Jul
06
2013

The Inconvenient Truth About Convenience Foods

When your grandmother grew up there was very little convenience food, maybe ketchup and yes, there was processed cheese and coke. There were also bread and butter.

Now we go through a large grocery store and the center of the whole store is occupied by convenience food, row after row.

What is convenience food? It is pre-cooked or processed food that sits on a shelf waiting to be bought and consumed. You may be able to just eat it the way it is (power bars, fruit yoghurt snacks, ice cream, breakfast cereals etc.) or you just have to microwave it for a minute or two (ready made meals, pizzas). Even, if you make a fresh salad, you top it with a salad dressing that has been processed and may contain chemicals that are not necessarily healthy for you.

This blog is meant to make you think and get educated as a consumer. As a physician I am guided by what is healthy for you, but at the same time food needs to be interesting and taste good and be affordable.

As fat, carbohydrates and protein are the main food groups that we eat, I will deal with each of these categories first followed by vitamins and minerals, which we also need.

Fats and oils

Many convenience foods are full of saturated fatty acids, which contribute to the overall calorie count of the package and are one of the main reasons why we gain weight and deposit fat into our arteries in preparation for a heart attack or stroke down the road. As you may know the worst form of fat is hydrogenated fat, also known as “trans fat”.

It contains free radicals from the hydrogenation process, which damage your cells and interfere with normal body metabolism. Read labels and avoid any foods that have a long shelf life as this is due to hydrogenated fats and chemicals known as food preservatives.

This food group also contains sausages and other processed meat; I wrote a separate blog about this recently.

If you eat cheese, reduce your saturated fat intake by buying cheese with only 18% fat (such as Cantenaar cheese, Jarlsberg light, skim milk mozzarella and goat cheese). Avoid the rich 45% type cheeses. The best oil in your kitchen would be an organic cold pressed olive oil. It figures prominently in Mediterranean cooking.

The Inconvenient Truth About Convenience Foods

The Inconvenient Truth About Convenience Foods

Sugar, starch and other carbohydrates

A large portion of snacks from the mid section of the grocery store contains all forms of sugar: high fructose corn syrup, sugar, honey, agave syrup, maple syrup etc.  You may think that a harmless fruit juice would be healthy until you see from the ingredient list on the label that it contains 5 to 6 teaspoons of sugar per cup (250 ml) of juice.

Unfortunately our body is not equipped to process all the sugar that the food industry wants us to consume and we develop insulin resistance; the liver converts the excess sugars into fat and deposits it into our arteries and as fat deposits between our guts (visceral fat) and as subcutaneous fat in the thighs, around the hips and the waist. It is no secret that a lot of obesity is related to overconsumption of sugar containing convenience foods (snacks and sugar-laden drinks).

Often low calorie alternatives contain aspartame or sucralose (Splenda). Aspartame is an excitotoxin damaging your brain cells and sucralose was developed in the 1950’s as an insecticide. We do not want to replace disease-promoting sugar with toxins as sweeteners. Safe alternatives for sugar are xylitol, mannitol, and stevia.

What is sometimes overlooked is the fact that your body digests bread, starchy foods such as potatoes, and pasta, rice and flour products like pizza or cookies within 30 minutes into sugar that is as harmful to your pancreas as plain sugar or high fructose corn syrup. The body reacts with the same overproduction of insulin converting the excess sugar into fat and depositing it in your body as described above. Much of the obesity wave we see in the past 3 decades is due to baked goods like bagels, bread, pasta and pizza. It is much better to enjoy your stevia-sweetened coffee without any bakery pieces to go along with it.

Protein in meats, dairy products and sausages

You would think that a healthy cut of meat from the grocery store would be a good source of protein for you. You probably did not think that it could be contaminated with a superbug when you bought it. This is especially true for ground meats like hamburger meat. If you bought a portion of organic meat you can be more certain that you are buying a qualitatively superior product. I discussed this whole issue of superbugs in meat and meat products in this blog recently.

We need to be aware of the agroindustry, the feedlots and what they fed the animals. I only buy organic meat and organic dairy products as my source of protein. I avoid sausages altogether because of the food additives that they contain, which are cancer causing.

The problem with prepared meats like chicken nuggets and others is that they contain breading and food preservatives and they have been deep fried, which makes these items an unhealthy choice.

What are some of the problems with dairy products? Despite the allegations that bovine growth hormone would be harmless to your health, your body thinks otherwise. Your body has hormone receptors that are very specific and bovine growth hormone can block them so your own human growth hormone from the pituitary gland cannot function properly. This is why I would recommend only organic milk products. You may have heard that in many European countries bovine growth hormone is banned for that reason.

Next the fat content of dairy products needs to be monitored: go for low-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt. While we are talking about yoghurt, stay away from fruit yoghurts that have all kinds of sugar and food additives mixed in. Add fruit of your choice and stevia, if you need a sweet taste.

Vitamins and minerals

The more foods are processed, the less natural vitamins and minerals stay behind. Particularly vitamin C and the B complex group are affected, but also magnesium, which is an important co-factor to enzymatic reactions within our cells. Often processed foods contain too much salt with sodium displacing potassium from the cells resulting in a lack of energy and high blood pressure.

Your best prevention is to stick to as little processed food as possible and to eat organic. If you eat enough organic greens and vegetables, there is an ample supply of vitamins and minerals. Prepare your own soups as canned products are high in sodium; another unwanted additive is often sodium glutamate (MSG), which comes under many disguised names. It belongs to the group of excitotoxins like aspartame and is not welcomed by your brain cells.

Public Awareness

Lately there has been more of public interest and awareness to the detrimental effects of convenience foods. Alarming reports about the increase in the obesity rates, the rise in diabetes type 2 even in children have been in the media for some time. The publications are not only North American, but also European, as can bee seen in this link.

New legislation is being introduced in many states of the US regarding school snacks and vending machines in schools.

Not all food news is bad. Recently it was reported that fish oil could protect against the effects of junk food. Omega-3-fatty acids contained in fish oil are helping to rebalance the ratio between omega 3 and omega 6-fatty acids in food, which often is disbalanced towards an overabundance of omega-6 fatty aids in processed foods. Rebalancing the omega3/omega6 ratio in food helps to normalize the metabolism of the brain and prevents hardening of arteries.

What you can do to get healthy food

It starts when you buy food. Read labels and look for calories, sugar, fat and sodium content. You may be surprised how many stores carry organic foods now. The price may not be that much more. There is a useful app for your cell phone, Buycott, that you may want to download. This way you can scan items in the store and find out what ingredients are contained in a particular food item and which company produces it.

