Tag Archives: fish oil

Why You Should Not Stop Taking Your Vitamins

pale-woman-taking-vitamins_123rf.com_Do vitamins kill people? How many people have died from taking vitamins? Should you stop your vitamins?

It depends. To be exact, it depends on the quality of the science and the very nature of scientific research. It is very hard to know things exactly through science. The waste bin of science is full of fallen heroes like Premarin, Vioxx and Avandia (which alone was responsible for 47,000 excess cardiac deaths since it was introduced in 1999).

That brings us to the latest apparent casualty, vitamins. The recent media hype around vitamins is a classic case of drawing the wrong conclusions from good science.

Remember how doctors thought that hormone replacement therapy was the best thing since sliced bread and recommended it to every single post-menopausal woman? These recommendations were predicated on studies that found a correlation between using hormones and reduced risk of heart attacks. But correlation does not prove cause and effect. It wasn’t until we had controlled experiments like the Women’s Health Initiative that we learned Premarin (hormone replacement therapy) was killing women, not saving them.

New studies “proving” that vitamins kill people hit front pages and news broadcasts across the country seemingly every day.

Paul A. Offit’s recent piece in The New York Times, “Don’t Take Your Vitamins,” mentioned a number of studies that suggested a correlation between supplementation and increased risk of death. Offit asserts, “It turns out … that scientists have known for years that large quantities of supplemental vitamins can be quite harmful indeed.” The flaws in the studies he quoted have been well documented. Giving large doses of a single antioxidant is known to set up a chain reaction that creates more free radicals.

But many studies do not prove anything. Science is squirrelly. You only get the answers to the questions you ask. Many of the studies that are performed are called observational studies or epidemiological studies. They are designed to look for or “observe” correlations. Studies like this look for clues that should then lead to further research. They are not designed to be used to guide clinical medicine or public health recommendations.

All doctors and scientists know that this type of study does not prove cause and effect.

Why Scientists Are Confused

At a recent medical conference, one of most respected scientists of this generation, Bruce Ames, made a joke. He said that epidemiologists (people who do population-based observational studies) have a difficult time with their job and are easily confused. Dr. Ames joked that in Miami, epidemiologists found everybody seems to be born Hispanic but die Jewish. Why? Because if you looked at population data in the absence of the total history and culture of Florida during a given time, this would be the conclusion you would draw. This joke brings home the point that correlation does not equal causation.

Aside from the fact that they fly in the face of an overwhelming body of research that proves Americans are nutrient deficient as a whole and that nutritional supplements can have significant impact in disease prevention and health promotion, many recent studies on vitamins are flawed in similar ways.

How Vitamins Save Money and Save Lives

Overwhelming basic science and experimental data support the use of nutritional supplements for the prevention of disease and the support of optimal health. The Lewin Group estimated a $24 billion savings over five years if a few basic nutritional supplements were used in the elderly. Extensive literature reviews in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine also support this view. Interventional trials have proven benefit over and over again.

The concept that nutritional supplements “could be harmful” flies in the face of all reasonable facts from both intervention trials and outcome studies published over the past 40 years. For example, recent trials published within the last few years indicate that modest nutritional supplementation in middle age women found their telomeres didn’t shorten. Keeping your telomeres (the little end caps on your DNA) long is the hallmark of longevity and reduced risk of disease. A recent study found that B12, B6 and folate given to people with memory loss prevented brain atrophy that is associated with aging and dementia. In fact, those who didn’t take the vitamins had almost ten times loss of brain volume as those who took the vitamins.

A plethora of experimental controlled studies–which are the gold standard for proving cause and effect–over the last few years found positive outcomes in many diseases. These include the use of calcium and vitamin D in women with bone loss; folic acid in people with cervical dysplasia (pre-cancerous lesions); iron for anemics; B-complex vitamins to improve cognitive function; zinc, vitamins C and E and carotenoids to lower the risk of macular degeneration; and folate and vitamin B12 to treat depression. This is but a handful of examples. Fish oil is approved by the FDA for lowering triglycerides and reduces risk of heart attacks and more. There are many other studies ignored by Offit in his New York Times piece.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

Can Fish Oil Cause Prostate Cancer? (Part 2)

Pills vitamin supplementsClick here for Part 1!

