Tag Archives: EFAs

Does Your Brain Need an Oil Change?

Humans really are fat heads. About sixty percent of the human brain is fat. To maintain proper brain health, you need to get adequate fat from your diet. But, not just any fat will do. Some fats damage the brain. The Standard American Diet (SAD) high in trans and hydrogenated fats worsens inflammation in the body, and this inflammation can damage delicate brain tissues. These unhealthy fats are found in fried foods, shortening, lard, margarine, baked goods, and processed and prepared foods.

Healthy fats help keep the lining of brain cells flexible so that memory and other brain messages can pass easily between cells. Both Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats are important to brain health and should be eaten in a one-to-one or two-to-one ratio to each other. However, the average North American eats these foods in a twenty-to-one to a fifty-to-one ratio, causing a huge imbalance and resulting Omega-3 deficiency. In this ratio, Omega-6 fats can cause or worsen inflammation, for which there is insufficient Omega-3 fats to keep inflammation under control. The typical diet, if it contains any healthy essential fatty acids, usually includes fats found in meat and poultry, or occasionally from nuts and seeds. Most of these fats are Omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-6 fatty acids are found in the highest concentrations in corn, sunflower, and safflower oils. But, you are more than what you eat. I read somewhere that “you are what you eat eats.” So that means if you eat a diet with meat or poultry that was fed corn, or other grains high in Omega-6s, you’re getting lots of Omega-6s indirectly.

The best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include flax seeds or oil, walnuts and walnut oil, some types of algae, krill oil, and fatty coldwater fish, particularly wild salmon. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type of Omega-3 fatty acid, makes up a large part of the lining of brain cells, helps to keep the cellular lining flexible enough to allow memory messages to pass between cells, promotes nerve transmission throughout the central nervous system, and protects the energy centers of the cells, called “mitochondria,” from damage.

Fish that contain high amounts of this Omega-3 fatty acid include mackerel, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon, lake trout, and herring. But be aware, some of these fish have become contaminated with mercury and, as you just learned in chapter two, some research links mercury to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. So, it is important to avoid fish that consistently shows up high on the mercury radar, including predatory fish like swordfish and shark, as well as sea bass, northern pike, tuna, walleye, and largemouth bass. Salmon raised in fish farms also frequently shows up with high amounts of mercury, not to mention that farmed salmon often contains antibiotic residues and lower levels of the important Omega-3 fatty acids.

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, PhD, is an international best-selling and ten-time book author and doctor of traditional natural medicine, whose works include: Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, The Phytozyme Cure. and the upcoming e-book The Vitality Diet.  Check out her natural health resources and free newsletter at www.WorldsHealthiestDiet.com.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Stephen Rees

Good Fats are STILL Fat…

The other day, a group of friends and I were chowing down at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Ole in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  They make Guacamole – to die for – fresh at your table.  One of my friends who felt we porked out on too much of it claimed, "Well, at least it is the good kind of fat!"  Yes, avocados have ‘good fat’.  But does that mean that eating a couple of avocados worth in one sitting is actually good for you?  No, not so much.

Our guacamole fest made me realize that often we eat foods that are determined to have ‘health benefits’ past moderation, in turn, making them ‘not so healthy.’  Take dark chocolate for instance.  It has become pretty well know that dark chocolate contains antioxidants which are great for warding off ‘free-radicals’.  I imagine that for a lot of people, the logic then goes something like this: "Great!  So this must mean I should eat dark chocolate often and in large quantities to ensure that I stay young and beautiful."  In reality, if we all did this, we would have even a larger obesity epidemic on our hands than we already do.  The truth is that we should indulge in these foods, but still maintain ‘in moderation’ as our standard for portions and frequency.

