Blog posts tagged with 'health'

by Natasha Trenev

Celiac Disease (CD), also referred to as gluten intolerance, can mean a lifetime of avoiding grains containing gluten, wheat, rye and barely. Exposure to even the smallest amount of gluten can trigger a damaging and sometimes painful gastrointestinal reaction in people who are sensitive to the stuff. Avoiding gluten altogether can be very difficult, and the quest to avoid it can disrupt the lives of those suffering from the sensitivity, as well as the lives of family members. Due to the constraints of a gluten-free diet, alternative therapies for CD are being explored.

About Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease affects approximately one in 133 Americans, or around 2.18 million Americans. Symptoms can range from classic gastrointestinal disturbances like diarrhea, reflux, abdominal pain and bloating, to more complex symptoms such as malnutrition, weight loss, fatigue, easy bruising, skin rashes, anemia and other isolated nutrient deficiencies.

The gastrointestinal tract breaks down food into smaller components the body can absorb and use for various purposes. People with CD cannot break down gluten into proteins small enough for their bodies to digest. With repeated exposure to larger, unaltered proteins, the body may develop an immune response to gluten.

The Connection between Microbes in the Gut and Gluten Sensitivity

Some of the newest research shows an association between gluten sensitivities and the bacteria living in the intestinal tract known as the gut microbiota. Bacteria living in the small intestine participate in the metabolism of gluten. Scientists know that people with gluten sensitivities tend to have a different set of bacteria living in their intestines compared with those without the dietary problem.

Scientists wanted to know, though, if the bacterial communities from a person with gluten sensitivities would handle wheat proteins differently than the bacterial communities of a person without the condition. To find out, researchers from McMaster University in Canada isolated gluten-degrading bacteria from the small intestines of participants with and without gluten sensitivities. The scientists then transferred the bacteria from both groups into germ-free lab mice, which had no intestinal bacteria at all, and then created colonies of the mice. Next, the scientists fed gluten to the mice and observed the results.

Microbes in the small intestine trigger immune reactions when they encounter gluten. The scientists determined that the microbes from a person with gluten sensitivities trigger different immune reactions than do the microbes from someone without the sensitivity. Specifically, the bacteria from those with gluten sensitivities reacted by producing peptides which talk differently to immune cells and provoke a stronger immune response.

The researchers then tested how various peptides isolated from people with gluten sensitivities reacted with blood immune cells. They found that certain peptides from gluten-sensitive individuals activated gluten-specific immune cells. The scientists also found that different bacteria isolated from healthy people were able to degrade the peptides in a way that decreases gluten-related immune reactions.

New Research Indicates Specific Probiotic Bacteria May Help

In another study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, supplementation with the probiotic bacteria Bifidobacterium infantis NLS super strain was shown to alleviate some gastrointestinal symptoms associated with celiac disease in newly-diagnosed participants who were still consuming a gluten containing diet. In that study, researchers randomly assigned participants to either the test group receiving B. infantis probiotic capsules, or the control group receiving a placebo capsule. Participants took two capsules three times each day, 15 minutes before meals, for three weeks. The researchers gathered data on the participants on the first day of the study, on day 10, and again 21 days later at the end of the study. Data included vital signs, safety reports, urine and blood tests, and questionnaires.

The researchers found that some gastrointestinal symptoms improved for participants who took B. infantis probiotic, specifically indigestion, constipation and gastroesophageal reflux. Furthermore, the scientists noted administration of the B. infantis probiotic was not associated with serious adverse effects or significant biochemical changes. The researchers also noted that these changes took place despite the fact the participants were still consuming gluten. In the future, they hope to repeat this study to see what changes occur in a similar group already on a gluten-free diet.

The research underscores the link between gut bacteria and the immune system during gluten metabolism. The results of the study highlight the roles bacteria play in modulating the body’s reaction to gluten. The findings are also consistent with the theory that imbalances in bacteria could contribute to the symptoms of gluten sensitivities, even though the bacteria included in the study may not be the only ones capable of modifying gluten digestion.