Consider the Japanese

If it is true that taking fish oil or raising your blood levels of omega-3 phospholipids increases risk for prostate cancer, then why hasn’t this been a problem for Japanese men? They certainly eat their fair share of fatty fish and have done so for generations! The Japanese (and other fish-loving cultures) have been studied many times to test this hypothesis, and guess what? Males in Japan, while having some of the highest levels of EPA and DHA, also have some of the lowest rates of prostate cancer. Only in the most recent studies have Japanese men been shown to have an increase in prostate cancer. Could it be that, as the Japanese begin to abandon their traditional diet of fish, seaweed, and other sea vegetables for the typical SAD (standard American diet, high in saturated fat and linoleic fatty acids), their risk of prostate cancer rises?

It seems that for every claim against fish and fish oil, there are several studies that confirm their benefits. One study, Consumption of Fish Products Across the Lifespan and Prostate Cancer Risk, showed that high blood plasma phospholipids was protective against prostate cancer when fish oil was consumed. Another study showed that omega-3 fatty acids protect against death caused by prostate cancer. And what about the effect of fish oils on the outcome of prostate cancer in men with elevated PSA levels? Again, the literature shows that EPA and DHA have no negative effect.

Personalized Medicine

It’s important to stop and remember that each person has a unique inner ecology and external environment. Contributing factors, such as exposure to environmental toxicity, poor nutrition, and other lifestyle variables, as well as genetics, all play a role in the development of cancer. It’s a complicated disease, and it would be a good idea to pause and look at the whole picture before drawing any major conclusions.

The simple fact is that countless studies have proven the health benefits of eating a diet rich in antioxidants and fiber from fruits and vegetables. And just as we all know that eating your veggies is good for your health, we are now beginning to prove similar health benefits from including healthy fats in your diet. (For more information on how to increase your intake of healthy fats, please see my discussion here). We also know that limiting omega-6 fatty acids and increasing omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to reduce the risk of diabesity in Western cultures.

So, before we toss good medicine aside, we need to examine carefully the factors that contribute to imbalances in the body. We need to assess what we do know and keep asking questions about what we don’t.

We know that a whole foods-based diet, rich in fresh, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein, does make a positive difference in health outcomes. We know that high-quality, purified fish oils are best. We know that a balanced and varied diet is key for maintaining good health. And we know that moderation is the key to a healthy and sensible relationship to food. Any diet or program promoting an extreme is not realistic, sustainable, or even remotely healthy. Remember, the “dose makes the poison,” so just the right amount—and not too much—will allow you to reap the intended benefits. In the case of fish oil, 1-2 grams daily is appropriate for most people, though some of you may need more. I strongly suggest you work with a trained functional medicine practitioner to help you determine the appropriate doses you need, not only for fish oil but for all supplements. My nutrition coaches are here to help you transform general guidelines into personalized solutions.

So, where do I stand on whether fish oil causes prostate cancer?  I’ll be eating sardines in my salad for lunch tomorrow, and I’ll be taking my daily fish oil supplement with my dinner tonight. And I hope you will be too!

Now, I’d like to hear from you…

Have you been swayed by recent reports to feel that omega-3s can cause prostate cancer?

Will you limit the amount of omega-6 fatty acids you consume?

What are some of your favorite ways to include fatty fish in your diet?

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

Can Fish Oil Cause Prostate Cancer? (Part 1)

SalmonWhenever a newly published health study challenges current thinking, you can bet it won’t be long before the news media starts ratcheting up the drama and jumping to conclusions. This is true of a recent study called “Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the SELECT Trial,” published in the July 2013 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. This study suggests a higher risk of prostate cancer among men who eat omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fatty fish like sardines and salmon or in fish oil supplements.

Because I encourage my patients and readers to get plenty of omega-3s, I want to respond to these reports and offer my answer to the question they’ve raised: can fish oil cause prostate cancer? But first, let’s examine the findings.

What the Study Found

The study, which was conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA, claims a link between increased blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and increased incidence of prostate cancer. The highest blood plasma levels of these polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically EPA, DHA and DPA, were associated with the highest risk. The research also showed that higher levels of linoleic acid (or omega-6 fatty acids, which most Americans eat too much of) were actually associated with a lowered risk. This would suggest that the more fish or fish oil a man included in his diet, the greater the chances he would develop prostate cancer. It would also mean that increasing his omega-6 fatty acid intake would be a good idea.

