LA’s The Place recently interviewed renown biochemist and New York Times best-selling author Dr. Barry Sears. Many of you know him as the creator of The Zone Diet. Barry Sears, Ph.D. is a leading authority on the dietary control of hormonal response. He also holds the most major patents in the world for intravenous cancer–drug delivery.
The pupose of our interview was to find out the causes behind the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and the underlying cause of many of today’s increasing incidences of disease, especially in children. Dr. Sears shared fascinating breakthrough information that I found quite astounding. Through years of study, he deduced that many diseases could be traced to an imbalance of eicosanoids. What are “eicosanoids”? Read on to learn some shocking facts of what today’s foods are doing to genetically alter our very genomes.
Epigenitics – The Genetic Alteration of our Children
Dr. Barry Sears:
It’s often said future of any country, lies with their children. And if that’s true, the future for America tends to be very bleak. What we’re seeing is epidemics of childhood obesity and an increase…a dramatic increase in ADHD; increase in childhood depression. This is not good.
What’s happening? We look and say- is it because our parents are not basically as able as they were a generation ago, or two generations ago? I think not. I think something more subtle, something more endangering, more insidious is taking place in our society.
And this is really, the genetic alteration of our children. Genetic alteration–not by some ‘evil corporate entity’, but basically, by the foods we eat.
This goes to the new area of gene research known as ‘Epigenitics’. It’s how our environmental factors–primarily our diet, can change the expression of our genes.
The two times in your life that these environmental factors will have an impact on gene expression in the future is when the child is in the womb, and the post-natal period.
The Results of Animal Experiments
And so what we see from animal experiments— if we take two animals that are genetically identical, and split them into two different colonies, and in these two colonies we give them exactly the same diet – that is- exactly the same amount of calories, exactly the same amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. But, only change the ‘ratio’ of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats.
That way we can follow them for several generations. And what do you find? Within three (3) generations, those rats are getting now the diet rich in Omega 6 fatty acids and low in Omega 3 fatty acids are grossly obese.
They already have signs of diabetes, they already have signs of heart disease, they’re incredibly dumb and they’re not focused.
So, what we’re seeing is called ‘tran-generational Epigenitic programming’. How basically, the diet of one generation can be modified and amplified for the next generation–giving rise to increased obesity, and decreased cognitive skills.
And now, is this taking place in humans? The answer is yes. And this is why the fastest growing group of obese individuals in America are from the ages of 0 to 4. What have they done to deserve this?
The fact is that we’re basically seeing our whole species being genetically-altered. And the reason is, this very subtle alteration of changing the levels of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids, has induced significant long-term genetic changes.
So we complain about ‘genetically modified corn’, ‘genetically modified soy’… We should be a lot more concerned about genetically modified-humans!
Because, the primary ingredient that is doing this is the rapid inclusion of vegetable oils rich in Omaga 6 fatty acids in our diet.
Today, those oils are the richest source of calories. But they’re the cornerstone of our agrobusiness. In fact, we give nearly $20 billion a year of subsidies, to subsidize the production of Omega 6 fatty acids. This is why they are now the cheapest form of calories on the face of the earth.
Is Obesity America’s Epidemic?
This is why we can now look back at our obesity epidemic and say “why did it strike America first”? Are we dumber? Are we basically more lazy than other parts of the world? No.
It turns out that the center of our epidemic started in central Illinois. That’s where all the soybeans and corn is grown. That’s where they’re processed into vegetable oils to be made as integral parts of every part of our agro business sector. Whether it’d be fast foods, processed foods, restaurants– you’re exposed to these Omega 6 fatty acids.
The oils I’m talking about are corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, canola oil… Not any more wonderful thing than sunflowers flowing in the fields, yet they’re an incredibly rich source of Omega 6 fatty acids.
So, we’ve open up a Pandora’s Box of the foods we ask for as consumers. We want cheap foods. We want convenient foods- we want foods that are tasty. The food industry is giving us all those. But they’ve opened up a genetic Pandora’s Box in the process.
Without understanding what is going on, they begin to alter the human species, as if we have a virus spreading from the central plains of America throughout America, and now throughout the rest of the world.
I was just recently in Spain, and I talked to one physician who said, “You know, we thought for years that the reason you had ADHD in America, is because you weren’t very good parents!” They said “This would NEVER happen in Spain, we’re excellent parents! Now have an epidemic of ADHD!” And, that’s all because we’re (America) now exporting Omega 6 fatty acids throughout the world.
We saturate our domestic market and now we look for new export markets; we found them, in Europe, in Latin America, in Asia; even in Africa. This is why now basically obesity is spreading worldwide.
America’s 2nd Largest Industry
We don’t make steel anymore in America. We don’t make very good cars; but, what we’re number 1 in manufacturing is cheap vegetable oils, because you need millions of acres of flat ground to farm these, and the only two crops which are basically suitable for aggressive industrialization of agrobusiness, are corn and soybeans. Both of which, are very rich in Omega 6 fatty acids.
