Best Fats For Your Brain and Body with Dr. Barry Sears – CHTV 122
Meredith:Hello, everyone, and welcome to Cellular
Healing TV. I’m your host, Meredith Dykstra, and this is episode 122. We have Dr. Pompa,
our resident cellular healing specialist on the line, of course, and today we’re welcoming
a very special guest, Dr. Barry Sears. Before we jump in with Dr. Barry, let me tell
you a little bit about him. Dr. Barry Sears is a leading authority on the dietary control
of hormonal response. A former research scientist at the Boston University School of Medicine
and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Sears has dedicated his research efforts
over the past 30 years to the study of lipids. He holds 13 US patents in areas of intravenous
drug delivery systems and hormonal regulation for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Wow. Dr. Sears, we’re so honored to have you. You’ve done such prolific research
in this area. I know you and Dr. Pompa are in alignment with a lot of your work on fats.
We are so excited to discuss good fats, bad fats, toxic fats, cellular inflammation, and
we’ve got a lot to talk about. Welcome to the show, Dr. Sears.
Dr. Sears:Thank you very much. Dr. Pompa:Dr. Sears, I could refer to you
as Barry, and you can call me Dan. What a pleasure! You’re an icon in this regard.
I remember years ago reading some of your work when you were talking about fats, and
I don’t want to date you here. I’ll tell you, you tool a lot of criticism in the beginning.
Now we hear a lot about what you and I talk about, but back then, you were a forerunner,
I’m telling you. When you were talking about high fat, and
how fat heals, and just a lot of your work, and low carbs, and high fats, like I said,
you paved the way. I think you’ve authored, since The Zone Diet, 12 or 14 books. Am I
right on that? Dr. Sears:That’s correct, 14.
Dr. Pompa:Your background is biochemistry. How did you get into this? Years ago, how
did you get into this? Dr. Sears:It actually began with the death
of my father. Died of a heart attach at 53. That’s obviously a young age, but he was
also a world-class athlete. Also, we had family history of heart disease. All his brothers
had died in their early fifties of heart disease, as did my grandfather. I knew many, many years
ago that genetically, I was predisposed to an early death from heart disease. I either
could accept that fate or somehow try to basically change that fate. That led to a greater journey
of the role of, really, lipids and hormones in all chronic diseases. The Zone Diet nearly
40 years ago. Dr. Pompa:Yeah. You know, it’s amazing.
It takes us, all of us, a story to really bring us into something alternative or at
least contrary to what’s out there in modern medicine, if you will, to buck the system
like you have early on. It was the same with me. It took my story for me to step outside
what normal healing would be. I guess I don’t even know how to put it.
I tell you, one of the topics that I love and that you love is the topic of cellular
inflammation and also epigenetics. You said the gene word, right? You and I both believe
that hey, we have susceptibilities genetically, but you and I both believe that hey, it doesn’t
mean you have to end up with a heart attack. I don’t have to end up with diabetes. I
don’t have to end up with high blood pressure, although when I was in ninth grade, I had
it because my gene was turned on. I’m 50, and I don’t have high blood pressure, so
I’ve turned off a lot of the genes. One of the things in your new work that I
don’t believe was in The Zone Diet, but you really talk about these three areas that
really are needed to downregulate cellular inflammation. It’s three areas that I believe
strongly in, as well. You also give some different tests and ratios that we can look at – our
viewers and our listeners can look at on a blood test to really get an idea of how you’re
doing. I agree with these markers, and I use these markers. I love what you say in these
three areas. Just to put them out there – and I want to break them down individually, the
diets, and we can talk a little bit about that.
Then polyphenols and flavonoids, which I don’t recall being in some of your earlier work,
and them omega-3s and other fats. Really, I think we believe that it’s – even beyond
omega-3s, but omega-3s is definitely needed today. Those three things, you say, “Hey,
when we put these three things together, that’s” – as I like to say, “That’s where the
magic happens.” That’s what really downregulates the inflammation, and better put from your
perspective, that’s how you hit the zone, right? Let’s start there. How did you come
up with that? We’ll start with diet, even. Dr. Sears:My previous background was not nutrition.
I have really had no training whatsoever, but it was in the area of intravenous drug
delivery for cancer drugs. Dr. Pompa:Oh, wow.
Dr. Sears:When you deal with cancer drugs, if you give too little of the drug, the patient
dies of cancer. You give them too much of the drug, the patient dies of the drug. You
try to keep that drug, as with all drugs, within the therapeutic zone, not too high,
but not too low. When the 1982 Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded in 1982, I realized
that you can now begin to use food primarily initially with the fatty acids to maintain
a zone of inflammation. We think of inflammation as something that’s dangerous and evil.
In reality, it keeps us alive in a very hostile world.
Dr. Pompa:Absolutely. Dr. Sears:If our inflammatory response was
too low, we’d be an easy target for microbes, our injuries would never heal. If our inflammatory
response is too strong or we did not turn it off sufficiently, the body begins to attack
itself. When we talk about the zone, we’re really talking about a [therapy] not by using
a drug, but by treating food as if it were a drug by taking it at the right dosage at
the right time, and for how long? The rest of your life.
