By following the Wheat Belly lifestyle, you can observe such wonderful effects as loss of belly fat, reversal of facial skin rashes and edema, and relief from acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
But, because we have all been told to “cut fat and eat more healthy whole grains” that triggers a domino effect of metabolic and health distortions, most people also typically start their Wheat Belly journey with high blood sugars, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, dysbiosis, inflammation, and other abnormal patterns, the abnormalities that drive billions of dollars of drug prescriptions every year.
What if you want to observe and track the metabolic transformation that occurs in your body beyond the effects you can feel and see? Well, you can obtain blood work that magnificently reveals what is going on. While there are differences among various individuals, a basic panel of blood tests to consider that allow you to watch the unfolding transformation includes:
- Fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)
- NMR lipoproteins–This is the test that should (and will, over time, replace crude and misleading cholesterol testing). Choices: Liposcience, HDLabs, Spectracell. (Your doctor has to specify and/or direct the blood-drawing lab to send to one of these laboratory services.)
- Ferritin, complete blood count–If you have a history of iron deficiency anemia or unexplained fatigue, then these tests can establish whether iron deficiency is the cause. Recall that the phytates of wheat and grains impair iron absorption dramatically.
- Magnesium–Because serum levels underestimate tissue levels of magnesium, an RBC magnesium level can help establish whether you have restored magnesium fully. I aim to achieve a level in the upper half of the “reference range,” or even slightly above it.
- C-reactive protein (CRP)–CRP reflects the inflammatory state of your body. While most doctors view an abnormally high CRP (generally 3.0 mg/dl or higher) as a mandate for high doses of statin drugs, you will watch this inflammatory measure drop to zero or near zero with your Wheat Belly efforts (though more slowly if you have an autoimmune condition).
Because all of us here aim for total health, here are some additional tests to consider that, if not at ideal levels, can impair your return to full health and normal weight:
- Thyroid testing–Thyroid disease is rampant, easily affecting 30% of people nowadays, many from prior grain consumption, but also due to iodine deficiency and exposure to industrial halogenated chemicals such as triclosan in hand sanitizers and perfluorooctanoic acid from non-stick cookware. A full thyroid panel includes TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies.
- Vitamin D–A 25-hydroxy vitamin D level is crucial to know your vitamin D status. While the ideal level is debatable, I aim for 60-70 ng/ml, a level that is safe and associated with maximum benefit.
If you are among the highly motivated, a Ubiome test or other means of assessing the status of your bowel flora can be helpful. Although nobody yet knows what truly healthy bowel flora looks like in terms of species, relative proportions of species, etc., stool testing for bowel flora allows you to track the composition of your bowel flora to assess whether you are approaching the patterns observed in the healthiest people, e.g., increased species diversity.
There are additional tests that may apply to your unique individual situation. But the above tests cover a broad swath of the metabolic transformations that occur as your body re-adapts to this new and healthier lifestyle. Also, bear in mind that, if you are losing weight, your labs should not be obtained, as the process of weight loss will distort your values. It is best to wait 4 weeks after your weight has plateaued before any blood is drawn, else some wild numbers can be seen that will be uninterpretable.
If you have an uncooperative doctor, you can have blood drawn on your own with a self-testing laboratory, such as Direct Labs and many others. (Google “direct to consumer labs.”) We are, after all, entering the age of the empowered individual in health, no longer held hostage by a profiteering and largely indifferent healthcare system.