Saturday, 18 August 2018

7 Facts About Depression That Will Blow You Away


It is good that these facts are explained!

7 Facts About Depression That Will Blow You Away

August 16th, 2018
By Kelly Brogan, M.D.
Guest writer for Wake Up World
What you think you know about depression is probably a myth.
A silent tragedy in the history of modern health care is happening right now in America, but no one is talking about it. We have been told a story of depression: that it is caused by a chemical imbalance and cured by a chemical fix — a prescription. More than 30 million of us take antidepressants, including one in seven women (one in four women of reproductive age). Millions more are tempted to try them to end chronic, unyielding distress, irritability, and emotional “offness” — trapped by an exhausting inner agitation they can’t shake.
It is time, even according to leaders in the field, to let go of this false narrative and take a fresh look at where science is leading us. The human body interacts in its environment with deep intelligence. Your body creates symptoms for a reason. Depression is a meaningful symptom of a mismatch, biologically, with lifestyle — we eat a poor diet, harbor too much stress, lack sufficient physical movement, deprive ourselves of natural sunlight, expose ourselves to environmental toxicants, and take too many drugs.[1Inflammation is the language that the body speaks, expressing imbalance, inviting change. We usually suppress these symptoms with medication but that is like turning off the smoke alarm when you have a fire going on. Let’s get the facts straight:

1. Depression is often an inflammatory condition

Depression is often a manifestation of irregularities in the body that often starts far away from the brain and is not associated with so-called “chemical imbalances.” The medical literature has emphasized the role of inflammation in mental illness for more than twenty years (unfortunately, it takes an average of 17 years for the data that exposes inefficacy and/or a signal of harm, to trickle down into your doctor’s daily routine; a time lag problem that makes medicine’s standard of care “evidence-based” only in theory and not practice). Not a single study has proven that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. That’s right: there has never been a human study that successfully links low serotonin levels and depression. Imaging studies, blood and urine tests, post-mortem suicide assessments, and even animal research have never validated the link between neurotransmitter levels and depression. In other words, the serotonin theory of depression is a total myth that has been unjustly supported by the manipulation of data. Much to the contrary, high serotonin levels have been linked to a range of problems, including schizophrenia and autism. So if you think a chemical pill can save, cure, or “correct” you, you’re dead wrong. That is about as misguided as putting a bandage over a nail stuck in your foot and taking aspirin. It’s absolutely missing an opportunity to “remove the splinter” and resolve the problem from the source.

2. Antidepressants have the potential to irreversibly disable the body’s natural healing mechanisms

Despite what you’ve been led to believe, antidepressants have repeatedly been shown in long-term scientific studies to worsen the course of mental illness — to say nothing of the risks of liver damage, bleeding, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and reduced cognitive function they entail. The dirtiest little secret of all is the fact that antidepressants are among the most difficult drugs to taper from, more so than alcohol and opiates. While you might call it “going through withdrawal,” we medical professionals have been instructed to call it “discontinuation syndrome,” which can be characterized by fiercely debilitating physical and psychological reactions. Moreover, antidepressants have a well-established history of causing violent side effects, including suicide and homicide. In fact, five of the top 10 most violence-inducing drugs have been found to be antidepressants.

3. The effect of antidepressants is not a cure

Even if we accepted the proposition that these drugs are helpful for some people (82% of which is due to the placebo effect, according to Dr. Irving Kirsch), extrapolating a medical cause from this observation would be akin to saying that shyness is caused by a deficiency of alcohol, or that headaches are caused by a lack of codeine. And what about a genetic vulnerability? Is there such thing as a depression gene? In 2003, a study published in Science suggested that those with genetic variation in their serotonin transporter were three times more likely to be depressed. But six years later this idea was wiped out by a meta-analysis of 14,000 patients published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that denied such an association.

4. Most prescriptions for antidepressants are doled out by family doctors — not psychiatrists

Seven percent of all visits to a primary care doctor end with an antidepressan[2] and almost three-quarters of the prescriptions are written without a specific diagnosis[3]. What’s more, when the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health did its own examination into the prevalence of mental disorders, it found that most people who take antidepressants never meet the medical criteria for a bona fide diagnosis of major depression, and many who are given antidepressants for things like OCD, panic disorder, social phobia, and anxiety also don’t qualify as actually having these conditions.

5. Many physical conditions mimic psychiatric symptoms

Many different physical conditions create psychiatric symptoms but aren’t themselves “psychiatric.” Two prime examples: dysfunctioning thyroid and blood sugar chaos. We think (because our doctors think) that we need to “cure” the brain, but in reality we need to look at the whole body’s ecosystem: intestinal health, hormonal interactions, the immune system and autoimmune disorders, blood sugar balance, and toxicant exposure.

6. Basic lifestyle interventions can facilitate the body’s powerful self-healing mechanisms to end depression

Dietary modifications (more healthy fats and less sugar, dairy, and gluten); natural supplements like B vitamins and probiotics that don’t require a prescription and can even be delivered through certain foods; minimizing exposures to biology-disrupting toxicants like fluoride in tap water, chemicals in common drugs like Tylenol and statins, and fragrances in cosmetics; harnessing the power of sufficient sleep and physical movement; and behavioral techniques aimed at promoting the relaxation response.

