Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis or Bioimpedance Analysis (BIA) is a diagnostic tool that accurately assesses your complete "body composition" - the measurement of body fat in relation to lean body mass as well as cell membrane integrity, intra and extracellular water, and other specific aspects of body composition. It is an integral part of a health and nutrition assessment, and can be used to monitor the effectiveness of nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle interventions in establishing good health and reducing overall health risk.
Why is Body Composition important to my health?
Many of us are used to the concept of using a standard scale to determine our weight. We look to our overall weight to get a snapshot of our health, and be able to monitor it over time. However, overall weight is simply that – it is a number that determines how much our entire bodies (bones, fat, muscle, water, wastes, cell membranes, etc) weigh at this moment in time. This number does not give us an accurate sense of what is actually happening inside our bodies. Even if we watch this number change over time, due to exercise or dieting, we still may not know what has actually shifted. Muscle weighs more than fat – did your weight increase because you gained fat or because you gained muscle? Was there a shift in your overall body water? Losing fat may provide health benefits but losing muscle will harm us over time, and our body water shifts over the course of a day. Standard weight measurements do not give us this information.
Research has shown that body composition is directly related to health. A normal balance of body fat is associated with good health and longevity. Excess fat in relation to lean body mass, a condition known as altered body composition, can greatly increase your risks of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other conditions. BIA enables us to detect an improper balance in your body composition before you develop more serious health conditions, which allows for earlier intervention and prevention. BIA also provides a measurement of fluid and body mass that can be a critical assessment tool for your current state of health.
BIA also serves to measure your progress as you work to improve your health. Improving your BIA measurement, or maintaining a healthy BIA measurement, can help keep your body functioning properly for healthy aging and reduced risk to illness. With your BIA results, we can recommend a personalized dietary plan, nutritional supplements, and exercise to help you support optimal health and well-being for a lifetime.
What can I expect from a BIA test?
BIA is much more sophisticated than your bathroom scale, but just as painless - and almost as quick. BIA is a simple procedure that can be performed right in our office in a matter of minutes with the help of a sophisticated, computerized analysis. Sensor pad electrodes are placed on your right hand and foot, and a small electrical current is applied. The BIA interprets the way the electricity passes through your body, and uses the information to calculate your tissue and fluid compartments. This information will enable your health team to individualize a diet and lifestyle plan for you, and be able to monitor its effectiveness over time.
What do I need to do to prepare for my BIA?
- Avoid alcohol for 24 hours prior to the test.
- Avoid exercise, caffeine, and all food within 4 hours of taking the test.
- Drink 2-4 glasses of water 2 hours before your test.
- Wear socks that are easy to take off!
What does the BIA actually measure? And what do those measurements mean?
The BIA measurements include:
- Phase Angle – overall cell membrane health and integrity. This number tells you how effectively your membranes are functioning and measures the actual health of your cells.
- Lean Body Mass (fat-free) and Fat Mass – total amount of non-fat or lean parts of the body (muscles, bones, organs, and water) and total amount of stored fat (includes subcutaneous and visceral). These numbers are measured in both pounds and percentages, and provide information about metabolic risk.
- Body Mass Index – relationship between weight and height, and is associated with overall health risk.
- Basal Metabolic Rate – the number of calories metabolized at rest during a 24 hour period. This number, interpreted alongside your activity level, can be used to determine what is an appropriate amount of food for YOUR body.
- Intracellular Water – water inside the cells. This number is a marker of inflammation.
A progressive increase in lean body mass, body cell mass, and phase angle are associated with increasing health and decreasing long term health risk. Likewise, excess fat mass is associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, gout, gallstones, and many other degenerative conditions. For more information, schedule an appointment to talk to our nutritionist about ways to understand and use the information from your BIA to monitor and improve your current health and long term health risks.
At Fern Life Center we now offer BIA testing. If you make an appointment with Erin (who takes insurance), your BIA testing is included in your visit. If you do not have insurance or it doesn’t cover nutritional counseling, we will do BIA testing for $35.00 and you can have your results read with Keesha Ewers, ARNP (also covered by insurance as a regular medical office visit). Get ahead of the holidays and get tested so you know where you are starting and have awareness as we move into winter.
Here’s to your health!