Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Laura

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Chronic Inflammation, Omega 3 and 6, And What It Means To You - Overabundance of Omega 3 Seed Oil

Every once in a while you'll stumble across an expert whose words and passion sink right into your soul and so it was the day I listened to Dr. Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health on a radio broadcast as he explained why we have chronic inflammation and what it all means. Dr. Hibblen is a psychiatrist and lipid biochemist known as one of the world's leading authorities on Omega 3.

When you cut your finger and it turns red, that's inflammation of the good kind that rushes in to heal the wound. But when it gets out of control from the very food we eat (Omega 3 Seed Oil), inflammation turns in and attacks the body in dreadful ways. See TIME cover story, 2/04, Inflammation, The Secret Killer, Missing Link Between Heart Attacks, Cancer, Alzheimer's and other Disease and What You Can Do About It.

What is Omega 3 seed oil? Dr. Hibbeln defines seed oils as "literally vegetable oils that have been squeezed from seeds and primarily those seeds are soybean oil overwhelmingly and to some extent, corn oil, safflower and other oils and the big deal is that in these oils the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega-3 fatty acids is about 10 to one, whereas in our diets and evolution that ratio was about one to one. So you had a one to one balance to inflammation when we were evolving and now it's a 10 to one balance in favor of inflammation because of the predominances in the seed oils."

So, we have Omega 3 from fish oil, and we have Omega 3 from seed oil, which correctly should be labeled Omega 6 but without making a fuss over the confusing distinction, when you see Omega 3 on products in your grocery store, ask yourself one question. Is the source of the Omega 3 on that product seed oil? You can't very well put Omega 3 from fatty fish in cereal now, can you? And what do we need less of? Dr. Hibbeln explains why it is so critical to know the difference.

"Omega-3 fatty acids, (from fish oil) when those fats are swimming around in your blood stream and your immune system, they produce compounds which reduce inflammation and help to prevent heart disease; and the American Heart Association now recommends that people eat fish three to four times a week or take fish oil supplements to help prevent the progression of heart disease. It's more than 38 peer-reviewed studies which have been systematically reviewed.

Omega -3 fatty acids are one of those two polyunsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated simple means that it has many double bonds. The key here is that there's two families of polyunsaturated fatty acids, the Omega-3 fatty acids which you find primarily from fish oil, and the Omega-6 fatty acids from seed oils- eventually the body converts them into a compound called arachidonic acid and arachidonic acid is good in low amounts, but in high amounts it makes a lot of inflammatory compounds. It makes compounds that make your joints ache, compounds that increase the inflammation in your blood stream and leads to arterial sclerosis.

How big a deal is arachidonic acid? It is such a big deal we've created billion dollar industries for the production of Vioxx and Celebrex and Ibuprofen, all of which their main purpose is to keep arachidonic acid from being converted into these inflammatory compounds. But remember, the origin of arachidonic acid is from what you eat. It's from seed oils. Take away the seed oils or swap them out, your body will not be full of so much arachidonic acid and will not have a pro-inflammatory predisposition."

And that makes me very glad I discovered the healing benefits of Omega 3's From Fatty Fish (capitalized intentionally) a long time ago. I won't buy an Omega 3-laced grocery store product today and add more of the wrong Omega 3 to the inflammation level in my body.
About the Author

Lois Smithers, an equestrian who suffered competition injuries, credits Omega 3 with ending painful chronic inflammation from two fractured vertebra and spent years researching Omega 3's and sea-based health solutions. Owner, Sea-Based Health, LLC. See recommended products- http://seabasedhealth.com
 

Laura

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Inflammation, Omega-3’s and Tinnitus A Fish Story

by Barry Keate

Inflammation causes pain. It also causes a host of degenerative diseases and can have a significant effect on tinnitus. We have heard from many people who either developed tinnitus or who have had it worsen due to inflammatory conditions. Poor diet is the most common cause of chronic inflammation. Ear infections and illnesses such as a cold or flu as well as blows to the head can also cause inflammation and effect tinnitus.

