Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Omega-3 : Friend or Foe?

Omega-3s : What Are They?

It seems like everybody these days is telling you that you need to get omega-3 fats in your diet.
What are they? And is it true?

Now, I must confess that I have always been a little reluctant about recommending omega-3 supplements. It just didn't make sense to me that this stuff that is found only in very small quantities in the diets of people living long healthy lives, should be so important for us to make sure we get plenty of.

It has also bothered me that people are being encouraged to consume large amounts for omega-3 fats, because they are polyunsaturated oils, and therefore detrimental to the human body in large quantities.

So, I decided to do more research to find out just how much of these fats we really need, and what are they good for.

Well, omega-3 fats are fatty acids that have in common a final carbon–carbon double bond in the n−3 position; that is, the third bond from the methyl end of the fatty acid.

The omega-3 fatty acids talked about for nutrition are ALA, EPA, and DHA.

ALA is the important one, because the body can use it to create the other two, if it needs them. They are basically involved in inflammatory response mechanisms in the body.

It turns out that these fats are NOT essential. The body can make them if it needs them from other sources. It also turns out that these fats are not needed very much, or in very large amounts. Also we can get plenty of them from eating normal food. Green leafy veggies are a great source.

So what about the research that is encouraging people eat lots of these?

Well, it stems from research done on Inuits in Alaska. It was discovered that these Eskimos, who ate large amounts of fat, were safer from heart disease than many other people.

The researches, knowing that saturated fats were bad for your heart, decided that it had to be the omega-3 fats that were helping them. They didn't know that the research that shows that saturated fats are bad for you was just as bad, or worse, than their own research.

Further studies have been done on omega-3 fats, and the results have been very confusing. Some show improvement, some show decline. It is now almost unanimous that large amounts of omega-3 fats should not be given to cardiac patients. But most doctors will still tell heart patients that they should take some omega-3 fats.

So, I decided that I would look a little deeper.

It turns out that the studies that I could find that say that omega-3 fats are good for the body, in any way, are studies that did not use omega-3 fats exclusively. For instance they would combine a diet with omega-3 fats with vitamin and mineral supplements, and then give any or all credit of positive outcomes to the omega fats. Yet the studies were not designed to actually measure the goodness or badness of omega-3 fats.

Any study I could find that actually used omega-3 fats in a way that could detect the effects of their use, was either a negative outcome or a confusing outcome.

Next, I went to a biochemist that I trust to get his take on omega-3 fats. He insisted that nobody should take extra supplements of omega-3 fats. He went on to say that studies show omega-3 fats are particularly detrimental to mitochondria in the body. Here is a link to his research.

Mitochondria are the things that allow cells to be energized. It turns out that omega-3 fats are particularly detrimental to the lungs and the eyes.

Anyone with lung or eye problems should be extra careful to make sure that there are no omega-3s or any other polyunsaturated oils in there diets.

In fact I would recommend that everyone cut out any omega-3 supplements from their lifestyle. As far as I can see, they can only cause harm.

Fish oils are an important first thing to eliminate. Fish oils are usually already rancid before you take them, and if they are not, they go rancid as soon as they get into the body. They are so easily oxidized, that is just the way they are.

People encouraging the use of fish oils have been led down the wrong path by researchers who either didn't take the bother to think through their research projects, or were paid to achieve a particular outcome.

I recommend stopping all fish oil supplements of any kind.

This does not mean however that you need to cut out green leafy veggies from your diet. This is because in the green leafy form these fats are balanced out with many other nutrients that help the body to be balanced. Plus eating green leafy stuff makes sure that your body does have small amounts of these substances when it does need them for certain special purposes.

Remember that health in the human body, is all about balance. And the best way to find that balance is to eat a variety of fresh whole foods nature can use to keep the balance that only nature's God understands fully.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cancer And Sugar : A New Paradigm

Here is a new paradigm on cancer and sugar.

As many of you may know, cancer gobbles up sugar. The cancer uses the sugar to create more energy to do more replicating.

