Useful, interesting information about the Zone Diet plan.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The Zone Diet Guide: What are Eicosanoids?

Eicosanoids are a central component of the Zone Diet. Here is a brief explanation of these extremely important hormones:

Eicosanoids are a group of autocrine hormones derived from a 20-carbon atom, polyunsaturated fat consisting of two main types. Although both are essential to life, our current diet favors the over production of one branch resulting in such bad effects as decreased immune system function, increase in blood pressure, asthma, and increased allergies. This has led some to label these eicosanoids as "good" vs. "bad". In reality, it is the balance of these two types of eicosanoids that will strongly determine the health of your cardiovascular and immune systems. The increased consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids and the control of insulin induces the body to make more "good" and less "bad" eicosanoids (I.E., restoration of the balance between the two).

Eicosanoids (eye-KAH-sah-noids) are the most powerful hormones in the body, controlling every cell, every organ, every system. They have very diverse effects, are extremely short-lived and are hard to study. They are made by every cell in the body and do not use the bloodstream to reach their target tissues, but rather work at the level of individual cells as the ultimate regulators of cellular function. Eicosanoids influence vascular reactivity and permeability, and the activity of membrane-bound enzymes and receptors.