With meats it is particularly important to buy organic (because of superbugs and also because of the aspect that feed lot animals often receive antibiotics and hormones). Stick to organics also with vegetables and greens (xenoestrogens in non-organic greens that block hormone receptors). Milk products also need to be organic because of the bovine growth hormone facts mentioned above.

When you eat out, things become more difficult unless you find an organic food restaurant. You can always prepare your own salad for lunch with organic greens and a lean protein food, which you keep refrigerated until you are ready to consume it. On weekends a portable picnic in a park can be a great way to relax and socialize, especially in summer.

More information about nutrition: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/

Last edited Nov. 6, 2014

Apr
28
2013

April Is Autism Awareness Month

Recently autism was in the news as the wife of deceased Bob Denver, who was the actor Gilligan from Gilligan’s Island and founder of The Denver Foundation to help children with disabilities, has written a book where their son Colin’s problem with autism is described. Autism is a relatively new disease entity. We are now talking about the autism spectrum disorder, as autism is a certain behavior/symptom constellation that is expressed with different degrees of severity in children who are diagnosed with autism. Autism is much more common in males than in females. In the following I will discuss risk factors for autism, then review why it is so important to diagnose autism right away so that treatment for it can be started earlier than in the past.

Risk Factors For Autism

Autism has been found to be due to a combination of factors.

1. Compared to a few decades ago women are often older than 30 and men frequently older than 40 when they decide to have children. But studies have shown that when a man fathers a child at the age 40 or older the risk of the offspring to develop autism is higher than when the father is younger than 30.

2. A woman above the age of 30 is already getting into the older age category from the viewpoint of reproduction where the natural production of progesterone from her ovaries, which is paramount for keeping a pregnancy alive in the first 10 to 12 weeks, is declining. Also, the placenta of a pregnant woman above the age of 30 is not producing as much progesterone as a woman in her early or mid 20’s.  However, a high progesterone production of the placenta is necessary to prevent premature labor. The consequence of this can be that older women give birth to premature, underweight children (Ref. 1 and 2) who are at a higher risk to have neurological problems including autism. Children with a low birth weight have 5-times higher autism rates when compared to children with a normal birth weight. When a woman has gestational diabetes there can be overgrowth of the fetus and like for prematurely born, underweight children there is a definite risk for a baby born much later than the expected date to develop autism.

April Is Autism Awareness Month

April Is Autism Awareness Month

3. There are genetic and epigenetic factors that can trigger autism. Shank mutations are responsible for idiopathic autism spectrum disorders (ASD) both in humans and in mice. This confirms an earlier study from 2006 in France where Shank 3 gene mutations were found in human autism cases. Recently research from Stanford University identified another genetic mutation, namely neuroligin-3 amino acid substitution and a neuroligin-3 deletion, which can be responsible for autism in mice. Epigenetic switches play an important role in the placenta, which according to research from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver/BC is likely the key for understanding autism. Another publication also stresses the importance of epigenetic switches in the development of autism. Stress during pregnancy can lead to changes in placental biochemical pathways, which causes prenatal epigenetic programming in the direction of autism. More research will be done regarding genetic causes of autism. However, it appears that the various research findings are converging to only a few key biological processes.

4. A lack of serotonin from the placenta may lead to autism in the fetus as this publication shows.

5. Certain toxins such as PCB can disrupt the development of normal neuronal pathways in autism as is summarized in this paper. Even a frequently used anti-epileptic drug, valproate (Depacon), has recently been identified as causing a 5-fold increase in autism during pregnancy.

6. In April 2009 a study from the Karolinska Institute investigated a Somalia refugee subpopulation that were found to have high autism rates in Sweden and in the US, due to very low vitamin D levels during the pregnancy. The theory was developed that at least one of the causes for autism can be vitamin D deficiency in the mother’s womb. A lack of Vitamin D may be the epigenetic trigger to change metabolic processes towards those subtle metabolic changes occurring in autistic children.

7. In 2007 this study showed that the typical delay of the diagnosis for autism in the US was about 18 months and that the average rate at this point was 1 in 150 live births.

8. Apart from these factors there are other observations that are closely related to the diagnosis of autism. Children with autism show remarkable brain growth during the first year of life, but subsequently have a period of slowed brain development (Ref.5). There seems to be an inflammatory process associated with the neuropathological changes in the brain resulting in disconnections and a lack of communicative connections between various parts of the brain. This leads to a lack of higher brain functions like speech and social skills. MRI scans have shown specific changes in some severe cases of autism, but this is not uniform enough between cases to use as a diagnostic tool. The author of Ref. 5 uses a “biomedical approach”, which assumes that autism is a syndrome that is genetically based, but triggered by certain factors as listed above (point 1 to 6 and possibly more) during the time of the pregnancy, in the neonatal period and in early infancy. This leads to the changes in the gut (leaky gut syndrome), in the central nervous system, to food allergies, autoimmune reactions and metabolic changes. According to Ref. 5 biomedical practitioners have remarkable treatment successes by identifying where the problems are and treating each one of them.

Diagnose Autism Now

DAN (“diagnose autism now”) physicians who take a special interest in children with autism have shown that an early diagnosis of autism and early intervention with a well-orchestrated treatment protocol can lead to good outcomes, where the child is often losing the diagnosis of autism and developing normally. DAN physicians are changing into the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs (MAPS), but the goal of helping autistic children early is the same. I have described the multi-step treatment protocol under Ref. 3 in the Net Health Book.

Briefly, a multitude of medical tests is done initially to establish the diagnosis and the severity of autism. This gives the doctor the basis for a personalized treatment approach. A combination of hyperbaric oxygen (HBOT) and detoxification with intravenous chelation treatments can remove toxins and heavy metals from the body. Stool samples can determine whether Clostridium difficile or Candida albicans is present, which are appropriately treated. Dysbiosis , a term to describe an abnormal gut bacteria mix, is common and needs to be rectified with probiotics. If leaky gut syndrome is present (in 43% to 76% it was shown to be present in three different well controlled studies, Ref. 5), this may also point to food allergies and autoimmune problems that have to be addressed as well. Along the line of abnormal gut bacteria in autistic children, new research is considering the development of a vaccine to help normalize gut bacteria.

There appear to be a number of metabolic weaknesses that have to be diagnosed, as there are wide variations among autistic children. Ref. 5 points out that methylation defects in the metabolism are common and the blood is lacking antioxidant enzyme systems. As a result there are weaknesses in the immune system and detoxification of heavy metals (such as mercury) is often slow. There have been many studies, which were reviewed in Ref. 5, where it was shown that multiple vaccinations have not been the main culprit to lead to autism, it is the metabolic weaknesses of an autistic fetus and/or child that led to slow detoxification to the point where exposure to polluted air and seafood, even consumption of seafood of the pregnant mother in the womb, could cause high levels of mercury in the infant (due to methylation, sulfation, and antioxidant deficiencies).