That was really the generation of the zone concept. I found out with time that unless
one controlled certain aspects of the diet that omega-3 fatty acids by themselves would
not be sufficient. You about polyphenols. When I first wrote my first book 20 years
ago, there was really no knowledge of polyphenols in the scientific literature. That’s why
The Zone keeps expanding because as we get new information on how nutrients affect hormonal
and gene expression, you begin to incorporate them into the overall super-structure. In
medicine, we often talk about evidence-based medicine. What does that mean? It says, “Show
me the data.” Dr. Pompa:That’s right.
Dr. Sears:We can use the same principles to talk about evidence-based wellness. It’s
not basically looking at treating disease; it’s looking to maintain wellness as long
as possible. We have many clinical tests that can tell you how sick you are. We have very
few clinical tests that tell you how well you are.
That’s why I chose to work with those three markers. They’re really markers of wellness.
You can walk into Harvard Medical School, and they will agree with you. Your goal, whatever
you dietary choice or lifestyle choice, is to basically maintain those markers within
the appropriate ranges that allow you to control wellness on a lifetime basis.
Dr. Pompa:We’ll get into those markers, but let’s talk about these three areas.
Then we’ll talk about these three markers or ratios that you and I both like. Look,
you and I both agree that the average American today is eating far too many carbohydrates
even in healthy diets. Even studies that I read, Doc, that look at low carbohydrate diets,
I look at the amount of carbohydrates, and I see 200 grams of carbohydrates a day. I
say, “My gosh!” That, to me, is a high carbohydrate diet, and they’re calling it
low-carb. What is the right diet? What have you found with diets just as some general
overview guidelines? Dr. Sears:I think that one thing that we have
to be cognizant of, that calories still count. There’s no question about that. What you
have to do is have the right balance of protein, carbohydrate, and fat to control the hormonal
responses, so two things happen. You can restrict calories without hunger and without fatigue.
If you can do that, that’s the goal to a longer and better life.
Dr. Pompa:That’s a hormone thing. The only way you can do that is if your hormones are
optimal. Dr. Sears:Exactly, and that’s why we have
to look at nutrients. We have a very, very complex interplay. Another one has to go down.
Dr. Pompa:That’s right. Dr. Sears:Each of those nutrients, protein,
carbohydrate, fat will affect different hormonal responses. In many ways, you have to basically
say, “Are we all genetically the same?” Of course not, but the blood can tell us how
well we’re doing on the individual basis that keeps those three hormones, which are
changing through our diet, within that appropriate therapeutic zone. If you can do that, then
you’re not hungry, and then you’re not tired.
Why do people stop diets? They’re usually hungry and tired. I’ll say, “That’s
the Gordian Knot you have to cut.” Hunger is an incredibly complex neurochemical phenomenon
that starts in the hypothalamus. Really, we look at our obesity epidemic, much of it is
due to inflammation of the hypothalamus and what is causing this distortion of hormonal
signals, and as a consequence, we’re more hungry, we eat more calories, and surprise,
we get fatter. Again, we have to look at inflammation at, really, the molecular level to understand
to a greater extent our obesity crisis, our diabetes crisis, and our corresponding crisis
in virtually every chronic disease today. Dr. Pompa:You know, Doc, I always way, “Look,
the reason why people can’t lose weight today – we’ll call it weight loss resistance,
even people eating well and exercising well – it’s a cellular issue.” It’s a cellular
inflammation issue. You’re right. Particularly, I focus on what’s happening in that center
brain, the hypothalamus pituitary, which drives the adrenals, which drives the thyroid, which
drives – which influences appetite, and when you’re hungry or not.
We know that this is a key component of why people can’t lose weight. I could not agree
more. This is a hormonal issue, but more specifically, it’s a cellular issue, which is affecting
the hormones, which is also affecting why people can’t lose weight, or even control
their appetite, or just even being a fat burner. We preach that –
Dr. Sears:I agree 100%. Dr. Pompa:Yeah. That’s great. The diet is
great. I think when we go over these three things that you look at, I think it’ll really
help people understand. Is the diet that you’re on a factor? We understand that even toxicity
drives some of these markers that you’re looking at and also drives inflammation of
the hypothalamus pituitary. That can even be another factor.
Okay. Let’s get into the topic of the polyphenols, the flavonoids. This is some new stuff that
I know that you’ve really been excited about and researched. We have the diet, and then
we have polyphenols. Most Americans are really lacking this. Talk about that.
Dr. Sears:Polyphenols are those chemicals that give fruits and vegetables their color,
and for millennia, that’s all we thought they did. It turns out that our knowledge
of what polyphenols actually did had to wait for basically new breakthroughs in biotechnology
to understand their impact as gene activators. Basically, the polyphenols become gene therapy
in the kitchen, assuming you take a therapeutic dosage. Like a drug, you take a placebo dosage
of polyphenols, you will get placebo effects. If you take a therapeutic dosage of polyphenols,
you get to have some very exciting therapeutic effects. This is what is a very exciting thing
about polyphenols, as we can now get concentrates of higher levels, we can begin to see different
genes being turned on depending on the intake of the polyphenols.
At the lowest levels, which is still far beyond what most American consume, they turn on anti-oxidative
enzyme genes. At still higher levels, they turn off inflammatory genes. At still higher
levels, they turn on anti-aging genes. We hear a lot where new breakthroughs coming
in from biotechnology to have gene therapy. We have gene therapy right now; we just have
to be able to use it. The key thing, you have to use a therapeutic dosage, and you have
to have, again, polyphenols that actually enter into the blood.