Look, a fat is a fat.  It doesn’t matter if it is a ‘good fat’ or a ‘bad fat’, it is still a fat.  And, a healthy diet should only incorporate 20% – 30% of fat, whether good or bad.  Granted, when you are eating fats, eating those that are ‘good’ is by far more healthy than eating those that are ‘bad.’  You should avoid those that are ‘bad.’  But just because it is good doesn’t mean that you should look at them as a staple of your diet. 

What fats do you enjoy?  Any that you rationalize ‘it is good for you so I can eat a lot of it’?

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My Flax Obsession

After falling head over heals for Nature’s Path Organic Flax Plus Granola Cereal with Pumpkin Seeds , my interest around Flax was peaked.  I did some research around the benefits of Flax and why we should be incorporating this little teeny weeny seed into our diets. 

  1. Omega-3 essential fatty acids:  Flax Seed is full of Omega-3s…which are known to lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, lower risk of breast, prostate and colon cancers and even reduce inflammation due to arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease and asthma.

  2. Full of Fiber: The fiber in Flax is especially beneficial because it contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.

  3. Loaded with Lignans: Lignans are beneficial because they act as phytoestrogens and antioxidants.  

  4. Lubrication: Because of the omega-3, essential fatty acids, flaxseed is a great lubricant and can be especially helpful in relieving dry eyes.  Dry eyes are usually a result of an insufficient outer oil layer in the tear film.  Flax oil (also known as linseed oil) helps the oil glands produce the proper consistency of oil to coat the surface.

Flaxseed can be bought at most supermarkets and/or health food stores.  It comes in three varieties: whole seeds, ground seed or oil.  Most experts would recommend that you use the ground seeds, as they provide all of the benefits listed above.  Whole seeds, on the other hand, will pass through your system undigested and the oil, lacks the fiber which is so good for you. 

Note: If you suffer from diverticulosis, the oil is probably the best option.  

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Steeler’s Secret Weapon Could Help YOU!

What an amazing Super Bowl game! I am so proud to be a Pittsburger! Why are the Steelers the best football team in the land?

 Is it Mike Tomlin’s coaching? The motivation to be the first team to win six Super Bowls? The brilliance of Big Ben? Maybe. It also could have been Dr. Michael Gross’s fish oil!
Yes, the Steelers have been swallowing fish oil as part of a two-year study appearing in the new journal Sports Health: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach.   Why fish oil? Because it is an anti-inflammatory agent that hastens healing, and has been shown to improve attention, reaction time and cognitive processing.
For the past ten years or so, doctors have been using fish oil successfully with children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and autism. Drs. Doris Rapp and Billie Sahley were pioneers in using fish oil. The Defeat Autism Now! protocol recommends a fish oil as a foundational supplement in the biomedical approach to autism.  
Dr. Andrew Stoll, a Harvard psychiatrist who was looking for an alternative to medications for his patients with depression and bipolar disorder discovered that fish oil raised and evened out their moods naturally, and without undesirable side effects. He wrote about it in his book The Omega-3 Connection.
Fish oils are essential fatty acids or EFAs. They are a crucial part of the structure of the nervous system, which is 60-70% fat. EFAs must be ingested, as the body cannot produce them. Unfortunately, the standard American diet is low in EFAs. Furthermore, non-essential fatty acids, such as the hydrogenated vegetable oils used to make margarine, and to fry fast food are high in trans-fatty acids. These “bad fats” may affect neuronal fluidity by virtue of different chemical structure compared to the biologically preferred cis fatty acids, and can interfere with an individual’s ability to make use of the marginal amounts of EFAs consumed.
High quality EFAs are mercury-free. Safe ones usually come from Norway. Reliable brands are  Carlsons, Nordic Naturals and Spectrum. They offer many delivery systems from capsules to oils (yes, Grandma was correct in forcing the cod liver oil!) and even pudding-like pastes that taste like a creamsicle from Coromega   
Maybe it’s time for you and all aspiring young quarterbacks to rethink fat. 
For more information on fish oils for autism spectrum disorders, read my new book, EnVISIONing a Bright Future

Walking the Walk

I know a physician who is working indefatigably to help his patients and make the world a better place. He works 16 hour days, sometimes seven days a week. He grabs food on the run and sleeps under six hours a night. 