Another observation that is important is that autistic children have 23% lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood than controls and 20% lower levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (Ref.5). Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is therefore important. As omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects, it also helps to combat the inflammation mentioned above. Ref. 5 also points out that autistic children are often put on a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet as autistic children are more vulnerable to food sensitivities, particularly gluten and casein. This is a practice done to prevent or improve on leaky gut syndrome. However, Ref. 5 points out also that testing methods (RAST test, IgE and IgG tests) for gluten and casein sensitivities are unreliable and not reproducible. The only practical method to find out what foods autistic children will tolerate is a painstaking food elimination and retesting program. Whatever food component is suspected to cause worsening of autism is eliminated from the menu for a period of time; it can be reintroduced as a challenge test several months later to see whether it is still causing problems. On the other hand the child needs a balanced nutrition, which can be very tricky with autistic children often being picky eaters.

The key is to pay attention to all of the pieces of the puzzle and to use remedies to address the issues at hand regarding a particular autism patient. This can be quite costly, but those patients with autism who received the benefit of early intervention at the age of 2 or 3 when the diagnosis was first made, became normal children, possibly even more gifted than the average child in their age group.

Conclusion

Whether or not autism exists is no longer the question. The question is how early the treating physician can diagnose it. Under point 7 above researchers found that the diagnosis is often made 18 months too late! With an early diagnosis and early intervention autistic children can grow up to be productive members of society with no residual features of autism. If the diagnosis is missed early on, it develops into a life long disability requiring constant care and supervision. I suspect that it is the epigenetic changes mentioned above, possibly from pollution of our environment and the other factors mentioned that may switch genetic switches into the wrong direction (namely towards autism, autoimmunity, leaky gut syndrome and brain dysfunction). Children are much more sensitive than adults, which would explain the explosion of cases of autism in the last few decades. But looking at the other end of the life cycle (old age) we are also seeing effects on the central nervous system with an enormous increase of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the last few decades. Could there be similarities? Future research will tell.

References

Use of progesterone reduces chance of miscarriage: next 2 references (Ref. 1 and 2):

1.http://www.bio-hormone-health.com/2012/03/26/the-key-role-of-progesterone-in-fertility-conception-and-maintaining-a-pregnancy/

2.http://www.natural-progesterone-advisory-network.com/pregnancy-and-natural-progesterone/

3. Autism chapter in Dr. Schilling’s Nethealthbook.com: http://www.nethealthbook.com/articles/autism.php

4. More on DAN physicians: http://autism.about.com/od/alternativetreatmens/f/dandoc.htm

5. Rakel: Integrative Medicine, 3rd ed.Copyright © 2012 Saunders, An Imprint of Elsevier; Chapter 7 – Autism Spectrum Disorder: Sanford C. Newmark, MD

Last edited April 28, 2013

Apr
07
2013

Caution, Processed Food Ahead

During the last month there have been three large studies that drew media attention regarding healthy food intake. The first study dealt with processed meats (sausages, ham, bacon). Over 12.7 years those consuming 160 Gm per day (=5.64 oz.) were 44% more likely to die prematurely than those who ate only 20 Gm (=0.7 oz.) of processed meat per day. The study included 10 European countries including about 500,000 people over almost 13 years; nearly 10,000 people died from cancer and 5,500 from heart problems.

Then there was the Harvard study that analyzed 114 national dietary surveys around the globe and came to the conclusion that every year there are 180,000 obesity related deaths from overuse of sugary drinks. The US stands third highest on the ranking list regarding deaths from drinking sugary soda pops. The deaths are due to heart attacks, strokes and diabetes, which associate with obesity.

As if this was not enough the third bad news story was published shortly after regarding salt overuse: At a cardiology conference in New Orleans Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the main author regarding the sugar study mentioned above, revealed a long-term study regarding salt intake between 1990 and 2010 .  He determined that 15% of all deaths that occur around the world every year (which translated into 2.3 million people) are the result of salt overuse. The recommended salt limit is 1500 mg per day. But many people in the study consumed 4000 to 6000 mg of salt per day or more. This led to hypertension, heart attacks and strokes with the yearly mortality rates indicated.

Caution, Processed Food Ahead

Caution, Processed Food Ahead

 

What do these studies have in common and why is processed food so devastating?

All these studies pointed out that processed foods are dangerous to your health. Sausages, ham and bacon contain a lot of fat and salt; they are full of extra calories and they elevate your fatty substances in your blood (triglycerides, cholesterol). The extra salt raises your blood pressure. Processed meat is also poor in omega-3-fatty acids. No wonder that they can cause heart problems and cancer.

Next we have the sugary soda drinks, but also the hidden sugar in starchy processed foods like cookies, bagels, bread and cakes. Dough and pasta digests within 30 minutes into sugar, which your gut absorbs and your liver processes as extra calories to be stored as fat. Where? As visceral fat and subcutaneous fat,  and the end result is obesity. At the same time the sugar from soft drinks and the sugar from starches stimulate the pancreas to produce extra insulin, which leads to hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. This is known as metabolic syndrome and was found to be an independent risk factor for heart attacks apart from high LDL cholesterol and high triglycerides. We know for quite some time that obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are all associated with a higher rate of deaths from heart attacks and strokes.

Finally, there is the salt overuse story. In 2009 the same Harvard group that gave us the world data on salt mortality now, stated that 102,000 Americans die every year from salt overconsumption. The same study cited that 82,000 Americans die needlessly every year due to their love affair with deep fried foods (due to high trans fatty acids) , and 84,000 die from a lack of omega-3-fatty acids in their diet, which when present in the diet protects from heart attacks and strokes. What does food processing do? It reduces or eliminates dietary omega-3-fatty acids, adds cheap oils containing omega-6-fatty acids (the fatty acids that lead to inflammation), adds salt, sugar and starch. It is the perfect recipe to die from strokes and heart attacks. The same research group from Harvard University did a study in India, published in 2010, where they established that salt overconsumption caused insulin resistance and this was the cause of higher mortality from heart attacks and strokes.

Other studies pointing to the dangers of processed food

Deficits in cognitive function (dementia or Alzheimer’s disease) have been linked to dietary habits, particularly sugar and starch overconsumption. Research has established that hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance is responsible for the degenerative changes in the brain of Alzheimer patients. This study also pointed out that these diets are typically very low or deficient in omega-3-fatty acids, which is necessary for normal nerve cell metabolism in the brain. The lack of it leads to brain cell disease like Alzheimer’s and a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in nerves leads to damaged nerves which in turn cause excruciating pain.This condition is also known as neuropathy. Here is a good blog about why you should avoid processed foods, if you want to keep a clear mind as you are aging.

