OMEGA 3 BENEFITS
What Is Really to Blame for Our
Today, Americans spend more money on health care than
anyone in the world, and the results are pretty dismal. By virtually
every marker of national wellness, America ranks relatively low
compared to other developed countries of the world. I believe
much of this is due to the epidemic increase of silent inflammation
in our society. The inevitable question is: who is to blame for
this dramatic increase in silent inflammation and its negative
impact on our wellness?
Ironically, the answer may be technology. We have become addicted
to technology. Technology does increase productivity, but it also
compresses time for simple human endeavors like preparing hormonally
balanced meals and having the time to eat them at a leisurely
pace. We’ve become a fast-food generation, and I’m
not just talking about McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. It is the
same technology that has given us instant oatmeal that cooks in
one minute, instead of 30, sugary breakfast cereals, pre-made
sandwiches for lunch and frozen dinners that are microwaved in
seconds. “From scratch” cooking with raw ingredients
has become a lost art in America because we have simply run out
As a result, a growing number of Americans eat outside the home.
Fast food restaurants exist because they prepare food fast, but
other restaurants are not far behind in terms of speed. As a result,
more than 50% of our meals are eaten outside the home. All restaurants
have an overwhelming urge to please you so that you will visit
them again. The easiest way to please is to give you a lot of
food and use the most inexpensive ingredients possible. That means
a lot of grains and starches and extra fat (primarily rich in
what we term as pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids)
to make the food taste better. We have become victims of our success
in the technology of agribusiness. We have the cheapest food in
the world today, and as a result eat more and eat out more often.
Our survival as a species was highly predicated on our ability
to store excess calories as fat to be used for a rainy day and
to mount inflammatory attacks against alien microbial invaders.
That was a great advantage during times of famine and when public
health was nonexistent. But now the same genes conspire against
us in our modern environment of plentiful food primarily composed
of inexpensive high-glycemic load carbohydrates and increasing
levels of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Together they
have made inflammatory diets the norm in America.
The Role of Government
Blaming time compression caused by technology and our genes isn’t
much fun, but the government is usually an easy target. The entire
infrastructure of the American agribusiness community is based
on grain and starch production. The grain lobbies are among the
most powerful in the government. The Department of Agriculture
is devoted to keeping those lobbies happy, and is far less interested
in the impact of their policies on our nation’s health.
That is why asking the USDA to develop the Food Pyramid is like
asking the fox to guard the hen house.
The problem starts with subsidies to farmers. These were started
in the depression to protect the family farm because a significant
part of our population worked there. Today, these subsidies are
nearly $20 billion per year although less than 1% of Americans
work on farms. Technological advances of giant agribusiness corporations
have replaced farmers. Agribusiness contributions have become
the mother’s milk of politics. Government subsidies continue
even though we produce twice as much food as we should be consuming.
The question is why do these subsidies continue if we are producing
too much food?
The two most powerful agricultural lobbies (and hence the beneficiaries
of these subsidies) come from the corn and wheat lobbies. You
don’t see a lot of corn consumed by Americans because the
vast majority goes to feeding cattle and producing corn syrup
for sweeteners. The wheat lobby is just as powerful. The primary
use of wheat is for humans, but in the form of high-glycemic load
foods such as bread, breakfast cereals, pasta, and bagels. Therefore,
the only way to unload the excess wheat we produce is to get humans
to eat more of the products that come from it. This is the other
mission of the USDA: to make sure that Americans eat excess commodities.
No one should be too surprised when the USDA eagerly promotes
a Food Pyramid consisting primarily of grains and starches such
as wheat and corn.
While the producers of wheat and corn products are living high
on the hog of government largess, less than 1 percent of all governmental
subsidies go to fruit and vegetable production. In fact, it is
estimated that if even if Americans actually ate the meager amounts
of fruits and vegetables recommended by the Food Pyramid, the
current acreage would have to be doubled from that used in current
production. This extra acreage would most likely have to come
from acreage currently used for corn and wheat production—a
highly unlikely situation.
