Food is information, not just calories.
Food influences gene function, hormones, our immune system and even gut flora.
Literally, food controls every function within our body.
That especially becomes true with the omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like wild fish, flaxseeds and walnuts.
These fatty acids plays critical roles in cognitive development and learning, visual development, immune strength, inflammatory function, pregnancy, brain health, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer, mental illness and so much more. They affect every one of our hundred trillion cell membranes.
We can understand then, how not getting sufficient amounts of these crucial fatty acids can profoundly affect our health.
Over the last century in the U.S., we have witnessed a 1,000-fold increase in soy oil consumption. About 10 to 20 percent of our calories come from soybean oil rather than omega-3 fats we should be eating.
Those aren’t the fats our ancestors ate. Human evolution occurred in an environment where seafood was the predominant source of dietary fat.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate no seed oils. Obviously, they weren’t eating french fries, donuts and the zillion other Frankenfoods that contain these oils. These refined oils create and exacerbate inflammation, which contributes to nearly every disease and makes us fat.
Emerging research proves how vital healthy fats like omega 3s are. The outdated “eating fat makes us fat” paradigm has shifted to a new, more accurate understanding of dietary fat as evidence shows some fats are essential for optimal health.
But we’re not quite there yet. Unfortunately, about 90 percent of Americans are deficient in omega 3s. We consume too many omega 6s and not enough omega 3s, and that imbalance predicts our risk of heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and many other problems.
Sadly, chronic disease will only increase as we move further away from the diet of our ancestors, which consisted of lean protein, a healthy ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats, and mostly plant foods.
We’ve gone way off course with the way our ancestors ate. Big food companies have hijacked our taste buds and our biology.
Still, there’s hope. Science shows when we eat the right kinds of fat, we get thin and reverse heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, decrease inflammation, and many other chronic diseases plaguing us. We can take control of our health and destiny, starting with our very next meal!
To get and stay healthy, eat quality fat at every meal. The right fats improve our skin, hair, nails, and mood. They protect against Type 2 diabetes, dementia, cancer and inflammation.
Some of my favorite omega-3 and other quality fats include:
- Nuts: walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, but not peanuts (One study showed a handful of nuts a day reduced death from all causes by 20 percent)
- Seeds: pumpkin, sesame, chia, hemp
- Fatty fish, including sardines, mackerel, herring and wild salmon that are rich in omega-3 fats
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Grass-fed or sustainably raised animal products
- Extra-virgin coconut butter, which is a great plant-based source of saturated fat that has many benefits. It fuels our mitochondria, is anti-inflammatory, and helps optimize cholesterol.
Simply put, a quality fat, whole-food diet lower in refined carbohydrates that’s low-glycemic and high in fiber becomes the best medicine to keep us lean and healthy.
If you supplement with omega 3s or eat omega-3 rich foods, what health benefits have you noticed? Share yours below or on my Facebook page.
Author: Dr. Mark Hyman
Image: Jannis Brandt/Unsplash
Editor: Emily Bartran