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Dr. Barry Sears
Dr. Barry Sears
President of Zone Labs
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Type 2 Diabetes -- Are You at Risk?

Dr. Barry Sears
Zone Living As you may already know, people with adult-onset, or type 2, diabetes overproduce insulin because their cells have become resistant to insulin’s action of driving nutrients into cells. As a result, the pancreas keeps pumping out more insulin to try to do its job. Eventually, the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas begin to burn out. As a result, they can’t secrete enough insulin anymore, and blood sugar levels rise. Elevated insulin levels precede the actual development of type 2 diabetes by five to ten years. (Type 1 diabetics, which accounts for only about 5 percent of adult diabetics, do not make any insulin and need injections of the hormone to survive.) Several things increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes: too much visceral fat, a high intake of saturated fat, eating excess carbohydrates, and a family history of the disease.

An estimated sixteen million people are afflicted with type 2 diabetes. In the last decade, the rate has increased by a dramatic 33 percent. This devastating disease puts you at twelve time’s greater risk of dying from heart disease and also increases the likelihood of kidney failure, blindness, impotence, amputation, and neuropathy (nerve damage) in your extremities.

If fish oil is good for treating heart disease, then, in theory, it should be very good for diabetics – especially since diabetes (like heart disease and depression) is virtually nonexistent among Eskimos of Greenland. Unfortunately, studies on fish oil and diabetes have had mixed results. A recent analysis of some twenty clinical trials with diabetics came to the conclusion that fish oil won’t worsen – or improve – the blood level of diabetics. Hardly a resounding triumph.

These studies, however, didn’t look at whether controlling insulin enhances the effects of supplemental fish oil in type 2 diabetes. I had the opportunity to test this hypothesis several years ago with the Princeton Medical Resources, an HMO in San Antonio. George Rapier, the owner of the HMO, approached me to see if I could help his HMO make more money. Since patients with type 2 diabetes are the most costly for an HMO because of the prevalence of long-term complications, anything that can reduce those complications goes right to the bottom line of the HMO. The year before George approached me, he had brought in dietary educators trained by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to counsel 400 of his more than 4,000 diabetic patients. These patients dutifully followed the recommendations outlined in their personalized meal plans provided by these ADA educators. After a year, George found that his costs for these 400 patients had increased by another $1 million.

George called me after he read my first book, The Zone, and lost twenty-five pounds on my dietary program. He asked if I would be willing to work with some of his patients – but I had to keep it very simple. Using only the hand-eye method that I described earlier and supplying 1.6 grams a day of health-food-grade fish oil (I didn’t have the pharmaceutical-grade oil then), I put together a simple dietary education program for his patients. One of the first groups consisted of sixty-eight patients with type 2 diabetes. After six weeks of following my dietary program, the results were as follows.

Not only was every clinical measure associated with type 2 diabetes decreasing, but some of the changes were extraordinary. The two measures that changed the most were the markers (insulin and the TG/HDL ratio) I use to define the Omega Rx Zone. Although the values were still far from optimal after six weeks, the declines were equal to what would be obtained with any drug. Other markers of diabetes were similarly reduced. For example, glycosylated hemoglobin is one of the best indicators of long-term complications in type 2 diabetes. If it is below 7.3, then many of the adverse consequences, such as kidney failure, amputation, and blindness, just don’t occur.

Finally, these diabetic patients lost excess body fat, and that is exceptionally difficult if you have high levels of insulin. Equally important was that the declines in each of those blood values had a very high degree of statistical significance. Statistical significance is an indication of how likely it is you will get the same results if you repeat the same experiment. The lower the number, the more likely the results can be repeated again. In this case, the statistics indicated that if the same dietary experiment were done 10,000 times, you would observe the same results 9,999 times.

As I said earlier, insulin resistance (and the resulting rise in insulin levels) is the cause of type 2 diabetes. Although the exact molecular cause of insulin resistance is still unknown, Australian researchers have shown that if type 2 diabetics are put on the same dietary program I used in the San Antonio study, their insulin resistance is totally reversed in three days.

As excited as I was by the results of the San Antonio study, looking back I now know that the results could have been even better if I had used slightly higher levels of Ultra Refined Grade Omega 3 rich fish oil. I believe that the high-dose fish oil would have enhanced the results, because new research indicates that the insulin resistance found in type 2 diabetes may be medicated by an increase in the hormone known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF), the same hormone that causes wasting in cancer patients. One proven way to decrease the secretion of TNF from fat cells in the body is through the use of high-dose fish oil. This in turn decreases insulin resistance, which in turn reduces insulin levels. Once insulin levels are lowered, your body can access its own stored body fat for energy. In essence, it takes fat to burn fat, especially if that fat can reduce the release of TNF. This is why I now routinely recommend about 5 grams of Ultra Refined Grade Omega 3’s to type-2 diabetic patients.

Like the heart disease epidemic, the obesity and diabetes epidemics may be a result of our misguided advice to decrease dietary fat and increase the consumption of fat-free carbohydrates. I believe that if we aimed for an optimal protein-to-carbohydrate balance at every meal and got adequate levels of pharmaceutical-grade fish oil, our epidemics of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity would be history within a few short years.

Bottom line: If you want to lose excess body fat, you need you double your efforts to follow my dietary recommendations. If you want to reverse or prevent type 2 diabetes, you need to follow the insulin-control diet and incorporate more eicosanoid control by taking higher doses of Ultra Refined Grade Omega 3’s.

*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

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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