Disease Begins On Your Plate
You’ve heard it before but possibly just didn’t realize how true it is; that you are what you eat. Some foods can be healthful, and be very beneficial. Other foods can have a toxic effect inside your body. If you get in the habit of putting the wrong food on your plate, then you might be digging your grave with your silverware. Your body is a machine, one of the most amazing ever created, and like all machines it is designed to work a specific way and it is designed to use specific fuels (foods). If you push your body beyond its limits it will “break” just like any other machine.
If you put sugar in your cars gas tank, something it wasn’t designed to use as fuel, then your car will not run properly. It may even damage it beyond repair. Likewise, if you put things like high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, or genetically modified foods in your ‘gas tank’ then your body will also be subject to be damaged, possibly beyond repair. You’ve heard the saying “You are what you eat” but it should more accurately be stated as “Your health is what you eat”.
One of your bodies worse enemies is inflammation. It is one of the biggest single reasons for getting heart attacks and strokes (even more so than high cholesterol) and is a huge precursor for many other ailments like Alzheimer's disease, arthritis and cancer. It is the very reason you age, and if you want to be healthier and live longer, clearly you need to get rid of as much of your bodies internal inflammation as possible. One of the best ways to do that is to take a good quality Omega-3, but what most people don’t know is that not all Omega-3 is created equal, or that there are two different types of Omega-3 (long chain and short chain).
Most people think that all Omega-3 is the same, and what’s worse is the dangerous belief that Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 are all good for your health just because they are "omegas". Nothing could be further from the truth! I try not to get to ‘technical’ in my articles, so for those of you who are interested in data such as medical research about this topic, I’ll list some great references for you to check out at the bottom of this page.
A good example of disease beginning on your plate would be Salmon. Most people see the buzz word 'Salmon' at the store and buy it thinking that it is good for them, but one type of Salmon is very dangerous and unhealthy to eat - farmed Salmon. Put this particular Salmon on your plate and you will be hurting, not helping your health. For more information about this see this article: http://angelars.hubpages.com/t/31c24b
Long and Short Chain Omega-3
The health benefits from Omega-3’s are well established. In study after study Omega-3’s have proven to be a vital player in human health. Alzheimer’s disease, strokes and heart attacks, many allergies, depression, cancer, bowel disorders, arthritis, asthma, osteoporosis and lupus are just a few of many things that Omega-3 helps fight, because Omega-3 fights inflammation at its root. Omega-3 also helps to regulate key chemicals in your brain which can effect learning, memory and yes, new studies now even show it can even effect your IQ.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also essential for healthy joints, your bones, your liver, the health of your teeth, your lungs, your eyes (retina and macula) your nervous system, your skin (best skin care product ever) your brain, and even your kidneys depend on Omega-3 fatty acids. Your Immune system function also depends on Omega-3. Omega-3 also helps keep your arteries elastic and your heart to keep a steady beat. But we’re not finished yet, because Omega-3 also plays a key role in how your body absorbs calcium into your bones, and it also helps prevent destruction of your cartilage.
Omega-3 can do all of these amazing things for your body ONLY if the amount of Omega-6 in your body is limited, otherwise Omega-6 interferes with how your body absorbs Omega-3, and you'll get little or no Omega-3 benefits. Clearly too much Omega-6 is one of the biggest villains in your body.
More than 14,000 papers have been published on the benefits of Omega-3. There have also been more than 2,500 Meta-Analyses and Systematic reviews and more than 1500 human clinical trials proving the health benefits of Omega-3. A lot of people have heard about how good Omega-3's are for your health, but they are not aware that there are two different types of Omega-3 (and that you need both of them). Just as there are different B-vitamins that have different actions in the body, there are also different Omega-3's which work differently in the body too. Just as you need all of the B vitamins, you also need both types of Omega-3's in your diet too.
Another fact that most people aren't aware of is that essential fatty acids (EFA's) are very, very sensitive to being damaged by light, and/or air (oxygen), and/or heat. For example, when fish is freshly caught it does not smell fishy. However, once it has been exposed to light, or oxygen and at room temperatures the essential fats start to break down, causing that fishy smell. This is why it's best to always buy "flash frozen" fish.
Speaking of fish, in their natural form they contain more DHA than EPA. This is natures wisdom because DHA is the single most important form of Omega-3 that there is. Unfortunately it costs more to produce DHA. That's why most companies have a higher amount of EPA in their product. All of the best Omega-3 products will have a higher amount of DHA than EPA listed on their labels.
So you may buy a good Omega-3 supplement but if they aren't packaged correctly, or stored correctly, then they will turn toxic in a short amount of time. Some manufactures try to take shortcuts to save money when they make Omega-3 and may not press, filter, package, or store their product correctly. This will almost always lead to a toxic product. Make sure the Omega-3 that you buy is pharmaceutical grade and packaged/stored correctly. Unfortunately some companies are only in this to make money, and they buy their omega-3 from overseas by the tanker load. This cheaper omega-3 can easily start to oxidize even before it's processed. I know of only two brands that currently package their product under nitrogen to preserve the Omega-3 from going bad too quickly.
As mentioned before there are short chain and long chain Omega-3. The short chain is from plant based sources (ALA) and the long chain Omega-3 is from fish and fish oil. (EPA and DHA). It's pretty easy to get ALA in your diet. Green leafy vegetables, many oils, walnuts, beans, raspberries, blueberries and flax are all good sources of ALA. Typically you only need around 1,600 milligrams of ALA, which should be easy to get.
