The warmth of the Caribbean was a relief this year as the Old Farmer's Almanac prediction was accurate: New England, where I live, would experience a colder than average winter.
Unfortunately, another prediction by Dr. Sears is also coming true.
Our health-care system is doomed to failure. Why? It was self-evident on our Zone Cruise to the eastern Caribbean. You only had to observe the food being served in the Oceanview Buffet (open 18 hours daily) and in the main dining rooms: Homemade breads, pasta, pizza, potatoes, fried rice, muffins, pastries, and rich desserts, foods that within 30 days can increase one's cellular (silent) inflammation. So what's wrong with inflammation? As Dr. Sears explained, you need a Zone of inflammation. Too little, and you're a sitting target for microbes, and injuries never heal. Too much, and the body attacks itself. We have turned on our inflammatory response 24/7. Cellular inflammation has been proven in research studies to be the underlying risk factor for all chronic conditions: Heart disease, dementia, arthritis, cancer and many others.
How did this happen? We are victims of the perfect nutritional storm, an increased consumption of omega-6 fats (vegetable oils) and processed foods and a decrease in omega-3s (fish and fish oil) and polyphenols (the compounds that give fruits and vegetables their color).
What's the solution? Here are a few tips from Dr. Sears to make the transition simple and easy.
1) Clean out your kitchen. Remove breads, cereals, pasta, potatoes, rice, chips, and vegetable oils (Wesson, soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, etc.).
2) Restock with lean proteins, colorful non-starchy vegetables (frozen are excellent), and monounsaturated fats like olive oil.
3) Start every meal with lean protein about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand. Balance with colorful, non-starchy vegetables and add a dash of monounsaturated fat, like olive oil. Remember, "The more white you put on your plate, the more inflammation you create."
4) Browse our recipes and create your favorite meals at: http://zonediet.com/recipes
5) Supplement with 2.5g (2,500mg.) of EPA/DHA per day. That's four OmegaRx capsules. Why? Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is an essential fatty acid (EFA), one of several omega-3 fatty acids. EFAs are essential to human health but cannot be made in the body. The typical Western diet is relatively deficient in omega-3 fatty acids compared to the diets of our ancestors. Fish oil will raise the concentrations of EPA in the body. Increased intake of EPA has been shown to be beneficial in coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis. How? Because EPA inhibits the activity of certain enzymes (delta-5 desaturase) that make arachidonic acid, the building block of 'bad' hormones. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is critical for proper brain function, for the development of our nervous system and visual abilities. Low levels have also been associated with ADHD, depression and Alzheimer's disease in adults. Our bodies naturally produce some DHA but in amounts too small and irregular to ensure proper biochemical functioning. Therefore, DHA must be consumed in the diet through foods, such as cold-water, fatty fish or in supplement form in order to ensure an adequate supply.
Consume 8-12 servings of vegetables. Since I'm still trying to reach those numbers, I supplement with a high-quality polyphenol product. See: http://zonediet.com/polyphenols
These tips may seem drastic compared to your present diet, but are you happy with the way you look and feel these days? Following the Zone doesn't mean you'll never have a slice of pizza or bread again. You can have one pig-out meal per week. I'll bet you'll feel so good after 30 days on the Zone, you'll think twice about that bowl of pasta.
How healthy do you think you are? Dr. Sears listed three clinical markers (tests) to determine your future wellness.
1) The AA/EPA ratio
â€“ a marker for cellular inflammation. It should be between 1.5 and 3.0.
2) TG/HDL ratio
â€“ a marker for insulin resistance in the liver. It should be below 2.0.
3) HbA1C (glycosylated hemoglobin)
- a marker for long-term glycemic control. It should be 4.8% to 5.2%.
The first test may be ordered at www.zonediagnostics.com;
the other two from your physician.
Here are a few additional topics Dr. Sears discussed.
We are "genetic stone-agers". Consuming food that we were genetically designed to eat (lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts) reduces the risk factors associated with chronic disease.
The Epigenetic Zone
- We cannot change our genes, but our genetic expression can be influenced by environmental factors, diet being the greatest factor.
Rebuild the Brain, Curing the Blind
â€“ both neurological conditions and sight improvement depend on the AA/EPA ratio. The Zone Diet lowers AA, and supplementation with fish oil (omega-3s) raises EPA to bring one's ratio into a healthy range.
The Zone and Athletic Performance
â€“ The Zone Diet and omega-3 supplementation give athletes an unfair (and legal) advantage. The diet stabilizes blood sugars, increases burning of stored body fat during regeneration phase, and initiates muscle repair during recovery phase. The fish oil helps to reduce inflammation and improve metabolism and reaction times.
In conclusion, Dr. Sears discussed how the government-run health-care plan has now made many Americans believe that they are no longer responsible for their health. After all, the government will take care of me. Big mistake. If you want to protect yourself, Dr. Sears' suggests to aggressively begin to reduce cellular inflammation by following an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. Together, they reduce the inflammation that drives chronic disease. The more that people take control of their health future, the less they have to rely on government largesse. Take charge now. Time is running out!