Gary Taubes is an award-winning journalist and author of five books, the most recent of which, The Case Against Sugar, argues obesity is a hormonal disorder triggered by sugar. In this interview from June 2018, Taubes sits down with Dr. Barry Sears, a revolutionary biochemist who studies how to use diet to manipulate metabolism and fight chronic disease, and the New York Times best-selling author of The Zone: A Dietary Road Map and several other books. The two discuss a range of topics, among them the mechanisms that lead to insulin resistance and control inflammation, and the science behind the Zone, Atkins, and ketogenic diets.
While Taubes and Sears share a considerable amount of common ground in their thinking on these topics, Taubes focuses the interview on the areas where he and Sears seem to diverge. His central questions for Sears relate to what he perceives as the absence of a clear stance on sugar in The Zone, as well as to how Sears’ perspective on diet and metabolism has changed in the intervening years since the publication of The Zone in 1995.
In reply, Sears says he would not make any significant changes to the perspective he offers in the 1995 book. He describes what led to his development of the Zone diet, highlighting his early research on how hormones called eicosanoids relate to inflammation. His more recent research accounts for the role of other hormones called resolvents, which were not discovered until 2001.
Sears’ recent research also has focused on the importance of fermentable fiber and polyphenols. He and Taubes discuss how polyphenols affect gene transcription, more specifically AMP kinase, which Sears explains “orchestrates a wide range of other gene transcription factors that basically control our metabolism.”
After discussing a variety of scientific advancements that have taken place since 1995, Sears tells Taubes these advancements have “not changed one iota of what I wrote.” The Zone diet, he explains, was a working hypothesis, and “we now have a great number of published clinical trials under highly controlled circumstances to say, ‘Yes, it does work.’”
To read the full transcription of the interview, click here.