7. Depression is a message and an opportunity

It’s a sign for us to stop and figure out what’s causing our imbalance rather than just masking, suppressing, or rerouting the symptoms. It’s a chance to choose a new story, to engage in radical transformation, to say yes to a different life experience.
Also by Kelly Brogan, M.D.
About the author:

Dr. Kelly Brogan is boarded in Psychiatry / Psychosomatic Medicine / Reproductive Psychiatry and Integrative Holistic Medicine, and practices Functional Medicine, a root-cause approach to illness as a manifestation of multiple-interrelated systems. After studying Cognitive Neuroscience at M.I.T., and receiving her M.D. from Cornell University, she completed her residency and fellowship at Bellevue/NYU. She is one of the nation’s only physicians with perinatal psychiatric training who takes a holistic evidence-based approach in the care of patients with a focus on environmental medicine and nutrition. She is also a mom of two, and an active supporter of women’s birth experience. She is the Medical Director for, and an advisory board member for You can visit her website at

Friday, 17 August 2018

Five Tips For Early Breastfeeding Success

Good tips to get the breastfeeding right!

Five Tips for Early Breastfeeding Success

Article ID: 698875
Released: 15-Aug-2018 11:05 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: LifeBridge Health

    Newswise — Breastfeeding can have its challenges early on. There’s learning the appropriate feeding positions and techniques, knowing when and how often to feed the baby, and so many other intangibles.

    Getting off to a good start is key to successful long-term breastfeeding. Here are five things moms should do right from the time the baby is delivered:
    Have your baby placed skin-to-skin on your chest immediately following birth.
    Remember, the first feeding sets the tone for the next several feedings. Keeping your baby skin-to-skin until after the first feeding is important. Ask that your baby be placed on your tummy after delivery. Skin-to-skin contact, beyond feeding purposes, has other advantages. For one, it’s a way for both mom and dad to bond with the new baby. It also helps the baby stay warm and comfortable, latch on better and feed longer, and cry less, among other things.
    “Skin-to-skin has a lot of benefits, including stabilizing all of the baby’s vital signs, including their heart rate, their respiratory rate, their blood sugar, their blood pressure, their temperature, all of those things,” says Melissa L. Droddy, a Carroll Hospital lactation specialist. “Laying babies skin-to-skin after delivery is really just kind of letting them acclimate to this real world. And then once they get themselves together, usually they start kind of wiggling around and looking for the breast and trying to eat, usually after an hour or so. Sometimes, it’s quicker than that, sometimes it takes longer.”

    If you give birth by cesarean-section, you can hold your baby on your chest or cheek-to-cheek, or your partner can hold the baby skin-to-skin until you are able to breastfeed.

    If possible, start the first feeding right after birth, as this is when newborns are alert and very eager to be fed. Ask the nurses if it’s possible to delay routine newborn treatment until after the initial feeding. “The baby is usually really alert for the first two to three hours,” Droddy says. “After that, the baby gets really sleepy.”

    After that first feeding, you can breastfeed your baby when he or she seems hungry or on demand. Just keep in mind that newborns need 8 to 12 feedings each day. Why so often? “Breast milk is a natural laxative, so basically what’s going in comes right out,” Droddy says.
    Room-in with your baby and keep your baby with you all night.
    If possible, keep the baby with you during your hospital stay so you can begin to learn his or her feeding cues (such as rooting and hand-to-mouth activity) and readily start feeding. This way, your baby won’t miss any important on-demand feedings.

    Also, research has shown that moms don’t sleep much better with the baby away in the nursery than they would with the baby in the room. At times during your hospital stay, the baby may have to be taken for required tests or procedures. But under normal circumstances, your baby should not be away from you more than two hours a day, if at all.
    Avoid supplementary feedings.
    Offer your breast often. Avoid formula unless medically indicated and prescribed by the doctor. If you have to use formula, nurses can show you alternative ways to feed your baby so you can avoid bottle nipples during the first few weeks (the fast flow and different feel of a bottle nipple can potentially confuse babies and make subsequent feedings difficult). In addition, if supplementation is indicated, mothers should start pumping to protect and increase their milk supply.
    Avoid the use of pacifiers and limit swaddling.
    Remember, any time your baby seems hungry, offer the breast and continue skin-to-skin holding. It’s ok to allow the baby to suck on his or her hands (any self-inflicted scratches on the baby’s face as a result should heal fast).

    Your doctor may recommend the use of a pacifier at some point, but likely not until breastfeeding is well established. As for swaddling, research has shown that babies who are regularly swaddled do not wake up as often for feedings. Babies should be swaddled loosely to allow them to get their hands to their mouth to show feeding cues.