So, have I led you astray by telling you to eat your fatty fish and limit your intake of processed vegetable oils that contain omega-6 fatty acids? Should I warn you against taking fish oil and instead tell you to eat more cottonseed and sunflower seed oils? Let’s look at the facts and decide.

A Closer Look at the Study 

This study used what is called a retrospective case controlled cohort design. Simply put, to make their conclusions, researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center used data from a previous study conducted in 2011 called the SELECT (Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial). It’s important to note that the original SELECT study did not have the same objective as this current one.  It wasn’t designed to determine whether fish oil led to prostate cancer. The fact that both studies didn’t have the same goal calls into question whether the old data is even relevant to the new study.

What we can be sure of is that association does not prove cause and effect. If this had been an intervention design study, where half the participants got fish oil and half didn’t and they were followed for 20 years to see if they got prostate cancer, then you can say pretty definitively that they are connected. Bottom line, this type of study does not prove cause and effect. If I did a study on sunrise and humans waking up, I would find 100% correlation, but that doesn’t mean that the sun came up because you woke up. Correlation, yes; causation, no.

Another problem with the study is that the researchers did not address whether the men who were studied got their omega-3 fatty acids from eating fatty fish or from taking supplements. Also, there was no regard for their health status before starting the study. Did they start using fish oil as a therapy once diagnosed with prostate cancer or had they been taking it all along?

And what about the myriad other factors that can lead to the onset and progression of cancer, such as how lifestyle affects genetics? Smoking, nutrition, exercise, environmental toxicity, stress: none of these things were taken into account. It is too simplistic to reduce a disease as complex as cancer down to one trigger. In fact, perhaps we should be asking if these men were exposed to toxins and heavy metals from eating mercury-containing fish, which can cause cancer. Or did the men smoke or drink to excess? Was there a history of cancer in the family? What was their personal health history prior to diagnosis? Were they overweight or obese, and did they have other symptoms of diabesity?

Another major flaw with this study’s design involves the way the researchers got their data. They analyzed blood plasma instead of red blood cells. And they did so with one single blood draw! The conclusions would have been stronger and more reliable had they used red blood cell samples, because those provide a more accurate assessment over the long term (plasma tends to provide only a short-term picture). Because the research was based only on samples of a single blood draw, the red blood cell analysis would have given a better picture of long-term omega-3 intake (a couple months of eating salmon, for example, instead of what happens in the body after a single meal). That’s why I suggest people use the omega-3 index test, which measures levels from within the red blood cells.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

Exciting News! MightyOmega – Mighty Pure | Mighty Potent

I have very exciting news!  We have launched our Epic Nutrients website where you can now buy MightyOmega online (in Canada only).  Here is the information on this amazing Omega 3 fish oil product:

The Next Generation Omega-3

Mighty Omega is a Next Generation omega-3 fish oil supplement ideally suited for use in acute, therapeutic and preventative health programs.

The use of the most advanced omega-3 technology such as low temperature Supercritical Extraction (SE) and the Functional Omega Ratio makes MightyOmega Mighty Pure and Mighty Potent.

Mighty Pure because MightyOmega contains no heat-damaged molecules, and nearly undetectable levels of heavy metals and organic pollutants (see Table 1).

Mighty Potent
because MightyOmega delivers research-level results from the Functional Omega Ratio (6.5:1 ratio of EPA:DHA).

Mighty Pure

MightyOmega uses a unique, state-of-the-art manufacturing process called Supercritical Extraction (SE).

The SE process uses carbon dioxide (instead of conventional solvents) and minimal heat to extract and concentrate the active omega-3 fatty acids of eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) from the delicate fish oil raw material. As a result, the SE Process generates no heat-damaged toxic molecules—molecules that have no place in health supplements because they can cause cellular damage over time.

The SE process not only allows for low temperature extraction, but it also does an outstanding job of purifying fish oils from heavy metals and environmental pesticides–making MightyOmega pure and safe for high dose or extended use applications (see Table 1).