In the middle ages it was first observed that overindulging in red meat and sausages caused gout attacks.Gout was known as a disease of the rich. Higher uric acid levels, which are found in gout have been linked to higher mortality rates from heart attacks and stokes. A low purine diet can lower the risk for gout and also the risk for heart attacks and strokes. It is interesting that this type of a diet is also devoid of processed food at the same time.

What can we do to reduce dangers to our health?

We have identified the suspects; it is sugar, starchy foods, salt and processed meats. Instead of just buying precooked meals, boxed foods and other processed foods from the center of the grocery store or from a fast food place, look for original ingredients more at the periphery of the grocery store.  Read food labels and look for sugar, fat and salt content. Start buying organic food and buy the ingredients you need to prepare a meal by yourself. When you start preparing your own meals with organic ingredients, you may as well avoid the toxins that I described in a recent blog.

By buying organic foods, you largely avoid these toxins. Don’t exceed your daily limit of 1500 mg of salt, as your kidneys are not able to process this and would cause you to get high blood pressure. Personally I cut out all sugar and starch from my diet since 2001. This includes potatoes, pasta, bread, bagels, French fries, toast etc. However, you will get enough complex carbohydrates (from vegetables and greens), which get absorbed much slower and do not cause the insulin surge by the pancreas as highly processed carbs would do. You want to eat foods rich in omega-3-fatty acids, but there are problems with seafood (even salmon) as it is often contaminated with mercury. You can circumvent this by taking three capsules of high potency, molecularly distilled omega-3 per day. This is free of toxins and protects your brain and nerves from the dangers mentioned above. Your organic vegetables and greens have enough natural minerals in them that you will hardly ever require to add salt to your food. Do not add extra salt when you cook or when you eat your prepared meals. Use spices instead. Also avoid eating out too often. Restaurants are notorious for overusing salt.

More information on nutrition: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/

Here is a useful blog that helps you to identify the problems with processed food and what you need to do to improve your food intake. http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/processed-foods.html

Other links:

1. Processed meat: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/07/processed-meat-cancer-heart-disease-death-risk_n_2829092.html

2. Sugary drinks: http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/19/health/sugary-drinks-deaths/index.html?hpt=he_c2

3. Alzheimer’s and pre-diabetes with insulin resistance: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/10/17/carb-diet-alzheimers/1637481/

Last edited Nov. 6, 2014

Mar
24
2013

Living In A Toxic World

In the past nobody worried about toxicities except parents when their children were gnawing on lead paint. Paint always contained lead and people thought that it was only children we had to worry about, adults were “immune” to this. We learnt a lot about lead toxicity from early studies in Germany and it was there that EDTA was developed in 1935 to treat children with lead toxicity. During and after the Second World War when ships were repainted with lead containing paints a lot of soldiers were poisoned with lead and the EDTA treatment protocols that had been developed earlier for children were found to be also effective for adults.

Fast forward to 2013. We all have heard of lead poisoning from Chinese made toys, from Chinese fashion jewelry and we have heard of the melamine poisoning of baby food and candies. These are not the only poisonings. Mercury is in the air; it is also present in light bulbs and in cruise ship exhaust fumes from incineration of light bulbs and batteries. We have over 600 chemicals and carcinogens in cigarette smoke, which is perhaps the largest “legal” roulette game involving humans where several poisons are inhaled at once. Our water is chlorinated or fluoridated, which interferes with our thyroid gland function. Vegetables that are supposed to be healthy for us contain residues from insecticides and herbicides that have estrogen-like activities called xenoestrogens.  They are known to cause breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. Milk in the US often contains antibiotics and genetically modified bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which again can cause various cancers in humans as this link shows.

rBGH is banned in Europe and in Canada. The problems do not stop at chemicals in our water, environment, food and air, the newest threat is genetically modified food like wheat, corn and high fructose corn syrup, which is manufactured from GMO corn. Other GMO foods are golden rice, sugar beet, yellow crookneck squash, cotton for cottonseed oil, soybeans, canola, Hawaiian papaya, just to name a few. GM food is illegal in most European countries, but the US is trying very hard to push for “fair trade practices” in order to expand the market for GM foods.

Living In A Toxic World

Living In A Toxic World

How does all of this affect your body? One of the publications from France found that genetically modified food is likely responsible for the increase of endometriosis in women. This link explains that xenobiotics-associated genetically modified foods contain glyphosate (a herbicide) and Cry1Ab protein that affects the women’s hormone metabolism and causes the lining of the uterus to become invasive to cause endometriosis.

There have been attempts to study toxicity of GM foods in animal experiments, but the pitfall was a wrong testing time of only 90 days , which was chosen for these experiments, and “no differences” were found between test and control animals (all the official statements about GMO food “safety” in the US are based on these “standard tests”). However, there are other studies that found significant differences after only 4 weeks of feeding rats and mice 10% GMO food mixed with regular feed as this link shows. The full impact of genetically modified foods will not be seen until 3 generations or more in animal experiments, which  is the equivalent of 90 years or more in humans (or 80 years from now given that significant amounts of GM food has been around in the food industry for about 10 years. One human generation is generally defined as 30 years. The animal studies show that with GMO food there is a higher mortality in rats and mice and that infertility is getting worse from generation to generation.

With respect to chemicals the toxic effects on the body can be seen a lot faster than with GMO foods. The toxins such as carcinogens and xenoestrogens are often fat-soluble, which means that obese people have more toxins stored than lean people. Mercury, cadmium and lead were found in a study to have caused specific protein folding problems within the cells. This explains bone marrow toxicity, liver and kidney toxicity and brain and heart toxicity. In other words these are the organs where cells contain most of the mitochondria in the body and heavy metals are blocking their energy metabolism leading to aberrant body functions. As a result auto-immune diseases have increased dramatically,inflammatory conditions are common , and cancer rates are up.

How do we defend ourselves in a toxic world?

1. Food preparation

First you need to switch from regular foods to organic foods. Also throw out all the foods in your fridge that are not organic and that contain MSG in it’s many disguises. MSG is an excitotoxin, which kills brain cells. These suggestions are also what Dr. Paula Baillie-Hamilton is recommending.

Organic foods do not contain any of the problematic GM foods. They are also free of rBGH, xenoestrogens, residual herbicides or residual insecticides. Switch to either organic milk and milk products or goat milk and goat milk products. As some toxins will be released from the fatty tissue, if you are obese or overweight and you loose weight, it is advisable to use psyllium seed husks as a supplement to bind the toxins in the gut for elimination. Fiber from  organic fruit and vegetables or oat bran are also beneficial.