Most polyphenols do not. They’re very good for gut health, which is an incredibly important
aspect, too, but very few polyphenols actually enter into the blood to basically affect,
now, the expression of our genes in our human cells.
Dr. Pompa:I read that in your work, and I want to know how do we get those polyphenols?
Also, I think what I read – and you can tell me if I’m wrong – you need at least
one gram of those particular polyphenols a day. Is that correct?
Dr. Sears:A minimum. That’s if you want to basically begin to turn on some of the
anti-inflammatory genes. Let me use some examples of what you might have to do to eat one gram
of polyphenols per day. You could eat two pounds of vegetables. Most Americans will
say, “Mission impossible.” I could basically drink 10 glasses of red wine every day. Okay.
Meredith:Some would like that. Dr. Pompa:That is not easier because I have
to deal with the alcohol part of that. Dr. Sears:That’s true. Now, say, “I don’t
like red wine. It’s too bitter.” Say, “Okay. You only need 100 glasses of white
wine per day.” “I like olive oil” – a great source of polyphenols. Plan to drink
about three liters of olive oil per day. You begin to see that trying to get polyphenols
from natural sources is a very difficult process, and that’s why these new breakthroughs in
making polyphenols extracts, where you can concentrate the polyphenols up to very high
concentrations, allows you to do this. Now, that doesn’t say, “I’ll never eat
vegetables.” There’s a gazillion reasons to eat vegetables. It’s saying it’s the
only way to get the higher levels, therapeutic levels. Cocoa is an example. Cocoa extracts
been shown recently in Nature and other journals that have very profound effects on cognitive
improvement, but the effects are found in very high levels.
We have to be thinking – using pharmaceutical thinking applied to food. We have to find
the therapeutic levels of the nutrients, which are essential nutrients. There are essential
amino acids. We’d have to have an adequate level of protein in our diet to get them.
There are essential fatty acids. We need to have adequate levels and the right balance
to maintain these eicosanoids, the hormones coming from these.
Likewise, I think within 10 or 15 years, we’ll come to understand that polyphenols are also
essential nutrients. We have to have them in the diet, and we have to have them at adequate
levels, and enzyme reactions or hormonal formation, but gene activation. That’s a very exciting
area. Dr. Pompa:Yeah. Most people watching are
going, “I can’t do that. I can’t eat that many vegetables.” Are there some specific
supplement choices that you recommend, or are there some specific other things.
Dr. Sears:You’ll see more of these extracts. Surprisingly, in terms of cocoa polyphenols,
one of the leaders in the field is Mars candy bars. They’ve put many millions of dollars
into clinical research to make polyphenol extracts and have published the data in terms
of their ability to improve cognition. The data is growing out there.
Yes. Mars wants you to eat more candy bars, but they’re also cognizant that within the
candy bars are very low levels of the polyphenols, which have all -inaudible- health benefits.
If you can concentrate them up, then you would have something that’s more powerful than
any drug because it can alter gene expression. That’s a very exciting aspect. They realize
it, and a lot of food companies are realizing it. They have an opportunity to play with
the big boys. Dr. Pompa:A lot of people take these green
poly drinks, and then have very little affect on people’s health. Of course, polyphenols;
however, I don’t see the clinical support there. What’s your feeling on those things?
Dr. Sears:You’re quite right. The number of clinical studies with polyphenols that
are meaningful, you can count on the fingers of one hand. I mentioned two already, with
cocoa polyphenols. Another one that basically has recently published in terms of reducing
oxidative stress, taking people who are smokers. They create a lot of oxidative stress. By
giving a polyphenol extract from a certain berry, which is very water soluble, you could
see within 30 days a significant reduction in the levels of oxidative stress in the blood.
When you stop taking the polyphenols, the levels of oxidative stress went back up again.
The data’s there, and that’s data you can take to Harvard Medical School. You say,
“Here’s the data, but I have to have a therapeutic level of these polyphenols, and
especially those that can get into the blood.” Just like a drug, if a drug is not water soluble,
it will not enter the blood and have any therapeutic benefits. The same is true of basically nutrients.
They have to somehow make the transitory aspect from our gut into our blood to have effects.
Polyphenols are, again, very tricky to work with because they have low bio-availability
and a very, very short lifetime in the blood. If you can overcome both those aspects, you
now have the ability to do very, very carefully controlled clinical experiments that are basically
– have significant clinical benefits that are not – say, “I hope you might get some
benefits.” You see it in a relatively short period of time. Thirty days for a drug study
is a relatively short period of time. With polyphenols, basically if they get into the
blood, you see significant effects, which are basically highly dose-dependent.
Dr. Pompa:It still begs the question, “How do we do it?” How do we do it, which we
– is there something we need to add? Are there more foods that are highly, highly concentrated
we can eat? What is the goal here? How do we –
Dr. Sears:I think the goal is going back to say, “What type of diet should we address?”
Your grandmother had a pretty good feeling. Who knew she was at the cutting edge of biotechnology?