    Frequent feedings over the first few weeks helps assure an abundant milk supply.
    Ask for help.
    Reach out to a lactation consultant if you feel the breastfeeding sessions aren’t going well or if you’re concerned about breast soreness. Droddy says you should also call your doctor if the baby:
    • Is not eating at least 8 times within a 24-hour period
    • Is jaundiced (yellowing of the eyes or skin)
    • Often needs to be awakened for breastfeeding (newborns should have no more than one 4- to 5-hour break per day, including at night)
    • Has not returned to birth weight in 10 to 14 days
    • Has sudden stool pattern changes
    Visit LifeBridge Health’s community page for more information about upcoming breastfeeding support group meetings. You can also check Sinai Hospital’s breastfeeding and lactation page as well as Carroll Hospital’s websitefor additional information on breastfeeding resources.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

How AI Can Enhance Our Memory, Work And Social Lives

How smart can our machines make us? Tom Gruber, co-creator of Siri, wants to make "humanistic AI" that augments and collaborates with us instead of competing with (or replacing) us. He shares his vision for a future where AI helps us achieve superhuman performance in perception, creativity and cognitive function -- from turbocharging our design skills to helping us remember everything we've ever read and the name of everyone we've ever met. "We are in the middle of a renaissance in AI," Gruber says. "Every time a machine gets smarter, we get smarter."

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Fertility News From The Egg Whisperer

Fertility News

 The Egg Whisperer Is On A Crusade To Make People Aware Of Fertility Issues And Solutions
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Infertility is the third-most pressing global public health crisis, according to the World Health Organization, impacting over one in ten women. Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh is a reproductive endocrinologist or fertility doctor. Patients affectionately call her “The Egg Whisperer.” Her mission is to help women get ahead of infertility and bring hope to people who have been told they can't conceive.
Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh's clients call her The Egg Whisperer.Amanda Mathson
Eyvazzadeh accomplishes this mission at her clinic in the San Francisco Bay Area and through several global initiatives aimed at fertility awareness and preservation. Her newly launched Freeze and Share program offers women a way to freeze their eggs in exchange for donating some at the same time. Her egg freezing parties, held across the country, provide women access to no-nonsense talk about their fertility. And her weekly YouTube show, podcast and blog ensure no fertility question goes unanswered.

“Poetically speaking, I help loving people bring more love into the world. In more straightforward speak, I make babies,” Eyvazzadeh says. She has been doing this work for over a decade and “can’t imagine choosing a different career path.” Yet at the same time, she feels driven to do more to help women overcome infertility. “Too many people come to me today unaware that fertility significantly declines with age, and that they could have gotten ahead of the curve with better information earlier in their lives.”

Eyvazzadeh poses with patients and the baby she helped them to create.Sherry Chang
According to Eyvazzadeh, there are simple and affordable ways to address infertility, beginning with asking your doctor to evaluate your fertility levels by checking a woman's fallopian tubes, uterus, and hormones, conducting an analysis of a man's semen, and doing genetic testing for both. “We’re not going to stop time. We’re not going to prevent societal shifts in terms of people wanting to have kids later in life. But we can help more people get access to data on their fertility, and to take action based on what they learn,” she explains.
Eyvazzadeh believes in the importance of discovering what you’re passionate about in life and pursuing it. “Work doesn’t seem like work if you love what you do,” she says. Her family led her to her life purpose. Her father is an Ob-gyn, and his father was too. Her grandfather’s patients would travel thousands of miles from Turkey and Afghanistan to Iran in order to seek his fertility advice. He also owned the largest private women’s hospital in the country. Eyvazzadeh herself was just three years old when she first expressed a desire to be an Ob-gyn. When she was in seventh grade, her mother experienced several miscarriages. This experience drove Eyvazzadeh’s interest in the field of reproductive endocrinology.

“My life purpose is to bring hope, positivity, and love where it may seem lost,” Eyvazzadeh says. “Infertility can wreak havoc on someone’s spirit. It’s emotional. Yet talking about it can be taboo. Like a secret. I want fertility to be freely talked about, something we understand and know that we can do something about. And I want people to know that there is a creative solution for them – regardless of where they are in their fertility journeys.”

The challenges of working as a fertility specialist are numerous. The greatest one Eyvazzadeh faces on a regular basis is that “infertility is a loaded topic,” she says. “There are myths, there is misinformation and negativity, and certainly people carry sadness around this subject. Getting the people I work with to believe in possibilities and be positive can be a struggle. The losses and heartaches are real. But I believe that a path to parenthood will unfold.”
Eyvazzadeh balances her career with being a wife and mother to four.Irina Bourova
In addition, Eyvazzadeh can struggle with balancing her time-consuming career with her role as a wife and mother to four children. She says, “The personal sacrifice is high, but the satisfaction and rewards of my career are equally great. I still haven’t figured out what ‘balance’ means, but I do know that the vast majority of my time is spent in the service of good.”