Inflammation is the body’s response to damage and can be a very good thing. If you bang your thumb with a hammer, the immune system sends white blood cells and other, hormone-like substances to help start the healing process. As a result, your thumb swells. However, chronic inflammation can cause diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, Inflammatory Bowel disease, numerous neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, asthma, and even cancer. It also causes inflammatory skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema. There are a growing number of researchers who also believe chronic inflammation can lead to depression and bipolar disorder.

OTC Remedies and Drugs
Most of the over-the-counter and prescription pain medications Americans use were developed to reduce inflammation, thereby reducing pain. These medications are known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID). This class of medications includes common remedies such as aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and prescription drugs. Two prescription NSAIDs which have garnered a good deal of media attention are Vioxx and Celebrex, cited for causing increased rates of heart attacks. Vioxx has been taken off the market and Celebrex may soon follow. There are safe prescription NSAIDs and it is wise to consult one’s physician first. A complete list of both over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs can be seen at the end of this article.

A Fish Story
There are other methods to reduce inflammation besides medication. A balanced diet and the proper supplementation can be of great benefit. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids top the list for effective control of inflammation. These compounds are found in fish oils, especially in cold water fish such as salmon, sardine, lake trout, mackerel, albacore tuna and swordfish. They are termed Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) because the body must have them to survive but cannot make them on its own. They must be obtained from the diet. Key Omega-3 fatty acids include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential to health, however these are very plentiful. They are found in grains, most plant based oils, poultry and eggs. Americans receive much more Omega-6 fatty acids than they do Omega-3’s. The optimal balance between these two acids is 1:1. With the decrease in fish consumption in the western world over the past century, a typical diet has a ratio closer to 20 parts Omega-6 to 1 part Omega-3. Studies have shown that if the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 exceeds 4:1, health problems are likely to occur.

Scientists made one of the first associations between Omega-3’s and human health while studying the Inuit people (Eskimo) of Greenland. As a group, the Inuit suffered far less from many diseases than their European counterparts even though their diet was high in fat from eating whale, seal and salmon. Eventually researchers realized that these foods were all rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which provided real disease-countering benefits.

Studies suggest that Omega-3 can improve insulin sensitivity in those with Type 2 Diabetes. They work another way to reduce menstrual pain. Clinical studies have shown the use of Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the need for pain medication for people with chronic arthritis. I read a story of a fellow with severe osteoarthritis in his right shoulder. He had been taking a prescription-strength anti-inflammatory medication but was concerned about the effects on his heart, liver and kidneys. He then shifted to over-the-counter ibuprofen but was still concerned about overloading his organs. His doctor finally recommended Omega-3 fatty acids as a way of reducing inflammation. It worked well and now he only takes ibuprofen on an as-needed basis instead of several times a day.

An overview of clinical studies published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2002 reveals how Omega-3’s are effective in the management of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The review states that coronary heart disease, depression, aging and cancer are characterized by an increased level of interleukin 1 (IL-1), a proinflammatory cytokine. Similarly, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and lupus are autoimmune diseases also characterized by high levels of IL-1. The overview discusses a number of clinical trials conducted assessing the benefits of dietary supplementation with fish oils in several diseases in humans, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, colitis, psoriasis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and migraine headaches. These studies reveal significant benefit, including decreased disease activity and a lowered use of pain medication.

There is significant scientific evidence that fish oil can be used as a treatment for depression and bi-polar disorder. In a clinical study conducted at the Harvard Medical School, patients with manic depression received either fish oil or olive oil (as a placebo) along with their standard medications. After four months, 65% of the fish oil recipients improved compared to only 19% of the olive oil group. The results were so impressive that the researchers halted the study early so that those in the placebo group could begin taking fish oil if they wished.

No one knows exactly how Omega-3 fatty acids regulate mood. One theory is that they work like lithium and dampen over-active communication channels in the brain. Research by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse suggests that the increase in the number of people suffering from depression in the United States over the past few decades may be directly linked to the declining consumption of fish over the same time period.

Omega-3’s, which are lacking in diets in the US and other developed countries, are very abundant fats in the brain and are essential for normal brain function.

All this sounds very familiar to us. It is known that people with tinnitus have over-active communication channels in the auditory cortex which results in excessive electrical activity. Dr. Abraham Shulman at the Martha Entenmann Tinnitus Research Center in Brooklyn, NY is treating some of his tinnitus patients with a combination of Neurontin and Klonopin. The Neurontin activates GABA receptors in the brain and slows electrical activity. An article explaining this therapy and clinical results can be seen by clicking here.