One of the problems that this knowledge has caused is that many cancer patients try to cut down on sugar to help rid themselves of cancer. The thing is that sugar is necessary of every cell of the body to make energy with, so they can carry out the functions they have. If you starve the body of sugar to fight cancer cells, you also starve all the other cells of the body.

However our recent study of sugars, and particularly fructose, has given us a little more ammunition to fight with. It turns out that cancer cells develop an ability to directly uptake fructose. Most normal cells in the body do not have this ability.

So, instead of cutting out sugar, in all it's forms, to help fight cancer, it may be well to cut out all fructose for a while. By going on a glucose-as-the-only-form-of-sugar-in-your-diet diet you can cause the cancer cells some problem while still feeding the good cells.

It can be difficult to go on this kind of a diet because most fruits and vegetables contain fructose.
Also most packaged foods at the store contain sucrose (which is half fructose) or fructose in some form. Even honey is about 40% fructose. Also keep in mind that the artificial sweeteners are even worse for the body.

You can eat swiss chard, celery, mustard greens, oatmeal, whole wheat, rice, nuts, raw milk, and eggs.

Just to be clear, it is always advisable to avoid processed and artificial sugars as much as possible. If you must ad sweetener, I prefer raw (not heated, not filtered) honey. Of course if you are eliminating fructose for a few weeks or months to help your body heal, you would need to skip the honey and use something like stevia.

Stevia is a good sweetner with out any known negative consequences. All though some studies have identified problems with extracts of stevia, there is no known problems with the stevia leaf that is normally used for sweetener. Of course you shouldn't over due any one substance.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Phytates : Good or Bad?

The other day I mentioned phytates (or phytic acid) in a positive light and it may have confused some of you. There are many people who will tell you that phytates are bad for you and should be avoided. Lets look at that argument.

Phytates have an interesting property that allows them to bond to iron, zinc, and calcium. So if you eat them with those minerals, your body won't be able to absorb as much of those minerals as it might other wise.

Phytates also have a high phosphate content, but it is also bound up and unavailable for digestion for the most part.

So looking at those facts, one could say that phytates are a negative and should be avoided. But lets take another look.

Phytates, by binding up minerals, may actually be preventing the formation of free radicals, that do so much damage in the body, by keeping minerals at a safe level.

More and more researchers are recognizing problems caused by an overload of iron in the body. Phytates will act as antioxidants, and just a small amount of phytates can drastically cut down the amount of iron in the body.

Phytates have also been shown to help prevent cancer and even to activate the natural killer cells that attack and destroy cancer.

Phytates also are accompanied by plenty of fiber, so that helps with healthy digestive and elimination systems. As well as helping to regulate the use of glucose from starches.

Phtates are broken down by certain enzymes and food processing. For instance yeast fermentation in making bread dough breaks down phytates. Also sprouting grains, and seeds breaks down the phytates. Even soaking beans and cooking them can help to break down phytates.

The best sources of phytates are grains, nuts, and legumes.

So, as it turns out, the best thing to do is look for balance in your lifestyle. Don't go looking for tons of phytates, and don't worry about trying to avoid them. Eat a good balanced diet of whole foods and you will get what you need.

The human body is an amazing machine that has the ability to use what it needs and dump what it doesn't need. So the key is really in giving the body the resources that it needs to do what it needs to do.

HERE is a quick outline of the basics.

And HERE is a little more info about those basics.

HERE is a list of the rules along with a list of the things to eliminate from your lifestyle.

HERE is an article to help you understand balance.

Have a great day!
Coach G.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fructose Discoveries

I know that many people are familiar with fructose. We generally think of it as the natural sugar found in fruit. Well, recently some fascinating things have been discovered about fructose that I want to share with you.

Excess fructose has been found to cause an increase in uric acid. This in turn leads to high blood pressure, bad triglycerides, fatty liver, insulin resistance, kidney disease, and obesity.