These difficulties are counterbalanced by the rewards Eyvazzadeh receives from helping so many people have the children they desperately desire. “Every morning, I wake up looking forward to my work,” she says. “I have the potential to impact someone’s life in a profoundly positive way. That means every day has significance and purpose.”
MeiMei Fox is a New York Times bestselling author specializing in health, wellness and positive psychology. As a writer and life coach, she helps people align careers with their life purpose.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

You’re Only as Old as You Think and Do

You’re Only as Old as You Think and Do:

 Increased control, physical activity lower subjective age in older adults, research says

SAN FRANCISCO -- Could increasing your physical activity or feeling more in control of your life be the secret to staying young? Employing these simple strategies may help older adults feel younger and that, in turn, could help improve their cognitive abilities, longevity and overall quality of life, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
“Research suggests that a younger subjective age, or when people feel younger than their chronological age, is associated with a variety of positive outcomes in older individuals, including better memory performance, health and longevity,” said presenter Jennifer Bellingtier, PhD, of Friedrich Schiller University. “Our research suggests that subjective age changes on a daily basis and older adults feel significantly younger on days when they have a greater sense of control.”
Bellingtier and co-author Shevaun Neupert, PhD, of North Carolina State University, enlisted 116 older adults (ages 60 to 90) and 106 younger adults (ages 18 to 36) and had them complete surveys each day for nine days. Participants were asked to respond to a series of statements on the level of control they felt they had each day (e.g., “In the past 24 hours, I had quite a bit of influence on the degree to which I could be involved in activities,”) and were asked how old they felt that day.
The researchers found significant day-to-day variability in subjective age in both groups over the course of the study. They also found a significant association between perceived level of control each day and subjective age in the older adult group but not the younger group.

“Shaping the daily environment in ways that allow older adults to exercise more control could be a helpful strategy for maintaining a youthful spirit and overall well-being,” said Bellingtier.
“For example, some interventions could be formal, such as a regular meeting with a therapist to discuss ways to take control in situations where individuals can directly influence events, and how to respond to situations that they cannot control. Smartphone apps could be developed to deliver daily messages with suggestions for ways to enhance control that day and improve a person’s overall feeling of control,” said Bellingtier. An intervention could also be something as simple as giving nursing home residents the opportunity to make more choices in their daily lives so that they can exercise more control.

In addition to amping up perceived control, another strategy for maintaining a younger subjective age and enjoying the benefits that go with it may be as simple as increasing physical activity, according another study presented in the same session.

“Our results suggest that promoting a more active lifestyle may result in a more youthful subjective age,” said Matthew Hughes, PhD, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, who presented the study.

Hughes and his colleagues recruited 59 adults in the Boston area between the ages of 35 and 69 who were not engaged in routine physical activity. All participants were given a FitBit fitness tracker and researchers monitored their daily step counts for five weeks. Individuals with greater increases in their step counts at the end of the study reported lower subjective ages, the researchers found.
While promising, the results are still preliminary, cautioned Hughes
“As this was part of a pilot study, our sample size was small,” he said. “While the results suggest that walking may contribute to feeling younger, further research with a larger sample in a more controlled setting is needed to confirm.”

Session 1106:Feeling Young and in Control: Daily Control Beliefs Predict Younger Subjective Ages,” and “Taking Steps to Feel Younger,” Symposium, Thursday, Aug. 9, 10-10:50 a.m. PDT, Room 206, Level Two – South Building, Moscone Center, 747 Howard St., San Francisco, Calif.

Presentations are available from the APA Public Affairs Office.
Contact: Jennifer Bellingtier, PhD, at or Matthew Hughes, PhD, at
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes nearly 115,700 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Are Many Fish Oils Synthetic?

Facts on Fish Oil Supplements

Disturbing study!

Story at-a-glance

  • The health benefits of DHA and EPA are well-established. Despite that, a number of studies have found no benefit when studying the effects of fish oil supplements, which are generally accepted as a convenient source of these important fats
  • Many nutritional studies fail to assess the correct parameters. The importance of looking at achieved blood levels of a nutrient rather than dosage has been clearly demonstrated by vitamin D researchers
  • Processing of fish oil is deeply problematic, rendering the final product into something far from the natural oils you get from the whole fish
  • In fish, the DHA and EPA are in the form of triglycerides, which are the most bioavailable. In most fish oil supplements, the DHA and EPA are delivered in the form of ethyl esters — a synthetic substrate with low bioavailability
  • Ethyl ester fish oils are not as effective for raising your omega-3 index. Your liver must also process the ethyl alcohol, which may release free radicals and cause oxidative stress — the complete opposite of what you’re trying to achieve by taking a fish oil supplement
By Dr. Mercola
Omega-3 fats are essential polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) required for healthy digestion, muscle activity, blood clotting, visual acuity, memory and much more. Most omega-3s are considered "essential fats" as your body cannot make them. You have to get them from your diet. However, there's plenty of confusion when it comes to which omega-3 fats are required for optimal health.
You can obtain omega-3 fats from both plants and marine animals like fish and krill. However, these sources provide very different types of omega-3, and they are no way interchangeable.
Both plant- and animal-based omega-3 have their first double-bond in the third position — hence the name "omega-3." However, the length of the carbon chain of each omega-3 fat makes a significant difference when it comes to bioavailability and biological effect.