She told you four things. She said that, one, always eat your vegetables. She didn’t say,
“Eat your toast. You can’t leave the-” The second thing, you have to have some
protein at every meal. How much? About the amount you can put on the palm of your hand.
Next thing she said, “You can’t leave the house until you take your tablespoon of
cod liver oil.” That’s the most disgusting food, still is, but every child in American
two generations ago – now, probably three – had to have a tablespoon of cod liver
oil. That tablespoon contained 2,500 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.
The typical intake of omega-3 fatty acids today in America is 125 milligrams. That’s
a 95% drop in one of the primary essential nutrients of the body. We wonder why our healthcare
is out of control. Your grandmother had a very, very – a clear idea because she was
basically the repository of millennia of observations of what works and what doesn’t work. Now,
we basically have some research to back it up, and say, “You know, Grandma was right.”
Meredith:I love it. I just took my cod liver oil right before the show, so I’m feeling
really good about that. Dr. Sears:Don’t feel too good because unfortunately,
today, all fish are contaminated with things like PCBs.
Meredith:Oh, man! Dr. Sears:The worst contaminated fish oil
in the world is cod liver oil. Meredith:What do we do?
Dr. Sears:That’s why you have to now – sometimes refined is better than natural in terms of
fish oils. There is no fish in the world today that is not contaminated and primarily PCBs,
were banned worldwide in 2001, but are persistent. To get, basically, now the benefits of omega-3
fatty acids without the toxic side effects of PCB is to concentrate and refine the fish
oils. The thing about the polyphenols, yes, you
want to eat lots of vegetables primary for the fermentable fiber. If your gut microbes
aren’t happy, you’re not going to be happy. Dr. Pompa:That’s correct.
Dr. Sears:To get adequate levels, if you can’t eat the two pounds of vegetables per day – and
it’s really not that hard. I try to do it every day, myself. If you think it’s too
hard, then think about refined polyphenol extracts. Here’s another dirty secret: Everybody
loves chocolate. I know no one who doesn’t love chocolate, but here’s a dirty secret
of the cocoa industry. All chocolate is contaminated with cadmium.
The only way you could basically get rid of the cadmium is to concentrate up the cocoa
polyphenols. Now you have cocoa polyphenols in high concentration, which are cadmium-free.
Who’s been the leader in that so far? Mars candy bars. Who knew? Who knew that the evil
ones were actually trying to make the world healthier?
Dr. Pompa:That’s a good idea. Dr. Sears:Then we have to have the final analysis
guidelines because everybody is genetically different. That’s why I go back to my three
markers of wellness. This is not a multiple-choice question. Either you’re well, or you’re
not well. You might not be sick enough to call – have chronic disease, but you’re
no longer well. You look at these three markers, which look
at three different aspects of your diet that can be modulated until you’re in the appropriate
range for all three. Only at that point are you considered well. By all the available
criteria, probably less than 1% of Americans are well. They’re running out of control.
Dr. Pompa:Yeah. Let’s talk about the markers. We talked about the diet, obviously the importance
of healthy fats, omega-3 because hey, we’re not getting a lot of these things. Before
we get to it, I have to ask this question: What about these people in – I visited a
tribe in Africa. These people were in the bush. I was the first American white guy they
ever saw. They had no disease. It was a remarkable thing to see.
They had just come down out of the mountains. The men went off hunting in the day. The women
were gathering. They didn’t ever have a grain in their life. They didn’t grow. It
was really unique to see. It really took me back and even changed my paradigm about what
American’s do. These men would go off hunting. They didn’t eat breakfast. They would go,
and they would run, and they would come out, and they would come back with the game, and
things later in the evening, and they ate a big meal.
Obviously, they were getting game that contained high levels of omega-3 in perfect ratios,
right? They were eating some – they were gathering some different things, so there
was their vegetable intake. Do you believe they were hitting these marks, they were hitting
these polyphenol levels because of the wild animals easier than we are today with processed
food? Dr. Sears:No. Actually, it was the women who
were doing the polyphenol gathering. By basically gathering plants, which are rich in polyphenols,
they are basically supplying the polyphenols. Animal contain, actually, very low levels
of polyphenols. Dr. Pompa:I’m kind of fill in the blank.
Here’s the diet, here’s the good fats in the perfect ratios, and then here’s the
polyphenols. Dr. Sears:We, again, eventually have to go
back to science. Actually, in 2010, there was a very, very good article in the British
Journal of Nutrition, where the top Paleolithic researchers basically did their very in-depth
analysis to the best of their knowledge of what the Paleolithic diet in east Africa would
have been 15,000 years ago. They came up with a answer, about 40% carbohydrates, about 31%
fat, and about 29% protein, but their estimate of the omega-3 intakes were between 6 and
14 grams a day of omega-3 fatty acids. Meredith:Wow.
Dr. Sears:Massive levels, but those massive levels would basically help you modulate the
inflammatory response. That’s why when you see the African indigenous people, they were
not chronically ill, but they did age. That’s why there’s a difference between aging – we
all will age. Dr. Pompa:Sure.
Dr. Sears:I’ve never gone to a parking lot and seen too many cars which are 25 years
old in the parking lot. It doesn’t mean we have to develop chronic disease.
Dr. Pompa:That’s right. Dr. Sears:Chronic disease is a consequence
of unrelenting inflammation below the perception of pain.