Infants, B. infantis and Celiac Disease Development

In addition to the role that Bifidobacterium infantis has been shown to have in people with active CD, it’s also been well studied for its importance in the infant gut. Breast milk has been shown to stimulate the growth of B. infantis in the guts of healthy newborns. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have even gone so far as to name it the “Champion Colonizer of the Infant Gut.” In one study of 164 healthy infants who have at least one first-degree relative with celiac disease, they found reduced numbers of Bifidobacterium in infants who later had an increased risk for developing celiac disease. This indicates that the type of milk fed, the gut bacteria that develop early on, and genetic predisposition may all play a role in the development of Celiac Disease later in life.

Research continues to show a connection between microbes living in the gut and celiac disease. These studies are early indicators of the use of specific strains of probiotics as supportive supplements for people who suffer from celiac disease and ongoing research may someday help provide non-dietary treatments for people who suffer from celiac disease.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Mark J. Kaylor

Let’s get right to it — heart disease is largely preventable and reversible. Heart disease is the number one killer in America, for both men and women, and has been for some time. While the stats have improved some recently, almost 400,000 people die every year from coronary heart disease (CHD). The creation of arterial lesions and plaque buildup occurs over decades* and is a fundamental contributor to an array of cardiovascular issues. The good news is that “heart disease is largely preventable and reversible.” Here are suggestions from four key categories that are likely to have the biggest, quickest and, hopefully, best impact.

In the Beginning — Diet

There are thousands of diets out there, but there is one that stands out in the research that is actually quite simple, a plant-based diet. It’s as simple as that; eat a whole food, plant-based diet. Numerous studies confirm that this simple yet effective approach can not only prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD), but reverse and repair the damage from it. A whole foods plant-based diet reduces our risk for CVD, reduces inflammatory markers and free radicals, improves endothelial (lining of the arteries) dysfunction and probably most importantly of all — reduces our risk of dying from CVD. One food group of special note is nuts (especially walnuts). Nuts are research supported to reduce risk for CVD, improve endothelial function and lower cholesterol.

One big step is to eliminate, as much as possible, all the refined carbohydrates and sugars that make their way into our diet. How impactful is eating refined sugars? Consuming 25% of your calories from sugar almost triples your chance of developing CVD. While we are cutting back on our sugar intake, we can use things like the Maitake SX-Fraction  (to lower blood sugar and insulin levels), chromium and PGX fiber.

All-Star Heart Health Tonics

There are two natural remedies that stand out for supporting overall cardiovascular health in what I consider a holistic manner, the traditional heart herbal Hawthorn and Reishi.

Hawthorn - long used in Europe for all things cardiovascular, it has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, increase oxygen and blood supply to the heart, improve heart energy production and strengthen the contraction of the heart muscle.

Reishi - shown to lower blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol, while reducing systemic inflammation and free radical damage (preventing oxidation by macrophage — a key step in the build up of plaque), lessen myocardial collagen cross-linking and enhance heart mitochondrial activity. It has also demonstrated heart-protecting actions against several toxins including alcohol and Adriamycin. On the holistic side, it supports liver health and function. The liver is where cholesterol is synthesized and is responsible for filtering and replenishing the blood, all the while helping the body to respond to stress in a healthier manner.

Key Remedies for Heart Health

If there was a germ that was killing one American every 83 seconds, we would undoubtedly have declared war on the bug and eliminated it. However, this is precisely what is happening with the highly preventable coronary heart disease and yet the deaths continue to accrue. The difficulty is that the primary answer to this epidemic requires us to change our diet and we all know how resistant we can be to that. On top of this, you have huge financially-vested interests that want to keep you eating the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) way. Let’s change this today and make this the beginning of the end for CHD by changing our eating habits.

Ensuring that our cardiovascular system is receiving all the nourishment it needs is obviously a starting point, but there are a few nutrients that are especially impactful.