On the long term it is less money to buy organic foods and prepare your own meals than going out to restaurants to eat. It is also much healthier and tasty. Avoid fast food chains as their processed foods contain artery clogging trans fats, GM foods and other questionable ingredients like “pink slime”. You do not need a cooking class to prepare a decent dinner. Read cookbooks for inspiration and modify the recipes to suit your own style. Remember to use only organic ingredients. You can’t create a healthy meal with non-organic ingredients mixed in (it’s like you start adding poisons). Break the old habits, do it right! Replace butter with olive oil. Replace sugar with organic stevia (a plant sweetener). Avoid flour (especially wheat flour). Replace it, if you must with flour from oats, spelt or farro (at this point none of them have been  genetically modified). Because wheat has been chemically modified in the 1960’s and 1970’s and gliadin is about 7-fold higher, brain receptors react differently than to the “old” wheat. As a result many individuals find that they want more- bread, pasta, wheat cereal, bagels…you name it! The huge surge in obesity is just the final result. Cutting out wheat and otherwise reducing the intake of grains may be a big step, but  is well worth the effort! Another problem with bakery products is that the food industry is using bromine for rising and chlorine for bleaching so this adds to the toxic burden of the thyroid gland. Cut out wheat, pasta and bread and you will gain health.

2. Detoxification

If you had a lot of exposure to heavy metals in the past, you may want to see a naturopath for intravenous chelation treatments with vitamin C (10 Grams) and glutathione (1250 mg) every two weeks for some time until they are out of your system. If you have a lot of silver/mercury amalgam tooth fillings, consider having them removed by a dentist and have them replaced with non-amalgam ceramic or gold inlets or crowns. Don’t use fluoride toothpaste despite your dentist’s recommendation: it is toxic as it poisons enzyme systems in your body and causes cancer of the intestines over a longer period of time. Use  a fluoride-free toothpaste from the health food store. After dental cleanings refuse the fluoride gel for the same reason. Brush your teeth frequently and floss your teeth regularly after meals. Your heart and cardiovascular system will thank you for this.

3. Eliminate other toxins from your personal care products

Check your cosmetics, shampoos, hair conditioners as well as your underarm deodorants, body wash, lip balm and sun tan lotion. Do they have parabens, triclosan (often in deodorants) or phthalates in them? They are weak carcinogens or immune disruptors. If they do, replace them with a healthier product from the health food store that does not contain these harmful ingredients. Use BPA free plastic containers for water during sport activities, they are quite affordable and can be ordered online. BPA free food containers are also available in super markets, department stores and some drug stores.

4. Clean up your home environment

Avoid toxic cleaning agents, solvents, paints, and other chemicals. If you have to deal with chemicals, be sure to ventilate your living spaces. Use latex paint instead of oil-based paint, if possible and air out well until dry. Always use vinyl gloves to protect your skin as any thinners or paints get absorbed through the skin within a few minutes and are toxic to your system. If there is construction in your house or you move into a newly constructed home, air out frequently by opening the windows on and off until the “new” chemical odors have gone. New clothes contain chemical agents from the factory; so wash them frequently until the chemicals are diluted out. Avoid fabric softeners as they are chemicals (or use a biological product, if you feel you must use one).

5. Pay attention to your water

As drinking water is treated with chemicals (fluorine, chlorine or bromine) to make it bacteria free, it is best to drink only reverse osmosis water, bottled water, distilled water or mineral water. The rest of the household water should be defluoridated, dechlorinated or debrominated with a good carbon filter. Talk to your water treatment company and get it done.

6. Hormone balance

The aging process and the toxins in our environment affect our hormone glands and we produce less hormones as we get older than our ancestors did, but our ancestors overall did not live as long as we are today. A lot of this is due to exposure to immune disruptors like BPA’s from the older water bottles and long-term exposure to xenoestrogens (from residues of artificial fertilizers on non-organic vegetables).

We need balanced hormones, it is important to have them checked by a knowledgeable doctor (either an A4M anti-aging physician or a naturopath) and replaced only by bio-identical hormone creams (not synthetic factory produced pseudo-hormones). Common problems as we age are hypothyroidism, sex hormone deficiencies both in women and men, but also human growth hormone deficiencies in some (measured by IGF-1 blood levels). Without proper hormone balance all the organic food in the world will not be the answer to good health.

7. Vitamin and mineral supplements

Finally, vitamin and mineral supplements are important to support the mitochondria in your cells. Although no vitamin and mineral list is ever complete, I have summarized what I consider to be essential here. Even, if you start simple with only vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D3 and a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement you are doing great.

The only other thought is to take a slow-release capsule of iodine twice per day, which would protect you from radioactive iodine in the environment or food (Compounding pharmacies may be your best source). One capsule generally contains 5 mg of elemental iodine and 7.5 mg of iodide .As time goes on you may want to gradually investigate the other supplements to see whether they would be suitable in your particular case.

We all would like to enjoy a long and happy, disease-free life. This can no longer be achieved by sticking to the old eating habits (needless to say that smoking and drinking are out too, because they are toxic to your system). You may as well enjoy organic foods and gradually work yourself through the 7 points I mentioned above. This will ensure that the mitochondria of all your major organ systems will function at their best, and as a result you will feel energized!

More information on vitamins, minerals, supplements and detoxification:

http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/vitamins-minerals-supplements/

Last edited Nov. 6, 2014

Feb
27
2013

Joint Replacement For Osteoarthritis Of The Knee Will Become Obsolete

Osteoarthritis of the knee joints is one of the most common forms of arthritis of the aging person. Often the patient starts feeling pain when walking for a long time or when climbing stairs, more so when walking down. Eventually there is swelling of the knees, pain and inflammation (the affected knee feels hot). When the condition deteriorates over a period of 5 to 10 years, the patient notices a decrease in range of motion in the joint and it may affect the gait as the patient favors one knee. The physician or physical therapist may suggest the use of a cane. Later the patient may need a walker to get around.

In the following I will describe two possible ways of treating this condition in the end stage followed by unconventional ways of treating osteoarthritis to hopefully prevent disabilities.

