Getting a blood test to understand how well you are on the inside has never been easier thanks to new services like Thriva.
Why? Because we’re more health conscious these days and at-home blood tests can give us information about our health that previously wasn’t possible.
Thriva offers people in the UK at-home blood tests for a range of health markers such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, folate, iron and much more.
It’s an at-home blood test for the health conscious who believe that prevention is better than cure.
You know? The type of people who want to live a long and healthy life for as long as possible.
People like me and probably you too.
This is a review of the Thriva home testing service. If you’re interested in understanding how it works, keep reading.
If you’d like to try Thriva right now, they’ve provided readers of this site with a 50% discount using the code below.
(using the Thriva discount code ‘stedavies’)
This is a review of the Thriva ‘Complete’ package, part of the new tiered subscription service the company is launching.
The kit is sent out to members every three months so they can understand how well (or not) their lifestyle is impacting their internal health.
You order a test via the Thriva website, they send out a kit to your home, you fill a couple of containers with blood and then send it back to their lab and wait for your results.
The company is moving to a subscription model because ongoing tracking is essential for preventative health.
In other words, establishing a baseline with specific markers in your blood will allow you track any changes over the coming years as you age or as your lifestyle changes.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
Using the Thriva kit
The Thriva testing kit comes in this nicely designed packaging. Pull open the side of the box and you’re presented with the components you need to get your blood out of your finger and into a container.
It’s very Apple-esq and if you’ve purchased an iPhone or other Apple product before you’ll know what I mean. Thriva obviously is design-conscious and the user experience of its service.
If you’re scared of needles you’ll be glad to know there are no injections involved. Just hardly noticeable finger pricks.
Included in the box are the instructions, finger pricks (called lancets), antibacterial swabs, collection tubes and labels, plasters and the prepaid packaging to return back to the lab.
It’s then just a case of getting your blood into the tubes.
You’re advised to do it in the morning preferably after a hot shower. This ensures your fingers are soft and the blood is flowing. If you haven’t had a hot shower then run your hand under hot water for a couple of minutes.
Once your hands are suitably warmed up, prick your finger with a lancet and start filling the collection tubes.
The best finger I’ve found to draw blood from is my little finger. I’ve struggled to get blood out in the past so I also do two pricks at once.
It really doesn’t hurt.
When you fill both tubes, put the cap on, apply the labels and add them to the return envelope.
You then post your blood samples and wait. Though not for long. The following day I received an email from Thriva telling me they had received my blood sample.
Although Thriva promises the report will be with you within 48 hours I received mine two hours later. This is a great turn-around time. From posting of my sample to receiving the results took no more than 24 hours.
Analysing the Thriva results
Once your blood sample is analysed by the lab, log into your Thriva account where it provides you with your own data dashboard of results. The dashboard compares your results against the recommended optimal levels.
In other words, it will tell you if you have too much, too little or just enough of a health marker in your blood.
Over time, as you do more tests, this dashboard will show you any trends and changes in markers like vitamin D, iron, mineral levels and so on. This benchmarking can show you the positive impact a healthy diet and exercise can have on your long-term health.
When you first log into your account you’re presented with a summary of your data along with an analysis from a doctor.
As you can see, each test analysed has the colour code green, yellow or red. Although there are a lot of yellows in my summary, a dive into the results show they’re not so bad.
The doctor also provides advice on your results and elaborates on them further in the results page.
As you can see, improving my diet and doing more exercise should help my current status. He’s right. Both my diet and exercise have been poor for the last few months.
Viewing the full results tells more of a story.
Looking at the screengrab above you can see Thriva breaks down each test with a description and shows your results alongside the optimum level of where it should be.
Although just slightly out of range, this is not the first time I’ve tested deficient for Vitamin B12. I was supplementing with B12 after my last test but I ran out a few months ago. This is a good reminder to continue with the supplementation.
According to the analysis low folate is caused by a poor diet or one that has been lacking in leafy green food. It’s fair to say my diet has been lacking in healthy foods for a few months so I’m taking this as a nudge to get back on the nutrient dense power smoothies.
My HDL cholesterol and triglycerides are fine but both my LDL cholesterol and cholesterol are out of range. Not by much but perhaps something I should keep an eye on. That said, there is a growing consensus that high cholesterol isn’t as bad as once thought.
Almost all biomarkers are in range except for alkaline phosphatase which is associated with bone and teeth health. Again, my level is slightly out of range so not much of a concern but useful to know.
I’ve been tested for Vitamin D in the past and have been found to be deficient. Given we’re just coming out of summer with dark winter months ahead it’s good to see I’m still in range. That will likely change however once winter starts.
I have an inherited condition called haemochromatosis in my family which is where the body builds up too much iron in the blood. While I don’t have the condition myself (not yet anyway) a genetic analysis I did showed that I carry the gene so I have to monitor my iron levels, especially as I get older.
As you can see from the Thriva results my iron is a little too high. Again, nothing to worry about but something I should monitor.
Thriva doctor recommendations
Toward the bottom of your results, you have specific recommendations about lifestyle changes Thriva recommends you implement. Whether this is pre-written advice or tailored to the individual is unclear. Mine said;
Try to improve the quality of your diet
“Aim to reduce saturated fat intake and increase mono-unsaturated fat intake with olive oil, rapeseed oil or spreads based on these oils and use them in food preparation. Choose to consume wholegrain varieties of starchy food. Reduce intake of sugar and food products containing refined sugars including fructose. Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day including plenty of fibre. At least 2 portions of fish per week, including a portion of oily fish. Eat at least 4 to 5 portions of unsalted nuts, seeds and legumes per week. Further information and advice on healthy cooking methods can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/
Try to improve your level of exercise
“Aim to do a mixture of moderate to vigorous aerobic activities and muscle strengthening exercises (or exercise to your maximum safe capacity) for at least 30mins a day over 5 days a week. If you can build this into your weekly routine it will help your cardiovascular health. For further advice on what type of exercises are recommended to stay healthy for adults, please visit the following page: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise//
This advice is not too far away from what I usually do but having a couple of months out of doing little exercise and not being careful with what I eat will have impacted
Post results communication from Thriva
After receiving your results, Thriva will send you a follow-up email. This includes the date of your next test and recommendations on what you should do in the meantime. Here you can also postpone or cancel your next test in three months.
Thriva does communication well. I received this email about an hour after I logged into my account to view my results. I’m unsure this is intentional or a coincidence but it prompted me to log back into my account.
Do I recommend Thriva?
I’ve long been a proponent of at-home blood testing and started doing it around five years ago.
There were two issues with doing it in those days. It was very expensive and there weren’t any UK home blood testing companies offering this kind of service.
My first time doing a blood panel analysis like this I had to use an US-based company and it was a logistical nightmare.
Since then, companies like Thriva have launched to cater to a growing demand in the UK. This, of course, brings down prices and makes the process much more convenient for you.
If you’re serious about your health (and you should be) then you should keep track of what’s going on on the inside as well as the out.
Receiving my Thriva results has been a stark reminder I need to get back into eating healthy and exercising more.
Peaks and troughs, as they say.