Omega 3 & Omega 6 January 27, 2017
Originally the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the human diet was 1:1, but nowadays it is around 15:1 or even higher, which is not good for our health.
There are three kinds of polyunsaturated fatty acids: omega-3, -6 and -9. Omega-3 and -6 are termed essential fatty acids because the body cannot create them by itself, and they must therefore be acquired through dietary consumption.
These fatty acids regulate a wide variety of biological functions, ranging from blood pressure and blood clotting to the optimal development and functioning of the brain, eye and nervous system. In addition, they play essential roles in regulating the immune and inflammatory responses.
The ratio today
Over the past few decades, in the typical Western diet, the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids has increased and omega-3 decreased. In earlier times the ratio was 1:1, but nowadays it often is 15:1 or even higher.
This high ratio of omega-6 fatty acids is not desirable, as too much of it can contribute to pro-thrombotic processes such as clotting and also because they are pro-inflammatory. Because inflammation plays an important role in the development of chronic diseases, too much omega-6 plays a role in the predisposition toward, as well as the exacerbation of conditions such as obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, depression and many types of cancer.
Therefore, decreasing the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 brings about a lower incidence of these chronic inflammatory diseases.
How does one achieve the optimal ratio?
Decreasing our omega-6 intake and increasing our consumption of omega-3 fatty acids can be accomplished by:
1. Replacing dietary vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids (e.g. corn, sunflower, safflower, and cottonseed oils, shortening, margarine) with oils high in omega-3 fatty acids such as canola oil, which has a the ideal 2:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3.
2. Increasing our consumption of fatty fish to 2–3 times per week, can help us to decrease our consumption of red meat (esp. grain-fed beef and lamb), which is high in omega 6 fatty acids.
Mediterranean diet January 13, 2017
The Mediterranean diet includes eating an abundance of fruits and vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts and cereal grains such as wheat and rice with moderate amounts of fish, dairy and wine. It has long been claimed that a Mediterranean diet is good for your health, but a new study suggests it may benefit the brain as well as the body – and could help slow down brain ageing.
There were many diets that vied for our attention in 2016. Some people opted for the Paleo diet, while others jumped on the Banting diet bandwagon, as wave after wave of diet plans crashed over us, an old faithful today remains by our sides: the Mediterranean diet.
An article published online on January 4, 2017 in the journal Neurology® reports an association between adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet and greater retention of brain volume among older individuals over a three year period.
The study included 401 dementia-free residents of Scotland who were approximately 70 years of age upon enrollment. Dietary questionnaire responses were scored according to Mediterranean diet adherence. Magnetic resonance imaging conducted at the ages of 73 and 76 years assessed overall and gray matter volume, as well as cortical thickness.
The researchers observed an association between lower adherence to the Mediterranean diet and a greater reduction in total brain volume over three years. The difference in diet explained 0.5% of total brain volume variation, compared to 1% variation due to normal aging. In contrast with the findings of previous research, fish and meat consumption did not show an association with brain changes.
“As we age, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells which can affect learning and memory,” stated first author Michelle Luciano, PhD, of the University of Edinburgh. “This study adds to the body of evidence that suggests the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact on brain health.”
“In our study, eating habits were measured before brain volume was, which suggests that the diet may be able to provide long-term protection to the brain,” she added. “Still, larger studies are needed to confirm these results.”