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Dr. Sears' Blog

Breaking down the latest research on Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition
Written By: Dr. Barry Sears, Ph. D | Creator of the Zone Diet

Written by Dr. Barry Sears
on October 31, 2016

The only way to know if you are consuming adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids is through your Cellular Inflammation Score. The benefit of an ideal Cellular Inflammation Score is to help support heart health, brain function, behavior and mood regulation, athletic performance, vision and cellular rejuvenation. In other words, everything that constitutes wellness.

An ideal range for the Cellular Inflammation Score is between 1.5 and 3. For comparison, the average Cellular Inflammation Score of the Japanese population (the largest consumers of fish in the world) is about 1.5, whereas the average American has a score of 20. Each person likely requires different dosages of fish oil to get them into the ideal range, but my minimum suggestion is 2.5 grams of EPA and DHA per day.

Cellular Inflammation Score as a Marker of Wellness

There is more than 25 years of published research to validate the use of the Cellular Inflammation Score as a clinical marker of inflammation. But research studies are not always applicable to real-life situations.

That’s why I developed the Zone Cellular Inflammation Test. This simple at-home test requires just one drop of blood to measure two key fatty acids in your blood and tells you with precision whether or not your body can effectively resolve inflammation.

Test, Don’t Guess: An In-House Experiment to Determine Inflammatory Status

I decided to put my recommendations to the test with our Advantage customers who were receiving an automatic shipment of OmegaRx. Since many Advantage customers have been receiving OmegaRx for more than a decade, this was an excellent group to test whether my minimum recommendation of 2.5 grams of EPA and DHA was really enough. I say “minimum” because not everyone is genetically the same. Some people will need even more omega-3s to reach an ideal Cellular Inflammation Score of less than 3. Others might need less.

So I offered a free Cellular Inflammation Test kit to all of our Advantage Customers who regularly order OmegaRx to see what their Cellular Inflammation Score actually was. All results were tallied while maintaining full confidentiality.

The Results: More than Half of our Advantage Customers Are Not Taking Enough Fish Oil

The good news is that 37% of our best customers tested achieved a Future Wellness score within the “Target” range between 1.5 and 3.0.

However, the average score for our Advantage Customers was 4.7. While this is better than about 75% of Americans, it is still not an ideal score as a judge of future wellness. While 48% of our Advantages customers had a Cellular Inflammation Score within the "Target" range or below, 52% scored beyond this range. That means that even among our most committed customers, more than half would still require higher levels of EPA and DHA in fish oil to get their scores into the ideal range.

Conversely, the data also revealed that 11% of our Advantage customers tested scored below the “Target” range of 1.5. In rare circumstances, those who's score dip as far as 0.7 or less could be at risk of not being able to mount an adequate inflammatory response to microbial invasion.

These data points collectively demonstrate that even among those taking my recommended dosage of 2.5 grams per day, they should take our Cellular Inflammation Score blood test to assure they are taking the right amount of omega-3s. Zone Labs Cellular Inflammation Score Results Distribution, 2016

Studies Support the Need for More Omega-3s Than Minimum Recommendations

Harvard Medical School was the first to report on the use of the Cellular Inflammation Score in The New England Journal of Medicine1. In this study, high doses of EPA and DHA (5 grams per day, or double my recommended minimum level) were given to healthy subjects for 10 weeks. With this increased intake of EPA and DHA, it was demonstrated that significant reductions of inflammatory cytokines were significantly reduced as their Cellular Inflammation Score decreased by nearly 90% from 21 to 2.5. Once the supplementation with EPA and DHA was stopped, the Cellular Inflammation Score in the subjects returned to its original level along with a corresponding increase in the cytokine markers of inflammation.

This study supports that you have to take adequate intakes of EPA and DHA for a lifetime if you want to manage diet-induced inflammation. How much? It depends, and that’s why you need to know your Cellular Inflammation Score. This Harvard data is consistent that the average American would require about five grams of EPA and DHA per day.

Take Control of Your Health Future Now

Taking adequate levels of EPA and DHA per day remains the fastest way to reduce diet-induced inflammation, which is the underlying cause of why we gain weight, develop chronic disease, and accelerate the aging process.

However taking a lot of fish oil means it has to be incredibly pure. That’s why I pride myself on having establishing the highest standards in the industry for OmegaRx. To maintain our leadership, the next generation of OmegaRx 2 products takes these purity standards to even higher levels than those used by the FDA for prescription fish oil products.

Zone Labs is built upon the concept of Evidence-Based Wellness®. This means that an individual’s blood will indicate whether or not they are well. The Cellular Inflammation Test is a key component to that concept. Once you have your Cellular Inflammation Score, if it is above 3, just follow the anti-inflammatory Zone Diet for a lifetime and take adequate levels of OmegaRx to bring your Cellular Inflammation Score into the target range of 1.5 to 3. Almost half of our Advantage customers are doing so today, and my job is to get that level up to 100%. The next step is to do the same for the rest of America.
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  1. Endres S et al. “The effect of dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on the synthesis of interleukin-1 and tumor necrosis factor by mononuclear cells.” N Engl J Med 320:265-271 (1989).

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