Magnesium - diets deficient in Magnesium are associated with atherosclerosis, heart attacks and CVD. Unfortunately, it is a nutrient most of us are deficient in. Magnesium is useful for prevention and treating CVD and plays a key role in myocardial energy production. It also inhibits platelet aggregation and promotes vasodilation, while supporting endothelial function.

CoQ10 and Carnitine - These two synergistic nutrients are essential. CoQ10 deficiency is associated with CVD and plays a key role in the mitochondrial production of energy. Keep in mind the heart is a muscle and is absolutely dependent upon this process. It has shown promise for cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, angina, arrhythmias and hypertension. Carnitine also plays a key role in myocardial metabolism. It is important in energy production by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria to be burned as fuel. Studies suggest potential use in benefiting lack of blood flow, decreasing mortal-ity for heart attack sufferers, heart failure and angina.

Let it Shine 

Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to our emotional/spiritual center of the body as Shen, located, of course, in the heart. Healthy Shen is related to not just emotional health, but radiant health. My top Shen tonic is the aforementioned Reishi mushroom. Not only does Reishi benefit your physical heart, it also benefits your emotional one as well, bringing balance to the mind-body-spirit.

Here is an effective, yet simple Shen breathing technique to support your heart and overall health. Begin by breathing from your diaphragm saying the word “peace” in your head, pausing for a moment to let your heart fill with the peace energy, then exhale slowly thinking “love” allowing this energy to radiate throughout your whole body. Shen health is not to be overlooked. It has become very clear in recent research that our emotions are intimately tied and connected to our health, especially our heart health.

Romantic Heart Help

One “heart” area we seem to need help with today is in the romance and ‘bedroom’ areas. Thankfully, there is a long-used ‘aphrodisiac’ tonic to help, Cordyceps. It is one of the few clinically-confirmed natural aids for libido and hypo-sexuality for both men and women. Cordyceps has been shown to improve sex drive, virility and sexual function. It also brings a myriad of heart benefits as well, including improving blood flow to the heart, preventing platelet aggregation, anti-atherosclerotic and vasodilation. Clinically, it has been used for maintaining oxygen levels in stroke victims and improving overall quality of life in patients suffering from chronic heart failure. Studies show promise for arrhythmias as well.

The Time is Now

It would be wise for us to continue to lay claim to the old adage that “love is the best medicine.” Not only is it healing in and of itself, we can take it a step further and expand it to caring and loving ourselves enough that we make the necessary changes to our diets and routines to prevent and reverse the scourge of cardiovascular disease. As I wrote in the opening paragraph, this is a condition that we can do much to prevent and reverse. All it takes is to start making the changes today, right now.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Suzy Cohen, RPh

Many of you are taking thyroid supplements or medications already, but you might consider adding one more thing into your thyroid health regimen: Essential oils. The medical community dismisses essential oils (EOs) because after all, how powerful can it be to inhale a flower extract? Once you inhale, this “medicine” goes right into your bloodstream, through tiny capillaries directly into the bloodstream where it then shoots all over your body and activates many biochemical pathways.

It’s a fact that inhaling the aroma of lavender can cause relaxation and sleep. We also know peppermint can sometimes help improve a migraine. As for thyroid loving essential oils, there are plenty.

When your thyroid is LOW…

The essential oils that I recommend when you have low thyroid, are specifically devoted to stimulating or producing the secretion of thyroid hormones, activating your metabolism, or improving symptoms of the disease itself. I can touch on a few here in this limited space, but if you’re really interested, go to my website and read the longer version of this article. Try these quick essential oil health hacks for low thyroid disease:

Gut problems: People with hypothyroidism are often overweight and commonly experience frequent stomachache or gas. A few gut-soothing essential oils that can bring you relief include peppermint, fennel, ginger and chamomile. You can make teas, apply to your skin or inhale, depending on the EO.

