Read source article by Raffaella Quieti Cartledge of medwellness Italy
Dr. Barry Sears, the developer of the anti-inflammatory Zone
diet and president of the non-profit Inflammation Research Foundation,
discusses how inflammation is the primary cause of chronic disease.
He also explains how diet can to support our bodies fight
against inflammation including that coming from viral infections, like
Covid-19, requires using our diet as a potent drug
Dr. Sears, what exactly is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s response to any type of injury.However,
there are two distinct phases to inflammation; first, your body has to
turn it on to stop the consequences of the injury, but then it also has
to turn it off and repair the tissue damage caused by the inflammation.If
the initial inflammatory response to an injury is not completely
healed, then it becomes a new source of chronic low-level inflammation
that that is below the perception of pain.It
is this type of inflammation that is strongly associated with many
chronic disease states, including metabolic (obesity and diabetes),
cardiovascular, auto-immune, and neurogenerative disorders, as well as
What are some of the injuries that cause inflammation?
The types of injuries that can cause an initial inflammatory response are incredibly varied.These
include physical injuries (internal and external), microbial and viral
invasions, excess free radical formation, surgery, drugs, and stress
(physical, emotional, and environmental). Since
we are regularly exposed to inflammation resulting from these injuries,
that’s why we need to turn off that initial inflammation to remain
How does our body react when inflammation occurs?
Most of us are familiar with the consequences of turning on inflammation.The cardinal signs of inflammation are swelling, redness, fever, and pain.These
classic responses are caused by molecular inflammatory mediators known
as eicosanoids and cytokines that are central to orchestrating the acute
inflammatory response to an injury.Their synthesis is a consequence of the activation of the master genetic switch of inflammation found in every cell.On the other hand, turning off inflammation is a far more complicated process than is turning on inflammation.This
phase of inflammation is composed of a complex interaction of hormones
and genes that resolves any remaining inflammation and then repairs the
damaged tissue.This second phase of inflammation is known as the Resolution Response.Only
when both initial inflammatory response and the Resolution Response
phases are balanced, that healing of the injury results.In essence, we need some inflammation to survive, but we also need a strong Resolution Response to remain well.
How did you become interested in inflammation?
My interest began with the awarding of the 1982 Nobel Prize in
medicine to Sune Bergstrom, Bengt Samuelsson, and John Vane for
understanding the role of a group of inflammatory hormones known as
eicosanoids (signaling molecules made from omega-6 fatty acids) as major
players in the initiation of inflammation.This
Nobel Prize led to my appreciation that the diet could reduce
potentially reduce eicosanoid levels, and therefore reduce the intensity
My continued research into the role of diet and inflammation has
expanded from this starting point to now understand it is not
per se that is the cause of chronic disease. Chronic disease is the result of the continued blockage of the body’s internal Resolution Response.Just like eicosanoids that help turn on inflammation, the Resolution Response is also under significant dietary control.
So how do chronic diseases develop?
Unlike infectious diseases, chronic diseases take years, if not decades, to develop.This
time lag is because chronic diseases are often the consequence of
long-term accumulated organ damage caused by a blocked Resolution
The injury that initially caused the tissue damage may have left the
body many years earlier, but the incomplete healing of that initial
inflammatory damage continues as a new source of inflammation to causing
continuing organ damage leading to chronic disease.Now
the individual will usually require long-term use of medication to
treat the symptoms of that particular chronic disease (as well as other
co-morbidities) that started years, if not decades, earlier with a
blocked Resolution Response that continues into the present time.
Dr. Sears, let’s turn to Covid-19.Why do certain preconditions, such as obesity and diabetes, make people susceptible to mortality to Covid-19?
The existence of unresolved inflammation, as found in obesity and diabetes, inhibits the Resolution Response.When
you have a blocked Resolution Response due to unresolved inflammation,
you will also have increased levels of inflammatory mediators known as
cytokines in the blood.Covid-19 causes the overproduction of even more cytokines leading to what is called a “cytokine storm.”This medical term describes the reason for the increased complications and mortality in Covid-19 patients.As
a result, it could be argued that the severe complications seen in
Covid-19 patients may be a consequence of a blocked Resolution Response.
It seems like a blocked Resolution Response is a major unrecognized health problem.Is there any drug we can use to optimize it?
Unfortunately, the answer is no because of the hormonal and genetic complexity of the Resolution Response.However, the Resolution Response is under significant dietary control.This understanding leads to the concept of using Pro-Resolution Nutrition to turn off inflammation and promote healing by optimizing your internal Resolution Response.
What are the main dietary components of Pro-Resolution Nutrition?
Pro-Resolution Nutrition is characterized by the 3 Rs of reduce, resolve, and repair.First, you have to reduce excess inflammation.I developed the Zone diet more than 30 years ago as an anti-inflammatory diet.The
Zone diet is a personalized, calorie-restricted, protein-adequate,
carbohydrate-moderate (but rich in fermentable fiber), low-fat
(especially restricting pro-inflammatory saturated and omega-6 fats)
diet that is an initial starting point for optimizing
the Resolution Response.
However, reducing inflammation is only the first step toward healing.Next, you have to resolve the residual inflammation.Resolving
inflammation requires adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the
diet to generate a recently discovered group of hormones known as
resolvins that turn off inflammation. Sufficient levels can be obtained
by consuming oily fish like sardines, anchovies, or salmon.Alternatively, one could use omega-3 fatty acid supplements to reach appropriate levels in the blood.
The final step of the Resolution Response to repair the tissue damage caused by inflammation is the most complex.This process is controlled by the master genetic switch of metabolism known as AMPK.The primary way to activate AMPK is the increased intake of polyphenols.
Polyphenols are compounds that give fruits and vegetables their color.To
get enough polyphenols without excess glucose (which inhibits AMPK)
requires consuming 8-10 servings per day of non-starchy vegetables.Polyphenol supplement can help provide the necessary amounts to activate AMPK.
It takes some effort and a few months to optimize your internal Resolution Response by following Pro-Resolution Nutrition. But
without a robust Resolution Response, you are more likely to develop a
chronic disease at an earlier age and be less likely to fight off viral
infections. Both consequences of a blocked Resolution Response will
result in a decreased state of wellness.
Read follow-on Article Dr. Sears and Pro-Resolution Nutrition