Bringing The Zone to Italy

Dr. Sears Traveling in Italy blog

Dr. Sears has been on a two-week tour of Italy with speaking engagements in Milan, Torino and Ferrara. His audiences are receptive while he travels, and he enjoys the chance to interact with the media and educate people about The Zone. This week, he writes from Italy in response to questions he’s received at the following events and conferences:

  • Strategy in Food Lecture at the AFM-Communal Pharmacies Ferrara (April 6, Ferrara, Italy).
  • The Nutrition and Dietary Applied Master (April 8 in Milan, Italy).
  • The Zone Diet Hormonal Balance: Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition Strategy (April 9 in Torino, Italy).
  • The Zone Consultation Course (April 10 in Milan, Italy).

Good Questions; Good-for-you Answers

When I go to Europe it always seems that journalists there ask insightful questions about The Zone. Maybe it is because I am usually the keynote speaker at major conferences (like the Monaco Anti-aging Congress or at medical meetings).  Since I am in Europe now, I thought I would take this opportunity to share my responses to some of the more frequent questions that reporters here have asked me.

What is the Zone?

The Zone is not some mystical place.  It is a real physiological state in the body in which inflammation can be controlled for a lifetime.  This is important since increased inflammation is the reason we gain weight, get sick, and age faster.  The Zone is real and can be detected with blood work. In fact, these blood tests are routinely done at Harvard Medical School.

My definition of wellness is a lifetime of inflammation control.  Therefore, those blood tests that determine whether or not you are in the Zone also determine whether or not you are truly well.

I call this concept Personalized Wellness because you have to constantly adjust your diet to eventually get blood tests results to come into alignment, and these adjustments can be different for every person.  The Zone Diet provides a clear pathway to reach that goal.

How is cellular inflammation produced in the body?

There are two phases of inflammation:

  1. The initiation phase that causes cell destruction
  2. The resolution phase where the healing of inflammation can cause tissue regeneration

Both are active mechanisms controlled by hormones known as eicosanoids.  If both phases of inflammation are balanced, the initial inflammation generated by the body to fight infection or treat injuries is returned to equilibrium.  This can be considered to be a molecular definition of wellness.

However, if the initiation phase is too strong or the resolution phase is too weak, then there is an inflammatory mismatch that creates chronic low-level inflammation that generates constant damage to the tissue that is below the perception of pain.  This ongoing cellular inflammation is the primary driving force for the development of chronic disease conditions.

What is the importance of taking a fish oil supplement rich in EPA and DHA?

Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks for a wide variety of hormones known as eicosanoids.  Eicosanoids derived from omega-3 fatty acids have both anti-inflammatory and pro-resolution actions.  Without adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the body it is extremely difficult to control cellular inflammation for a lifetime.

Crude fish oil is the source of omega-3 fatty acids.  It can be concentrated and refined to make omega-3 concentrates.  The higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids makes it easier to increase the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the body needed to control cellular inflammation.

My OmegaRx fish oil supplement has one of the highest concentrations of EPA and DHA available.  More importantly, it is most purified product available with regard to the lowest possible levels of toxins, especially PCBs, that are found in all fish and all fish oil products.

This is important because the levels of omega-3 fatty acids required to activate the resolution response must be relatively high in the blood.  This requires using a very pure omega-3 concentrate product like OmegaRx.

What is the importance of taking polyphenols?

Polyphenols, the anti-oxidants derived from plant extracts, are important for two reasons.  First, they control the health of the gut microbe community to encourage the continued generation of friendly bacteria while simultaneously eliminating the potential establishment of colonies of pathogenic bacteria.

If polyphenols can enter the body, they act as gene activators that increase the expression of anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging genes.  In essence, if they enter the body in sufficient levels, they allow you to practice gene therapy.

The best polyphenols are called delphinidins and come from the Maqui berry that grows in the Patagonia region of Chile. What makes the polyphenols found in my supplement, MaquiRx so distinctive is that they have the highest water-solubility of all polyphenols and thus have the greatest potential to enter into the bloodstream.