Muscle aches and pain: People with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism often hurt more than regular folks, especially after exercising. I will help you “create” your own soothing balm: Pour 30 drops of lemongrass and 15 drops of marjoram into your favorite bottle of body lotion. Make sure it’s paraben-free. Pick any basic unscented lotion that you like. Then you can rub it onto your sore muscles and body aches.

Fatigue and Exhaustion: My own go-to is a smoked butterscotch latte, double shot – LOL! But we are talking about essential oils today, so try dabbing one drop each of eucalyptus and rose-mary to the base of your neck (right onto your thyroid) and it will wake you up. You should also take a quick whiff.

When your thyroid is HIGH…

It would be unfair if I did not share my knowledge about hyperthyroidism, or Graves’ disease (an auto-immune thyroid condition), so here’s what I suggest from an EO standpoint. Mix 15 drops of lemongrass with 15 drops of frankincense, two drops of myrrh (warning: myrrh smells awful), into a container, with a tablespoon of apricot or almond oil. This can be sniffed or applied topically to your throat area a few times daily. Don’t ingest that, it’s topical. Dilute as you desire, leave out the myrrh or replace with sandalwood. This EO blend should help you deal with anxiety, stress, anger, agitation, tremors and insomnia. You don’t have to have hyperthyroidism to use this. In fact, everyone dealing with stress could try it.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

health , fitness

by Natasha Trenev

The idea that the bacteria that live in the warm, dark recesses of your gut have health benefits is an intriguing one. After all, most people think bacteria are the “bad guys.” These days, it’s clear that not all bacteria cause illness and some types of bacteria you might actually want to have around. The “good” bacteria you want to cultivate help support the health of your gut and your gut associated lymphoid tissue — the portion of your immune system that lies in your intestinal tract. After hearing so much about the health benefits of gut-friendly bacteria, called probiotics, you’re probably convinced you need more of the beneficial ones — but why? How do probiotic bacteria exert their benefits?

Probiotic Bacteria Aid Digestion

As you know, your intestinal tract is where the nutrients you take in through diet are absorbed. However, only some of the food components that enter your digestive tract can be broken down and absorbed by your body. Humans lack the enzymes to break down some types of plant material. Some of the fiber and resistant starch you can’t digest conveniently becomes lunch or dinner for bacteria that live in your gut.

When these hungry gut bacteria break down the fiber for you, they produce compounds called short-chain fatty acids, two of the most common of which are butyrate and acetate. These compounds help keep the lining of your colon healthy. The cells in your colon use these short-chain fatty acids to produce the energy they need to fuel the functions necessary to keep your colon healthy. Some preliminary studies suggest short-chain fatty acids made by good gut bacteria might lower the risk of colon cancer. Production of short-chain fatty acids by gut bacteria may partially explain why high-fiber diets seem to offer some protection against this.

Probiotic Bacteria Help Balance the Gut

When probiotic bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids, it also lowers the pH or acid-base balance of the lining of your intestinal tract. That’s beneficial, since disease-causing bacteria typically don’t grow well in an acidic environment. Therefore, probiotic bacteria create a hostile environment that discourages the growth of bacteria that cause illness. Probiotic bacteria can also block the growth of sinister bacteria by competing for the resources they need to survive. When good bacteria are around they use up vital nutrients, making it harder for bad bacteria to get the nutritional components they require to stay alive. Some probiotic bacteria produce substances called bacteriocins that directly block the growth of harmful bacteria, as well as chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, that stymie the development of bad bacteria and yeast.

Probiotic Bacteria and Absorption

Probiotic bacteria also produce beneficial substances. These organisms release enzymes that break down components from the foods you eat so you can absorb them more easily. In addition, the acidic environment probiotic bacteria create, increases the absorption of minerals, including calcium, magnesium and zinc. Having a healthy population of gut bacteria helps you maximize absorption of these essential minerals.