And the food industry is incredibly efficient at selling everything about the pig, including the squeal. They can break the corn and soybean down to their components products and basically have markets for each of them.
So, we have basically now, the government has been subsidizing these industries for many generations; so if we want to say who’s at fault… we are.
It’s our taxpayer monies because our government is responding to us, saying: “You want cheap food? We’ll give you cheap food.” But we’ve opened up a price, that’s why we have these epidemics now, in our children, of obesity, ADHD, depression, and a wide variety of other diseases.
We used to have adult-onset diabetes; now we’re seeing it in children. So we’re basically seeing a speeding up of the aging process. In fact, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine stated, to our best estimates, that 1/3rd of every child born after the year 2000, will develop diabetes in their lifetime. Giving rise to the first time in American history that parents may start outliving their children.
So what we’re seeing before our very eyes is basically… a really a de-evolution of the human species, because, before these Omega 6 fatty acids were always a very minor component of our diet – until recently. Now they’ve become the major component. And they’ve unleashed the genetic, of almost a tsunami, that we have of no way of basically reversing.
We do in a way; we know these Epigenetic changes takes about 2 or 3 generations to erase, for the genome. So, the marks there are temporary, if you remove the offending source. It means today, for American parents and their children, they’re genetically screwed.
What Can We Do About It Now?
All they can do now is to basically hold back the inflammatory damage being induced by these changes.
So what we could do today for ourselves and for our children is follow an anti-inflammatory diet to hold back these inflammatory changes, and work very hard for our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren, to basically remove these Omega 6 fatty acids from the diet; to remove the offending source, and to remove the epigenetic marks, which is giving rise to basically a downward spiral in the quality of our life.
We see it all throughout our society. The one thing we’ve seen dramatically reduced in the last 50 years – civility. Civility…this is a human aspect; how to be nice to your fellow man. And we’re seeing this being short supply. Because, again–this is empathy.
Within our brain, we have the limbic system, which drives our most base desires. We have our frontal cortex system that says “Just say no”. One of the creative things about how we master life is how we master our desires. And basically the better that frontal cortex can ‘just say no’, the more likely you are to say “No, no I don’t want that piece of chocolate cake” or ‘no’ to a lot of thing in our society you have to say no to.
But what controls that frontal cortex is Omega 3 fatty acids, and as they decrease in the diet, and the Omega 6 fatty acids increase, what you have is now ongoing inflammation in the brain. And what the inflammation does is cause disruption of communications. Your ability to say no basically becomes highly diminished.
We can see every sector of our society, whether it be obesity, health care, mental health–quality of life basically eroding before our very eyes.
And yet, we can go back and say “What’s the underlying cause?” It turns out it’s the food we eat. We’re essentially basically genetically poisoning ourselves. And we have the opportunity–we have the opportunity to turn back that, if we choose to – IF we have the will.
But it’s not clear that the will is going to be there, because the 2nd largest industry is the agrobusiness sector; That’s growing foods, breaking foods down, reassembling foods as processed food to restaurants—Make them easily-accessible, convenient, and appealing to the taste buds.
Our biggest industry is basically taking care of sick people. So we have a situation–our future is one of a degree of weakness, unless we understand what our problem is.
Our problem is, we are basically causing these genetic changes – we have no one to blame but ourselves – but we have the power to begin to alter that.
We can’t basically take the genetic marks off in ourselves and our children – they are set for life. But we can hold back the damage – like the little Dutch putting his finger in the pike – but we can now think into the future.
And the future is saying – we can now say, “Let’s try now to work with great vigor to remove all these Omega 6 fatty acids from our diet.” And by doing so, we have a chance to basically reclaim our generic heritage.
Q: Are all of the different Omega 6 oils are in all of the foods we buy–breads, casseroles, pasta sauce, salads…everything?
They are. Because they’re in everything we buy, in every processed food.
In the processed food there’s this thing called “the bliss point”, which is, if you add sugar to any food, it taste better. If you add too much sugar you reach what I call a ‘yuk’ point, where you say, ugh, it’s too sugary! But we also have a ‘bliss point’ for fat, that, if we add more fat to food, it tastes better. But there’s no ‘yuk’ point for fat. We can eat almost pure fat, almost pure lard, and say, “This tastes great!” Think of fried dough. You know…you take dough and you fry it–not very tasty. But you add a touch of sugar to it and it’s irresistible.
So, the processed food industry has understood how these things of sugar and fat, affect basically our ‘reward cycles’ in our brain, basically tapping into the same neural cycles that cocaine taps into.
Now, that’s fine, we can understand that and so you’re trying to addict us. We understand – they have to make a buck. But we didn’t understand how those same two ingredients can now be basically changing our genes! Not only for ourselves, but for our future generations. And that’s the ominous fact we have to fight against.
