Originally posted by Dr. Davis on 2018-09-20
on the Wheat Belly Blog,
sourced from and currently found at: Infinite Health Blog.
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of WB Blog articles.
Your Wheat Belly Transformation
Health, weight, and
appearance are transformed by living the Wheat
Belly lifestyle. You can see it on the face with
reduced puffiness and edema and smoother skin.
You can see it on the waistline as inflammatory
visceral fat recedes. You can perceive it as
increased energy, reduced depression and anxiety,
reduction or elimination of irritable bowel
syndrome and acid reflux symptoms, reduced joint
pain, reversal of leg/ankle edema, and in so
many other ways.
But how about blood
measures of health? You can witness the
transformations there, too. And the
transformations you see in blood markers of
health can be just as dramatic and impressive
as all the other changes. In my cardiology
practice, we would obtain such measures prior
to starting the program, then several months
later and onward. Comparing starting values
with later values revealed dramatic changes,
attesting to the power of this lifestyle.
But first a warning:
NEVER have blood drawn while you are
actively losing weight (unless, of
course, some urgent health issue crops up that
requires it, such as bleeding or infection).
The reasons are simple: Weight loss means that
your body is mobilizing stored energy from fat
cells, energy stored as triglycerides.
(All fats are triglycerides whether it’s
fat on pork or bacon, olive oil, or fat in fat
cells.) Triglycerides and the fatty acids that
comprise triglycerides therefore flood the
bloodstream as you lose weight, making them
available to “burn” and clear from
the bloodstream. If you spun your blood down in
a centrifuge to remove red blood cells, you
would actually see a milky layer—those
are triglycerides. But it means that any blood
drawn will be filled with triglycerides and fatty
acids. This means that blood levels of
triglycerides can rise substantially, a
phenomenon that temporarily cascades into many
other effects including a drop in HDL
cholesterol, formation of small LDL
particles, erratic blood sugars and blood
pressures. This whole process subsides as
weight loss eventually plateaus, followed by
gradual settling down of all these measures
to far better values. HDL cholesterol, for
instance, a useful index of overall
health—the higher, the better—will
rise over the ensuing two years,
while triglycerides settle down over several
weeks, reflecting the variable timeline in
responsiveness of all these measures.
So never have blood drawn during
active weight loss. Have it drawn no sooner
than 4 weeks after weight has
plateaued, then expect further
improvements to develop over time.
Once your weight has
plateaued for at least 4 weeks, consider
chronicling your wheat/grain-free experience
with measures that properly reflect the
metabolic transformation that develops,
here are measures to consider:
course. Even better, track body composition
with a body fat analyzer (preferably a
foot-to-foot or hand-to-foot bioimpedance
device). This will more accurately reflect
what is changing, since not only is fat
lost, but muscle increases on this lifestyle.
circumference—After all, the
whole conversation started by talking about
pressure—Expect a drop in
both systolic and diastolic values.
blood glucose, HbA1c—HbA1c
reflects your prior 60-90 days of
around-the-clock blood glucose values.
I aim for blood glucose 90 mg/dl
or less and HbA1c 5.0% or less. Blood
sugars and HbA1c plummet on the Wheat Belly
lifestyle, especially after weight loss has
subsided and you add all the other components
of the Wheat Belly program such as
vitamin D and efforts to cultivate
bowel flora (as discussed in Wheat Belly
Total Health and the Wheat Belly
10-Day Grain Detox books). HbA1c
drops slowly, given that it relies on
red blood cells dying off before it
reflects drops in blood sugar.
lipoproteins—This provides real
measures of LDL particles—not the crude
and useless marker, LDL cholesterol, that serves
as an indirect gauge of LDL particles yet is
the basis for the multi-billion dollar statin
drug and cholesterol industry; we actually
measure LDL particles’ number and size.
By obtaining NMR lipoproteins (especially if
compared to a prior panel before undertaking
your Wheat Belly lifestyle), you would see
that small LDL particles plummet.
A typical response would be a drop from,
say, 1800 nmol/L (particle count per
volume) to zero or other very low value.
Recall that small LDL is the #1 most common
cause for heart disease in the U.S., not
“high cholesterol.” Wheat/grain consumption
increases small LDL particles; wheat/grain
elimination is the most powerful tool available
for reduction of small LDL particles,
particularly when combined with weight loss.
You will also see that HDL cholesterol rises
and HDL particles increase in size and number,
reflecting their greater protective potential.
Triglycerides and the VLDL particles that
carry triglycerides also plummet. (VLDL
particles cause formation of small LDL
particles; if VLDL particles are reduced to
a minimum, they no longer contribute to
creating small LDLs.)
protein—The reason why so many
people talk about c-reactive protein (CRP)
is because the pharmaceutical industry has
fueled the discussion about it in the media
with clinical trials like the JUPITER trial
of Crestor in people with high CRP. But CRP
and other measures of inflammation drop to
the floor with wheat/grain elimination along
with other Wheat Belly lifestyle efforts.
A value of zero mg/dl is the rule.
Those are the essentials.
But if you want to track some other factors once
you are on the program and get a handle on
overall health, consider:
panel—That includes TSH,
free T3, free T4, reverse T3,
and thyroid antibodies. If thyroid antibodies
are abnormally high, you have a thyroid
autoimmune disease, most commonly Hashimoto’s
thyroiditis, with at least half of cases
triggered by prior wheat (gliadin) consumption.
Now that you are wheat/grain-free, have restored
vitamin D, and are cultivating healthy bowel
flora, you can watch your thyroid antibody
levels drop over time (typically months).
vitamin D—This is the
test to assess the adequacy of vitamin D
supplementation with some contribution from
sun exposure if you are young and allow
substantial skin surface area to be exposed
to the sun. We aim for 60-70 ng/ml
for ideal vitamin D status.
better measure than the more common serum
magnesium, but even RBC magnesium
underestimates tissue deficiencies. We
therefore aim for the very top of the
methylmalonic acid—Because some
people develop B12 deficiency from prior
wheat/grain consumption and the various
gastrointestinal distortions they introduce,
it would be important to identify this and
take steps to correct (discussed in Wheat Belly
Total Health and Undoctored).
Hypochlorhydria, or low stomach acid, for
instance, often a consequence of autoimmune
damage to the stomach’s acid-producing
parietal cells, typically does not recover and
B12 supplementation is usually necessary for a
lifetime. (My preferred form is methyl B12
to sidestep MTHFR genetic variants that can
impair absorption of other forms).
ferritin, CBC—Because prior
wheat/grain consumption (via grain phytates)
blocks nearly all dietary iron absorption,
some people begin their Wheat Belly lifestyle
with iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia.
While this usually corrects simply itself with
wheat/grain elimination, an occasional person,
especially menstruating females or those with
severe symptomatic anemia, may need iron
zinc—Like iron, magnesium, and
other positively-charged minerals, grain
phytates block zinc absorption that can lead
to a variety of zinc deficiency phenomena such
as skin rashes and impaired immune responses.
Like magnesium testing, we aim for levels at
the high end.
I am a big believer in
tracking your experiences. But you’ve also got
to choose the right values to track. No sense in
tracking the speed you are driving by looking
at the odometer. There are many other measures
you can make that are less relevant to the Wheat
Belly experience, but the ones listed above can
give you a comprehensive survey of the improved
metabolic landscape that develops on this lifestyle.