You probably already know that a vial of blood can reveal all sorts of information about your health. From cholesterol levels and red and white blood cell counts to nutritional deficiencies, that little prick goes a long way.
However, did you also know a blood test can show your biological age? What about your struggle with depression? It’s true…
According to Stefan Enroth, an associate professor at Sweden’s Uppsala University, everyone has between 1,000 and 2,000 “measurable proteins” in their blood and those proteins perform several tasks. The more researchers learn about them, the more they’ll be able to tell you about what is going on through the rest of your body.
Here are seven things doctors know just by looking at your blood.
1. Your ‘real’ age
Biological age refers to how old your body and internal systems seem when compared to other people in your group. While you might be 64, you could have a biological age of 58. This is done by comparing the proteins in your blood with other people’s blood samples to determine how you stack up.
Smoking, drinking sugary drinks and/or being overweight can add between two and six years onto your biological age.
2. How bad your blue are
Your blood can determine the difference between a standard, it happens to the best of us, case of the blues and something more serious like depression. A study out of Austria has found a specific kind of brain chemical that also pops up in your blood and can identify if you’re low on happiness hormones.
3. If you’ve suffered a concussion
It’s been a struggle for a lot of medicos to come up with a proper way of assessing if you’ve suffered a concussion. Concussions have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease later in life. A study published in JAMA Neurology has found that a blood test using the protein markers above can reveal if you’ve had a concussion for up to seven days after the incident occurred.
4. Your risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Blood proteins can be used to determine the likelihood of you developing Alzheimer’s disease up to 10 years before any symptoms appear according to a recent study by Australian and United States’ researchers.
Read more: Test for Alzheimer’s closer than you realise
5. If you’re at risk for alcoholism
There’s a specific blood chemical called ‘PEth’, which is said to be elevated among people who are biologically prone to alcoholism, according to research in Alcohol and Alcoholism.
6. All the colds you’ve ever had
Blood can reveal every virus or cold you have ever endured, even if you don’t have one at the time of a blood test. This is because your body developed antibodies in response to the illnesses you defend against and those antibodies kick around in your bloodstream for the rest of your life.
It’s one way in which doctors can assess how an old illness affected your immune system and can lead them to prescribing more effective medicines or remedies.
7. If you have anxiety
Anxiety is a state of stress or worry, which you’ll often notice causes tension in your shoulder or a quickening of your heart rate. According to researchers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, anxiety can be picked up in your blood just by looking for a certain type of protein that is released when you become frazzled.