Basic Differences Between Plant- and Marine Animal-Based Omega-3s

Animal-based omega-3 — found in fatty fish, fish oil and krill oil — primarily contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a long-chained PUFA consisting of 22 carbons, and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which has 20 carbons.
Plant-based omega-3 — found in flaxseed, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts and leafy greens, for example — contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a shorter-chained PUFA consisting of 18 carbons. Plant-based omega-3 is completely devoid of DHA and EPA.
ALA is indeed a precursor to EPA and DHA, which is why some say you can simply consume plant-based omega-3s. However, an enzyme is required to convert the shorter 18 carbon ALA into long-chained omega-3, and in most people, this enzyme is simply unable to convert sufficient ALA to EPA, and even less DHA.
Typically, less than 1 percent of the ALA is converted to EPA. Some studies have found the conversion rate to be as low as 0.1 to 0.5 percent.1 So, while a tiny amount of the ALA you consume can be converted by your body into long-chain omega-3, it's a highly inefficient strategy and nowhere near as helpful as supplying "straight" DHA and EPA from marine sources.
Importantly, short-chain fatty acids are used by your body as a source of energy, while the long-chain fatty acids, those with 20 and more carbons, especially EPA and DHA, are structural elements that actually make up your cells. This is perhaps the most significant difference between plant- and animal-based sources, and why they are not interchangeable from a health perspective.
As structural elements, DHA and EPA are particularly important for proper cell division and function of cell receptors. They also play an important role in anti-inflammatory reactions. These fats are ideally obtained from the consumption of small fatty fish that are free of toxins. Unfortunately, most people opt for fish oil supplements over eating fatty fish like sardines, anchovies and herring.

Research Finds No Support for Fish Oil Supplementation on Heart Health

Overall, the health benefits of DHA and EPA are well-established.2 Research has provided clear evidence that higher intake of these animal-based omega-3 fats reduces your risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases, and are vital for neurological health.
Despite that, a number of studies have come up with conflicting results when studying the effects of fish oil supplements, which are generally accepted as a convenient source of these important fats. Here, I'll review some of the reasons for these odd discrepancies.
Most recently, a Cochrane Collaboration review3 of available evidence concluded omega-3 supplementation has little to no discernible benefit for heart health or longevity. As reported by the Cochrane Library:4
"A new Cochrane systematic review … combines the results of 79 randomized trials involving 112,059 people. These studies assessed effects of consuming additional omega-3 fat … on diseases of the heart and circulation … Participants were randomly assigned to increase their omega-3 fats or to maintain their usual intake of fat for at least a year.
Most studies investigated the impact of giving a long-chain omega-3 supplement in a capsule form and compared it to a dummy pill … The Cochrane researchers found that increasing long-chain omega-3 provides little if any benefit on most outcomes that they looked at.
They found high certainty evidence that long-chain omega-3 fats had little or no meaningful effect on the risk of death from any cause. The risk of death from any cause was 8.8 percent in people who had increased their intake of omega 3 fats, compared with 9 percent in people in the control groups.
They also found that taking more long-chain omega 3 fats (including EPA and DHA), primarily through supplements probably makes little or no difference to risk of cardiovascular events, coronary heart deaths, coronary heart disease events, stroke or heart irregularities."

Why Studies Don't Always Support Health Effects of Nutritional Supplementation

There are a number of reasons for these kinds of complexing results. First of all, many nutritional studies fail to assess the correct parameters. The importance of looking at achieved blood levels of a nutrient rather than dosage has been made abundantly clear by GrassrootsHealth vitamin D researchers.
When studies look at dosage, no apparent benefits of vitamin D supplementation are found. However, when you look at people's blood level — the concentration of the nutrient in the body — truly dramatic effects are detected.
The problem is that people metabolize the nutrient at different rates, and while one may need a very small dose to achieve a certain blood level, another may need several times that dose. So, assessing health effects based on supplement dosage can be extremely unreliable.
Scientific American5 also weighed in on the issue, noting that "… a quartet of new studies … may give insight into why human clinical trials of fish oil have failed to protect against AD [Alzheimer's disease] and other forms of dementia."

The Role of Your Microbiome and Liver in Omega-3 Metabolism

In these four studies, blood levels of molecules associated with lipid (fat) production in the liver were found to be linked to AD risk. Your brain, being made mostly of fats, need fats for optimal functioning as the lipids are involved in neuronal communication and nerve cell insulation.
Your liver is responsible for producing many of these important fats, and genes linked to AD are also involved in fat production and transport. APOE ε4, which is associated with a high risk for AD, is one of them. Your gut microbiome also plays a role in the processing of omega-3 fats, as do bile acids, produced from cholesterol in your liver.
When you consume omega-3 fats, certain microbes in your gut participate in the metabolism of these lipids. Your liver takes over during the final phase, creating brain-specific fats called peroxisomes, which are then transported via your blood stream into your brain. As reported by Scientific American:6
"Recognizing the central role of the liver in the brain's health, the four research groups measured blood levels of these brain-critical lipids and the molecules that make them … One group … looked at lipids called plasmalogens, fats that contain the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.
They found reduced blood levels of these fats tracked with increased AD risk … A second group … found similar hints of lipid-processing anomalies in blood samples.
In the latter study, even people with AD who took fish oil supplements did not have increased blood levels of brain-beneficial lipids, possibly pointing to why fish oil supplementation does not appear to stem cognitive decline.
If peroxisomes in the liver are not working properly, 'taking more fish oil won't let you make more plasmalogens because the machinery for making them is defective,' says Mitchel Kling, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine …"
According to Howard Fillit,7 founding executive director and chief science officer at the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, other recent evidence suggests people with the APOE ε4 gene may actually have altered DHA metabolism. Whether this might make them less likely to reap significant benefit from fish oil supplements is unknown, however.
Genetic variations were also linked to bile acid levels in two of the four studies, suggesting AD risk genes may interact with the gut microbiome, and that this is (at least in part) why these genetic variants raise your risk for dementia.