Another large source of USDA subsidies goes to soybean producers,
primarily to produce more soybean oil rich which is rich in pro-inflammatory
omega-6 fatty acids. If there were a formula to create an epidemic
of silent inflammation in America, then supporting the excessive
production of both high glycemic-load carbohydrates and pro-inflammatory
omega-6 fatty acids would be a sure-fire winner. But the USDA
is not alone. They have an ideal partner in the processed food
Processed Food Manufacturing
Subsidies from the USDA have made vegetable oils rich in pro-inflammatory
omega-6 fatty acids and refined products (flours and sweeteners)
from wheat and corn the cheapest food commodities in the world
in terms of price per calorie. As a result the processed food
industry has used every trick in the book to incorporate these
cheap commodities into processed foods that not only last forever,
but also have much higher profit margins. A large supermarket
may contain up to 50,000 items, many of them consisting of processed
foods using refined grains and cheap fats. The annual sales of
such processed foods are about $175 billion per year. This number
is frighteningly close to the $200 billion per year spent on prescription
drugs in America.
The processed food industry in the United States is also the
most technologically advanced in the world. They can make virtually
anything out of cheap refined grains and vegetable oils. More
importantly, they also know how to make them taste great. Here
is another problem of processed food -- palatability versus satiation.
Foods that are very palatable induce hunger (because they are
rich in high glycemic-load carbohydrates and fats). Foods that
induce satiety (control of hunger) are not very palatable. A candy
bar is very palatable, but it doesn’t control your hunger
very well. A plate of broccoli is very satiating, but not very
palatable. Human nature drives us toward palatability, and the
food industry has the rights tools (thanks to the subsidies from
the USDA) to make exactly what we like to eat.
For people in lower socio-economic groups, the best economic
decision is to buy food products with the greatest number of calories
for the least amount of money. In the old days, it used to be
rice, bread, and potatoes. Now it is processed food composed of
refined grains, sugars and vegetable oils. In fact, the cost of
fresh fruits and vegetables is 100-400 times greater per calorie
than refined grains, sugars and vegetable oils. Asking the poor
to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables to lower the glycemic
load of their diets is, according to Adam Drewnowski of the University
of Washington, the equivalent of “economic elitism.”
It’s simply not going to happen. The underlying reason is
that the USDA food subsidies keep the real prices of grains, starches
and vegetable oil incredibly low. The processed food industry
can then transform these commodities into extremely palatable
and profitable foods.
The food industry has also taken a lesson from the tobacco industry
stating that you are responsible for what you eat and that if
you really want to lose weight then you should “eat less
and exercise more.” What they don’t tell you is that
you would have to walk for six hours to burn off the calories
in one super-size McDonald’s Big Mac value meal. If Americans
really did partake in the other part of that mantra to “eat
less,” then in a short period of time the entire American
agribusiness industry (as well as a significant portion of the
processed food, grocery and restaurant industries) would collapse
because they need as many people possible eating as much food
as possible to make profits.
Are the USDA and the entire food industry the only organizations
responsible for the current epidemic of silent inflammation? No,
there’s one more unlikely suspect: the American medical
I Thought It Was Good for You
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Unfortunately,
the good intentions of the medical establishment to fight heart
disease were ultimately based on bad science, and indirectly led
to our epidemic of silent inflammation. Beginning in the 1950s
an increasing number of medical researchers called for a war against
fat because fat contains cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol was
seen as the causative agent of heart disease (which it is not).
And the solution was to remove as many sources of cholesterol
(especially animal protein) from the diet, and replace them with
fat-free carbohydrates (like grains and starches). If you were
going to add any fat to the diet make sure it was omega-6 fats
since they appeared to lower cholesterol. In hindsight, these
dietary recommendations endorsed by the medical establishment
were a sure-fire formula that set the stage for the epidemic increase
in silent inflammation.
Nonetheless, the call for action from medical researchers, who
knew very little of the hormonal consequences of food, was quickly
taken up by a new generation of nutritionists, who knew absolutely
nothing of the hormonal consequences of food. The nutritionists
quickly mobilized themselves to spread the word that fat was bad
and fat-free grains and starchy carbohydrates were good. They
never understood that the more high glycemic-load carbohydrates
you eat, the hungrier you become. And with increased hunger comes
increased calorie consumption, primarily from eating more fat-free
carbohydrates. This is why in the past 30 years the average calorie
consumption has increased by some 300 calories per day. We are
not more active, but simply more hungry.
