important is making the complex simple. So how do we take all this information and boil it down?


You know, in learning theory, people learn in fives and threes. So we boil all of this information down into five buckets or triad relationships. Adrenal thyroid pancreas. The relationship between cortisol, thyroid and blood sugar. When that’s off, you’re gaining weight and you feel tired. That’s pretty easy to understand. Gut, immune, brain. When that’s off, either I’ve got GI problems, I got an irritable bowel, I’m looking for the bathroom, the weather store I go to, because I don’t know when the urge is going to hit. I’m feeling anxious, I’m feeling nervous. I’m pushing a thought through Jello. It’s like, man, I just can’t think the way I used to think. Or maybe you’re just reacting to stuff more, right? That triad relationship is about resiliency. How strong do you feel? How is your mood? Like you said, David, they asked you about mental health questions. Like, are you resilient? Are you feeling anxious? Is it disturbing your sleep? Is your gut disturbed?


And you know, it’s interesting when people have irritable bowel and more women suffer from this than men, but more men are getting it now. When you have irritable bowel, there’s a strong correlation to having anxiety because they’re connected. You have a gut brain connection that’s the enteric nervous system. So gut, immune brain. And the third bucket, cardiopulmonary neurovascular. Where are your lipids? What’s your heart rate like? What’s your resting heart rate? What’s your two minute heart rate recovery? What’s your heart rate variability? These are the things when we’re wearing these darn things, right? It’s telling us all about these smartwatches are telling us, right? But I’m so happy I wear these smartwatches because now I know when it’s time to breathe. Right. It’s pretty scary that we have to have a watch say, hey, time to take a deep breath. I didn’t realize I was blue all the other 23 hours a day. Right. Why? But why? It’s because when we get under stress, our diaphragm gets pulled up. We breathe more shallow, we make more lactic acid, and now I’m not taking deep diaphragmatic breaths that are balancing my nervous system.


So cardio, pulmonary, neurovascular. That’s related to stamina, I’m getting oxygen, right? And then of course there’s liver, lymph, kidney. Am I detoxifying my body well? Do I have adequate iron? How are my kidneys filtering? And then the last one, of course, is sex hormones. Are my hormones appropriate for me in my quest for longevity? And so making the complex simple is really a journey that I’ve been on because I was seeing three to 400 people a week doing this kind of work for years and I kept seeing myself just explaining the same things over and over again. And now through the metabolic code, when you get that report, you can look at that and go, this is where I’m broke. Here’s where I need to start in order to start to feel better.


So I think all of us, when you go on a program, it’s great. Your lipids went down. Cool. That’s very cool. But when people are less gassy, less bloated, have regular bowel movements, they’re less anxious, they’re less nervous, they’re not craving food as much, they see their body comp changes, they’re noticing themselves be stronger, they’re noticing their mind be clearer. That’s what motivates us to move forward, right?


Now, if you’re healthy, like David, they’re like, hey, man, you’re a specimen. He got the blessing from the doc. Now for him, he wants to see those numbers change because he may not be feeling anything, but he doesn’t want to go down that path of them numbers not being optimal. And he’s going to focus on that. For a lot of people, when they’re starting to feel things, let’s just get them not feeling those bad things anymore.


David Freeman


I loved how you framed it all up is taking a lot of this information and knowing how to apply the next steps. I think when we go into health and fitness as a whole, I can sit here and name every exercise in the book and talk about how we want to do this and that on these days. It’s more of them being able to comprehend, apply, and then execute all the things that you’re saying. So we get that result and stay consistent with it. I love the optimal word. We want to keep saying optimal. We don’t want to be normal. We want to be optimal in the space that we’re living. So I love how you broke that down.


Jamie Martin


I think one thing that I hear on that note too is the whole thing of you kind of have to advocate for yourself because this is a lot of information. And sometimes you just get this information thrown at you at a doctor’s appointment. So what would you say to somebody who maybe doesn’t have access, let’s say to the Metabolic Code or to MIORA, which is a new program at Life Time that we’re starting to roll out. How do they advocate for themselves when they ask for this information and then to kind of move forward and make steps forward? How can they be supported?


Jim LaValle


Well, you know, I think the first thing is if you’re a member at Life Time, you got a great staff behind you of passionate people that are committed to excellence, right? That’s step one is lean in, lean in to getting help. Do not think you are on this journey of health alone. That’s why folks are here working to improve the quality of life on the members, right? So there’s a lot of wisdom you can get just out of beginning the dialogue, understanding the conversation. My one book, Your Blood Never Lies, great book you can buy. If you don’t have access to any of this, you can look up individual lab tests and it’ll tell you this is what it means, this is what it means when it’s trending high, trending low, and here’s what you can do about it. Here’s lifestyle tips, here’s diet tips, there’s nutrient tips, and by the way, you better exercise, right? So I think you could get a little paperback book, not going to break the bank.