Dr. Pompa:No doubt. Dr. Sears:One way to address that is by having
adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids to not only lower the inflammation, but to start
a whole separate process we only know now, recently, called resolution. We think of inflammation
like a burning log that eventually dies out to embers. That’s not true.
The inflammation will continue. The turning off the inflammation is a completely different
response. It’s called the resolution response. We have the inflammatory response and the
resolution response. The resolution response is 100% controlled by the levels of omega-3
fatty acids in the blood. If we don’t have those levels, we cannot turn on that resolution
response mediated by hormones, very powerful hormones, that basically bring the levels
of inflammation back to equilibrium. Dr. Pompa:Then let’s look at the Eskimos
of years ago. They weren’t getting many polyphenols, but however, their good fatty
acid levels were very, very high. Did it offset the need for more polyphenols because of their
incredible fatty acid ratio? Dr. Sears:The answer is probably yes. That’s
one of the reasons why I became interested in nutrition as an academic researcher because
I read the early epidemiological studies coming out of Greenland, and saying, “Something
is odd here.” These people are eating lots of saturated fat, and they basically seem
to have no heart disease, and no diabetes, no depression, no multiple sclerosis. Okay,
they’re bleeding to death a little faster, but they also seem to die of bacterial infection
at a higher rate. They’re getting a lot to basically stop diseases we associate with
inflammation. This is, now, nearly 40 years ago, but perhaps
they were getting too much that they were now depressing the immune response so they
could not fight off microbial infection. To put all your eggs in one basket is a foolish
strategy. Saying, “I’m going to put all my eggs” – it’s all the fat. No. You
have to bring the polyphenols and the balance of hormones, so you have to take all of these
and begin to work them around. That’s why I have those three markers of wellness. It
was just basically in the fatty acids for your body, but you have to have all three
systems working in sync to have really optimal health.
Dr. Pompa:Yeah. I agree. I totally agree. Let’s talk about it. Let’s start with
the fat ratio, the arachidonic acid versus the EPA ratio. I think you were – 1.5 to
3 is the recommendation, somewhere around there. Talk about that marker.
Dr. Sears:That marker actually comes out of the looking at the world’s longest-lived
individuals who have legitimate birth records. These are the Japanese. Within Japan, there’s
a subgroup, the Okinawans, which have even the greatest longevity. That’s the ratio
you find in the general Japanese population and even a lower ratio, close to the 1.5,
down in the Okinawans. Interesting about the Okinawans or Japanese
in general, their levels of bad cholesterol are identical to Americans, yet their rates
of mortality from heart disease is seven times lower. Their ratio of arachidonic acid/EPA
marker of inflammation is also seven times lower. Again, -inaudible- of the problem
or disease. This is why I could explain why the Japanese rates of heart disease is so
low, and explain why the levels of heart disease were virtually nonexistent in the Greenland
Eskimos, and also in terms of basically the African tribesmen because the levels of the
wild game would be higher in omega-3 fatty acids and much, much lower in omega-6. They
were doing, by natural hunting techniques – of inflammation in the blood.
Dr. Pompa:Yeah. That’s a great indicator. Then the next one, of course, the triglyceride
radio. Triglyceride, which is one that I love to look at just to look at, really, and insulin
resistance. That’s what I love about it. Two simple numbers that are on those blood
tests and you can get an idea of your insulin resistant or your particles of cholesterol,
which is a big deal. Talk about that ratio. Dr. Sears:That’s another ratio, and that’s
one that is another easy-to-extract one. Again, as you said, as the ratio of the triglycerides
to HDL decreases, ideally under 1, which virtually no American has, then you start to see your
LDL particles become these big, fluffy beach balls, which will never hurt you. As the ratio
begins to increase, you now have the LDL particle become these small baseballs that can kill
you. Dr. Pompa:That’s right.
Dr. Sears:That’s one answer. From my standpoint, the best rationale for that marker, it gives
you an indication of insulin resistance in the liver. Insulin resistance is something
that is really a poster boy for, really, hormone resistance in general. The hormones are interacting
with the receptors on the surface, but their signal is not getting through. When that happens,
everything goes to hell in a hand basket. Dr. Pompa:Absolutely.
Dr. Sears:If you’d like to have your hormones talking to all your hormones, then reducing
the ratio of triglycerides to HDL under 1 is your best marker. You’re doing a good
job. Dr. Pompa:Yeah. I love that ratio, myself.
It gives us such a good indicator despite looking at total cholesterol, despite looking
at all these other parameters that most doctors are looking at. I agree with you. We have
interviewed Jeff Golic on a past show, and he agrees with that marker, that ratio, as
well. This is also one of my favorite markers, the
HgbA1c, which doesn’t just look at glucose in the moment, but it looks at glucose over
time. I always say if you want to age faster at the cellular level than anybody, just keep
elevating your glucose and insulin. HgbA1c absolutely is a player. You like people 5
and under. Hey, I even give people a little more latitude. I said, “At least, let’s
try to get you below 5.4.” You like it even under 5. Talk about that.
Dr. Sears:You’re right that it’s a marker of glucose in the blood, but it’s really
a better marker of oxidative stress. We can measure oxidative stress by a number of ways,
but they’re not easily done. The glycosylated haemoglobin is easily accessible and through
a drop of blood. People hate to give a venous puncture. That’s why you have your annual
physical every five years, but a drop of blood, I can do that.
