What everyone needs to know about the Omegas!
No, not the sorority sisters, I mean the King of Fat, Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. There are lots of different types of fat out there in the food world, but there are only two that are considered essential. (Well, except in some extreme rare and weird cases concerning dietary deficiency that no one wants to hear about here) So, essential fats. We all know from school about the essential proteins, there are eight absolutely essential amino acids and without them you will have long term problems. And carbohydrates, which basically are glucose chains and of which glucose is the molecule that the brain uses for energy. And some out there will tell us that glucose is not essential, that you can get all the brain food from the breakdown of proteins in a process called Ketosis. (Read why it's bad here) This article isn't about all that silliness, it's about the only two essential fats, Omega 3 and 6. Without them, you will have long term problems. With too much of Omega 6, you will have long term problems. With little or no Omega 3 fats in your diet, well, you will have very serious long term health problems and if your mama didn't ingest enough when she was pregnant with you or you didn't get them as a child, then your IQ will be lower, your overall health will be diminished and in all probability you wouldn't understand a word written here. It's pretty simple, Omega 3 is brain development food and is a requirement for good health and proper life.
So, all that said, Omega 3 is really three different long chain fatty acids. They are named ALA, EPA and DHA. Realistically, the only one that we need is the DHA. It's the one responsible for development of brain functions. It is indeed, essential. The human body takes the short chain ALA, and to a lesser extent the EPA, and converts them to the DHA needed. Here's where it gets a bit weird, ALA is the most common Omega 3 acid out there, with it being found in all vegetable oils, nuts and especially walnuts, leafy green vegetables, flax seeds and yes, in animal fats. Of course the only ones worth consuming are the grass fed ones. The horrific foods and chemicals fed to commercially raised meat animals pretty well taints those sources as being entirely inedible. That and actual scientific research has shown that commercially grain fed animals have very high ratios of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats. Which is bad. Grass fed animals have more ideal 1 to 1 ratios. And the problem with commercial vegetable oils is that although they may contain Omega 3's they also contain very high amounts of Omega 6's in them. So, this is where the battle rages.
So this is what we know at this time. Researchers actually have a pretty poor understanding as to why Omega 6 fatty acids cause the problems that they do. (It's true, scientists don't know everything) We know we need them, for certain functions; but we know that excess intake of Omega 6's cause inflammation. And that is the root cause of so very many things in humans. Everything really, from heart disease to arthritis to cancer to Alzheimer's to other mental disorders especially bipolar disorder. Yikes, wish I had known this when married to my first wife, we could have taken steps to work on that. Loved the woman, 22 years together, but what a roller coaster ride. Anyway, what we do know is that when taken together in reasonable ratios, like 1 to 1 or even having greater Omega 3's in up to 1 to 4 Omega 3's, then the battle for brain development and all the good things in life is won. And yet when in the ratio that most Americans have that consume the SAD (Standard American Diet) with Omega 6's being in up to 20 to 1 they compete for the same rate limiting enzymes needed for conversion of the fatty acids to usable substances for cell development. The entire war, not just a single battle, is lost to the Omega 6 team.
So this is pretty much all bad news for the giant food manufacturers in America today. They don't want any potential consumer to learn that eating healthy foods and avoiding their processed meats, oils, farmed seafoods and really most of the crap they make, to know that eating healthy food will not cause the multitude of problems associated with living in a modern world. And in fact there is some recent research out there that removing high Omega 6 fats and increasing Omega 3's in your diet has been shown in a number of scientific studies to reduce prostate size, decrease incidence of prostate and colorectal cancers as well as lung and ovarian cancers. To a lesser degree. And here's the kicker, in older populations, over 40, the intake of ALA's through vegan sources, did nothing to decrease these diseases. The only viable reduction was seen through the consumption of cold water seafood and ocean sea algaes.
Yikes, that sort of backs up the research done about the whole Paleo diet thing where all those weirdo Paleo people keep telling the world that the only reason humans evolved into the thinking cognizant modern humans is because they learned to hunt and ate copious amounts of meat. Well, that's just not true. New research done where these guys took bone samples from skulls of proto humans, Neanderthals, and Paleolithic humans and in some very very cool measuring the stable isotopes of the bone collagens have been able to determine that brain size never really began to increase until the introduction of seafood into the diets. Ooooooohhhhh, yeah. Cool huh? Just having a larger increase in proteins from the savanahs of Africa did little to increase brain size up until monkey boys struck out toward the coasts and started eating clams and little fishys. This page anyone can get to, you don't need to pay for it, and it is a fun read. (Omega 3 in Paleo development)
So, what does all this mean? Well, if you are young, like this incredibly beautiful young lady friend I know, you can get away with eating a pure vegan diet. But when she gets a bit older, she will have the same problems that I am having, and will need to expand our dietary range to include seafood. Or pasture raised eggs and tons and tons of kelp.
I think I'll stick with the wild caught salmon.