Archive for the ‘health’ Category

Omega-3 for Vegetarians

So the sun is good for you especially if you are getting enough Omega-3 fatty oils.  What about if you don’t eat fish?

from The Vegetarian society webpage:

Alpha-linolenic acid is what is known as an omega 3 fat, and is a precursor of the longer chain omega 3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – ie EPA and to a lesser extent DHA can be made in the body from ALA. These two fatty acids are the ones available in significant amounts in oily fish, and fish oil supplements. Generally, vegetarian, and especially vegan, diets are relatively low in ALA compared with LA, and provide little EPA and DHA directly.

Taking an overview of the various fatty acids intake recommendations worldwide, and the confounding factors surrounding the common vegetarian diet, leads to a conclusion that an ALA intake of 1.5% of total energy is optimum for vegetarians – or roughly 4g a day. This should provide enough of the parent omega 3 fat to ensure significant amounts of EPA and DHA are formed by the body (conversion rates are around 5-10% for EPA and 2-5% for DHA). However it is also important for vegetarians to ensure that their intake of LA is not too high compared with ALA since a higher intake of LA interferes with the process in which the human body converts ALA into the even more beneficial EPA and DHA, so a LA to ALA ratio of around 4 to 1 or slightly lower is considered to be the optimum, but any steps to bring down an excessively high amount of omega 6 fats in the diet would be beneficial.

Sources of Omega 3 Fats
Flaxseed oil
1 tablespoon (14g)
provides 8.0g of ALA and relatively insignificant
      levels of LA
Flaxseed, ground 1 tablespoon (24g) provides 3.8g of ALA
Rape Seed oil 1 tablespoon (14g) provides 1.6g of ALA and only twice as much LA
Walnuts 1 oz (28g) provides 2.6g of ALA but also four times as much
Tofu 4.5oz (126g) provides 0.7g of ALA but also seven times as much

Practical steps

There are a number of steps to take to ensure that the optimum levels of all the omega 3 fats are present in the body.

1. Make sure you include a good source of ALA in your diet, the simplest source would be one teaspoon of flax seed oil a day, taken either on its own or mixed into dressings etc. Flax oil is also available in vegetable capsules. Alternately include 4 to 5 teaspoons of ground flax seeds, or rape seed oil in your diet – though do not heat any of the oils, and only add the flax seeds to any foods at a late stage since heating will destabilise the ALA. It is important that the flax seeds are ground or at least crushed, if left whole much of the fat will be unavailable.

2. Replace fats high in omega 6 oils, such as sunflower oil or corn oil, with fats higher in monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or rape seed oil which do not disrupt the formation of EPA and DHA.

3. Other foods can add to your intake of ALA. Most of the little fat in leafy green vegetables is ALA – broccoli has 0.13g per 100g, cabbage 0.11g per 100g, so simply eating your greens is making a positive addition to your intake. Walnuts and tofu are also good sources but are comparably high in LA.

Pregnant or nursing mothers who are uncertain whether their diet is providing enough omega 3 fats may wish to consider supplementing their diet with a direct source of DHA since this appears to play an important part in the development of immature brains. DHA supplements derived from algae and encased in non gelatine capsules are now available. It has also been suggested that DHA supplements may be of help to children with certain behavioral or learning difficulties.


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Here comes the sun

Xray_sunIt was bright and 30 degrees yesterday….spent almost the whole day sunbathing and feel wonderful this morning.  Feels like a whole lot of toxins were burned off.  My intuition is that exposure to the sun is healthy and there is some interesting contrarian research which supports this feeling…

From: http://www.mercola.com/2002/jun/19/sun.htm

Dr. Mercola’s Comment:

Most of us have been bombarded about the dangers of the sun by experts and the media. However, because it is one of the most pervasive and inaccurate myths persisting in most of the patients I see, I can only assume you are under the same misunderstanding. Unfortunately, this myth has contributed to massive amounts of disease and illness in our society.      

Can sun exposure cause skin cancer? Absolutely. However, appropriate sunlight actually prevents cancer. Exposure to the sun provides many benefits such as promoting the formation of vitamin D. We also have strong
evidence that sunlight is protective against MS and breast cancer.
The key is to never burn.                  

Although the American Academy  of Dermatology will have you bathing in sunscreen, it is one    of the LAST things you want to put on your body. It is a toxic chemical that can cause problems in your system. Even if it didn’t contribute to disease, the central issue is that it doesn’t even work.

A British dermatologist
published an article earlier this year which showed no clear indication that sunscreens worked.  Another  study in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology last year found the same thing. A far more logical solution would be to use clothing
to protect you against the sun.

So what is the cause of  skin cancer and the deadly melanoma? I may sound like I am on my soapbox again but, it is the omega 6:3 oil ratio.

I quote from Cancer Res 2000 Aug 1;60(15):4139-45:

"Epidemiological, experimental, and mechanistic data implicate omega-6 fat as stimulators 
and long-chain omega-3 fats as inhibitors of development and progression  of a range of human cancers, including melanoma.

Last year, the prestigious National Academy of Sciences published a comprehensive review showing that the omega 6:3 ratio was the key to preventing skin cancer development. An Australian study done ten years ago showed a 40% reduction in melanoma for those who were eating fish. And this was without any attention to lowering omega-6 fats.

So, do I recommend you pop some fish oil pills and go out and get as much sun as you would like?

Absolutely not.

You must exercise caution.  At the beginning of the season go out gradually, perhaps as little as ten minutes a day. Progressively increase your time in the sun so that in a few weeks, you will be able to have normal sun exposure with little risk of skin cancer.

Remember never to get burned, that is the key.

Remember also never to use sunscreen, another key. You can creatively use your clothing to block
the sun’s rays during your build-up time.


The bottom line is, please avoid getting sucked into the hype that sunlight is dangerous. It is only dangerous if you are clueless about fat nutrition, which most medical doctors are. If you choose to ignore your omega 6:3 ratio and stay out of the sun, you could limit your risk of skin cancer, but is that worth the risk of getting MS, breast or prostate cancer?

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