A diet high in cold water, oily fish provides adequate amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. Some individuals may be concerned about eating oily fish because of possible contaminates like mercury and other pollutants. The National Institute of Health has issued guidelines for how much oily fish can be safely consumed by children and pregnant women. Fish oil supplements can provide adequate amounts and most of them do not contain the pollutants found in the whole fish. Consumer Labs has tested many fish oil supplements and found none of them contained mercury

Normal dosages of fish oil for inflammatory conditions are one to three grams per day. In order to fight depression, research indicates a dosage of 3 to 10 grams daily is an effective dose. Fish oil can be purchased in capsule form or as natural oil. On a personal note I take a fish oil, which is in liquid oil form and is lemon flavored. Other than the oily feel, it is pleasant tasting. I take two teaspoons a day which provides me with 3,200 mg of combined EPA and DHA.

If you suffer from tinnitus and feel that inflammation is part of the blame, increasing your intake of Omega-3 fatty acid may be of help. As one’s general health is improved, a reduction in tinnitus may often follow.


List of NSAIDs
Aspirin (Anacin, Ascriptin, Bayer, Bufferin, Ecotrin, Excedrin)
Choline and magnesium salicylates (CMT, Tricosal, Trilisate)
Choline salicylate (Arthropan)
Celecoxib (Celebrex)
Diclofenac potassium (Cataflam)
Diclofenac sodium (Voltaren, Voltaren XR)
Diclofenac sodium with misoprostol (Arthrotec)
Diflunisal (Dolobid)
Etodolac (Lodine, Lodine XL)
Fenoprofen calcium (Nalfon)
Flurbiprofen (Ansaid)
Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Motrin IB, Nuprin)
Indomethacin (Indocin, Indocin SR)
Ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis, Orudis KT, Oruvail)
Magnesium salicylate (Arthritab, Bayer Select, Doan's Pills, Magan, Mobidin, Mobogesic)
Meclofenamate sodium (Meclomen)
Mefenamic acid (Ponstel)
Meloxicam (Mobic)
Nabumetone (Relafen)
Naproxen (Naprosyn, Naprelan)
Naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox)
Oxaprozin (Daypro)
Piroxicam (Feldene)
Rofecoxib (Vioxx)
Salsalate (Amigesic, Anaflex 750, Disalcid, Marthritic, Mono-Gesic, Salflex, Salsitab)
Sodium salicylate (various generics)
Sulindac (Clinoril)
Tolmetin sodium (Tolectin)
Valdecoxib (Bextra)
 

Laura

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Omega-6 Starts Inflammation, Omega-3 Stops It
July 18th, 2007
Insight into the stark difference between omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids sheds some interesting light on how to reduce inflammation naturally.
It turns out that omega-6 starts the fire of inflammation and omega-3 puts it out.

It is a complicated contradiction but as Dr. Evelyn Tribole puts in in her recent book The Ultimate Omega-3 Diet (which is really a fascinating book by the way)

“It is no different from the opposing tools used for repairing a house. You might need a demolition ball to tear out a rotten wall and a crane to deliver wood for building a new wall.”


In a similar fashion, a healthy inflammation process uses the power derived from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (namely, a class of chemicals called eicosanoids) to constrict or dialate blood vessels, prevent or trigger blood clots, and so on. As with most systems in the body, an amazing balance between “demolition and building” is required for your body to elicit the proper inflammation response.

Unfortunately, unless you have optimized your diet already, you probably overwhelm your body with omega-6 and starve it of omega-3 on a daily basis.

The result?

A one-sided, unbalanced inflammation response!!

So, in an effort to get you motivated enough to actually change you behavior, here we list 6 ways that omega-3 fatty acids !ZAP! inflammation.

Maybe now you will choose a nice grilled filet of fish over a juicy burger at the next summer BBQ.