The Problem With Most Fish Oils

As it pertains to fish oil specifically, it's now also becoming clear that the processing of fish oil is deeply problematic, rendering the final product into something far from the natural oils you get from the whole fish. This too appears to be a significant piece of the puzzle that helps explain why fish oil supplementation appears to be ineffective in some studies. As described by former CEO of Twinlab, Naomi Whittel:
"Even if you think the fish oil is coming from Norway or Europe, [the fish] is caught in Central and South America … The fish are then brought onto and thrown into the bottom of the boat …
By the time they get to Europe, the guts are so rancid that in order to get the omega-3s out, they have to go through a process of extracting these poisons and this rancidity. [In the end], you're left with something that has none of the cofactors [and] it's been heavily contaminated to clean out the rancidity …"
Whittel estimates about 98 percent of the omega-3 products on the market are inferior (and perhaps even toxic) due to the way the fish are caught and processed — a summary of which is provided in the graphic below.
fish oil molecular distillation process

Triglyceride Versus Ethyl Ester Fish Oils

Several factors come into play that affect the efficacy of fish oil. One is the form of the long-Synthetic Fish Oil,  omega-3 fats. In fish, about 98 percent of the DHA and EPA are in the form of triglycerides, which are the most bioavailable. In most commercial fish oil supplements, however, the DHA and EPA are delivered in the form of ethyl esters.8
A triglyceride consists of a three-carbon molecule that forms a "backbone" for the fatty acids to latch onto. Each carbon molecule is linked to a fatty acid, so in total, a triglyceride is composed of three carbons bonded to three fatty acids.
Ethyl ester fish oil is most prevalent simply because it's far less expensive to produce than the triglyceride form. Ethyl esters are also easier to work with during processing, as they have a higher boiling point. This becomes important during the molecular distillation phase (see above), during which the oils are heated and purified of harmful environmental pollutants.
The molecular distillation phase also concentrates the EPA and DHA. You can tell the concentration of these two fats in any given supplement by looking at the label. In fish, the oil consists of about 20 to 30 percent EPA and DHA, whereas purified fish oil concentrate typically contains between 60 and 85 percent EPA and DHA.
Ethyl esters are essentially a synthetic substrate, created through the micro distillation process of crude fish oil, in which ethanol and/or industrial alcohol is added. This mix is heat distilled in a vacuum chamber, resulting in a concentrated omega-3 ethyl ester condensate.
It is also important to note that this purifying molecular distillation process removes vital resolvins and protectins present in the raw material that are important in reducing inflammation.
synthetic and natural fish oil

Ethyl Esters Are Poorly Absorbed

Ethyl esters, unfortunately, are the least bioavailable form of omega-3, and while manufacturers could convert them back into triglyceride form (by detaching the ethyl alcohol molecule and reattaching a glycerol molecule in a process known as re-esterification), this process is a costly one.
The difference between triglyceride and ethyl ester forms become an issue when your body goes to metabolize them. Since the glycerol backbone is missing in the ethyl ester form, the EPA and DHA will scavenge for available triglycerides or steal a glycerol molecule from somewhere.
When the latter happens, the molecule that lost its glycerol will now go searching for a replacement, which creates a domino effect. One way or another, the fatty acids need to be converted back into triglyceride form, or else your gut epithelium will not be able to process them.
The fatty acids also cannot be transported through your blood unless they're in triglyceride form. When you consume omega-3s in triglyceride form, the fatty acids are first separated from the glycerol backbone. All of the individual parts are then absorbed by gut epithelial cells, where they're reattached to form triglyceride.
On the other hand, when you consume ethyl esters, they must be processed in your liver. There, the ethanol backbone is separated from the free fatty acids, and your body must then reattach the free fatty acids to glycerol to form triglyceride. As you may imagine, this process is far less efficient, compared to the processing of omega-3 fatty acids that are in triglyceride form from the start.