Last month he had a wake-up-call. When he tried to donate blood, the hospital sent him immediately to the Emergency Room. Not to help out the ER docs, but as a patient whose blood pressure was dangerously high. He said he almost died.
He now realizes that he needs to practice the healthy life style he is preaching. In just a couple of weeks, he relates that his thinking is clearer, he has lost weight, and he is a better doctor. 
As 2009 is still in its infancy, here are a few ways you can not only take care of yourself, but also become a better health care practitioner.
         Watch your diet – Add protein for breakfast,  plentiful green vegetables, fruits in season anytime, and essential fatty acids either by eating small, cold water fish or by supplements. Eliminate sugars, alcohol, caffeine, aspartame, MSG, artificial flavors, bad fats. 
         Get adequate sleep – If you are getting fewer than seven hours of restful sleep a night, you are stressing out your immune system. Eventually, you will get sick. Is your bedroom dark, free from electronic “noise” and ventilated with good quality air? Are your sheets, blankets and sleepwear made of natural fibers? All of these practices will promote healing sleep.
         Stay hydrated – Yes, the body and brain need water to work properly. Keep a stainless steel or glass water bottle on your desk. Make sure your water is filtered, or better yet, natural with good minerals in it.
         Watch your EMF exposure at home and in the office – What invisible energy sources are beaming down on your brain? Use cell phones with a head set or remotely. Turn off wireless Internet at night. Check for cell phone towers nearby at www.antennasearch.com Have a qualified bau-biologie expert inspect your home and office to look at wiring and possible “hot spots.” (http://www.bau-biologieusa.com/ )
         Keep a healthy lifestyle – Make time to exercise. Mix it up: aerobics, walking, weight-bearing and meditative every few days. Stay away from toxic people or mitigate their effects with meditation.
         Promote non – toxic and recycled alternatives in your office – Offer organic soaps, cleaners and lotions in the restroom, and gluten- and dairy-free snacks in the therapy room.
When you “walk the walk, without a doubt, you will have the same experience as my friend the doctor. Your family, clients and patients will all notice and appreciate the differences, and you will feel better than you ever thought possible! 
A belated Happy New Year!

Prevent Spring Allergies NOW!

On this frigid winter day in the East, few people are worrying that in about six weeks their kids will be sneezing, coughing and using up boxes of tissues. If, however, you plan ahead, you might be able to avoid these dreaded harbingers of spring. How?

Identify and eliminate allergic foods – Dairy products often go hand-in-hand with allergies to trees and plants. Ridding your diet of them now could eliminate the mucous that traps the pollen and causes those respiratory symptoms.
Eat with the season – Make stews, soups, casseroles with root vegetables like turnips, parsnips and celery root, and discover how sweet they are. Use ancient grains like amaranth, quinoa and millet that contain no gluten and contain more protein than wheat and rice. Find recipes at www.bodyecology.com or from The Book of Whole Meals by Annemarie Colbin. 
Green your cleaning – Switch now to non-toxic products for housekeeping. Deirdre Imus’ Greening the Cleaning® and Seventh Generation products are now readily available and work just as well without potentially harmful ingredients. Reducing the amount of toxins a child breathes at home allows more “wiggle room” for inhaling environmental irritants in the spring.
Boost your family’s immune system – Up the strength of the body’s response by adding antioxidants, good fats and probiotics now. If your child has been sick, taken antibiotics, or is just plain run-down, build up the immune power with the ACES (Vitamins A, C, E and selenium), probiotics to add back good bacteria to the gut flora and some essential fats from mercury-free cold water fish. Go to a high quality health food store for advice on brands and dosages. 
Prevention means planning ahead. The time is NOW!
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