Omega-3 flips the switch on inflammation genes - Your body’s natural inflammation process requires that genes (or DNA) must be turned on and off (activated and deactivated). The primary constituents of omega-3 fats, DHA and EPA, do the flip switching… or the switch flipping (whichever you prefer). Sure medications such as [tag-tec]COX-2 inhibitors[/tag-tec] can do this too but fish oils (an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids) don’t have side affect such as “adverse cardiac event” printed on the wrapper.

Here’s the list… Omega-3 fatty acids:

1. Inhibit the inflammation causing enzymes called LOX, COX-1 and Cox-2
2. Inhibit the release of inflammation promoting omega-6
3. Inhibit the activity of cytokines which cause cartilage destruction
4. Decrease blood pressure
5. Inhibit excessive blood clotting
6. Benefit the heart, mood, cancer, and more… - you’ll have to read Dr. Tribole’s book :)

Ultimately, the dominating fats (omega-3 or omega-6) in your diet, and thus your cells dictate the “inflammation status” of your body.

* If your diet consists of mostly omega-6 fats, your inflammation response will be unbalanced and damaging to your cells.
* Conversely, if your diet is rich in omega-3 fats, your inflammation response will be balanced.

Simple huh?
 

Laura

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Fish Oil More Useful for Treating Inflammation Than Flax Seed Oil

While all omega-3 fats possess immune-boosting qualities, omega-3 fats from fish oil, EPA and DHA, are more biologically potent than omega-3 fat ALA, found in plant sources such as flax seeds.

These fats have also been found, by many animal and clinical studies, to have anti-inflammatory properties, indicating that they might be beneficial to managing diseases such as coronary heart disease, depression and cancer. Omega-3 fats many also help with aging.

Clinical trials have also assessed the benefits of supplementing the diet with fish oils and results showed a decrease in diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis and migraine headaches.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12480795?dopt=Abstract
Flax is Not the Best Omega-3 Fat

By Dr. Artemis P. Simopoulos

Over the past 20 years many studies and clinical investigations have been carried out on the metabolism of polyunsaturated fats in general and on omega-3 fats in particular.

Today we know that omega-3 fats are essential for normal growth and development and may play an important role in the prevention and treatment of coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, other inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, and cancer (1-7).

Research has been done in animal models, tissue cultures, and human beings. The original observational studies have given way to controlled clinical trials. Great progress has taken place in our knowledge of the physiologic and molecular mechanisms of the various fats in health and disease. Specifically, their beneficial effects have been shown in the prevention and management of:

* Coronary heart disease (8, 9),
* Hypertension (10-12)
* Type 2 diabetes (13, 14)
* Renal disease (15, 16)
* Rheumatoid arthritis (17)
* Ulcerative colitis (18)
* Crohn disease (19)
* Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (20)

However, this review focuses on the evolutionary aspects of diet, the biological effects of omega-6 and omega-3 fats, and the effects of dietary -linolenic acid (ALA) compared with long-chain omega-3 derivatives on coronary heart disease and diabetes.

Essential Fats Such As Omega-6 And Omega-3 Have Been Part Of Our Diet Since The Beginning Of Human Life

Before the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago humans consumed about equal amounts of both. Over the past 150 years this balance has been upset. Current estimates in Western cultures suggest a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats of 10-20:1 instead of 1-4:1.

On the basis of estimates from studies in Paleolithic nutrition and modern-day hunter-gatherer populations, it appears that human beings evolved consuming a diet that was much lower in saturated fats than is today's diet (21).

Furthermore, the diet contained small and roughly equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 PUFAs (ratio of 1-2:1) and much lower amounts of trans fats than does today's diet (21, 22). The current Western diet is very high in omega-6 fats (the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 20-30:1) because of the indiscriminate recommendation to substitute omega-6 fats for saturated fats to lower serum cholesterol concentrations (23).

Intake of omega-3 fats is much lower today because of the decrease in fish consumption and the industrial production of animal feeds rich in grains containing omega-3 fats, leading to production of meat rich in omega-6 and poor in omega-3 fats (24). The same is true for cultured fish (25) and eggs (26).

Even cultivated vegetables contain fewer omega-3 fats than do plants in the wild (27, 28). In summary, modern agriculture, with its emphasis on production, has decreased the omega-3 fat content in many foods: green leafy vegetables, animal meats, eggs, and even fish.

