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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 September 21, 2021

A recent article on Yahoo Life described the various celebrities, such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Tom Brady, who advocate anti-inflammatory diets as keys to their success. Click here to read the Yahoo Life article. I was pleased that Yahoo asked me to comment on the validity of anti-inflammatory diets since this was the concept of my first book, The Zone, which was written more than 25 years ago.

Inflammation is a complex subject so I’d like to take a moment to provide more detail to my short statement used in the Yahoo Life article. First, you need some inflammation but not too much to heal from injuries. The secret is keeping diet-induced inflammation within a zone that maximizes healing of inflammatory damage caused by many types of injuries. That is the goal of the Zone Diet. The first sign that such injuries are not healing is usually an increase in excess body fat since your metabolism is disrupted by excess inflammation. Second, the longer you follow an inflammation-promoting diet, such as the typical American diet, the faster you develop chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, neurological, or other conditions. Third, the result of the accumulation of this ongoing inflammatory damage is that you accelerate your rate of aging.

The first step in reversing any of those accumulated consequences of excess inflammation is to reduce diet-induced inflammation. That is what the Zone diet was designed to accomplish. The Zone Diet is also highly defined. It is a calorie-restricted, protein-adequate, moderate carbohydrate, low-fat diet but rich in fermentable fiber and polyphenols. It is also personalized to the individual’s lean body mass, physical activity level, degree of existing insulin resistance, and personal dietary preferences. This flexibility means whether you are a vegan, a lacto-ovo vegetarian, a true Paleo advocate, or an omnivore you can design the Zone diet to fit your dietary philosophy

The validity of such a defined Zone diet compared to all other diets has been confirmed in more than 40 published clinical trials over more than 20 years. Thus, the goal of the anti-inflammatory Zone diet is to bring your levels of inflammation into a zone; not too high but not too low. However, simply reducing excess diet-induced inflammation will not cause the resolution of injury-induced inflammation nor the repair of damaged tissue caused by the injury. To achieve those more complex goals, you will need dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols.

The omega-3 fatty acids will provide the building blocks to make powerful hormones known as resolvins that stop injury-induced inflammation. On the other hand, polyphenols will activate the master regulator of your metabolism (AMPK) that is needed to repair the tissue damage caused by an injury. These more complex concepts necessary for healing are described in my most recent book, The Resolution Zone. Therefore, the combination of the anti-inflammatory Zone Diet coupled with adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids and sufficient intake of polyphenols can be understood to be the real foundation of what is commonly termed as an anti-inflammatory diet.

However, it is the future of anti-inflammatory diets that will have the most significant impact on medicine. This future lies in the re-programing of the immune system to remove the zombie cells known as senescent cells that represent the real underlying cause of chronic disease and aging. This re-programing of your immune system will be accomplished not using genetic engineering but via epigenetic engineering coordinated by the combination of the anti-inflammatory Zone Diet supported by omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols. I will be explaining these more advanced concepts in my next book, The Immune Zone.

I am gratified that today’s celebrities are embracing concepts I wrote about more than 25 years ago. Hopefully, I will be around to read about a new group of future celebrities who will be using my current insights to change the expression of their genes to live a better and longer life.


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