That drop of blood will tell you, really, the great extent of basically oxidative stress
in the blood because its oxidative stress allows the linkage of the glucose and the
amino acids, lysine primarily, and you have a long-lived aspect. If you look now at the
overall most important thing, lack of death. I like that. It’s a very easy endpoint.
Basically, you see longevity maximized at about 5.0. Now, we use that marker for looking
at diabetes, but the data is quite clear. As you increase levels from 5.0 to 5.2, 5.5,
5.8, your doctor’s saying, “You’re normal.” The blood’s saying, “Nuh-uh.” Basically,
our mortality’s increasing. Why? Oxidative stress is increasing. Basically now activate
the genes that now make the anti-oxidative enzymes. How to do that? I’ve got to consume
a lot of polyphenols. Dr. Pompa:Yeah. I love that. Yeah, no doubt.
I know that when we interviewed Joe Mercola, he loves the marker looking at serum ferritin
levels as something that can really drive oxidative stress. What’s your feeling on
that, and what would be your number on a blood test looking at serum ferritin?
Dr. Sears:I think serum ferritin can basically – obviously, it’s a mediator of oxidative
stress, but rather than – there’s not too many ways you can lower it other than
basically giving a lot of blood transfusions. Dr. Pompa:That’s my problem. Yeah.
Dr. Sears:Most people say, “Hey, if I don’t like taking the venous puncture every year,
I’m not going to take a blood transfusion, either.” Now, that being said, if you have
relatively high levels, that’s okay, I say, “If I will increase the intake of polyphenols.”
Even though the iron in the ferritin can act as an oxidative mediator, you could basically
rate that reaction not by antioxidants, but again, by the polyphenols activating the gene
Nrf2 that makes more of the more powerful anti-oxidative enzymes.
You say, “I can live with that. I know how to treat it through the diet. I just need
to increase more polyphenols in my diet.” What does that mean? I eat more vegetables
just like Grandma told me. Dr. Pompa:That’s always my thing. There’s
nowhere in nature we should be losing blood. Again, there has to be another answer that
we look at in nature. Some people genetically just obviously run higher levels, ferritin-wise,
right? Dr. Sears:Diet as a way of basically addressing
and circumventing a genetic aspect. That’s like my head about 20 years ago, but I’m
still here because I have taken the opportunity to overcome by the diet, using the food as
a drug, a genetic propensity for an early death from heart disease.
Dr. Pompa:Yeah. Yep, absolutely. Those three markers, I think they’re great. I couldn’t
agree more. The last two, triglycerides and HDL, that’s in every blood test that most
people are running. Dr. Sears:Totally free.
Dr. Pompa:HgbA1c, easy test, right? Add that to any blood test. The arachidonic acid and
the EPA ratio, a little bit different. Can they add that? How easy is it to add that?
My blood tests have it, but most don’t. Dr. Sears:Most don’t, however, the first
use of the ratio of arachidonic acid/EPA as a marker of inflammation was published in
1989 in this very obscure journal called The New England Journal of Medicine by some of
the top Harvard medical researchers. It’s been around for, now, more than 25 years,
and is routinely used in medical research. It just is not routinely used in diagnostic
testing. There are a number of independent companies that can do that for you. If I took
only one blood test in my entire life, that would be the blood test I’d want to take.
Dr. Pompa:Yeah. That’s great. That’s great information, great advice. Again, I think
it gives some people, our viewers, a goal, some goals to hit, and some markers to look
at just to gauge your health, not just to. Meredith, I know you have questions, as well.
Meredith:I always have lots of questions. Since we’re on the topic of fats, I want
to go back to the omega-3 piece. What are your suggestions there for a proper amount
of omega-3s to take to decrease inflammation? I know we don’t want to take too much, where
Dr. Pompa used to say we go into omega-3 dominance, but we don’t want to have too little, either.
What are your thoughts there, Dr. Sears? Dr. Sears:You’re quite right. We’re talking
about a zone. Let’s start with basically a pretty good starting point. Your great-grandmother,
when she gave your grandparents a tablespoon of cod liver oil, that’s 2,500 milligrams,
a good starting point. Now, is it the ideal point? Probably not.
How do you know what’s the right amount? That ratio of arachidonic acid to EPA will
tell you. Are you taking enough not only to reduce the inflammation, but to activate resolution?
Can you possibly take too much? The answer is yes. Again, that’s why it allows us,
in this area where I call evidence-based wellness, to titrate the individual and to titrate them
so they can be optimized for their genetics. Now, some people can get in that appropriate
ratio with, maybe, probably three to four grams of omega-3 fatty acids. That’s what
the Japanese take routinely in their diet. Others may need 10 grams of the omega-3 fatty
acids. Those are very large amounts, but they are also therapeutic amounts. That’s why
we have to begin looking at wellness and diet as using the same guidelines as we do with
drugs. We have to take a therapeutic amount, and we can use blood to tell us whether we’re
getting close to that amount or not. For the amount of omega-3 fatty acids, that
ratio of arachidonic acid to EPA is an excellent one. For the amount of polyphenols I should
be taking, the glycosylated haemoglobin is an excellent one. For the control of my diet
to control insulin resistance, the ratio of triglycerides to HDL. Each one is measuring
different things, and you’re trying to bring them into alignment like the planets. When
they’re in alignment, now you’ve known you’ve done everything possible to maintain
wellness for a lifetime. Meredith:Do you think that cod liver oil’s
better than a high quality fish oil or a krill oil?
