By Dr. Barry Sears
The concept of the Zone is never static. This is because of the continuing new breakthroughs in molecular biology that demonstrate the power of our diet to affect the expression of our genes. The best way to transmit this evolving body of knowledge is the writing of new books. However, this time I took a slightly different route. I introduced my newest book first in Italy before it is introduced in America. It's almost like doing spring training in Florida before opening the major league season of baseball at home.
Although the title of the Italian book is "The Future of the Zone", its American title will be "The Mediterranean Zone: How new discoveries in polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids make the Mediterranean Zone the next evolution of the traditional Mediterranean diet". That title is more descriptive of what's really in the book.
Introducing the book in Italy allowed me to see the response of the content of book in the eyes of the true believers in the Mediterranean diet, and their response was excellent. In essence, the growing clinical data on the essential need for polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids coupled with an equally growing academic awareness of the problems with omega-6 and refined carbohydrates set the foundation for the book. It has little to do with weight loss but everything to do with understanding how our genes have been hijacked by the processed food industry. The end result of this hijacking is that we have become genetically modified humans in an incredibly short period of time. The expression of these genetic modifications is growing obesity, increased chronic disease at an earlier age, decreased cognitive abilities and a speeding up of the aging process.
Even more insidious is that these genetic changes (called epigenetics) will continue to amplify if nothing is done to change our current diet. Even if one was to radically change the diet, these epigenetic changes would be in place for at least two to three more generations before being completely removed from our DNA. A pretty scary scenario, but there is a potential hope.
This is the basis of the new book. By adapting the new dietary guidelines put forward in the Italian (and upcoming American) book, at least you can hold back the inflammatory damage caused by these genetic damages for the current population and hopefully erase these epigenetic marks in future generations.
Moreover, the book has both recipes and the full color pictures of them to show what gourmet Mediterranean Zone meals ("drugs") are that have to be followed for a lifetime. The work on the recipes and the photographs (which was a lot harder than writing the book) came from my co-author, Dr. Daniela Morandi. Daniela and I had previously written a best-selling cookbook of gourmet Italian meals, and this book is part of our continuing collaboration.
The book debut was at the Savoy Hotel in Milano (considered one of the best hotels in Europe) with a five-course dinner prepared by one of the top chefs in Italy. The press conference featured many of the most prominent academic nutrition researchers in Italy discussing the need for change, and I discussing how that change is outlined in the book. Additional media events included interviews on national TV and radio as well as with the leading magazines and newspapers in Italy.
Of course, I didn't spend all my time at the book opening, leaving plenty of time to give Zone lectures throughout Italy as well as in Switzerland, Spain, and Cyprus.
If you don't want to wait for the publication of the book in English, then an in-depth preview of the book and its implications will be the core of our next Zone Cruise to Bermuda on June 2-9. The subject of the hijacking of our genetic future by processed foods is grim, but the Mediterranean Zone offers a way out of this mess.