Vegetarians and vegans do not get the long chain Omega-3’s in their diet because they do not eat fish, and the long chain Omega-3 are the most important health wise. This puts vegetarians and vegans in high risk of having detrimental effects on their health. Some vegetarians claim that ALA can be converted into EPA, and they would be “technically” correct, HOWEVER, when your body does this you get VERY little EPA from the process. For every 1000 milligrams of ALA, your body will only make a measly 27 milligrams of EPA, and seldom any DHA at all.. If you are over weight you will make even less than that, typically less than 1%. That is like a drop of water in the ocean, and your body needs much more than that, especially with Omega-6 in your diet. In fact some studies show that vegetarians consume even more Omega-6 than the typical person who occasionally eats meat.
The simple fact is this, your body doesn’t play favorites. Your body doesn’t take sides, or make excuses. If it needs a certain nutrient to function you either provide it or not. When you don’t provide it (as vegetarians and vegans don’t provide DHA/EPA) your body suffers health consequences, whether you understand this fact or not. New research has shown that it's the Omega fats in our diet that separates our brains from all other primates. That is how vitally important Omega fats are to the human body. They are ingrained in our health. Vegetarians and vegans might have good reason to not normally eat meats, as they can also be harmful to your health, but consuming Omega-3 is essential for human health, that is why they are called essential fatty acids (EFAs) and you simply can't get around that fact. You cannot get the required amounts of EPA and DHA any other way.
The Fox is Guarding The Henhouse
You may be wondering by now that since Omega-6 is so toxic to your health, why isn’t it shown on food labels? One big reason is that Omega-6 is in nearly every processed food. If you could easily look to see how unhealthy a particular food was before you bought it, you probably wouldn’t buy it, and food manufactures want to sell you food, not have it sit on the shelves. Because consumers don’t complain about the lack of Omega fats labeling, the food manufactures have chosen to simply ignore the issue. Processed foods aren’t the only place where your diet comes in contact with omega-6. Fast food, nuts, cooking oils, margarine, mayonnaise and salad dressings are all also key players in adding Omega-6 to your diet. Look for the ingredients cottonseed oil, corn oil or soybean oil in your food labels to reveal if there is Omega-6 in that food.
Choose your Omega-3 Supplement Wisely
Today everywhere you look someone is marketing a new Omega-3 supplement, but choose wisely, because they are not all the same.
While it is very important to supplement your diet with Omega-3, please don’t just run out and buy the first bottle of Omega-3 that you find. Like everything else in this world of ours, there is good and bad, and trust me, there are plenty of companies willing to take shortcuts and sell you “their version” of Omega-3, which unbeknownst to you, may contain toxins and/or contaminants and/or PCBs and/or mercury, and or pesticides… For example, Kirkland Signature Omega-3s failed a USP disintegration test, and this was discovered by the analysts in spite of package claiming that Kirkland Signature fish pills were “USP verified”. CVS Natural, GNC Triple Strength, Nature’s Bounty Odorless, and Sundown Naturals were all cited for containing more PCBs than California law allows. And as mentioned before, there are even some companies willing to sell you Omega-3 with added Omega-6. You usually see the labels of this version of supplement with the numbers 3-6-9 on the label. You've already learned how unhealthy added Omega-6 is to your body, why would you want to add more? Stay away from this "version" of Omega-3 supplement.
So how do you know if you’re buying a good Omega-3 or not? A good Omega-3 supplement will be pharmaceutical grade. Unfortunately there is no standard guideline for what is "pharmaceutical grade". However I have a test that will at least "get you in the ballpark" to learning how good your Omega-3 supplement is (or isn't).
- First make sure it says on the package/bottle that your Omega-3 is filtered free of mercury and contaminants.
- Take at least 5 or 6 capsules and cut them in half.
- Pour the contents into a freezer safe container.
- Place the container in your freezer for 5 hours. You may want to use a timer so that you don’t forget you put the container in the freezer.
If after 5 hours the oil remains liquid, then you may have a pharmaceutical grade Omega-3 oil. If the oil is frozen then it is definitely NOT pharmaceutical grade. A good Omega-3 will have around 225 mg of DHA, 175 mg of EPA and 50 mg of ALA per sofgel or capsule. Remember, you need both short and long chain Omega-3 in your body. There are also other marketing schemes that some manufactures use to sell you inferior Omega-3 products. One of them is to just tell you how much "fish oil" is in their product. So for example they might say each capsule is 500mg, but keep in mind that does NOT have anything to do with the amount of Omega-3! There are many things in fish oil, not just Omega-3.
Typically there is only 30% Omega-3 in fish oil, so that 500mg fish oil capsule might only have a paltry 150mg of Omega 3, and don't forget there are two different types of Omega-3's (DHA and EPA) so unless their label is specific you might not know how much EPA or DHA you're getting. This generally confuses the consumer into thinking that they are getting 500mg of Omega-3, when it is NOT the case at all. You're label should show specifically how much EPA and how much DHA (and hopefully how much ALA) each capsule contains, and the DHA should always be a higher number than the EPA's. Also make sure each capsule is rated, and not just each serving size. It may say 1000mg on the label BUT you may have to take 4 capsules per serving. At that point you're not saving any money by buying that brand at all. Remember, a good Omega-3 will have around 225 mg of DHA, 175 mg of EPA and 50 mg of ALA per sofgel or capsule. You want your Omega-3 to be purified via molecular distillation. Look for DHA and EPA that is also in its natural Triglyceride form.