But I always tell people, try to put as much effort into understanding your chemistry as the next car you buy or the next house that you’re looking for or even the next refrigerator you’re going to buy. Think about it. People spend a ton of time researching. I’ll give you a good example for me. I got a pretty good sized gym in my garage and every little piece of equipment that I’m adding, because I’m always going to add something until I just like max out my square footage, right? I’m looking at, hey, do I want to get that landmine leverage piece so I can take my weights off better? Which one’s the best? You know, I got my multi-exercise device. We got the swinging arms. Which one can I get? Which one’s going to be good for me at my age?


And you know, I’m going to research all that stuff for my next car. What’s the best warranty? Don’t just go to your doctor once a year for an annual physical and think because you got the checkmark and says, yeah, not sick that you don’t need to do any more research about your health. Start reading, start implementing and lean into people you trust to get information that matters. And that’s how people can start the journey. Right. It doesn’t have to be, hey, I’ve got the top blood test in the universe, right? But you can certainly start creating a discovery of where you’re at. Right.


Jamie Martin


And to add on to that too, know where you’re at right now. If you’re really looking to optimize your health or maintain it where you’re at, let’s say you went in for that once a year blood test, is that enough if I’m really trying to maintain where I’m at or to make improvements? How often should you retest?


Jim LaValle


Yeah, I like people having blood tests more frequently. I mean, I personally, I think a minimum of twice a year. If you’re really engaged, three times a year is really cool. But I think twice a year is important because you know, a lot can happen in a year. Think about times in your life when you had a major stressor hit or maybe you went into a period of time where you were working really hard, trying to maintain your hard workouts, maybe not eaten the way you should have. And now all of a sudden, four months later, things change. And you also have to remember that if you’re under a big life stressor, you know, it could be divorce, it could be a move, it could be a job change, it could be any number of things. It could be success. Success is positive stress. But success, also, your brain doesn’t understand good or bad stress, it just understands stress. It’s like, hey, the white tiger’s chasing me. I mean, you know it’s bad when you turn around and look at the white tiger and say, what do you want? Right? That’s when you got to pay attention. Why are you here? I’m getting ready to eat you, son. Right? That’s it. You don’t want that. So the point being is I think because, you know, life is dynamic and fluid, it’s good that you look at yourself in that perspective and look at, well, where am I at through the cycle of my year? What am I doing that’s right?


And I like that because if you’re in the midst of that heavy load for whatever reason we call that heavy load is my chemistry changing and has it changed negatively because of life, right? So I love two, I love two times a year. It’s incredible with three times a year, especially if you’re somebody that’s, maybe you’re using hormones or maybe you’re using a peptide like the GLP-1s or something like that so that you’re playing closer attention to what you’re doing.

Jamie Martin


Well, David, any final questions that you have before we go into your mic drop moment?


David Freeman


Yeah, yeah. We got the mic drop moment. You ready? You said people usually learn in threes or fives. I got three things coming at you and I just want to know first word that comes to mind. OK, first word that comes to mind. Three different words here. Below average. And we’re talking about relative to what we talked on today. So below average, first word that comes in mind.


Jim LaValle



David Freeman



Jim LaValle


Even worse. That was two, sorry.


David Freeman

That’s good. We put it together. And then optimal.


Jim LaValle


Where we should be, man. It’s the still point. It’s the still point. It’s where we operate from the center of our universe, the still point.


David Freeman

I love it. I love it. There you have it. Awesome stuff.


Jamie Martin

Well, Jim, we covered a ton of ground here today. It’s a lot of information. We are going to link people to your website,, so they can find links to different resources, including all of your books. Is there anywhere else you want to point people? I mean, obviously you’ve mentioned MIORA. We can include a link to that. Anything else, though?


Jim LaValle, if they want to learn about what that’s about, that’d be great. Yeah. And look, I just want people to reach out and take that next first step. Take that next first step to being at that still point of feeling awesome, like good vitality. What I’ve always lived by is this ethos on every clinic I’ve developed through everything. People deserve vitality at every stage in life. I don’t care whether you’re six years old or 86 years old. You should be able to feel at your best. It’s what you deserve. It’s what your future should be. Yeah, that’s a great way to end.


Jamie Martin


Thank you so much, Jim. much.


Jim LaValle


It’s my pleasure, man. I love talking with you guys. You invite me back anytime you want. If you’ll if you’ll have me.


Jamie Martin


We’ll take you up on that for sure.


Jim LaValle




Jamie Martin


Thanks, Jim.




Thanks for joining us for this episode. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our conversation today and how you approach this aspect of healthy living in your own life. What works for you? Where do you run into challenges? Where do you need help?


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It is produced by Molly Kopischke and Sarah Ellingsworth with audio engineering by Peter Perkins, video production and editing by Kevin Dixon, sound and video consulting by Coy Larson, and support from George Norman and the rest of the team at Life Time Motion. A big thank you to everyone who helps create each episode and provides feedback.



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The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.

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