Blood Markers of the Zone: How to Know if You are There: The quickest way to gauge whether you are in the Zone is to evaluate your level of hunger after a meal. If you can go 4-5 hours without hunger or fatigue you’ve done a good job of Zoning your last meal. That’s great for the short-term but what about long-term clinical markers that determine whether or not you are in the Zone. With so many blood tests out there, here we’ll tell you the ones we think are the best indicators of being in the Zone and why.
The Cellular Inflammation Test: This test measures the level of two key fatty acids in the blood, Arachidonic Acid (AA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA). Arachidonic acid (AA) is produced from omega-6 fats in the body and can turn on the inflammatory response. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are omega-3 fats that come from fish and fish oils and help turn off the inflammatory response. As long as these fatty acids are balanced in your blood as indicated by your AA/EPA ratio, your ability to control hormones that modulate cellular inflammation is optimal. When they become unbalanced, cellular inflammation increases and so does the likelihood of developing chronic disease in the future.
Best Way to Get in Range: The quickest way to lower your AA/EPA ratio is to supplement with high purity omega-3 fatty acids. The more closely you follow the Zone Diet, the less omega-3 fatty acids you’ll need since the Zone Diet greatly reduces the intake of omega-6 fatty acids and moderates insulin levels, both of which can increase AA levels in the body.
HbA1c: Hemoglobin A1c or glycosylated hemoglobin is a measure of circulating glucose levels in the blood over a 3 month period of time. HbA1c is used primarily as a marker of blood sugar control, but in the Zone it’s used as a marker of oxidative stress. Hyperglycemia, or high levels of circulating blood glucose, have been shown to stimulate oxidative stress through the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS)1.
Best Way to Get in Range: Following the Zone Diet which is calorie-restricted (1,200 to 1,500 calories per day) containing adequate protein (90-110 grams of low-fat protein per day), moderate amounts of carbohydrate (130-150 grams of low-glycemic carbs per day) and low in fat (40-50 grams of primarily monounsaturated fat per day) can help to lower HbA1c. Increased intake of polyphenols will have the greatest impact in reducing oxidative stress.
*This test may not be routinely performed. Check with your physician’s office and insurance provider before your next checkup to verify whether you’ll incur any additional fees if this is run.
TG/HDL: The triglyceride (TG) to high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) ratio can be used as a marker of insulin resistance. The three organs most responsive to insulin are the adipose, liver and muscle tissues. Insulin resistance is typically associated with an increase in body fat, but the first place you’ll be able to clinically begin to measure its start is in the liver. This is because the liver is where dietary fats are repackaged into lipoproteins which transport triglycerides and cholesterol to cells. When insulin resistance develops, triglyceride levels rise, HDL levels decrease, and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) becomes smaller and denser and more likely to become oxidized leading to heart disease.
Best Way to Get in Range: When cellular inflammation in the body is high it can result in insulin resistance. The best way to lower insulin resistance is to follow a strict Zone Diet supplemented with purified omega-3 fatty acids.
*These markers are part of your complete blood count (CBC) routinely done in your physician’s office.
Each of these three blood markers have to be their ideal ranges before you can consider yourself in the Zone. If not, just a few simple dietary changes and you can be in the Zone within your first meal. The key is staying there. In just 30 days of starting the Zone Diet and supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols, you will find these blood markers beginning to change making you move closer to the Zone and helping to improve your overall wellness.