Probiotic Bacteria and Immunity

Another way probiotic bacteria exert their benefits is by their effects on immune function. Your immune system is your first line of defense against viruses, bacteria and fungi and plays a protective role in many diseases. As researchers point out, one of the reasons older people have a harder time fighting off infection is that their immune system doesn’t function the same as that of a younger person. We know that a huge portion of your immune system, between 70% and 80%, is in your gut, making it the largest immune organ in your body. Gut bacteria have the ability to communicate with immune cells and influence their function, giving them the capacity to subtly alter immune function.

Research suggests probiotic bacteria help maintain immune balance as well. Your immune system is designed to launch an organized attack against foreign invaders, but an overly zealous attack can harm normal tissues, leading to inflammation. Probiotic bacteria help preserve immune system balance.

Because some food allergies involve an overreaction by the immune system, there’s thought that probiotic bacteria could help children avoid food allergies. More recently, some experts point out that some food intolerances, which are different from a food allergy, may be due to a damaged gut lining, also known as a “leaky gut.” The lining of your gut is very thin, only a single cell layer thick and is held together by connections called tight junctions, which are easily damaged. When the gut lining and its tight junctions are injured, which can happen when you take certain medications or due to stress, it allows food components and even bacteria to enter your bloodstream. These proteins, once in the bloodstream, can theoretically activate the immune system and lead to inflammation and tissue damage. By helping maintain a healthy gut lining, probiotic gut bacteria could be beneficial for people with food sensitivities, intolerances and for leaky gut. The lining of your digestive tract serves as a barrier that protects you against bacteria and other harmful components in the food you eat and probiotic bacteria help to strengthen this barrier function.

Bacteria “Talk” to Each Other

Another interesting way probiotic bacteria may benefit your intestinal health is by the messages they send to bad bacteria. Infection-causing bacteria communicate with each other through a process called “quorum sensing.” Through this form of communication, bacteria get a better idea of what’s going on around them. For example, the bacteria in your gut want to know whether there are enough nutrients to support their growth. If there’s a lack of nutrients, they slow their replication to ensure their survival.

Research suggests some types of probiotic bacteria have the ability to block communication pathways bad bacteria use to “talk” to each other. When infection-causing bacteria can no longer communicate with each other, their chances for survival drops because they’re less aware of what’s going on around them. Blocking communication pathways between bad bacteria is a way to limit their growth and survival.

In addition, communication between good bacteria can be beneficial. For example, probiotic bacteria have the ability to enhance the growth of other good bacteria within the ecosystem. One species of gut-friendly bacteria might send a message to another species of probiotic bacteria, letting it know conditions are favorable and to reproduce more. As a result, your gut becomes healthier.

The Bottom Line

Despite the fact that the research explaining how probiotics work is still in its infancy, their health-related benefits have been noted for hundreds of years. Research continues to uncover the characteristics and habits of the probiotic bacteria that live in our gut and it’s exciting to better understand exactly how they are benefiting us and how we can supplement this unique eco-system within our bodies. Having a healthy population of gut bacteria is essential for optimizing your health. Don’t underestimate the potential of your gut bacteria.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

By Sara J. Pluta

Diets, cleanses, fasts, eat this, don’t eat that, butter is bad, wine is good, carbs make you fat, fat makes you skinny, eat like a cave man, stay away from soy, devour meat at every meal, avoid all animal products entirely…the plethora of nutrition advice on every web page, book cover, magazine spread, newspaper headline, etc. is overwhelming and downright confusing! Diets sell, remember that. People want to be told what to eat or what not to eat and authors and food companies know this. Look at the present craze of Paleo or the low-carb obsession years ago. Did you bite the bait?

What is a well-intentioned, health-seeking person to do? We can easily become brainwashed into compliance, or write off nutrition advice altogether and head straight for the vending machine or fast food joint. But hang tight, it turns out researchers asked if one diet could be hailed superior in terms of health outcomes. When scholars compared every major diet (low carb, low fat, low glycemic, Mediterranean, Paleolithic, vegan, etc.) and published studies, the outcome was remarkably straightforward. The winner is….REAL food, with a diet set to broader, more individualized guidelines. Say goodbye to rigid principles and strict guidelines and say hello to a variety of wholesome, real food.

