Another Reason to Eat Omega-3s ALL OF OUR LIVES

February 10, 2006

Another Reason to Eat Omega-3s ALL OF OUR LIVES 

 Competency # 13 FATS                           Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Dec 2005 (p 1178) - From Strasbourg, France 

 We have all learned that eating fish twice a week will reduce our risk of sudden death by 40%. Even the American Heart Association has taking fish oil as one of its prime recommendations. And we all know that over 60% of us are overweight. And the best way to measure where you are in your life journey is the “Waist-Hip” ratio. Men should have a WH ratio below .9. Women should be below .85. So, most of us aren’t there yet. And we know we are therefore at risk to have the “Metabolic Syndrome”.  

There are five characteristics to have the “metabolic syndrome” 

1. Overweight 

2. Abdominal “adiposity” 

3. Insulin resistance (AKA, diabetes or prediabetes) 

4. High blood fats 

5. High blood pressure 

6. Now we can add INFLAMMATION as number 6 in the Metabolic Syndrome list. 

Dr. Klein-Platat took 120 twelve-year old overweight kids and measured their metabolic syndrome factors as listed above. What they found was stunning. Kids as young as 12 have elevated inflammatory markers in their blood: C reactive Protein and IL-6. Metabolic syndrome does not start at 45. It’s lifelong. 

 But here is the good news! The more omega 3’s the kids ate, the lower their inflammatory markers. And the more omega-3’s the kids ate, the lower their metabolic syndrome parameters. I’m not sure how big this will be but I think it’s huge. The implications are that our bodies are starved for these precious molecules. Our cardiovascular system wants them so badly that just two servings of fish a week and our sudden death risk drops 40%. 

And here is the mechanism by which that works: All of our risk markers for vascular disease get better when we eat more omega-3 fatty acids. Where do omega-3’s come from? They are made ONLY by green plants. Algae in the ocean get eaten by little fish: bigger fish: salmon. Green grass is eaten by cows. We eat cows and other grass-raised animals.  Or do we?. That’s why free-range chickens and pasture-fed beef is better for you. The caveat is that omega 3s spoil easily when exposed to light and oxygen. Most commercial vegetable oils have removed the omega 3s because they spoil on the shelf. Olive oil is not purified. Sunflower and safflower are good too. 

WWW: What Will Work for ME. This is easy. Keep eating your fish. I take flax oil and fish oil every day. And flaxseed is a champion plant-sourced omega three oil. Remember to grind it up first, just before eating. I need to do this all my life. At no point is it bad for you. So, get your kids on this too. When you choose an oil to cook with: safflower and sunflower beat canola.     

This column is written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI. (262-784-5300)