Biological Effects of Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fats

Linoleic acid and alpha linolenic acid ALA and their long-chain derivatives are important components of animal and plant cell membranes. When you eat fish or fish oil, the EPA and DHA partially replace the omega-6 fats especially arachidonic acid in cell membranes.

As a result eating EPA and DHA from fish or fish oil leads to:

1) Decreased concentrations of thromboxane A2, a potent platelet aggregator and vasoconstrictor;

2) Decreased formation of leukotriene B4, an inducer of inflammation and a powerful inducer of leukocyte chemotaxis and adherence;

3) Increased concentrations of thromboxane A3, a weak platelet aggregator and vasoconstrictor;

4) Increased concentrations of prostacyclin PGI3, leading to an overall increase in total prostacyclin by increasing PGI3 without decreasing PGI2 (both PGI2 and PGI3 are active vasodilators and inhibitors of platelet aggregation); and

6) Increased concentrations of leukotriene B5, a weak inducer of inflammation and chemotactic agent (29, 30).

Because of the increased amounts of omega-6 fats in the Western diet, the eicosanoid metabolic products from arachadonic acid, specifically prostaglandins, thromboxanes, leukotrienes, hydroxy fats, and lipoxins, are formed in larger quantities than those formed from omega-3 fats, specifically EPA.

A diet rich in omega-6 fats shifts the physiologic state to one that is prothrombotic and proaggregatory, with increases in blood viscosity, vasospasm, and vasoconstriction and decreases in bleeding time.

The higher the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats the higher is the death rate from cardiovascular disease (33). As the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 increases, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes also increases (13).

Effects of Dietary Flax Compared With Fish Oil

ALA, found in flax seed is the precursor of omega-3 fats, can be converted to long-chain omega-3 fats and can therefore be substituted for fish oils.

However, ALA is not equivalent in its biological effects to the long-chain omega-3 fats found in marine oils. EPA and DHA are more rapidly incorporated into plasma and membrane lipids and produce more rapid effects than does ALA.

Experimental studies suggest that intake of 3-4 grams of ALA per day is equivalent to 0.3 grams (300 mg) EPA per day.

Relatively large reserves of LA in body fat, as are found in vegans or in the diet of omnivores in Western societies, would tend to slow down the formation of long-chain omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA from ALA.

One advantage of the consumption of ALA over omega-3 fats from fish is that the problem of insufficient vitamin E intake does not exist with high intake of ALA from plant sources.

Benefits of Omega-3 Fats

Dietary intake of omega-3 fats from seafood was associated with reduced risk of primary cardiac arrest compared with no fish intake; 5.5 g omega-3 fats per month or the equivalent of 1 fatty fish meal per week was associated with a 50% reduction in the risk of primary cardiac arrest.

A 5.0% increase in omega-3 fats was associated with a 70% reduction in the risk of primary cardiac arrest.

An increase in EPA and DHA also leads to increases in membrane fluidity, the number of insulin receptors, and insulin action.

Clinical interventions provide further support for the beneficial effects of omega-3 fats in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease, hyperinsulinemia, and possibly type 2 diabetes.

Omega-3 fats affect coronary heart disease beneficially not by changing serum lipid concentrations, although EPA and DHA do lower triglycerides, by reducing blood clotting in vessel walls (72, 76) and ventricular arrhythmias (8, 9, 75, 77).

Am. J. Clinical Nutrition, September 1999; 70: 560 - 569
 

Helle

Jedi Master
Really interesting reading. Thank you Laura.

My family definately don't eat enough fish, so we have to go with some supplements. We don't have any Omega 6 either really, so that's not a problem. I'm currently forcing everyone to eat Eye-Q Fish Oil, but I am abit unsure of how much we should take.

I stuffed myself with ALA - omega 6 Oil while pregnant (and no fish whatsoever), believing it to be really healthy for the baby, guess I was wrong. :-[

Helle.
 

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Fish oil is one of my favorite supplements. I began taking it about a year ago when I was tentatively diagnosed with ADD. The psychologist I saw was really pushing me towards taking meds for it...I quickly stopped seeing him. I looked into dietary changes and taking fish oil made a noticeable difference in my attention. I've also been stricly following the liberation diet for the past couple of weeks (I was on it for a couple of months a little while ago but didn't stick with it). I've had lower back pain for the past couple of years. It was particularly painful when I lay down to sleep. Within the first week of the new diet, the pain was completely gone! I'm really amazed and thankful for this.