But we spend most of our time fighting these small battles. Let’s march against genetically-modified crops, let’s say. You’re missing the point that basically, in a very short period of time – in 3 or 4 generations, we are becoming genetically altered humans, through these oils, which were never a part of the human diet.
Q: How can people combat this and turn it around?
Well, the easy way is basically be in charge of the food you eat.
Q: What should you eat?
No. It’s ‘where’ you should eat. If you walk outside the home, then you’re basically putting your future in somebody else’s hands. So the first thing you should try to do is cook most of the food yourself. People say, “Oh, I don’t have time”. “Life gets in the way!”
Well, you basically better make time! So when you prepare your own food, you know exactly what’s going into it. Second of all, you basically try never to use vegetable oils. What do you use? Well there’s two oils which are- they’re not vegetable oils, they’re really fruit oils, which they’ll add flavor to food without add the Omega 6 fatty acids.
One is extra virgin olive oil. The other is guacamole. They are both fruit oils. You say, “OK, I can do that.”
So why have they been used for years? One: They’re rich in monounsaturated fats, low in saturated fats and low in Omega 6 fats. They also contain polyphenols. Vegetable oils contain virtually no polyphenols. Fruit oils, like extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil are very rich in polyphenols. Now, we know these are very powerful anti-inflammatory agents.
So, we can look back, and now see, in a very larger aspect, what’s been happening.
So, once again: 1. Eat as much as you can inside the home. 2. Follow the Zone principles. The Zone is not a ‘diet’ it’s a blueprint. How to take the ingredients you like to eat and balance them to get the best hormonal response to reduce inflammation. So what you want to do is very simple.
You only need 3 things to retake control of your genes- one hand, one eye and one watch. And here are the rules, they haven’t changed in 25 years and they’re not going to change in my lifetime:
*Divide your plate into 3 sections: on 1/3 of the plate you put some low-fat protein like chicken or fish or vegetarian sources like soy imitation meat products. How much? The size of the palm of your hand. Just do it every meal.
*The other 2/3rd of the plate you fill with colorful carbohydrates: fruits and vegetables. Finally you add a dash of fat that’s low in in Omega 6 fatty acids and low in saturated fats. Could be guacamole or olive oil. You’re done.
*Now, why do you need the watch? If you balance the plate correctly, you won’t be hungry for the next five hours. So now with those 3 items you now basically take the foods you like to eat and now restructure your diet to be an anti-inflammatory diet, to hold back the damage caused by the alteration of these epigenetic marks in your genes.
They say “It’s too hard”. Then… we really have no hope for the future.
But that’s why we have to make a stand as a species; not as an individual, but as a species; do we want to take re-control over our genes? Yes? Or no?
Is the answer is yes, it’s going to be a very hard fight–a very hard one – but one that is capable of winning. But we won’t see the effects until many generations out.
Q: Does this hold true especially for pregnant women?
They have to. It’s called fetal programming. And this is why basically, the fastest growing group of obese people in America are from ages 0 to 4. Any why? Because we’re seeing this amplification of genetic modification. Being amplified and transmitted from one population to the next.
You can’t change what you did before, but now we have the power, the knowledge to basically affect the future.
Promoting simple slogans like “Eat less and exercise more” is not going to work. It’s understanding the power of food to alter our genes. The door can swing both ways. Food can basically cause our genes to take a downward slide, or, with the power of food we can take our genes to a higher level where basically all the essence of humanity becomes more manifest; we’re nice to our fellow man, we think of others, we think of the environment…these are things we have to think outside of what’s in it for us.
But, that’s a very unique human concept and what really made humans unique was the inclusion of Omega 3 fatty acids in their diet.
We have taken one of the key factors which has made us human and in a very short period of time, have pulled it out of the diet, and replaced it with something that basically is guaranteed to push us downward down a slippery slope of genetically alterations all which are for the worst.
So then again when we think about diet, we have 15,000 diet books and press, we’ve got everybody on the internet’s a dietary guru, and people are totally confused. And in that confusion, lays chaos. Not chaos saying ‘what do we eat’ but chaos to the future of our genes.
So we have the option, but we have to basically look at this from a broad spectrum of a multi-generational aspect, and saying common sense saying: try to make most of the food you eat in your home – you’ll know exactly what’s going in there.
Be cognizant of the power of different food ingredients to affect your genes. And basically, if you’re willing to do that then you will live a better life, a longer life and basically hope to improve the gene quality of our future generations.
You can find more information on Dr. Barry Sears go to www.drsears.com
* Other sources of Omega 3 come from fish oils, but, warns Dr. Sears, most are polluted these days. Read our article on Dr. Barry Sears explaining how to tell if your favorite fish oil is indeed refined here…