The conventional treatment of osteoarthritis (total knee replacement)

The typical way of treating knee osteoarthritis in an early case is to order physical therapy treatments and to give anti-inflammatory medication to treat the swelling and pain. Anti-inflammatory medicine with NSAIDs is not harmless as it can lead to severe gastric bleeding from gastric erosions. On the longer term it can cause kidney damage with kidney failure, possibly requiring dialysis. In a moderate case an orthopedic surgeon may inject hyaluronic acid and steroids, which may give relief for up to 6 or 9 months. Eventually the pain and the restriction with regard to the range of motion become so severe that the orthopedic surgeon recommends a total knee replacement. This can be quite successful with respect to relieving most of the pain, but often it is less than 100% satisfactory with regard of regaining range of motion.

Osteoarthritis Of Knee With Degenerative Joint Changes

Osteoarthritis Of Knee With Narrowed Cartilage

The new way of treating osteoarthritis (mesenchymal stem cell transplant):

In a case publication from Korea an alternative new treatment for osteoarthritis has been published with two typical cases described, both Korean women, one aged 70, the other  one aged 79. Both were assessed by orthopedic surgeons and found to be severe enough to qualify for total knee replacements. However,  both declined, as they were afraid of the risks associated with surgery. Instead both patients received mesenchymal stem cells transplants derived from their abdominal fat by liposuction.  The transplant was done by injections into their knees using a small needle on several occasions weeks apart. This is known as a transplant with autologous adipose-tissue-derived stem cells. Within only 12 weeks from the date of the stem cell treatment the patients noticed a 90% improvement of the pain, and similar progress with regard to increase in range of motion was noted. MRI scans were done just before the stem cell treatment and again 12 weeks after the treatment. Here is the MRI image of the 79 year-old woman’s knee before and 12 weeks after her procedure.

According to the authors of this publication these cases were new reports on human subjects compared to previously successful reports with animal experiments. They felt that more human trials would be required, to show on a larger scale that end stage osteoarthritis can be treated successfully with tissue stem cells taken from the patient’s own abdominal fat.

Alternative treatment for osteoarthritis

In Europe there was a lot of interest in the 1980’s in the use of glycosaminoglycan polysulfate (which was sold as “Arteparon”). It was derived from hyaline cartilage of calf knee joints.

It was available as an injectable medicine and produced by the Luitpold Pharmaceutical company. Only a two or three injections into an affected joint would be needed to cure about 70% to 80% of patients with osteoarthritis. Later it was shown that simple intramuscular injection rather than specific joint injection had the identical cuarative effect for osteoarthritis. One injection was only about 3$ to 5$. However, in 1991 the Munich company in Germany was sold to a Japanese pharmaceutical firm and Arteparon was no longer produced, so it was only known in Europe, as it never made it to the US market. Since then Synvisc came onto the market in the US in the early 2000’s. Now one injection was 150$ (!). However, a randomized study showed that Synvisc is only about 15 to 20% more effective than placebo after three to five injections (450$ to 750$).

However, the word was out that there are non-toxic substances that are part of the natural cartilage which would be useful in treating osteoarthritis. Glucosamine and chondroitin are often combined in supplements for osteoarthritis and you can get this in the health food store. The American Family Physician reported about non-conventional supplements for osteoarthritis in its January 2008 edition.

Perhaps equally important to this is to approach osteoarthritis from the nutritional angle, namely in terms of cutting out refined sugar and starches. It has been observed that osteoarthritis develops mostly in the industrialized countries where sugar consumption is the highest. Not so on the islands of Okinawa. Recently a study showed that sugar from soft drink consumption contributes to worsening osteoarthritis, especially in men. It follows from this that your food intake should be modified to provide optimal nutrients for healthy joint maintenance. Read this article, which describes in detail what you should eat to reverse osteoarthritis.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also useful, but higher doses are required for arthritis reversal than are required for healthy heart maintenance.  About 2.7 Grams of Omega-3 fatty acids per day are required, such as two to three capsules of high quality molecularly distilled fish oil capsules three times per day. This will help  balance the overload from omega-6 fatty acids in processed foods.

Another approach to help with joint pains from osteoarthritis is through chicken cartilage. It appears that with the initial degenerative changes of joint cartilage with osteoarthritis, collagen is exposed to the immune system, which responds with the production of T killer cells, which attack the joint cartilage. Research has shown that a tolerance state of the immune system is created when you take chicken cartilage (either fikzol type II or UC-II) for only 90 days. The body tolerates the chicken cartilage supplement and the joint surfaces recover from the prior degenerative changes.

Finally, studies regarding DMSO and MSM(methylsulfonylmethane) are not very conclusive, except perhaps for one study on knee osteoarthritis as this link shows.

By nutritional intervention (cutting out refined sugar and refined carbohydrates) and following what was summarized under point 3 above, many people with minor osteoarthritis may not progress further to the end stage where either procedure 1 or 2 above would have to be done.

This is an example of how medicine is moving forward. The technique has been developed for osteoarthritis and also for osteonecrosis of the hip joint as described in the same publication. In the past laparoscopic procedures have replaced older, more invasive surgical procedures with better results and less complications. In a similar vein these newer stem cell transfer procedures can replace, at least partially the more invasive total joint replacements with less dangers to the patient. Should a mesenchymal stem cell transplant not be successful, the patient can still return to a conventional total knee or total hip joint replacement.

More information on osteoarthritis: http://nethealthbook.com/arthritis/osteoarthritis/

Here is a limited selection regarding  regenerative or restorative centers in the US (I have no financial interest or other bias with respect to any of these treatment centers):

http://www.regenexx.com/about-regenexx/doctor-christopher-j-centeno-md/

http://www.the-stem-cell-center.com/

http://www.stemcellrevolution.com/

http://tulane.edu/som/regenmed/

Last updated Nov. 6, 2014

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Jan
22
2013

Long-Term Multistep Weight Management

In February of 2001 my wife and I attended an anti-aging conference in San Diego. The keynote speaker was Dr. Barry Sears who is the inventor of the zone diet. We had read a book from him before the conference and were excited to hear him speak in person. We liked the book; we liked the talk, so we cut out sugar, starchy foods and stuck to a diet where the calories derived 50% from low-glycemic, complex carbohydrates, 25-30% from lean meat, poultry and fish. Calories derived from fat were reduced to about 15-20% (there is hidden fat even in lean meat). No butter, but instead some lean cheeses and olive oil for cooking and in salad dressings. We shed both 50 pounds within 3 months without any hunger pangs. Our energy increased and this has stayed  this way ever since. There was no problem getting down with our BMI’s (body mass index) to 23.5 or 24.0, which is usually viewed as normal by the medical profession. We noticed, however, that when we did not exercise, there was a problem maintaining our normal weight.  We are under the care of an anti-aging physician who did special tests like fasting insulin, C- reactive protein, and hormone tests. They were all normal. We took up ballroom dancing really seriously having been inspired by “Dancing With the Stars”. This was 6 years ago. What started innocently with only a few basic ballroom lessons three times per week has now blossomed into dancing more than 10 different dance styles 5 times per week.