Here's an article on omega 3's and brain function:

Scientists Learn How Food Affects The Brain: Omega 3 Especially Important

ScienceDaily (July 11, 2008) — In addition to helping protect us from heart disease and cancer, a balanced diet and regular exercise can also protect the brain and ward off mental disorders.

"Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain," said Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science who has spent years studying the effects of food, exercise and sleep on the brain. "Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage and counteracting the effects of aging."

Gómez-Pinilla analyzed more than 160 studies about food's affect on the brain; the results of his analysis appear in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

Omega-3 fatty acids -- found in salmon, walnuts and kiwi fruit -- provide many benefits, including improving learning and memory and helping to fight against such mental disorders as depression and mood disorders, schizophrenia, and dementia, said Gómez-Pinilla, a member of UCLA's Brain Research Institute and Brain Injury Research Center.

Synapses in the brain connect neurons and provide critical functions; much learning and memory occurs at the synapses, Gómez-Pinilla said.

"Omega-3 fatty acids support synaptic plasticity and seem to positively affect the expression of several molecules related to learning and memory that are found on synapses," Gómez-Pinilla said. "Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for normal brain function.

"Dietary deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in humans has been associated with increased risk of several mental disorders, including attention-deficit disorder, dyslexia, dementia, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia," he said. "A deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids in rodents results in impaired learning and memory."

Children who had increased amounts of omega-3 fatty acids performed better in school, in reading and in spelling and had fewer behavioral problems, he said.

Preliminary results from a study in England show that school performance improved among a group of students receiving omega-3 fatty acids. In an Australian study, 396 children between the ages 6 and 12 who were given a drink with omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients (iron, zinc, folic acid and vitamins A, B6, B12 and C) showed higher scores on tests measuring verbal intelligence and learning and memory after six months and one year than a control group of students who did not receive the nutritional drink. This study was also conducted with 394 children in Indonesia. The results showed higher test scores for boys and girls in Australia, but only for girls in Indonesia.

Getting omega-3 fatty acids from food rather than from capsule supplements can be more beneficial, providing additional nutrients, Gómez-Pinilla said.

Scientists are learning which omega-3 fatty acids seem to be especially important. One is docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, which is abundant in salmon. DHA, which reduces oxidative stress and enhances synaptic plasticity and learning and memory, is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid in cell membranes in the brain.

"The brain and the body are deficient in the machinery to make DHA; it has to come through our diet," said Gómez-Pinilla, who was born and raised in salmon-rich Chile and eats salmon three times a week, along with a balanced diet. "Omega-3 fatty acids are essential."

A healthy diet and exercise can also reduce the effect of brain injury and lead to a better recovery, he said.

Recent research also supports the hypothesis that health can be passed down through generations, and a number of innovative studies point to the possibility that the effects of diet on mental health can be transmitted across generations, Gómez-Pinilla said.

A long-term study that included more than 100 years of birth, death, health and genealogical records for 300 Swedish families in an isolated village showed that an individual's risk for diabetes and early death increased if his or her paternal grandparents grew up in times of food abundance rather than food shortage.

"Evidence indicates that what you eat can affect your grandchildren's brain molecules and synapses," Gómez-Pinilla said. "We are trying to find the molecular basis to explain this."

Controlled meal-skipping or intermittent caloric restriction might provide health benefits, he said.

Excess calories can reduce the flexibility of synapses and increase the vulnerability of cells to damage by causing the formation of free radicals. Moderate caloric restriction could protect the brain by reducing oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids and nucleic acids, Gómez-Pinilla said.

The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative damage. Blueberries have been shown to have a strong antioxidant capacity, he noted.

In contrast to the healthy effects of diets that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, diets high in trans fats and saturated fats adversely affect cognition, studies indicate.

Junk food and fast food negatively affect the brain's synapses, said Gómez-Pinilla, who eats fast food less often since conducting this research. Brain synapses and several molecules related to learning and memory are adversely affected by unhealthy diets, he said.

