X-Message-Number: 13276
Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2000 23:53:25 -0500
From: Saul Kent <>
Subject: Comments By Author

        Here are comments about Barry Sear's Anti-Aging
Zone book by Ivy Greenwell, who wrote the review of his book
for Life Extension Magazine.

---Saul Kent

"From the start, there has been a misunderstanding of Barry Sears as just
another weight-loss guru.  Sears is in fact interested in a life-long
anti-aging diet, one that would be an essential tool for maximizing health
and longevity.  In addition, it is important to emphasize that Sears by no
means limits anti-aging regimen simply to the right diet.  Stress reduction
and moderate exercise are also very important components of his program. 
One could even argue that Sears is in fact fairly conservative in his
recommendations, and not at all the flaming extremist portrayed by his
opponents.  In my correspondence with Bill Lawren, the co-author of Sears'
first book, I was particularly struck by Lawren's view of Sears as a

"I think the main point in Sears' new book is the need for calorie
restriction without hunger.  Based on everything I heard during the 1999
AGE conference in Seattle, there is profound scientific consensus on
calorie restriction being the only known effective means of life span
extension.  While the primate calorie restriction studies are not yet
concluded, preliminary results unquestionably indicate a slower rate of
aging in calorie-restricted monkeys.  Thus, Sears seems to be correct in
advocating calorie restriction.  He also proposes a way of practicing such
calorie restriction so that one does not feel hungry, but instead enjoys
more energy and well-being than before.  Those who have tried the kind of
low-glycemic diet that Sears proposes generally agree that it is workable. 
Increasing the amount of protein and healthy fats while decreasing
high-glycemic carbohydrates does appear to lead to greater satiety and
voluntary lower calorie intake.  The scientific support for low-glycemic
diet is growing.   High blood sugar and chronic high insulin levels are
generally recognized as correlates of faster aging.  

"Sears also suggests consuming "copious amounts of vegetables."  He
absolutely insists that most of our carbohydrates should come from
vegetables.  These substitute for high-glycemic processed grain products,
so prevalent in the Western diet.  Surely there is nothing controversial
about promoting vastly more vegetable consumption.  The controversy appears
to lie in whether we lose anything by excluding refined carbohydrates such
as cornflakes, most kinds of bread, mashed potatoes, or pasta.  Sears
agrees that a certain percentage of people appear to be genetically
protected against developing insulin resistance, and for them a
low-glycemic diet may not be critical.  Most of us, however, would be
vastly better off eating more broccoli and less bread and sugary snacks  
or  any other food that significantly raises our blood sugar and insulin
levels.  Again, lecture after lecture at the AGE conference affirmed that
the insulin signaling pathways as crucially involved in determining the
rate of aging.  A dramatic drop in insulin is one of the first effects of
calorie restriction.  

"Another important point in The Anti-Aging Zone is the huge role of
inflammation in aging and various major aging-related diseases, and thus
the need to counteract inflammation.  Whether fish oil (or, more
technically, EPA) is as supremely important as Sears claims may be
debatable, but there is little doubt that some powerful anti-inflammatory
agent(s) should be taken if one is serious about slowing down aging. 
Again, when it comes to omega-3 fatty acids, evidence in their favor is
pretty overwhelming.   Sears is hardly a dietary radical when he encourages
readers to consume more fish.

"I readily concede that the exact percentage of macronutrients, and the
(insulin?  eicosanoid?) mechanism behind the effectiveness of calorie
restriction remain to be elucidated.  Sears should be more cautious and
avoid sweeping statements, especially when it comes to the complex
mechanisms of aging.  Actually, this book already IS more cautious and much
less dogmatic-sounding than the Zone book; it sees the suggested
percentages of macronutrients more in terms of a range rather than any
absolute numbers. 

"Sears has also added the need to lower cortisol, and not just insulin -- I
think this is also well supported.  There are no obese centenarians   but
the underlying common trait appears to be mainly a sunny, affectionate,
stress-resistant personality rather than any kind of "centenarian diet." 
It can also be argued that nothing can overcome the primacy of genetics in
longevity.  Yet few doubt that calorie restriction can extend healthy life
span even for those not blessed with "centenarian genes."

"Time will show to what extent Sears is correct.  We can take it for
granted that he is not 100% correct when it comes to details, but that is
excusable in any pioneer.  Our knowledge is only partial.  Nevertheless, a
lot of solid evidence points to the validity of calorie restriction and
low-glycemic diet, and each year this evidence is growing.  Since a
calorie-restricted, low-glycemic, vegetable-rich diet is in the main what
Sears advocates, together with omega-3 fatty acids, stress reduction and
moderate exercise, he is hardly an extremist.  Within a decade or two,
he'll probably be perceived as "mainstream," or even conservative.  

"I suspect that most of his opponents have not bothered to read his new
book and/or do not understand his message.   Another problem may be a
negative attitude toward calorie restriction.  To this, I'd like to say,
"Try it, you'll like it."  Calorie restriction need not be extreme to
produce health benefits.  Furthermore, if done correctly, with adequate
protein and fat, it appears to be an amazingly satisfying and energizing
way of eating.  As for stress reduction and moderate exercise, these need
no defense.  Sears is not "far out."  On the contrary, he appears quite
moderate in his approach. " 

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=13276