If you’ve ever played any type of sport, you are probably familiar with “being in the zone.”
It’s that moment when you become one with your environment; a non-thinking moment when every movement and thought are effortless…and your performance in that moment is optimal.
Well, evidently a similar situation is possible with your nutritional diet. And with the word “diet,” I mean from its origin; the Greek word “diaita” for “way of life.”
As described by Dr. Barry Sears, this “zone” occurs with each meal when you find and maintain that proper balance of macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates) that allows for optimal levels of hormones, satiety, and cellular immune response.
This is the third review in the following series:
- Slim by Design
- Disease Proof
- The Mediterranean Zone
- The Paleo Diet
- It Starts With Food
- The Perfect Gene Diet
The Zone & The Mediterranean Zone
Barry Sears, PhD
Former research scientist at MIT and Boston University School of Medicine
Leading authority on dietary control of hormonal response
Advocate of high-dose fish oil
Works with Olympic elite athletes (25 gold medal winners in last 5 Olympics)
Dr. Sears describes how the proper balance of macronutrients you eat can stimulate pro-inflammatory, anti-inflammatory, as well as inflammation resolution responses by your immune system.
In his more recent book, The Mediterranean Zone, he not only defines what elements of the Mediterranean diet result in decreased chronic disease and improved longevity, but also contrasts and compares it to the typical US diet.
Additionally, he covers supplementation with anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as fish oil and polyphenols, and provides practical advice for identifying quality products as well as testing purity.
By reducing diet-induced cellular inflammation and being in your nutritional Zone, you will:
- Lose excess body fat
- Reduce your risk of chronic disease (including dementia)
- Slow down the aging process.
You will know when you have found your Zone from the best balance of carbs, protein, and fat specific to you because you will not be hungry for at least 4 hours.
He emphasizes that it is critical to always experiment with the balance of your macronutrients and tune in to your body.
However, the only true way to know if you are maintaining a good balance is to work with your physician and monitor the following 3 specific clinical tests and keep them at the optimal level.
AA:EPA (the ratio of Arachidonic Acid to Eicosapentanoic Acid). Range is 1.5 to 3.
TG:HDL (the ratio of Triglycerides to High-density Lipoprotein). Level less than 1 mg/dL.
HgA1C (the level of Hemoglobin A1C, also known as glycosylated hemoglobin). Level 5%.
These biochemical markers measure the balance of inflammation to resolution, the spread of insulin resistance, and long-term sugar (glycemic) control, respectively.
The Zone, or anti-inflammatory diet, suppresses genes that create inflammatory molecules (ie, NF-kB) and activates other genes that promote anti-inflammatory responses (ie, PPAR).
Besides feeding your genes, it also feeds your hormones and neurotransmitters, as well as energy and metabolism.
The Writing & Eating Style
In general, this eating approach promotes a ratio of calories from fats, protein and carbohydrates of 30%, 30% and 40%.
Sears describes, often with humor, the cellular and molecular mechanisms of how elements of your diet affect numerous aspects of your biochemistry, which I found riveting. He offers practical advice for implementing optimal dietary changes and monitoring the effects of these changes.
Additionally, he includes numerous examples from his own research and experiences.
If you enjoy learning “how stuff works,” then you will enjoy reading this book. If biochemistry turns you off, then you probably should pick an alternative read.
He also has a very informative website.