The Zone Food Pyramid is a helpful tool that’s been around since the early days of the Zone. Consider it your blueprint for Dr. Sears Zone Diet. Take a look at some of its hidden secrets.
By Sue Knorr:
Diet is the most important factor for achieving the hormonal control and the anti-inflammatory benefits of the Zone. Fish oil and polyphenols complete the picture. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the Zone Food Pyramid. It’s much more than a colorful, eye-catching illustration. Within it lie very complex principles of cutting-edge nutritional science.
- Colorful vegetables form the base of the pyramid followed by fruits on the next level.
Together fruits and vegetables provide the carbohydrate your body needs to keep your brain functioning at its peak and the low insulin levels that are necessary for maintaining hormonal control. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals and polyphenols. Vegetables should be your primary source of carbohydrate.
- Lesser-known information about fruits and vegetables:
Delphinidins, the polyphenols found in maqui berries and blueberries, are powerful prebiotics. Dr. Sears describes these prebiotics as the fertilizer for the good bacteria in the gut. The more delphinidins you eat, the more the good bacteria multiplies and flourishes, crowding out the bad bacteria. Incidentally, the human digestive system contains about 4 pounds of good and bad microbes.
When vegetables break down, they form a sort of coating for the lining of the intestines that prevents certain bad bacteria from leaking out into the blood stream and setting off inflammation. The polyphenols basically plug the holes, tightening them up and reducing the release of the bad bacteria from the intestine into the bloodstream.
Reducing your fruit intake and increasing the amount of vegetables you eat will lower the glycemic load of your diet and increase the anti-inflammatory benefits.
- The next level up in the Zone Pyramid contains low-fat protein.
Protein is important for a variety of reasons. It’s crucial for maintaining your muscle mass. It plays a part in preventing blood-sugar spikes from your meals and snacks. The protein must be low fat, but it does not need to be limited to meat, fish and poultry. Egg and dairy sources can be included as well as vegetarian foods that are rich in protein, such as extra-firm tofu.
- The next to the last level of the pyramid is made up of mono-unsaturated fats.
A little bit of mono-unsaturated fat is all you need. Choose from olive oil, avocado and nuts. Avoid eating omega-6 and saturated fats.
- Lesser-known information about fats:
The best choices are olive oil, macadamia nuts and avocado.
Saturated fat causes inflammation of the hypothalamus, which causes you to be hungry. Appetite control is maintained by the hypothalamus at the base of the brain communicating with the gut through a system of satiety signals. Increased inflammation in the hypothalamus interferes with the incoming satiety signals, leaving you feeling hungry.
Avoid coconut oil.
- At the top of the pyramid are grains and starches.
Eat as few of these foods as possible. For best results eliminate them from your diet completely.
How do your meals stack up? See for yourself. Unleash the power of the Zone Food Pyramid and live a longer, healthier and happier life!