Although the medical establishment was convinced that dietary
fat and cholesterol caused heart disease, one clinical trial after
another found virtually no evidence that eating less fat (or cholesterol)
had any impact on heart disease. To line up political support—since
there was little, if any, scientific support—for the war
on fat, the government decided to arrange a “consensus”
conference on dietary fat. Government scientists invited a disproportionate
number of experts who agreed with the position that dietary fat
and cholesterol caused heart disease, and, of course, a few who
didn’t. Everyone gave his or her viewpoint, and then they
voted. Not surprisingly, the conference issued the statement that
if you lowered your intake of dietary cholesterol and fat, you
would reduce the risk of having a heart attack.
The fact that there was no scientific study to support that statement
did not deter the massive public health campaign to change the
dietary habits of Americans. The USDA used this conference as
a basis to validate their famous Food Pyramid, which is now recognized
as faulty and misleading. As Walter Willett, chairman of the Department
of Public Health at Harvard Medical School, has said about the
“The USDA Pyramid is wrong. It was built on shaky scientific
“The USDA Pyramid offers wishy-washy, scientifically unfounded
advice… nor has it ever been tested to see if it really
Not exactly a resounding endorsement of the USDA Food Pyramid
from Harvard. Looking back, the USDA Food Pyramid ranks pretty
close to the bottom as the worst government program conceived
and implemented. This war on dietary fat and cholesterol was launched
with great fanfare by the medical establishment and continues
today. The weapons of that war against cholesterol were provided
by the government (cheap fat-free high glycemic-load carbohydrates
and pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids) and the processed food
industry (extremely palatable processed foods based on those cheap
commodities). Little did anyone suspect that this war based on
good intentions would undermine the health of millions of Americans
by unleashing a new and frightening epidemic of silent inflammation
that is fueled by obesity.
The newest version of the USDA Food Pyramid still ignores the
role of glycemic load in the diet, but it at least recommends
more fruits and vegetables. But the new guidelines are so loose
that they don’t provide any useful information to reverse
our twin epidemics of obesity and silent inflammation. It’s
basically business as usual for agribusiness and processed food
manufacturing industries. Any major change in the status quo would
cause a political shake-up and decreased political contributions
from the agricultural industry. And no one in government wants
that to happen.
There is one final player in our drama of who is to blame for
the epidemic of silent inflammation—us and our failure to
heed our grandmothers’ advice on fish oil. Standard issue
to virtually every child two generations ago was a daily dose
of a tablespoon of cod liver oil. Although it still ranks as one
of the most disgusting foods of all time, this dosage did provide
about 2.5 grams of EPA and DHA, which provide significant anti-inflammatory
properties. The day that parents in America stopped giving their
children high-dose fish oil may have been the greatest public
health disaster of the twentieth century. Our epidemic of silent
inflammation is the result.
Am I pessimistic? Not really. You can’t solve a problem
unless you know what actually causes it. Pointing the finger of
guilt at the government, agribusiness, fast food restaurants,
and the processed food manufacturing industry is easy to do, but
misses the mark. The real problem is our lack of knowledge about
how to take control of our health. Ultimately, you have to decide
to take control of your future by getting your hormones back into
The fastest and most efficient way to reach the Anti-Inflammation
Zone is by following the OmegaZone™ Diet. High-dose fish
oil is a critical part of the OmegaZone™ Diet—without
adequate levels of long chain Omega-3 fatty acids provided by
fish oil, your body suffers as inflammation begins to rise.
The only way to maintain lifetime wellness is to control inflammation.
The OmegaZone™ Diet is simply the easiest and most consistent
way to reach the Zone and stay there for life.
Excerpted from The Anti-Inflammation Zone - Reversing The
Silent Epidemic That's Destroying Our Health. Copyright 2005
by Barry Sears, Ph.D. Used by permission.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and
Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose,
treat, cure, or prevent any disease. As with any natural product,
individual results will vary.
For more information about Dr. Barry Sears, his incredible fish
oil supplements, or the popular Zone Diet, please visit www.zoneliving.com.
If you purchase any Zone Labs, Inc. products, part of the
proceeds support CBN ministries.
Dr. Barry Sears is a leader in the field of
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 efforts over
the past 25 years to the study of lipids and their inflammatory
role in the development of chronic disease. He holds 13 U.S. patents
in the areas of intravenous drug delivery systems and hormonal
regulation for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
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