Monthly Archives: January 2006

Fish Oil: Another Piece of Evidence

Fish Oil: Another Piece of Evidence

Competency # 13  FATS

Reference: Psychol Sci. 2006 Feb;17(2):151-8

This is dynamite!  The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children has been running for 15 years in Bristol, England.  Just two weeks ago, in a conference held in London to review the results of the study, the findings on fish oil were released.   I’ve seen three references to the study in various media, so it is getting lots of play.

Our brains are, to a large part, made up of omega fatty acids.  We have known for a while that eating fish is good for us.  Our first proof came in the world of heart disease when we found that eating fish twice a week reduced our risk for sudden death by 40%.  That dramatic finding suggests that our bodies are starved for omega fatty acids.  What is known about the American diet is that we purify our vegetable oils thoroughly so that they have a long shelf life and can be stored on store shelves for months.  Omega 3 fatty acids go bad in a few weeks, They oxidize quickly on exposure to light and oxygen.  Omega 6’s are much more stable.  Our diet, over the last hundred years, has drifted from one in which we eat a 1:2 ratio of 3:6 omega fatty acids to a diet in which we now eat 1:20.  This is a ten-fold shift.  And at the nerve cell layer, it makes the average content of our nerve and brain cells to be 20% omega 3, 80% omega 6.  In Japan, there is a ratio of 40% omega 3, 60% omega six.  Eating much more seafood, and much less omega 6 vegetable oil is the apparent difference.

That’s background.

The findings of the Avon study are that women who ate the lowest amount of omega 3 rich foods (including seafood) had children with IQs 6 points less.  This is important, because in America we widely tell women to not eat fish because of the fear of methyl mercury.  The study leaders state that the relative risk of not getting omega 3s is far higher than the risk of methyl mercury.  But there was more.   At age 3.5, the kids whose moms ate the most fish had the best fine motor skills.  And the kids with the least had statistically higher levels of pathological behavior later and had lower abilities to make friends.  14% of kids from the lowest group showed that sort of behavior compared to 8% with the most fish eatenOur societies drift to more and more refined food sounds well and good.  The unintended consequences of that refining are long-term consequences.  This may be one of them.  As we look at absolute rises in mental health, can we connect that to the percentage of omega three fatty acids in our nerve cells. From what I know of chemistry, when you change ingredients, you get different reactions.

What Will Work for Me:  Consumer Reports studied fish oil pills last year.  They found NO Methyl Mercury.  I take a fish oil pill every day.  You should too.  Eating ground flax seed will provide you with more.


Please pass this on to every young mother you know.  This is important nutritional news… A breakthrough of sorts.

Ten Strategies to Raise Your Metabolism to Lose Weight

Ten Strategies to Raise Your Metabolism to Lose Weight

Competency # 3, 4, 5, 7

Reference:  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 79, No. 5, 899S-906S, May 2004

New Year’s Resolution:  Lose a Ton or Two! All right already, I’ve got the message I have to eat a little less, somehow.  Give me some more tips about how I can organize my eating, not feel so hungry and start down the road of losing some of this Holiday Flab.

1.  A calorie is a calorie is a calorie.  The only way to lose your “mobile calorie storage facility”  (spare tire) is to burn more than you eat.

2.  Evidence to get your burning into peak form suggests you need to maintain muscle mass.   Exercise doesn’t just burn calories but it gets your metabolism up and running, and builds muscle mass that continues to burn more calories the rest of the day.  We lose 5% of muscle mass a decade after age forty so it’s use it or lose it.  Do some sort of strength training every other day.  Plan:  get 2 3-5 lb barbells at a sporting goods store.  Do arm curls during every commercial while watching TV each night.  They only cost about $ 5 each.   Plan for a 30  minute walk three times a week.  Get an imaginary dog and take it for a good brisk walk.

3.  Eat whole grains for breakfast.  Breakfast wakes up your metabolism.  Whole grains stretch out the energy supply all morning.  Include protein to prevent glucose form rising too high.

4.  Never go more than 5 hours without food.  You get so hungry, you starve and then eat too much.

5.  Don’t cut your calories to a super low level either.  You can induce your metabolism to be more efficient, making it even harder. (Some experts say you can induce your body to be up to 15% more efficient by starving – and that efficiency lasts for a couple of months after you stop.) Hence, the swings in weight.

6.  Get a good nights sleep.  The evidence is in: going without sleep messes up your ghrelin and leptin – and the only way to feel better is to eat too much.  If you are a 5 hour sleeper, you have a 50% chance of being overweight, and you can’t figure out why.  All your internal appetites are set a bit too high.  Aim for 6-7.  You don’t burn extra calories by being awake longer, you munch more.

7.   Protein consumption does seem to blunt the appetite.  But Atkins diets by themselves are likely a problem.  Dr. Schoeller, listed below, has the most quoted and repeated review  article  on the topic.  He is one of our own here in Wisconsin.   He concludes the vast majority of the effect comes from protein’s blunting your appetite.  That’s ok.  Blunt it.   A  Calorie is a Calorie.  If you can choose some low fat protein with every meal, it helps curb  Your “hungries.”  Sugar doesn’t. Once I start on sugar, I can go a long way before I feel full.

8.   Plan your food day for 3 meals and 3 snacks.  All things being equal, you will eat a little less and burn a little more

9.   Use” tricks” to measure your progress.  When you are losing weight, your body is making     ketones. (Ketones are pieces of fat molecules your body is putting out from your fat cells.  They are what you burn when glucose runs out.)   You can measure them in your urine.  This is a way to reward yourself and know when you are burning.  You can “feel the ketosis”. There are diet gurus out there that use this idea a lot.  I think it’s one trick that works for some.  I’m a little more compulsive.  I shelled out $ 50 and bought a One Touch Glucometer.   In just ten days I’ve shown to myself that my blood sugar drops 20 points when I am eating right.  It’s a huge boost to my morale.  It keeps me on track.  Count every flight of stairs you take as 9 calories.  You can buy one without a prescription.

10.  Supplements.  At Mayfair and every other mall you can see people hawking ephedra  and ECGC.  There are studies from tiny numbers of people that show as much as a 4% change in metabolism.    The cost per month is high.   Long term, these drugs are not for me.  The literature just isn’t credible.  This is # 10.  And it’s not a sensible choice.