Dr. Sears:Cod liver oil, as I mentioned earlier, is probably the world’s most contaminated
food with PCBs. Meredith:Right.
Dr. Sears:I would rank it pretty low on the list. Krill oil is really not a fish oil.
It’s really phospholipids, which means they can’t really be purified nor is it free
of PCBs. Again, it does have PCBs, not as much as cod liver oil, but obviously less.
The refined omega-3 fatty acids, you can get them in much higher concentrations, but most
importantly, with the right conditions, you can remove the vast majority of the PCBs.
I would rate them on that basis of saying we get increasing levels of PCBs as you take
more, but the blood will tell you, “Are you taking enough of any one of those three
whether it be cod liver oil, krill, or refined omega-3 fatty acid concentrates?”
Meredith:You said you love olive oil as a good fat. What about coconut oil and MCT oil?
What are your thoughts there? Dr. Sears:Coconut oil is, again, a MCT oil.
That means medium-chain triglycerides. I give it a B minus the good points of coconut oil.
One, it has virtually no omega-6 fatty acids. That’s great because that’s one of the
drivers of inflammation. Two, it does contain saturated fatty acids like lauric acid, which
has some anti-microbial benefits, so it’s good for the gut. Okay, two good reasons why
I give it a B minus. Now we have some negatives. As a medium-chain
triglyceride, it will go directly to the liver via the portal vein. It’ll be rapidly absorbed
through a different pathway than long-chain fatty acids. In the portal vein, it’ll be
burned quickly to carbon dioxide and water, but in the process, you’re using up a lot
of the glycogen in the liver, so you’re basically putting the body into a ketotic
state. You have no reserve. It’s your liver, the glycogen levels in the liver, that you
reserve to stabilize blood sugar levels. You’ve taken kind of the reserve out, and in the
process of basically having the medium-chain triglycerides. That’s why I give it kind
of a B minus. I give vegetable oils like safflower oil,
sunflower oil, I give them a D. Compared to a D, a B minus is pretty good. In terms of
refined fish oils, I’ll give them an A. It’s just not olive oil; it’s extra virgin
olive oil. It’s the extra virgin olive oil that has the polyphenols. I give that an A
minus. Again, you pick and choose your fats. Dr. Pompa:Typically, the olive oils that have
that very grassy aftertaste, those are your higher polyphenol oils, just so people know.
Meredith:They kind of burn in your throat. Dr. Sears:It’s the polyphenols that give
the olive oil all of its health benefits. It’s not the fatty acids; it’s the polyphenols.
Dr. Pompa:Yeah. Meredith:I love a good olive oil that burns
that back of my throat. It’s so good. Dr. Sears:It’s a very easy test. Most good
olive oil never leaves Italy. The stuff that gets over here is the worst of the worst.
How can you tell it’s good olive oil? You put some olive oil on a spoon. You put it
on the front of the tongue. It should taste like butter, and back of the throat, and within
seconds, you should start coughing. That’s great olive oil because it’s rich in polyphenols.
Dr. Pompa:That’s exactly right. Dr. Sears:That’s why you get the cough.
It tastes like butter. It basically is low in free fatty acids.
Dr. Pompa:Great. Meredith:What a good taste test, too, because
so many of the olive oils on the market today are mixed with other toxic vegetable oils,
correct? Dr. Sears:Oh, yeah. It’s called adulteration.
It’s been around since the Roman times. The Romans had the same problem. Basically,
olive oil has some great health benefits, but it’s easily adulterated.
Meredith:Do you have a favorite brand? Dr. Sears:In America, a brand that basically
is fairly accessible, it’s called – I want to use the right pronunciation, Lucini.
You find it in Whole Foods. Dr. Pompa:I like that one.
Dr. Sears:It’s a great olive oil. It’s readily available. It’s going to cost you
about $20 a bottle. Dr. Pompa:Yep. Yep.
Dr. Sears:That’s a good rule of thumb. If it doesn’t cost $20 a bottle, you’re probably
being ripped off. Meredith:Yep. You get what you pay for, right?
Dr. Sears:It seems to always work out that way.
Meredith:Yeah. To kind of bring it all together, too, I’m wondering if you could kind of
walk us through a day on the ideal diet that you think – I know there’s customization
involved, of course, for each of us, as we’re bio-individuals, but if you could kind of
walk us through the meals through the day that you think would be really heart-healthy,
beneficial from your research. Could you just kind of let us know what you think there?
Dr. Sears:Okay. A typical day in the zone – because one thing we haven’t talked
about in this interview is really the importance of fermentable fiber for the gut. We don’t
basically feed our microbes in the gut – we’ve got some real problems in terms of basically
a leaky gut, and that leads to metabolic endotoxemia. Dr. Pompa:Yep.
Dr. Sears:It says I have to have, now, adequate protein, adequate essential fatty acids in
the right balance, adequate polyphenols, and adequate fermentable fiber. How do I basically
try to structuralize this to do this and get the least number of calories so you’re never
hungry and never tired? The morning might be an eight egg white omelet.