Ethyl Esters May Do More Harm Than Good

Not only does it delay and likely diminish the release of these beneficial triglycerides into your blood stream, your liver must also process the ethyl alcohol, which may release free radicals and cause oxidative stress — the complete opposite of what you're trying to achieve.
Studies9 suggest a mere 20 percent of the EPA and DHA in ethyl ester form are absorbed by your body. When taken with other dietary fat, absorption increased threefold to 60 percent. Meanwhile, EPA and DHA in their natural triglyceride form were found to have a 69 percent absorption rate from the start, and when taken with additional dietary fat, absorption increased to 90 percent.
As a result, taking a triglyceride fish oil results in a 50 percent greater rise in omega-3 blood plasma levels than ethyl ester fish oil. Another major drawback of ethyl ester fish oils is their rapid oxidation rate. Ethyl ester DHA is far more reactive than triglyceride DHA, oxidizing 33 percent more rapidly, and consuming rancid omega-3 is not going to do your health any good. Quite the contrary.
Common side effects of prescription strength fish oil such as Lovaza — a highly-concentrated ethyl ester form of fish oil — are primarily due to the toxicity of ethanol, which is separated out in your liver. This includes unpleasant body odor, vomiting, gastrointestinal dysfunction, pancreatitis, cardiac effects and hypertriglyceridemia.
So, in summary, it's important to realize that the vast majority of clinical evidence showing health benefits of omega-3 relates to actual fish consumption, and as mentioned, virtually all of the omega-3s in fish are in triglyceride form.
Ethyl ester omega-3 does not exist in nature — it's a man-made byproduct of fish oil processing. Hence, to achieve reliable results, you really need to either eat omega-3-rich fish, or make sure the supplement you're taking contains DHA and EPA in their triglyceride form. For a more in-depth understanding of these differences, see the paper, "A Comparison of Synthetic Ethyl Ester Form Fish Oil vs. Natural Triglyceride Form,"10 by Dr. Douglas MacKay, who specializes in naturopathy.
Steps for Fish Oil Ethyl Ester Production From Fish Waste11
fish oil ethyl ester production fish waste

Fish Oil Versus Krill Oil

While unrelated to human health effects, fish oil has another significant drawback, namely its environmental impact. Overfishing has become a great concern, and according to recent research, humans have damaged 87 percent of the world's oceans.12,13
According to this study, marine wildlife have dwindled across the globe, thanks to overfishing, global marine shipping and rampant pollution from several sources. The good news is there's an alternative source of marine-based omega-3 fats that doesn't have this impact, and that's krill.
Compared to fish oil, krill oil also has higher potency, and contains natural phospholipids, which makes it more readily absorbed. Krill oil also contains astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, which makes if far less prone to oxidation, is virtually contaminant free, and has a superior metabolic influence.
krill oil vs fish oil
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Krill Oil Is a Far More Sustainable Option

Getting back to sustainability, krill is the largest biomass on earth, and krill harvesting is also one of the most carefully regulated. Strict international precautionary catch limit regulations are reviewed and reassessed regularly to assure continued sustainability.
While krill can be found in all oceans, Antarctic krill is by far the most abundant. The Antarctic krill biomass is under the management of an international organism of 25 countries called the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).14
This is the only official and reliable international organism involved in the management of sustainable krill fishery and the monitoring of krill stock, and no shortage of krill has ever been forecast by CCAMLR.
CCAMLR is viewed as an outstanding framework that is well organized and has developed robust research programs to help ensure successful conservation measures in the Southern Ocean. They also have the authority to further micromanage, on a season to season basis, to counteract any concerns they may have regarding the strength of the krill population during a particular har­vesting season.
CCAMLR has implemented a precautionary approach to minimize any risks associated with harvesting practices in conditions of uncertainty. They also use an ecosystem approach, meaning they take into account ecological links between different species and natural variability, such as the natural, cyclical rise and fall in reproduction of a species.
They also organize the strategic issuing of man­datory krill harvesting licenses as another control mea­sure to promote sustainability, and are proactively combating illegal fishing of all kinds within the Convention Area, to protect the ecosystem. You can learn more about the safeguards in place to ensure the sustainability of krill in this previous krill article.

Your Best Options for Animal-Based Omega-3

Based on the evidence, it seems clear that to reap maximum health benefits, you really want a majority of your omega-3 to come from your diet. That means eating small fatty fish such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel and herring. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is another good source.
If you opt for an omega-3 supplement, your choices become more complex. What seems obvious is that many commercial fish oil supplements are not going to give you the benefits you're looking for. A key determining factor here is whether the supplement contains the triglyceride form or ethyl ester form of omega-3.
If you are taking a fish oil supplement, it is vital that you find out if the fish oil is a synthetic ethyl ester. If this information is not on the label, contact the manufacturer and find out. ONLY use fish oil that is in the natural triglyceride formulation. Choosing otherwise could be very problematic for your long-term health.
My preference, when it comes to omega-3 supplements, is krill oil, in part because of its superior absorbability, but also because it's a vastly more sustainable source. Last but not least, don't rely on a set dosage when taking a supplement. Like vitamin D, it's your serum level that counts. Your omega-3 level can easily be measured using an omega-3 index test. You'll want your index to be above 8 percent for optimal health and disease prevention.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

70 Reasons To Eat More Flaxseed

The Health Benefits Of Flax Seeds

Revealing study!