Who should follow the Zone Diet?

Anyone who wants to live a longer and better life.

Learn more about The Zone Diet.

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About Dr. Barry Sears

Dr. Barry Sears is a leading authority on the impact of the diet on hormonal response, genetic expression, and inflammation. 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 45 years to the study of lipids. He has published 40 scientific articles and holds 14 U.S. patents in the areas of intravenous drug delivery systems and hormonal regulation for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. He has also written 14 books, including the New York Times #1 best-seller, The Zone, which have sold more than 6 million copies in the U.S. and have been translated into 22 different languages.


  1. Jamie

    Dr. Sears, I enjoy reading your replies to comments/questions to your blogs and really appreciate that you do this, many bloggers never reply to any comments. I have trouble swallowing pills. Can the maquiRx capsules be ‘crushed’ and taken that way or would the SeaHealth Plus be a better option. Also, what is your view on the preservatives used in the SeaHealth Plus (sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate)? I’ve heard many negative reports about these preservatives almost to the point that they might nullify much of the benefits. Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Dr. Sears

      Relative to the MaquiRx capsules, the easiest way is to simple open the capsule and put into water as it has excellent water solubility. In essence, you are turning water into wine as the polyphenols in MaquiRx are also found in high concentrations in red wine. The preservatives in SeaHealth Plus are critical for preventing bacterial growth. It’s also trade-off with products in a liquid format especially since the polyphenols in the SeaHealth Plus would be degraded by the high heat of sterilization. Drinking Maqui wine is ideal alternative.

  2. Sun

    I am a vegetarian, so what do you recommend to eat or take to get the omega 3? Thanks!

    • Dr. Sears

      Until recently, the only vegan source of DHA came from algae sources. Now there are new sources that contain both EPA and DHA. However, if you want to optimize your EPA and DHA, you really do need to take fish Oil to get enough omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation.

  3. Pamela Paine

    I enjoyed your blog. I wondered what you think about the use of the supplement, Tumeric, as this seems to have some anti-inflammatory characteristics, as well. Thank you.

    • Dr. Sears

      Tumeric contains curcurmin which is a very water-insoluble polyphenol. As a result very little of the curcurmin reaches the blood. However, it can have positive effects on gut health. The most water-soluble polyphenol that can enter the blood are delphinidins that are found in high concentrations in MaquRx.

        • Dr. Sears

          Just adding fat to tumeric or curcumin doesn’t dramatically increase the absorption. It is a more complex preparation of adding phospholipids to curcumin to form a stable bilayer structure that increases its bioavailability.

          • Dr. Arcadio P. Sincero

            Dr. Sears, may I ask you some more questions, because I really wanted to understand your point. Do you mean that since curcumin is fat-soluble, it will “peggy-back” with the fat in the miscelle and thus be absorbed? However, making curcumin bioavailable ONCE ABSORBED is a complex process? It requires adding phospholipids to form a stable bilayer structure? Is this the bilayer of the cell membrane? How do the phospholipids forming a stable layer increase bioavailability?

            Thank you for your patience with my questions. And, I apologize if these questions are inappropriate.

          • Dr. Sears

            Curcurmin needs to be specifically absorbed by phosphatidylcholine to maximally enhance its bioavailability. The abstract is enclosed. A less effective method is to complex it with piperine, which is an ingredient in black pepper. Simply mixing it with oil will have little effect on its bioavailability.

      • Lori

        Aloha, can you please tell me if you have looking into Protandim? Nrf2 activation for antioxidants vs inflammation? After reading your books, I’m wondering if the Protandim is addressing the inflammation which may be similar to your fish oil? I plan to do the fish oil test for my mother and her retired doctor who buys in bulk from Costco … And show them how yours would be more beneficial. Thank you for sharing all your research! It should be must reading for everyone!

        • Dr. Sears

          Protandim is a very weak activator of Nrf2. Polyphenol extracts are much stronger activators. MaquiRx has been shown in a recent clinical trial to have significant reductions in oxidative stress. This is because of its enhanced water solubility compared to other polyphenols.


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