In contrast to Mighty-Omega’s low-temperature SE process, conventional fish oils use a manufacturing process called Molecular Distillation (MD). The MD process uses conventional solvents and requires the delicate fish oil raw material to go through a series of heating steps under vacuum. Although molecular distillation purifies fish oil, it does so by heating the fish oil to near frying temperature—resulting in the creation of the same heat-damaged molecules found in conventional mass-market cooking oils.

Table 1: Quality Control- Lot# 1713689768 For Purity

Mighty Potent

Published omega-3 research and physician experience indicate that omega-3 products containing an EPA to DHA ratio of greater than 3:1 produce superior results in specific acute, therapeutic and preventative health programs (see Table 2). As a result, MightyOmega uses the Functional Omega Ratio of 6.5:1 EPA to DHA (6.5 times as much EPA as DHA per capsule) for rapid and consistent results.

Table 2: Dosages Used in Human Clinical Trials

Ingredients:

  • 800 mg Fish oil concentrate
    From sardine (Sardina pilchardus) and anchovy (Engraulis japonicus)
  • 520 mg Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • 80 mg Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Dosage:

Adults (19 years and above): Two softgels daily, or as recommended by your health care provider.

Children (5 years and older): One softgel daily for the maintenance of good health. Two softgels daily for support of cognitive health and brain function, or as recommended by your health care provider. Taking the softgels with a meal improves absorption.

Read more or buy MightyOmega on the Epic Nutrients website.

To your health,

Kim Duess
Epic Nutrients

www.epicnutrients.com


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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

Could Marine Oil Be Alzheimer’s Silver Bullet?

While doctors are prescribing expensive drugs that can have devastating side effects to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s, new research shows it might be possible to prevent the onset of this cruel disease by something as simple, inexpensive, and safe as a dose of marine oil every day during our younger years.
 
In the US, as many as 5.3 million people live with Alzheimer’s. That number is predicted to double every 20 years.1 The latest medical thinking is that the escalating rate of Alzheimer’s disease has its roots in chronic inflammation that’s a result of the modern diet deficient in omega 3 fatty acids.
 
The first symptoms of Alzheimer’s generally appear after age 60. But according to the National Institute on Aging, the damage that eventually turns into Alzheimer’s disease can begin to occur 20 years before the first symptoms appear. Memory problems are one of the first signs that the downward slide to Alzheimer’s disease may be going on inside someone’s brain. Other symptoms include loss of motor control and problems with one’s sense of smell.
 
Prevailing medical opinion is that once the degenerative process involved in Alzheimer’s disease begins, it can, at best, be slowed. It cannot be stopped. It makes sense, therefore, to do whatever one can to prevent the process from beginning.
 
While some people have drawn a genetic short straw that predisposes them to develop Alzheimer’s disease, the latest medical research has identified chronic inflammation as the first stage in the process. For example, one team of researchers found that people whose blood carried the markers for inflammation, called cytokines, were more likely to go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease than test subjects without cytokines.2
 
Discovery of the link between inflammation and Alzheimer’s has led to research on the potential for anti-inflammatories to prevent the onset of the disease. In one study, a team of researchers tested a synthetic anti-inflammatory drug for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. They found that the anti-inflammatory drug "appeared to protect mild to moderately impaired Alzheimer’s disease patients from the degree of cognitive decline exhibited by a well-matched placebo-treated group." 3
 
While synthetic prescription anti-inflammatories may be beneficial as an Alzheimer’s preventative, the side effects of their long-term use can be serious. Consequently, doctors have been looking for safer options for their Alzheimer’s patients. One way to address chronic inflammation is by adding therapeutic omega 3 fatty acids to the diet. Eating more omega 3 rich cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna is helpful, but a better way to boost omega 3 levels is by taking a dietary supplement.
 
The best sources of omega 3 are marine oils, usually sold as fish oil capsules derived from salmon. The most potent omega 3 marine oil found to date is derived from the green-lipped mussel of New Zealand. At the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, Dr. Michael Whitehouse PhD compared stabilized mussel oil with other anti-inflammatory agents, which included several prescription medications. At a dose of 5mg per kilogram of body weight, the stabilized mussel oil was found to be 97 percent effective in reducing inflammation, and 350 times more potent than salmon oil as a source of omega 3. Dr. Whitehouse concluded that the mussel oil was clearly a superior medicinal compound, because it achieved the desired result without the side effects that accompanied synthetic anti-inflammatories.
 