Long-term Multistep Weight Management

Long-term Multistep Weight Management

3 ½ years ago both of our energy levels were slowly going down, particularly after a long night of dancing. Hormone tests revealed the initial stages of age-related hormone deficiencies which did not come as a surprise , as  decreasing hormone levels was a topic discussed  in detail at the conference in San Diego in 2001 (we also attended several other anti-aging conferences on a yearly basis from 2009 onwards). With bioidentical hormone replacements these levels normalized within one year, our energy was back and our weight stayed normal. We enjoy travelling, but there can be problems with our multistep weight management program. We need to watch our diet (no toxins, preferably only organic food), and physical exercise may be less regimented. In 2008 we read Suzanne Somers’ book “Breakthrough”. We ordered urine tests for toxic metals and we were shocked that we had noticeable levels of mercury and lead. Since then we started to cut our salmon consumption from 3 to 4 times per week down to once or twice per week. To get rid of the heavy metals we started intravenous chelation treatments with vitamin C (10 Gm) and Glutathione (1250 mg) every two weeks. In July 2012 there were reports of radioactive salmon from the Japan nuclear disaster earlier that year in the Canadian media. After this news we stopped eating all fish and other seafood, not only because of radioactivity, but also because of other toxins like mercury, cadmium, PBC’s etc.  We do take high doses of molecularly distilled omega-3 fatty acids along with our other supplements. We also started eating mostly organic foods as we do not want to ingest insecticides, herbicides and other toxins.

We acquired body composition scales, which give information about fat percentage including visceral fat percentage, muscle mass percentage, BMI, weight and the basic metabolic rate. We wanted to define the end point of what our ideal body weight would be. We noticed that our dance program was not good enough to lower the BMI below about 23.5; using the body composition scales we noted that our body fat content was still too high and the visceral fat percentage was still in the 6% range. It took a prolonged trip to the US where we could not find enough dance events to decide that we would introduce a one hour gym program consisting of 30 minutes of treadmill, 15 minutes of upper body circuits, and 15 minutes of lower body circuits every day as a basis to our exercise program. Any dance activity would be just an additional exercise on top of the base exercise from the gym. It took only about 2 months before our fat composition decreased, our muscle mass increased, the visceral fat went to a normal at 5% and the BMI was now stabilized at the 21.5 to 22.0 range. We feel a lot more confident in managing our weight long-term without really thinking much about the weight. It is now a routine we follow, like an athlete would do to stay in shape. While nobody has a permanent guarantee to everlasting health, we do it to prevent the diseases we do not need in our retirement like diabetes, arthritis, heart attacks, strokes, cancer or Alzheimer’s.

What we did not know until after the 20th A4M Anti-Aging Conference in Las Vegas (mid December 2012) was that inadvertently we were protected from exposure to chemically modified wheat from 2001 onwards as we had cut out all refined carbohydrates and starchy foods (including wheat) since then. Unfortunately many Americans still expose themselves unknowingly to larger or smaller quantities of wheat, suffer from leaky gut syndrome with the associated changes in the immune system and the development of autoimmune diseases.

Personally, I believe that long term weight management is possible: you can turn older and hopefully wiser…not wider. The good news: it can be done. The bad news: this is not an instant fix, but a program that needs to be part of your lifestyle package.

More information on weight loss: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/weight-loss-and-diet/

Last updated Nov. 6, 2014

Aug
01
2008

Dietary Habits Help For Clear Skin

Acne can be a bothersome skin condition that is not only a source of embarrassment to adolescents but it can plague adults as well. A lot of foods have been associated with the annoying “zits” from chocolates to French fries or junk food. More research has come up in recent years, and some new facts have emerged. Clement Adebamowo of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston studied 4,000 teenage boys and found a significant association between the intake of skim milk and the development of acne. There are numerous explanations for the dairy-acne connection. According to US doctors Alan Logan and Valori Treloar there are at least 4 precursors of the “acne hormone” dehydroepiandrosterone in milk from pregnant cows. Even though milk has a low glycemic index research has substantiated that milk based foods increase levels of insulin. Insulin in turn seems to be one of the major players when it comes to skin fat production (sebum). This leads to the blockage of skin follicles and the development of blackheads and acne. Lacks of dietary oxidants are also putting fuel on the fire of acne. Acne sufferers demonstrate lower antioxidant blood levels and as a result there is no ammunition to fight the skin inflammation of acne. Other foods contributing to this problem are omega-6 rich oils (sunflower, safflower and soybean).

Dietary Habits Help For Clear Skin

Dietary Habits Help For Clear Skin

Strong allies to fight the inflammatory process of acne are foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel or sardines. The intake of fruit and vegetables is beneficial (acne sufferers generally eat fewer fruits and vegetables than those who have a clear skin.) A trial by Robyn Smith of RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia showed that acne patients who were instructed to consume a low glycemic diet high in protein had significantly less acne lesions that their counterparts. This dietary approach reduces androgen levels. Beside a dietary approach there is still the need for dermatological input. Using both avenues acne sufferers will reap the most benefits.

More information about acne vulgaris: http://nethealthbook.com/dermatology-skin-disease/acne-vulgaris/

The Medical Post, June 24, 2008, page 19

Last edited November 4, 2014

Apr
01
2007

Red Meat Linked To Heart Disease In Diabetics

Red meat is one of the sources of protein, but doctors from the Harvard School of Public Health reporting in the January edition of Diabetes Care, that a type 2 diabetes diet should be lean in red meat.

Type 2 diabetics are at risk for subsequent coronary heart disease (CHD), and intake of iron rich food was significantly associated with a greater risk of fatal CHD. The results come from a prospective study of 6,161 women from the Nurses’ Health Study. All of these patients reported a diagnosis of adult onset diabetes, and they were followed between 1980 through 2000, which amounts to an impressive 54,455 person-years follow-up. Attention was paid to the food questionnaires, which were monitored for the consumption of iron and red meat such as beef, pork or lamb as a main dish, also for the use of beef in roast beef sandwiches and mixed dishes, hamburger, hot dog, processed meat and bacon. Note was also taken of other nutrients such as seafood and poultry.
Women with diabetes who ate the most iron in the form of heme found in red meats had a 50% increased risk of total coronary heart disease as compared to those with the lowest intake. The risk ratio with women was more obvious in post menopause when compared with pre menopause.