Researchers have found in their testing that glucose does not cause these problems by it's self. But if it is combined with fructose, it actually causes the body to have a higher up take of fructose than it would normally have. Thus if glucose and fructose are taken together, the problem is worse than if fructose is taken alone.

Sucrose (table sugar) is half fructose and half glucose.

However, researches also discovered that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is even worse than the sucrose.

When your body goes through this process of being overloaded with fructose, which consequently overloads you with uric acid, your body then starts to crave the fructose, and a negative spiral ensues.

Interestingly the researchers also discovered that this uric acid problem is also caused by a common item consumed by many people. Beer. Evidently this is why people get beer belly.

So, if you have these kinds of problems what can you do?

The researchers tell us that the first thing to do is stop supplementing with fructose. Of course soft drinks are probably the biggest offender. Then eliminate any food that lists HFCS on the label.

Once you have eliminated fructose from your diet for 2 or 3 weeks, then you can go back to normal fructose intake. Normal means as part of a healthy diet, not what your normal consumption was before.

You see,researchers found that fructose that is eaten as part of a whole food, doesn't seem to cause these problems. The vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phyto-nutrients, and anti-oxidants found in whole foods keeps the fructose from causing the high uric acid problem.

The other thing to know is that if you do have a high uric acid problem in your body, there are several things that the researchers pointed out will help to normalize the situation, thus helping to heal the body.

Exercise helps to balance out uric acid. Vitamin C seems to cancel out the uric acid effects. Foods naturally high in phytates (phytic acid) help to balance out uric acid levels. These include nuts, whole grains, and many legumes. Processing these foods can drastically lower the phytate levels.

For instance leavened bread has a much lower phytate level than unleavened bread. Even sprouts have a much lower level of phytates than the raw whole grain.

Of course sprouts have other benefits. Again it comes down to balance in all things. Eat sprouts sometimes for all of their goodness, but other times just boil up some whole grains for a good dose of phytates. Cooking (at normal temperatures) doesn't destroy phytates.

Well, I hope you found this interesting and informative. Let me know.

Have a great day!
Coach G.

Researchers report can be found HERE if you want to read the whole thing.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Agave Nectar : Uh Oh!

I have been asked from time to time what my thoughts are about agave nectar. I have usually responded that it is probably all right, and seems to be a natural product. I have used it and like it ok, but I prefer raw honey for a sweetener.

The problem is that I never really looked into agave nectar. I should have known better than to trust labels on products in health food stores. That is a notoriously bad place to get nutritional advice. I just had never really been that interested in agave to really research it.

Well, it turns out that I should have thought about it a little more.

A comprehensive article about it (found HERE) states that, 'Agave nectar is advertised as a “diabetic friendly,” raw, and “100% natural sweetener.” Yet it is none of these.'

Agave nectar should actually be called agave syrup. It is a manufactured, highly processed sweetener that has much in common with HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).

While it is true that the natives of Mexico made sweetener from the agave plant as well as using the plant for medicinal uses, the product that we find in our stores called 'agave nectar' is not the same thing.

What the natives did was to use the sap of the plant, by boiling it down for a couple of hours.

The agave nectar found in our stores is processed from the starches from the agave root bulb. It is broken down with enzymes and chemicals, and ends up having a higher concentration of fructose than high fructose corn syrup.

When made correctly it is clear, or very light colored. When it is heated for too long it gets burned and turns a darker brown. This is deceiving in another way, because many of us have been taught that sweeteners with a darker richer color are more nutritious.

The truth is that the basic principles don't change. Basically, the more something is processed and removed from it's natural state, the worse it is for our health. The real problem with high fructose corn syrup and with agave nectar is that they are concentrated extracts that overpower and cause imbalance in the systems of the body while supplying little or no nutrition. For more info on balance CLICK HERE.

I still recommend using raw honey as a sweetener for those times that you need a little added sweetener, but remember that most raw natural foods have their own sweetness that can be enjoyed. Also, not everything should taste sweet.

So, to sum it all up, while agave nectar may look promising on the shelf, that may be the best place to leave it.

Have a great and healthy day!

Coach G.