Since inflammation has been shown to be a culprit behind a great many conditions–from heart disease and arthritis to asthma and Alzheimer’s–it makes sense to get more omega 3 into one’s diet. High-potency marine oil, such as that derived from the New Zealand green-lipped mussel, may be the answer.
 
SOURCES:
1 2009 statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association.
2 Zaldy S. Tan MD, Journal of the American Academy of Neurology, May 29, 2007.
3 Roberts L.J. et al. Neurology, 1993; 43:1609.

Could Marine Oil Be Alzheimer’s Silver Bullet?

While doctors are prescribing expensive drugs that can have devastating side effects to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s, new research shows it might be possible to prevent the onset of this cruel disease by something as simple, inexpensive, and safe as a dose of marine oil every day during our younger years.
 
In the US, as many as 5.3 million people live with Alzheimer’s. That number is predicted to double every 20 years.1 The latest medical thinking is that the escalating rate of Alzheimer’s disease has its roots in chronic inflammation that’s a result of the modern diet deficient in omega 3 fatty acids.
 
The first symptoms of Alzheimer’s generally appear after age 60. But according to the National Institute on Aging, the damage that eventually turns into Alzheimer’s disease can begin to occur 20 years before the first symptoms appear. Memory problems are one of the first signs that the downward slide to Alzheimer’s disease may be going on inside someone’s brain. Other symptoms include loss of motor control and problems with one’s sense of smell.
 
Prevailing medical opinion is that once the degenerative process involved in Alzheimer’s disease begins, it can, at best, be slowed. It cannot be stopped. It makes sense, therefore, to do whatever one can to prevent the process from beginning.
 
While some people have drawn a genetic short straw that predisposes them to develop Alzheimer’s disease, the latest medical research has identified chronic inflammation as the first stage in the process. For example, one team of researchers found that people whose blood carried the markers for inflammation, called cytokines, were more likely to go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease than test subjects without cytokines.2
 
Discovery of the link between inflammation and Alzheimer’s has led to research on the potential for anti-inflammatories to prevent the onset of the disease. In one study, a team of researchers tested a synthetic anti-inflammatory drug for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. They found that the anti-inflammatory drug "appeared to protect mild to moderately impaired Alzheimer’s disease patients from the degree of cognitive decline exhibited by a well-matched placebo-treated group." 3
 
While synthetic prescription anti-inflammatories may be beneficial as an Alzheimer’s preventative, the side effects of their long-term use can be serious. Consequently, doctors have been looking for safer options for their Alzheimer’s patients. One way to address chronic inflammation is by adding therapeutic omega 3 fatty acids to the diet. Eating more omega 3 rich cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna is helpful, but a better way to boost omega 3 levels is by taking a dietary supplement.
 
The best sources of omega 3 are marine oils, usually sold as fish oil capsules derived from salmon. The most potent omega 3 marine oil found to date is derived from the green-lipped mussel of New Zealand. At the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, Dr. Michael Whitehouse PhD compared stabilized mussel oil with other anti-inflammatory agents, which included several prescription medications. At a dose of 5mg per kilogram of body weight, the stabilized mussel oil was found to be 97 percent effective in reducing inflammation, and 350 times more potent than salmon oil as a source of omega 3. Dr. Whitehouse concluded that the mussel oil was clearly a superior medicinal compound, because it achieved the desired result without the side effects that accompanied synthetic anti-inflammatories.
 
Since inflammation has been shown to be a culprit behind a great many conditions–from heart disease and arthritis to asthma and Alzheimer’s–it makes sense to get more omega 3 into one’s diet. High-potency marine oil, such as that derived from the New Zealand green-lipped mussel, may be the answer.
 
SOURCES:
1 2009 statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association.
2 Zaldy S. Tan MD, Journal of the American Academy of Neurology, May 29, 2007.
3 Roberts L.J. et al. Neurology, 1993; 43:1609.

Eat Fish, Be Happy

It’s amazing! When researchers took a close look at the foods typically eaten in various countries, they discovered an interesting insight: as fish consumption increased, depression decreased. Of course, depression isn’t uniform in each country; it varies from city to city and town to town. But what is consistent is this: People who consume the most fish (found in Japan, Thailand, and Hong Kong) were the least depressed, while those with the lowest fish consumption (found in North America, Europe, and New Zealand) had the highest rates of depression. And the secret seems to be the abundance of a particular type of fat found in fish (and in other foods): omega-3 fatty acids.

