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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 December 02, 2022

Learning more about anti-inflammatory diets and AMPK can be a bit confusing. Luckily, Dr. Sears is here to provide valuable insights and answer your questions about these topics. In this blog, you'll get access to his Q&A session and learn more about how to achieve a healthier lifestyle through an anti-inflammatory diet and the importance of AMPK. So, let's jump right in and find out how these can help you create a healthier version of yourself!

Q. What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

The best definition of an anti-inflammatory diet is one that reduces insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a general term for a disrupted metabolism caused by inflammation. Insulin resistance can be quantified by a blood test known as HOMA-IR. If the levels of HOMA-IR are less than one, then whatever diet you follow is an anti-inflammatory diet. Less than 1 percent of Americans have a HOMA-IR level of less than one.


Q. What are the benefits of following an anti-inflammatory diet?

A. Although an anti-inflammatory is defined as one that reduces insulin resistance, the real benefit is the activation of AMPK, which is the master regulator of metabolism in each of your nearly 40 trillion cells. It is inhibition of AMPK that is the driving force for the development of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and many other chronic diseases. If you have no insulin resistance (your HOMA-IR is less than one), that is your surrogate marker that AMPK is optimized and your likelihood of developing many chronic diseases is dramatically reduced.

Q. How can chronic inflammation affect your health?

A. Chronic inflammation decreases the activity of AMPK which controls your metabolism. It is the efficiency of your metabolism that is required to supply energy to the cell, reduce the excess production of inflammatory mediators, like eicosanoids and cytokines, and repair damaged tissue.

Q. How can you activate AMPK?

There are three distinct dietary pathways to activate AMPK. These would include omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols that are usually deficient in American diets, and the Zone Diet which is a highly defined anti-inflammatory calorie-restricted diet designed to activate AMPK. Anyone of the three is good, but they are highly synergistic when they are all working together.

(You may also like: Everything you need to know about the Zone Diet)

Q. What foods are pro-inflammatory?

A. It is excess calories and too much glucose that will increase inflammation and inhibit AMPK activity. Consuming too many omega-6 fatty acids (e.g., corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil) and palmitic acid (e.g., palm oil, meat, butter) will also induce inflammation and reduce AMPK activity.

Q. Can you share some quick tips on how to adapt an anti-inflammatory diet to your specific needs/preferences?

A. You need to consume omega-3 fatty acids, polyphenols and follow the Zone Diet, and simultaneously reduce your intake of foods known to promote inflammation like omega-6 fats. There are hundreds of recipes and helpful tips at www.ZoneLiving.com. The decrease in your HOMA-IR levels will be the clinical indication of your success. The subjective markers are reductions in excess body fat and greater physical and mental energy. Do this for lifetime, and you get healthy aging.

Q. How Easy Is It To Measure AMPK activity and HOMA-IR?
A. Measuring AMPK activity is incredibly difficult since it never leaves the cell. Therefore, you need a tissue sample to measure its activity. Fortunately, it is very easy to measure HOMA-IR. All you need is your fasting glucose and insulin levels and you put them into a simple equation. If your HOMA-IR is less than one, then your future is bright. If your HOMA-IR is greater than 2, your future is bleak. The average HOMA-IR of non-diabetic Americans is 2.7. However, it’s future you can rapidly change by following an anti-inflammatory diet.


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