I know, I know…eating whatever tastes good is enjoyable. However, if we can eat what tastes good and nourish our bodies and minds, then we are creating a recipe for health and overall well-being; Success!

It is proven that what we consume on a regular basis really does make a difference in our quality of life, life span, and prevention or decrease in risk of most chronic disease. Put simply, a diet of minimally processed foods as close to nature as possible, heavy on plants, light on animal protein, and void of preservatives and additives, is absolutely associated with health promotion and disease prevention.

When heart disease became a problem during the 20th century in the Americas, researchers studying the cause of heart disease found that people living around the Mediterranean Sea had very little heart disease comparatively and began to look at the way these populations ate.

In tune with the idea that no diet is superior, the Mediterranean diet is more of a way of eating, compiling traditional eating habits of people living in Spain, Italy, Greece, France and the Middle East.

The Mediterranean diet stands the test of time and falls in line with the criteria of whole food emphasis. This diet is a gold standard and the healthfulness of the Mediterranean dietary pattern continues to receive strong backing through nutrition research and by large epidemiological studies published in hundreds of peer-reviewed journal articles.

Let’s look at some highlights of this delicious and nutritious way of eating:

* Eat natural, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, seeds, olives and olive oil as the base of all meals.

* Make olive oil your primary source of dietary fat.

* Reduce the consumption of red meat to a few times monthly. Instead, focus on heart-healthy fish and shellfish, such as tuna, herring, sardines, salmon,   clams, and shrimp, eaten several times a week.

* Cheese and yogurt are eaten regularly, but in low to moderate amounts. The calcium can be good for bone and heart health.

* Nuts, legumes and seeds are a good source of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. These are ideal additions for flavor and texture.

* Focus on herbs and spices for flavor. This helps to lessen the use of salt and fat when cooking. Not only do they taste great, but they are loaded with antioxidants and healing benefits.

* Eggs add protein and nutrients like vitamin E and brain-supportive choline. Eat alone or add to baked goods.

* Limit sweets and focus on fresh fruits loaded with vitamins and fiber.

* Drink moderate amounts of wine (one to two glasses per day for men and one glass per day for women). Yes, that’s correct, you can drink wine!

* Get regular exercise.

Not too bad, right? The Mediterranean way of eating is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Taking into consideration the above guidelines, one could quite easily create healthy, delicious meals 24/7, 365 days a year and never get bored or burned out on measuring, eliminating favorite foods, counting calories, eating bland low-fat foods, forcing huge chunks of meat down, or skipping that lovely glass of Pinot with dinner. Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t. Countless studies show the benefits of basic compliance.

One of the largest studies, PREDIMED, made headlines in 2013 for having caused a substantial reduction in cardiovascular disease. It took 7,447 individuals who were at high risk for cardiovascular disease and randomized them into three groups: A Mediterranean Diet with added extra virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean Diet with added nuts, and a low-fat control group. The study lasted almost five years and the participants were not asked to reduce calories or increase exercise.

Some of the findings include:

* The risk of combined heart attack, stroke and death from cardiovascular disease was reduced by 30% in the Med + Olive Oil group, and 28% in the Med + Nuts group.

* People with high blood pressure, lipid problems or obesity responded the best.

* The levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol decreased with statistical significance in both Med groups, but not in the low-fat group.

* The Mediterranean Diet reduced the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 52%.

* The Mediterranean Diet showed significant improvements in various cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood sugar levels, blood pressure, total HDL cholesterol ratio, and C – reactive protein (CRP).

* The risk of stroke was reduced by 39% (31% Med + Olive Oil and 47% Med + Nuts).