Now, that’s about 30 grams of protein. I’m 6’5” so that’s – you need about 25
to 30 grams of protein. That’s high quality protein. That’s all pure protein. Second,
it’s boring, so I add some guacamole to it. There’s some polyphenols. Now, what
about the fermentable fiber? I make a small dish, very small dish, of slow-cooked oat
meal just like Grandma did. That’s a hormone winner. How do you know? Watch the next five
hours; you’re not hungry. Now, the time to eat is when you’re not
hungry. Now, five hours later, it’s noon. This is a good time for basically eating a
piece of grilled chicken, a lot of vegetables, and maybe a small piece of fruit for dessert.
If you eat lunch at 12, you usually eat dinner about 7. That’s more than five hours, so
at 5:00, have a little hormonal touch-up, maybe a small piece of fruit – I mean small
– but I need a protein chaser, maybe a piece of cheese. At dinner, a piece of grilled fish,
some more vegetables, a small piece of fruit for dessert.
Surprisingly, if you can maintain – you really need to maintain peak mental and physical
performance. Now, I’ve worked with many Olympic athletes, won at this count, 25 gold
medals in the last five Olympics. They’ll need a little more protein, not that much
more. They’ll need more carbohydrates and more fat. The Olympic athletes I have worked
with who have won those 25 gold medals never have consumed anymore than 2,500 calories
per day. The average male will need to consume about
maybe 1,500 calories. If you follow those dictates, it is hard to eat all the food.
That’s why your grandmother said, “You can’t leave the table until you eat all
your vegetables.” For the average female, it’s about 1,200 calories per day.
Dr. Pompa:When we look at all the studies about living longer, it is the ones who eat
less, right? Ultimately, caloric restriction, we always say, doesn’t work because you
can’t just force yourself to eat. When you’re hungry, all of a sudden, you break.
Dr. Sears:All bets are off. Dr. Pompa:Yeah. All bets are off. Metabolism
gets lower and lower. One thing that I love to do is eat less often. I don’t eat breakfast
in the morning. I intermittent fast. At the end of my day, I eat far less than the average
person. I’m not hungry. My body burns its fat very efficiently. I could even exercise
in that state. At the end of my day, again, all my numbers, really good. All the numbers
that you mentioned, very good. Intermittent fasting does this hormonal shift where you
raise up testosterone. Your body becomes so much more efficient – glucose,
HCB. We see all these things drop. I like to say try not to eat less because most people
can’t, but if you eat less often, your body adjusts into that. That’s another subject
for another day. I tell you, I loved your information. I thought you give some great
advice that I think everybody needs. One diet is not for everybody. We know that.
Having some of these markers to look at for people, I think it’s great because it really
gives us a gauge of how we’re doing. I think it gives us a gauge of trying to increase
these polyphenols, which I’m a big believer in – all the healthy fats. You’re right.
We need those saturated fats. We need this. You know, today, people are not getting clean
sources of the omega-3. Imagine people eating grain-fed meat day in, day out. It’s loaded
with the wrong fats, the high omega-6 fats. They’re not getting good quality fish, and
the fish they do eat is polluted. Doc, this is what we’re dealing with.
Dr. Sears:It’s the tale of our times, and that’s why the more knowledge your viewers
have, the more they can make the right choices. The future of medicine is not going for more
drugs; it’s going back to saying the ultimate drug, which the food we take – and really
basically going back to the beginnings of modern medicine when Hippocrates said, “Let
food be your medicine; let medicine be your food.” His words are still as wise today
as they were 2,500 years ago. Dr. Pompa:Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, no doubt
about it. Finding clean sources of these things are key. I always tell people, “Look, if
you just try to eat as much organic as you can – if you just try to eat grass-fed meats,
your omega-3 ratios are going to be in the zone.” If we’re eating wild –
Dr. Sears:There, but that’s why – going back to what you said, you said, “There’s
no one diet for everyone,” but there are one set of markers, I believe, of wellness
for everyone. Dr. Pompa:I love that. I do. I love that because
I agree with all of those markers. They’re great. Thank you so much. Meredith, I’ll
turn it back to you. Doc, you’re an icon. You’ve done so much for health. You really
have. Your books, you were one of the first out there taking the hits. You made it easier
on us, you know. Come on. We love you, and we appreciate your information. Thank you.
Thanks for being on this show. Meredith – Meredith:Yeah. Thanks, Dr. Pompa, and thank
you, Dr. Sears. This is such an informational show. I know our viewers are going to love
this. I’m wondering if you have anything else you’d like to share, and if you can
tell our viewers where they can find out more about you, as well.
Dr. Sears:Yes. I want to thank you for the opportunity of being on your show. Again,
if they’d like to find out more about the concepts of, really, evidence-based wellness,
I might recommend them going to one of my websites at ZoneDiet.com.
Dr. Pompa:Perfect. Meredith:Awesome. Thank you so much, Dr. Barry.
It was a pleasure to meet you and for you just to share your wealth of information.
Thank you so much for joining Cellular Healing TV. Thanks, everyone, for joining us today.
We hope you learned a lot. I know I sure did. Thanks, everyone, and we’ll see you guys