Fish-fat findings
A closer look at the Japanese diet sheds still more light on the fish-omega 3-depression link: Typically, about 15 times more omega-3s are in the diet of the Japanese than are in the American diet. Depression-wise, this translates into a Japanese culture with one-tenth the depression rate of Americans. Viewed from another vantage point, this means that almost 50% of elderly Americans have symptoms of depression, compared with about 2% of the Japanese elderly. Even more striking is the discovery in 1995 by psychiatrists who interviewed elders living in a Japanese fishing village: they did not find even one case of clinical depression.
 
Anatomy of Omega 3s and Mood
How might Omega-3 fats ward off depression?  One of the omega 3s—with the long name of docosahesaenoic (DNA)—is believed to boost the blues because it is concentrated in the brain. Contributing to about 50% of the total fats in nerve tissue, they play a key role in the functioning of nerve membranes, and in turn, your nervous system. Add the link between deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids and low levels of serotonin, and you’re more vulnerable to depression.
 
Fish for feel-good feelings
From dreary doldrums to a deeper depression, a diet that is deficient in omega-3 fats can contribute to the problem. Here are some omega-3-rich fish to integrate into your diet.
 
Seafood (3 ounces, before cooking)
Sardines, in sardine oil  (3.3 grams omega 3s)                                                                                                     
Mackerel, Atlantic  (2.5 grams omega 3s)                                                                                                             
Trout, lake (1.6 grams omega 3s)                                                                                                       
Anchovy, European (1.4 grams omega 3s)                                                                                                           
Salmon, pink (1.0 grams omega 3s)
 
Two or three servings are all you need each week to get the benefits of fish oil (while avoiding too much mercury and other toxins often found in fish). If you find it’s not always convenient to eat omega-3-rich fish, it’s a good idea to consider supplementing your diet with a good fish oil supplement that is mercury and toxin-free. Keep in mind that fish oil-rich food is your best defense against depression, but taking a daily supplement can also be good insurance against deficiency. For more insights into natural mood boosters, read “Get High with Movement and Motion," by Deborah Kesten, MPH.
 
Deborah Kesten, MPH, was the nutritionist on Dean Ornish, MD’s first clinical trial for reversing heart disease through lifestyle changes—without drugs or surgery, and Director of Nutrition on similar research in cardiovascular clinics in Europe. Specializing in preventing and reversing overweight and heart disease through lifestyle changes, she is the award-winning author of Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul, The Healing Secrets of Food, and The Enlightened Diet. Call her at 415.810.7874, or visit her at www.Enlightened-Diet.com to take her FREE What’s Your Eating Style? Quiz, and to learn more about her Whole Person Nutrition Program for wellness, weight loss, and heart-health; coaching; and books.

A Natural Anti-Inflammatory Gains Acceptance

 

Acceptance among doctors of the use of natural anti-inflammatory compounds has been increasing in response to evidence that pins the blame for some heart attacks and deaths on COX-2 drugs. COX-2 inhibitors are drugs for inflammation that selectively block the COX-2 enzyme. Blocking this enzyme impedes the production of the chemical messengers (prostaglandins) that cause the pain and swelling of arthritis inflammation.
 
When COX-2 drugs appeared on the market in 1999, they were touted as the answer to the problems of the older nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which while effective against inflammation and the consequent pain, had a range of nasty side effects that included stomach ulcers and renal failure.
 
The COX-2 drugs were said to offer relief from the misery of arthritis pain and other forms of chronic inflammation, without the dangers of the older drugs. For a while, COX-2 drugs appeared to live up to the marketing hype. COX-2 drugs such as Vioxx and Celebrex became the most frequently prescribed new drugs in the United States. By October 2000, US sales exceeded 100 million prescriptions per year and were increasing rapidly. Sales of Celebrex alone reached $3.1 billion during 2001.
 
The future for this new class of drugs looked stellar, until a few doctors began to notice that their patients on COX-2 drugs experienced more adverse cardiac events than other patients. Research by concerned doctors led to one of the most popular COX-2 drugs, Vioxx, being withdrawn by its maker, Merck, in September of 2004, in response to data showing that it appeared to increase the risk of heart attack by several hundred percent. Other COX-2 withdrawals followed in various parts of the world.
 
