Monday, April 30, 2007

Fatty Acid Deficiencies and ADD

Fatty Acid Deficiencies and ADD

A Purdue University study showed that kids low in Omega-3 essential fatty acids are significantly more likely to be hyperactive, have learning disorders, and to display behavioral problems. Omega-3 deficiencies have also been tied to dyslexia, violence, depression, memory problems, weight gain, cancer, heart disease, eczema, allergies, inflammatory diseases, arthritis, diabetes, and many other conditions. Over 2,000 scientific studies have demonstrated the wide range of problems associated with Omega-3 deficiencies. The American diet is almost devoid of Omega 3's except for certain types of fish. In fact, researchers believe that about 60% of Americans are deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids, and about 20% have so little that test methods cannot even detect any in their blood.

Your brain is more than 60% structural fat, just as your muscles are made of protein and your bones are made of calcium. But it's not just any fat that our brains are made of. It has to be certain types of fats, and we no longer eat these types of fats like we used to. Worse, we eat man-made trans-fats and excessive amounts of saturated fats and vegetable oils high in Omega-6 fatty acids, all of which interfere which our body's attempt to utilize the tiny amount of Omega-3 fats that it gets.

Other parts of our bodies also need Omega-3 fatty acids. Symptoms of fatty acid deficiency include a variety of skin problems such as eczema, thick patches of skin, and cracked heels.

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Hunter/gatherers ate greens with lots of Omega-3's. We know this because scientists have actually tested many of the plants and animals eaten by existing and past hunter/gatherer groups. These have been replaced primarily with grains, which contain the wrong kinds of fats.

More Detail Than You May Want to Know: EPA, DHA, and the Omega-3 family of Eicosanoids are important types of Omega-3 fatty acids. Normally our body can manufacture all of these products if it has plenty of the parent Omega-3 fatty acid called Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) found naturally in green leafy vegetables, flax, flaxseed and canola oil, walnuts and Brazil nuts. (Note: DHA is not to be confused with DHEA, a popular hormonal supplement).

Our bodies convert ALA to EPA; EPA to DHA; and DHA to Omega-3 Eichosanoids. There are many things that can interfere with this process, especially vegetable oils in the diet. Note that it is possible to acquire EPA and DHA directly by eating fish oil, certain eggs, or by taking supplements. Fatty fish contain plenty of both substances. Plenty of studies have shown that fish-eating cultures have much better health, including mental health.

DHA is particularly important for brain functions. Scientists have discovered that severely depressed people are lower in DHA, and the more depressed they are, the less DHA they have. One ancient remedy for depression was to feed the patient animal brains, now known to be extremely high in DHA and Omega-3 fatty acids. Incidentally, alcohol is known to deplete DHA stores extremely rapidly.

While the body can theoretically manufacture its own DHA out of the parent ALA fatty acid, things can interfere with this conversion. The most important problem is an excess of Omega-6 fatty acids in the bloodstream, which use the same enzymes for a similar type of conversion. This is why it is extremely important not to have too many Omega-6 fats in your diet (the vegetable oils like sunflower and soybean oil). Other problems might inhibit the conversion process, such as a deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals.

Infants who are fed formula in the United States receive almost no Omega-3's, while infants who are breast fed thrive on milk rich in DHA (the amount depends on the mother's diet). Researchers have found that infants who are fed formulas enriched with Omega-3's or who are breast fed do better visually and intellectually.

Incidentally, pregnant women experience a major loss in DHA as their DHA is rerouted to the fetus. This may be one reason depression is so common after child birth.

Why I think of trans fats as "plastic": Trans-fats are manufactured by bubbling hydrogen gas through super-heated vegetable oil in the presence of nickel. The fat molecules are changed chemically so they are not very reactive, making them good for frying and for sitting on the grocery store shelf a very long time. The electrical properties of these fats are changed as well as their shape.

It's been said that margarine, a trans-fat, is one electron away from plastic. I don't know if that's true or not, but the image has stuck with me. These man-made trans-fats are being used by our bodies as building material, but they're all wrong. Imagine your brain being replaced molecule by molecule with plastic instead of fat. And you wonder why you can't remember where you left your keys.

Don't eat these fats! Put them in the same category as arsenic or PCBs. Plastics that will invade your brain. I may be exaggerating just a bit, but I'm serious about the dangers of trans-fats.

Read your labels. Avoid any product that has oils which have been "hydrogenated" or "partly hydrogenated." You'll be amazed when you see how much of this garbage you've been eating. It's in the majority of prepared foods including breads, crackers potato chips, and cookies. Mayonnaise is a glob of trans-fat. When eating out, your worst foods are deep fried foods (including french fries), donuts, and muffins.

Why it's Bad to Eat Too Many Vegetable Oils: That's right, one more things is bad for you! Vegetable oils contains Omega-6 fatty acids, and we eat lots of these. Sunflower oil, soybean oil, safflower oil and most other vegetable oils contain lots of Omega-6 fatty acids. This is bad for a couple of reasons:

1. Omega-6 fatty acids feed tumors. Cancer growth rates nearly explode in the presence of a high level of Omega-6 fatty acids (which many of us have). On the other hand, Omega-3 fatty acids slow the growth rate of tumors significantly, or even decrease their size.

2. The enzymes used to break parent Omega-6 fatty acids down into various compounds are shared by Omega-3 fatty acids. If you have a lot of Omega-6 fatty acids in your blood stream and only a small amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, the enzymes will probably be used up by the Omega-6 fatty acids, and you will be unable to manufacture DHA out of ALA.

3. Omega-6 fatty acids are broken down into substances which promote inflammation and other problems while Omega-3 fatty acids are broken down into substances that reduce inflammation. Therefore, there should be a balance between the two oil. The typical ratio in the U.S. is currently 22:1 in favor of the Omega-6 fatty acids. The ideal ratio is between 1:1 and 4:1.

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