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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 August 07, 2023

People often ask, “What exactly is the Zone, and what are the benefits of being there?”  The short answer is that the Zone can be defined as the absence of insulin resistance, and the benefit of being in the Zone is living a longer and better life.   

“How do I get in the Zone?” 

The process of getting “in the Zone” is a little more complex because it involves understanding Metabolic Engineering.  You have probably heard that genetic engineering is the future of medicine. However, I believe that Metabolic Engineering will have a far more significant impact. The reason is that controlling your metabolism is far more complex and vastly more impactful than any breakthrough envisioned by the biotechnology industry using genetic engineering. Your metabolism converts food into energy, controls your immune system, regulates the expression of your genes, controls tissue regeneration, and finally controls your aging rate. It’s an impressive list. But to get those benefits, you must continually manage the metabolism in each of the 37 trillion cells in your body. Although this may seem like Mission Impossible, Metabolic Engineering makes it possible. 

Understanding Metabolic Engineering 

I started the field of Metabolic Engineering nearly 30 years ago with the publication of my first book, The Zone, in 1995. The patent for the Zone diet as a drug to reduce insulin resistance was issued in 2000.  However, just as the understanding of the complexity of metabolism has been expanding, so has the evolution of my original dietary concepts of controlling metabolism on a lifetime basis.      

Metabolic Engineeringis a comprehensive dietary system to activate the master regulator of your metabolism (AMPK) in every one of your 37 trillion cells.  By doing so, you can reduce, if not eliminate, insulin resistance in a short period (clinical studies indicate as little as four days). Unfortunately, it can reappear just as quickly. Therefore, controlling your metabolism is a lifetime effort if you want a longer and better life. Why?  Because the longer you have insulin resistance, the more likely you are to develop obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver and kidney disease, and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.   

Think of Metabolic Engineering as a three-legged stool. Sitting on a one-legged stool is impossible, and a two-legged stool is just as precarious. But if you have three legs of equal length, that stool becomes incredibly stable.    

The three legs of Metabolic Engineering are the Zone diet, omega-3 fatty acids, and a particular class of polyphenols known as delphinidins. Each is useful individually, but when combined into a consistent dietary system, they become a powerful force to reduce insulin resistance by reprogramming each of your 37 trillion cells.   

How to uncover if you have insulin resistance?   

Your blood will tell you if you currently have insulin resistance. There is a simple blood known as HOMA-IR. If your HOMA-IR level is less than one, you have no insulin resistance, and your health future is bright.  About one percent of Americans are in this group. 

On the other hand, your HOMA-IR is greater than two, you have insulin resistance, and your health future is bleak. The average American has a HOMA-IR of 2.7. This level of insulin resistance in Americans explains our rapidly increasing cost of health care. However, that future can be changed by following Metabolic Engineering. Rather than focusing on treating chronic disease, my vision is that the future of medicine will be refocused on maintaining chronic wellness. That means living in the Zone for a lifetime. 

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