Red Meat Linked To Heart Disease In Diabetics

Red Meat Linked To Heart Disease In Diabetics

While lean beef may be a good protein food to the average population, type 2 diabetics might choose to cut back on red meat and processed red meat sources and replace it with a heart-friendlier choice. Fresh seafood, rich in omega -3 fatty acids, would rank high on the list of a healthy eating plan.

Reference: The Medical Post, February 20, 2007, page21

Last edited December 5, 2012

Oct
01
2006

Good Nutrition Is Gender Specific

It is well known that various health concerns are related to the gender of a person, but there are findings that suggest that even nutrition has to be tailored to the needs of males or females.
Calcium is known to be beneficial to bone health, and while high calcium diet may protect a woman from osteoporosis, it does not have the same evidence for men. As a matter of fact, high calcium intake in males may increase their risk of prostate cancer. For the male it means that calcium should be used in moderation and vitamin D intake could help to offset some risks.
Fat choices, mostly sources of monounsaturated fats in the form of olive oil are important for both, men and women, and for both the omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish are excellent. Men, especially those with a risk of prostate cancer, should be cautious about loading up on flaxseed and canola oil. Alpha-linolenic acid in these two oils may be a problem for the prostate.
Iron is also emphasized in healthy nutrition, but men need less than women. In the presence of an abnormal gene, excessive iron can accumulate to harmful deposits in various organs.
Social habits, for example the drinking of alcohol seem to have more grave implication to women than to men. The glass of wine that may help reduce the risk of heart attacks and certain strokes may seem harmless enough, and average men don’t seem to develop health problems, as long as the alcohol intake is low. Larger amounts will increase the risk of many ills for males and females alike, but even low doses of alcohol may increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
“Super Foods” have made headlines, and all of them are known because of their high content in antioxidants. A recent study from the University of Oslo, Norway, under Dr. Bente Halverson examined, which of them are ranking highest. At the top are, in the order of strength: blackberries, grape juice from Concord grapes, artichoke hearts, walnuts and strawberries. The researchers came up with a list of high oxidant foods on the basis of typical serving sizes.

Good Nutrition Is Gender Specific

Everybody needs to find healthy food

These are the winners among the super foods and spices: blackberries, walnuts, strawberries, artichokes, cranberries, brewed coffee, raspberries, pecans, blueberries, ground cloves, grape juice and unsweetened baking chocolate. Males as well as females of all age groups will benefit from those.
Dr H. Simon, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School points out that there are fundamental facts in nutrition that apply to everyone. But there is also a fine print, which varies according to gender, age and medical conditions.

More information about nutrition: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/

Reference: The Medical Post, September 19, 2006, page 25

Last edited November 1, 2014

Jan
03
2004

Old-Fashioned Fish Oil Boosts Heart Health

You do not need to spoil your appetite with the thought of swallowing cod liver oil, but see yourself enjoy a piece of salmon instead. Dr. Jehangir N Din and collegues published an article entitled “Omega 3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease—fishing for a natural treatment” in the first January edition of the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2004;328:30-35,January 3, 2004). These cardiology researchers from the University of Edinburgh/England have reviewed all of the recent medical literature regarding the beneficial effects of omega-3-fatty acids on heart disease. The following are some facts they found.

The interesting story regarding the omega-3-fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory qualities, is that they balance the detrimental effects of the omega-6-fatty acids, which lead to inflammation not only in joints, but also in blood vessels. In the standard North American and European foods the omega-6-fatty acids are overconsumed. To counter the bad effects of the omega-6-fatty acids, more omega-3-fatty acids need to be ingested.

Old-Fashioned Fish Oil Boosts Heart Health

Old-Fashioned Fish Oil Boosts Heart Health

So, what should we consume in terms of omega-3-fatty acids? The American Heart Association made the recommendations in the second table below.

Current consumption of omega-3-fatty acids in North America and Europe is low. Recently an expert US panel of nutritionists determined that the US consumption per day is about 0.1 to 0.2 grams per day and should be 0.65 grams per day as a minimum according to the recommendations by the American Heart Association.

Facts regarding omega-3-fatty acids:
Omega-3-fatty acids from fish and fish oils protect against heart disease
Following heart attacks fish oil is helpful in preventing more heart attacks
Hardening of arteries stops when fish oil or fish is eaten regularly
Rapid response critics pointed out that exercise is as important as fish oil
Trials with fish oil showed reduction in death rates from strokes and heart attacks from between 15% and 29% over 2 to 3.5 years (several studies)
The beneficial effects are due to a combination of stabilizing irregular heart beats, preventing clots, countering hardening of arteries, countering inflammation, improving function of lining of arteries, lowering of triglycerides (bad fatty acids) and lowering of blood pressure

The authors of this paper from England disagree and state that at least 1 gram per day would be needed to lower the heart attack risk to the low levels in Asia. The British Nutrition Foundation has recommended to use 1.2 grams of omega-3-fatty acids per day.

Fish or fish oil capsules as a protective effect on blood vessels*
Patients without documented coronary heart disease: Eat a variety of (preferably oily) fish at least twice weekly. Include oils and foods rich in inolenic acid
Patients with documented coronary heart disease: Consume 1 g of eicosapentanoic and docosahexanoic acid daily, preferably from oily fish. Supplements could be considered in consultation with a doctor
Patients with hypertriglyceridemia: Take 2-4 g of eicosapentanoic acid and docosahexanoic acid daily, provided as capsules under a doctor’s care
*As recommended by American Heart Association 

How does that translate into how much fish you would have to eat to get about 1 gram of omega-3-fatty acids per day? To make things simpler I have categorized fish and seafood in the table below based on the data from this article into low, medium and high marine derived omega-3-acid foods. You obviously need to eat more of the low category seafood to achieve 1 gram of omega-3-fatty acid than of the high category seafood.

How much fish and seafood you need to eat to get 1 gram of omega-3-fatty acids…
Concentration of omega-3-fatty acids in seafood: Type of fish and seafood consumed:
Low (eat 1 lbs) Catfish, Haddock
Medium (eat 1/3 -1/2 lbs) Tuna, Halibut, Oyster, Cod, Flounder, Sole
High (eat 2 or 3oz.) Atlantic salmon, Sardines, Rainbow trout, Atlantic herring, Mackerel

Before you overindulge in seafood from the low and medium category, check with your doctor first whether you are allowed so much protein. Some people have protein restrictions due to poor kidney function or because of gout. The authors of this study stated that you should eat a seafood meal with 1 gram of omega-3-fatty acid twice per week. Other sources of omega-3-fatty acids (=alpha-linolenic acid) are plant products such as soy beans,flaxseed, walnuts and rapeseed oil. In Asia fish and soy bean products are consumed in much bigger quantities than in the US.

Last edited December 8, 2012