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The Omega Rx Zone - The Miracle of the New High-Dose Fish Oil

by Barry Sears PhD

listed in nutraceuticals

[Image: The Omega Rx Zone - The Miracle of the New High-Dose Fish Oil]

The latest scientific idea of the perfect diet is, as most of us know by now, high complex carbs, low fat. In fact practically the only nutrition advice which all the governmental scientific committees can agree on is "Eat less fat".

But fat is more than just butter, margarine and lard. Oils from nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocado pears and olive oil are also classified as fats. Yet these beneficial foods are often seen in the same bad light and avoided. As author Barry Sears says, "Fat has become a foul three-letter word in our society".

Sears, whose work first came to my attention in 1995 when he published his million-seller Zone Diet book, is a former MIT researcher who has worked at the very centre of lipid research and holds more than a dozen patents on drug delivery and hormonal control technology. He is especially interested in eicosanoids hormone-like products of fat metabolism which are also known as prostaglandins. (In fact, eicosanoids is a more accurate generic term since prostaglandins are in fact only one sub-group of eicosanoids).

The relevance of eicosanoids is this: as long as fats in your diet are not getting turned into arachidonic acid, they can be used to make the beneficial series 1 eicosanoids such as PGE1. On the other hand if they are turned into arachidonic acid, 'bad' eicosanoids are produced, which encourage inflammatory diseases, heart disease and high blood pressure, reduce blood flow and cell oxygenation, and make you feel groggy when you wake up in the morning. So what is it that turns fats into arachidonic acid? Could it be those high complex carbohydrates? Read on!

It is always refreshing to read work which has not been 'recycled' from other sources. Sears' work is authoritative and highly original, and makes for fascinating reading. In the Zone Diet, he explained the role of excess insulin in stimulating the production of too much arachidonic acid. In the Omega Rx Zone he expands considerably on this theme:

All carbohydrates, even complex carbohydrates, stimulate insulin release;Insulin activates delta-5-desaturase, the enzyme that turns omega-6 fatty acids into arachidonic acid instead of into good eicosanoids;Lower levels of good eicosanoids mean less oxygen delivery to cells and more inflammation;More inflammation means more diseases such as multiple sclerosis, strokes, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer's, arthritis, eczema and so on.

Other harmful effects of insulin are:

* Insulin activates the critical enzyme responsible for making cholesterol in your liver;* Insulin encourages your metabolism to turn your calories into fat;* Insulin lowers your blood sugar and makes you crave carbohydrates;* Insulin has to be counteracted by the production of more glucagon and more cortisol, thus stressing your pancreas and adrenals;* Cortisol is released to counteract insulin but kills brain cells, especially in the hippocampus, which is your memory centre.

One of the best indicators that you are making too much insulin is that you have excess body fat around your middle. As Sears says "The hormonal consequences of a calorie of protein are different from those of a calorie of carbohydrate, which are different still from those of a calorie of fat. My dietary recommendations are based on hormonal thinking, whereas the USDA Food Pyramid… and many other medically endorsed diets are based on caloric thinking."

Sears offers several techniques for insulin control.

* Eat only the smallest amounts of those carbohydrates which raise your blood sugar quickly (see the book for more details);* Always balance carbohydrates with protein;* Always include fats in your meal, especially monounsaturated fat from olive oil;* Eat small, frequent meals;* Eat the vast majority of your carbohydrate in the form of vegetables – in fact 10-15 portions a day.

In the Omega Rx Zone Sears has a new, additional technique up his sleeve. Omega refers to omega 3 fats, which are those found in fish oil. Rx is shorthand for 'recipe'. Sears has always known that the oils from oily fish are rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which has two important benefits:

* It can be directly made into good eicosanoids;* It inhibits the delta-5-desaturase enzyme that turns other oils into arachidonic acid;* The net effect is to significantly increase good eicosanoids and decrease bad ones.

Unfortunately research shows that fish oil supplements have only limited value in achieving these benefits. Sears has spent some years investigating the reasons for this. He now believes that excessive carbohydrate consumption (and consequent poor insulin control) has been responsible for partially counteracting the beneficial effects of fish oil supplements. He also believes that the products themselves have been less than perfect.

"Crude fish oil and cod liver oil should be considered the sewer of the sea," says Sears. "Anything that is water-insoluble, such as PCBs, DDT and organic mercury compounds will be found in the crude oil." He recommends only using products whose level of PCBs is guaranteed to be less than 10 parts per billion (ppb). And, he says, some products contain oils extracted from krill or tropical fish. These are relatively rich in arachidonic acid, which will definitely undo the benefits of consuming the oil.

Sears rejects health-food-grade fish oil in favour of a highly purified fish oil which he calls 'pharmaceutical grade'. He claims that it takes 100 gallons of health-food-grade fish oil to make one gallon of pharmaceutical-grade fish oil. So far, the results he reports from testing the highly purified product look impressive. The book contains some really interesting case reports, including a rapid reversal of an advanced case of Alzheimer's dementia.

Read the book to get more information as well as Sears' instructions and procedures, which come with a promise: "Within thirty days.... you can expect to find yourself thinking more clearly with a greater sense of concentration owing to an increased dopamine production. In addition, your ability to handle stress will be greatly increased, owing to increased serotonin production."

Linda Lazarides BA
Regan Books, Harper Collins

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