What about weight loss, the number one reason people choose a diet? While the Mediterranean Diet is not a weight loss diet per se, it is a healthy whole one that will often result in reduction of weight, should the individual need that. To encourage this, eating small, balanced meals throughout the day will help your body maximize the nutrition you feed it and keep the metabolic fire stoked. More significantly though, a Mediterranean Diet is the foundation of heart health, helps balance blood sugar, provides ample amounts of macro and micro nutrients, and is enjoyable to the senses. Think of all the delectable meals you can put together or dine out on with a basis of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and olive oil, sprinkled with Omega-3 rich seafood, decadent cheese, and a glass of your favorite vino. Let’s toast to health, happiness, and delicious eating!

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

By Nick Noloboff

Even though humans are at the very top of the food chain, there’s no escaping the risks of this interconnected hierarchy. In fact, there’s a kind of natural justice in being vulnerable to the life led by your food. All the elements that were consumed by the animal you’re now eating—nutrients, chemicals, minerals, etc.—have made their way to you. So it’s worth repeating just how important it is to take care of our food sources, and to make wise choices about what we eat.

One overlooked chapter in the story of our food is the role of fat. On one hand, dietary fats have played a pretty ominous part in our recent history: Heart disease. High cholesterol. Metabolic syndrome. Saturated fats proliferate in many of the foods we eat, even now that their adverse health effects are known. On the other hand, a different kind of fat, essential omega-3 fats, quietly disappeared from our diets without anyone really knowing they were there to begin with.

The short of it is that we’re eating way too much meat and foods filled with seed oils, and not enough (or not the right) fish. This imbalance has less to do with conscious food choices than it does with changes to the agriculture, livestock and seafood industries over the past 50 years. But first, let’s talk about the fish you’re not eating.

Go wild with fish

Until recently, nearly all the fish we ate was taken from the wild, where the smallest fish consume microalgae, nature’s original source of marine omega-3 fats. Larger fish eat those small fish, getting all the omega-3 fats of their prey. This process works its way up the food chain until it lands on your plate as a delicious fillet of sockeye salmon. But increasingly, you have to seek out “wild-caught” fish. The alternative is farmed fish that are raised on fishmeal which is devoid of omega-3s. Plus, wild-caught fish costs more. So people eat less wild fish, and get fewer essential omega-3 fats.

Before wild fish became pricey, meat became cheaper, as economies of scale turned pasture-raised cows into grain-fed cattle. Similar to farmed fish, these livestock get far fewer omega-3 fats than they would by eating their natural diet of grass, and much more of another essential fat, omega-6, which is found in the grain and corn diets of feedlot cattle. Add to this change in the fat composition of meats the proliferation of seed oils in just about everything else we eat—dressings, processed foods, cooking oils, you name it—and you wind up with an abundance of omega-6 and a dearth of omega-3. A big fat mess, so to speak.

It seems that the obvious answer is to eat more wild-caught fish, and greens, but that’s just half of the solution. It’s true that we all need to consume more omega-3s, but we also need to radically cut back on sources of omega-6 to balance our intake of essential fats. Here’s why: Omega-3 and omega-6 fats both reside in cell membranes where they perform a variety of functions that are vital to health. But space in cell membranes is limited, and with so much omega-6 in our bloodstreams, it has a much better chance than omega-3 of getting incorporated into cells simply because it’s more prevalent.

Supplement with Omega-3s

Until the 1970s, few people outside of Scandinavia recognized the health benefits of omega-3 fish oil. Today, over 8,000 clinical studies have documented omega-3s’ effects on health, yet Americans remain woefully undernourished in these fats. At least 90 percent of Americans are deficient, according to a 2015 report issued by the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines Committee.

Although we now know how important omega-3s are, we have a tougher and tougher time getting them into our diets. One sure way to get more is to supplement with a high-quality fish or algae oil. Both of these sources naturally contain the long-chain marine omega-3 fats that are essential for health. Supplementing also ensures a consistent daily intake, even when you eat a few healthy servings of wild-caught fish each week.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

fish , omega-3 , fats , health , wellness