There have been about 16,000 lawsuits against Merck in the United States and many more legal actions elsewhere in the world. It is thought that COX-2 inhibitors increase the risk of heart attack because they make blood platelets stickier, which can lead to the blockage of blood vessels. While Vioxx and Celebrex have the misfortune of being the best known of the COX-2 drugs accused of causing harm, they are by no means alone. A survey of 1.5 million patients that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the COX-2 inhibitor Dicolfenac increased the risk of heart attack by 40 percent.
 
COX-2 drugs are still being prescribed throughout the world, although evidence of the risks involved has caused an increasing number of doctors to look at other options. This is a big step for most American-trained doctors, because US medical schools teach little about the use of natural alternatives.
 
By comparison, European medical schools treat natural alternatives as first-choice therapeutic options. The medical culture in Europe is quite different from that in the United States. A German doctor, for example, would likely consider prescribing a natural remedy for a patient as a first-choice option and would not resort to a synthetic drug unless or until the natural remedy had been shown to be insufficient for the needs of that patient.
 
The US situation is changing, though. Organizations such as the American Association of Integrative Medicine have made great strides in making medical professionals aware of low-cost, low-risk, efficacious natural options to synthetic drugs.
 
For example, there are natural anti-inflammatory options, such as marine oils and various plant oils, that have been found to have a modulating effect on the body’s inflammatory response. The problem with natural anti-inflammatories is that, with one notable exception, they are not particularly potent, so large doses are needed to achieve a therapeutic benefit.
 
The notable exception is a product called Lyprinol, which is the result of a patented process that extracts the lipid (marine oil) fractions of the New Zealand green-lipped mussel. Research conducted at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, by Dr. Sir Michael Whitehouse and published in the peer-reviewed journal Inflammopharmacology, showed that Lyprinol was 350 times more potent than salmon oil, 350 times more potent than other green-lipped mussel products (powders), and 400 times more potent than flax seed oil. Dr. Whitehouse also compared the efficacy of Lyprinol with that of synthetic anti-inflammatory drugs, and Lyprinol was the winner again. He found that as an anti-inflammatory the mussel oil was 97 percent effective.None of the other marine oils, or pharmaceuticals such as Indomethacin, were able to achieve a result that matched the effectiveness of the mussel oil.
 
Even more important, Lyprinol achieved this high level of efficacy without causing any nasty side effects and or adverse interactions with other medications. The mussel lipid fraction extract is also protein free, and therefore safe for people who have an adverse reaction to shellfish. During more than two decades of use and research, there has never been a single recorded adverse reaction to the pure extracted oil of the New Zealand green-lipped mussel.
 
The mussel oil has another advantage over fish oil, in that it does not inhibit blood clotting. The consumption of large quantities of fish oil can be contraindicated for some patients who are on blood-thinning medications, because fish oil inhibits clotting.
 
In addition to the anti-inflammatory benefits of Lyprinol, it also plays a role in promoting good heart health, as one would expect of a potent omega 3 marine oil. Diets high in marine oils have been shown to be beneficial for cardiovascular health, because they inhibit the accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque (hardening of the arteries). Marine oils also reduce the level of the "bad" LDL cholesterol in the blood and help to keep the blood vessels supple and elastic.
 
Because Lyrinol has been shown to be 350 times more potent than salmon oil as a source of omega 3, it can deliver a worthwhile heart health benefit with a much smaller dose. For example, just one Lyprinol capsule has the potency of about a quarter of the typical bottle of fish oil capsules.
 
Work conducted by Dr. Whitehouse and others published in peer-reviewed medical journals has shown that this completely natural product is in every way a superior alternative to synthetic anti-inflammatory drugs. More US doctors are becoming aware of the therapeutic applications of the oil of this small sea creature, and sales of Lyprinol have increased accordingly. As evidence mounts of the dangerous and sometimes fatal side effects of synthetic anti-inflammatory drugs, it’s good to know that there’s a safe and effective alternative available from nature’s pharmacy.

Find more information about the anti-inflammatory properties and health benefits of Lyprinol at www.lyprinolusa.com.
 

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