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Zone Living

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

Written by Dave Schreck
on August 01, 2014


One in four Americans, about 80 million, has some form of pre-diabetes or diabetes. If you're on certain medications, need to lose body fat, don't exercise or practice stress reduction, chances are your silent inflammation is elevated, and your future health may be bleak. Unfortunately, you can't tell if someone has elevated levels of inflammation just by looking at them. Regular blood work doesn't measure cellular inflammation. 


At my last annual physical the physician handed me my blood test results, and I noticed that all my numbers were within the reference range. There were no red flags (thanks to the Zone). I asked, out of 100 people how many are all within normal ranges? He said, "I'd have to review 200 to just get one!" But was I really healthy?


When I returned from the trip of a lifetime, I had maintained my weight and was tan and relaxed; however, my AA/EPA ratio was elevated. What does the AA/EPA ratio mean? It measures the cellular inflammation in your body and therefore your future state of wellness. AA (arachidonic acid) is the building block of pro-inflammatory hormones (eicosanoids). In excess these accelerate chronic disease: Heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer's, etc. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is the building block of anti-inflammatory hormones. You need a balance of "good" and "bad."


The test is simple, easy and only $75 at www.zonediagnostics.com. OK, maybe you'll take the test but are there other markers of wellness? Yes, but not as effective. Get your latest blood work and look for your triglycerides and HDL cholesterol. Divide your triglycerides by the HDL. It's not on your test results; you'll have to do this yourself. The ratio is an indirect marker of both eicosanoid and insulin levels. Increased triglycerides (above 100) and decreased HDL (less than 50) indicate that you may have too many "bad" eicosanoids, and your insulin levels are probably elevated. You're on your way to insulin resistance. The TG/HDL ratio gives you a measure of your risk of developing heart disease. Studies indicate that the TG/HDL ratio is a significantly better predictor of future heart disease than total cholesterol or even HDL cholesterol. A TG/HDL ratio of 2.0 and below is good. You're on the path to wellness. Above 3.0, and you're on a path to chronic disease. Don't panic. The fastest way to lower your TG/HDL ratio is to follow the Zone program, exercise, and supplement with a least 2.5g/d of EPA/DHA. That's 4 OmegaRx capsules.


Is there a correlation between AA/EPA and TG/HDL ratios?


Dr. Sears believes the AA/EPA test is the gold standard for measuring your future wellness as it takes into account one's overall cellular inflammatory potential. The TG/HDL ratio as mentioned in his book "The Anti-Inflammation Zone" is a secondary biomarker for wellness. The TG/HDL ratio will tell you if you have metabolic syndrome caused by insulin resistance, therefore, this becomes a surrogate marker of insulin. The higher your TG/HDL ratio, the higher your insulin levels, and the more cellular (silent) inflammation you may be generating.


What will your future look like if you have insulin resistance that goes untreated? When your cells fail to respond to the normal actions of insulin, they become resistant to insulin so your pancreas produces more insulin to drive the nutrients into your cells. Elevated levels of insulin are your worst health nightmare. Just a few weeks ago Dr. Sears met with someone who is pre-diabetic and told him what his future holds if he didn't improve his diet. He stepped to the white board and began to write:


Will you be part of the diabetes epidemic? Here are a few of the complications you will experience:

  • Eye problems - damage to the blood vessels of the retina leading to blindness.
  • Kidney disease – leading to dialysis, transplant and kidney failure.
  • Heart disease – driven by elevated insulin and inflammation, not cholesterol.
  • Limb damage – nerve damage and poor blood flow may require toe, foot or leg amputation.
  • Cancer – elevated levels of insulin are associated with a higher risk of some cancers.
  • Alzheimer's – is highly associated with the development of amyloid plaques in the brain, similar in many ways to the plaques that clog the artery walls and eventually lead to heart attacks. It's interesting to note that individuals who are susceptible to heart attacks also have a far greater risk of developing Alzheimer's.

If you don't change, the future will be bleak.


The solution to reversing insulin resistance is not medications that have dangerous side effects like Avandia, which is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular death, but food that you treat like a drug.


With a little effort and discipline you can dramatically improve your health by following these suggestions: Remove all unfavorable carbohydrates (they increase blood sugars and insulin levels) pasta, rice, cereal, pancake and cookie mixes, breads, bagels, dried fruit and processed foods from your kitchen. Yes, even the whole, organic, non-GMO healthy grains must be eliminated or consumed in very small amounts (like one slice per day). Combine favorable carbohydrates with lean proteins at every meal and snack. These are colorful, non-starchy vegetables and mixed berries.


Supplement with omega-3s and eliminate omega-6 fats from all vegetable oils, corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean, etc. Your omega-3 to omega-6s should be 2:1 or even 1:1, however, most of us have ratios between 20:1 to 50:1. More than 15 years ago (1997) Dr. Sears wrote and article titled Learning a Lesson from India. "Do you know which country has the greatest number of type 2 diabetics? The answer is India. In the last 20 years there has been a dramatic explosion in the number of type 2 diabetics there. The increase in diabetes has paralleled an increasing consumption of Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats in the Indian diet. Where you do find these polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids? In vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower, and soybean. The exact same ones that Americans are now consuming in excess."


The real cause of our growing epidemics of obesity, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's is diet-induced inflammation from a diet rich in processed foods, vegetable oils, grains and starches. To prevent a grim future, think of the cost physically, financially, and emotionally if you don't change. We all know that personal health should be one of our top priorities, yet so many of us ignore our health until we are faced with a crisis. You want to be healthy. You've made attempts to look and feel better. Perhaps you've failed so many times that you have given up hope. "Can the Zone really help me?" If you've asked that question, then you probably said, "I hope so." Therefore, the real question is: What are you going to do? Think about it or do something about it.


To get started visit our website at www.zonediet.com or call us at 800-404-8171.

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