Emerging research indicates that the effects of diet on the brain, combined with the effects of exercise and a good night's sleep, can strengthen synapses and provide other cognitive benefits, he added.

In Okinawa, an island in Japan where people frequently eat fish and exercise, the lifespan is one of the world's longest, and the population has a very low rate of mental disorders, Gómez-Pinilla noted.

Folic acid is found in various foods, including spinach, orange juice and yeast. Adequate levels of folic acid are essential for brain function, and folate deficiency can lead to neurological disorders such as depression and cognitive impairment. Folate supplementation, either by itself or in conjunction with other B vitamins, has been shown to be effective in preventing cognitive decline and dementia during aging and enhancing the effects of antidepressants. The results of a recent randomized clinical trial indicate that a three-year folic acid supplementation can help reduce the age-related decline in cognitive function.

In patients with major depression and schizophrenia, levels of a signaling molecule known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, are reduced. Antidepressants elevate BDNF levels, and most treatments for depression and schizophrenia stimulate BDNF. Here, too, omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial, as is the curry spice curcumin, which has been shown to reduce memory deficits in animal models of Alzheimer's disease and brain trauma. BDNF is most abundant in the hippocampus and the hypothalamus -- brain areas associated with cognitive and metabolic regulation.

The high consumption of curcumin in India may contribute to the low prevalence of Alzheimer's disease on the subcontinent.

In humans, a mutation in a BDNF receptor has been linked to obesity and impairments in learning and memory.

"BDNF is reduced in the hippocampus, in various cortical areas and in the serum of patients with schizophrenia," Gómez-Pinilla said. "BDNF levels are reduced in the plasma of patients with major depression."

Smaller food portions with the appropriate nutrients seem to be beneficial for the brain's molecules, such as BDNF, he said.

Gómez-Pinilla showed in 1995 that exercise can have an effect on the brain by elevating levels of BDNF.

He noted that while some people have extremely good genes, most of us are not so lucky and need a balanced diet, regular exercise and a good night's sleep.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Journal reference:

1. Gómez-Pinilla et al. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2008; 9 (7): 568 DOI: 10.1038/nrn2421

Adapted from materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
 

Laura

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I can attest to the pain amelioration of the "Liberation Diet." And I really notice a difference taking the fish oil. I take about 15 grams a day!
 

Helle

Jedi Master
15 grams a day! That sounds quite expensive, not sure I could afford that, unless there's some cheap fishoil brand that i totally missed?

I'll look into that liberation diet, allthough I'm not in any pain, yet.

Helle.
 
Laura said:
I can attest to the pain amelioration of the "Liberation Diet." And I really notice a difference taking the fish oil. I take about 15 grams a day!
Which fish oil product do you use? How expensive is taking that much per day?
 

Helle

Jedi Master
Is the liberation diet book mentioned written by Kevin Brown, does anyone know?



I grew up hearing that butter and full fat cheese and animal fat, would make me drop dead of some heart-disease, and that program runs so tight in me, that I am afraid of even thinking, that I could eat what the liberation diet says, and still be very healthy.
 

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Helle said:
Is the liberation diet book mentioned written by Kevin Brown, does anyone know?



I grew up hearing that butter and full fat cheese and animal fat, would make me drop dead of some heart-disease, and that program runs so tight in me, that I am afraid of even thinking, that I could eat what the liberation diet says, and still be very healthy.
The liberation diet as used here is different than Brown's book. You can the best initial look at the diet through this thread: Anti-Candida, Inflammation, Heavy Metals Detox and Diet The 'sticky' threads, which are bolded and remain at the top of the forum also contain information used in the diet.
 

Helle

Jedi Master
Thank you !
I read that thread, there's some very very good advice there. I often go back and re-read. Makes a lot more sense to me, than that kevin Brown book.

I just wonder why the Egg Yolks cannot be broken while cooked, anyone knows? Makes it hard to make scrambled eggs.. So I can only boil the eggs?

:D
 

Laura

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Breaking the yolks causes something in there to oxidize and changes its chemical nature, as I understand it.
 

Beau

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Helle said:
So I can only boil the eggs?
No, you can also cook them sunny side up or over easy. As long as the yolk does not get broken prior to cooking you are good.
 
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