70 Reasons To Eat More Flaxseed
The science has never been clearer: flaxseed deserves to be top of the list of the world's most important medicinal foods. For just pennies a day it may protect against dozens of life-threatening health conditions. 
Many of us have been enculturated to think about the nutritional dimension of our food intake in terms of the government's recommended daily allowances (RDAs), focusing on getting the "right" amounts of carbohydrate, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. However, I believe this focus on the quantifiable dimensions of food versus the qualitative/informationl elements has profoundly lead us astray. We bear witness to this in the fact that Americans are some of the most overfed yet simultaneously malnourished people on the planet. It is no wonder that we we are dying by the droves, with heart disease and cancer representing the most common (and also most preventable) causes of premature death.
What if there was a nutrient-packed super-food which costs pennies a day that can greatly reduce the risk of dying not only these, but dozens of other life-threatening conditions? Would you take it? The good news is there already is: welcome to the amazing nutritional/medicinal potential of flaxseed!

70 Reasons To Consume Flaxseed Daily 

Admittedly, the title of this article is a bit over the top. Wouldn't five good reasons, or even just one good reason be enough to consume it more regularly? After all, think of the millions of people around the world who take aspirin daily only because it promises to reduce the risk for one condition: namely, prevention of heart attack. A practice, incidentally, that is dubious at best, and for which natural and likely far safer and effective alternatives may exist. If we can establish the preventive value of flaxseed in only one serious condition, perhaps this alone would be compelling enough to convince our readers to start incorporating it into their daily dietary regimen. However, for those nutrition geeks out there who like to read the first-hand research, here's our flaxseed database page, wherein you will find all the abstracts we have gathered on the topic of this seed's immense potential in preventing and/or treating up to 70 different health conditions.

7 Flaxseed Healing Highlights

Below you will find our top 7 reports on flaxseed's immense health benefits, including their role in preventing and/or reversing the #1 and #2 killers, namely, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
  1. They Can Heal Your Arteries
  2. They Can Contain Beneficial Plant Estrogens
  3. They Can Reduce Your Breast Cancer Mortality by 70% 
  4. They Can Protect Against Ovarian Cancer
  5. They Protect Against Radiation Toxicity
  6. They Can Dilate Your Arteries
  7. They Can Treat Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
For those who are interested in how best to take advantage of flaxseed's many health benefits, but are unsure what is the best way to consume it, we address some of the most common questions below.
Ground versus Whole Flax

Should I Eat The Seeds Ground or Whole? 

First, keep in mind that flaxseeds are Nature's ingenious design for preserving the precious cargo inside: highly therapeutic, though fragile polyunsaturated fatty acids, amino acids, and other fat soluble vitamins. This also means that you don't have to worry about refrigerating it. Once the seed is ground up and exposed to air, light, ambient fluctuations in temperature, and time, it begins to "go bad," i.e. oxidize and degrade. This is why many make a daily practice of grinding up their own seeds in a coffee grinder to ensure maximum freshness. While I think this is a great idea, not everyone will have the time or desire to adhere to this daily routine. This is why some purchase pre-ground flaxseed. I am not against the practice. My only stipulation is that the buyer make sure the manufacturer has nitrogen-flushed the container so that oxygen didn't get into the package at the time of manufacture.
The same rule applies to flaxseed oil. The company manufacturing the oil should maintain optimal freshness via nitrogen flushing the container, which will preferably be in non-chemical leaching glass. Also, opt for a high lignan form of the oil when available because you lose this valuable component of the seed material when you produce oil concentrate.  Flaxseed has one of the highest levels of naturally occurring lignans known, and this is why if you are consuming the oil you may also wish to supplement with whole or ground flaxseed so that you benefit from these highly therapeutic compounds.
As far as whole flaxseed, make sure that you chew it well, if you primary objective is to obtain the beneficial nutrients, lignans, and fiber from them. Also, consider that flaxseed produces a very soothing mucilaginous gel when exposed and/or soaked in water. You can pre-soak a tablespoon in a glass of water overnight to produce a very good concoction for constipation by drinking it in the morning.  Because flaxseed will naturally soak up water, remember not to consume too much dry, whole flaxseed without adequate hydration, as it could be a bit binding – the exact opposite effect that it will naturally have when consumed in the correct manner.
Oil or Flax Meal?

Which is Better? Flaxseed Oil or The Seed? 

Hands down, this is the most common question I have fielded. The truth is that one is not better than the other for general preventive health purposes. For optimal protection I would suggest using both. However, there are some important things to consider when incorporating either of these forms into your diet:
  • Never heat flaxseed oil: All oils rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are prone to enhanced oxidation (rancidity) when heated. This means that you would not cook with flaxseed oil, opting for naturally saturated (and therefore more heat stabile) fats like palm, coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter) instead.  
  • Get creative with flaxseed meal: Flaxseed meal is an excellent addition to smoothies or for sprinkling on foods that have a higher glycemic index, e.g. pasta, cereal. The flaxseed meal will slow the breakdown of the starchy carbohydrates and therefore blunt blood sugar spikes and concomitant elevations in insulin. Also, the fiber is excellent for helping to contribute to regularity (it is useful both for going too much and not enough). The key, of course, is to always stay hydrated when using flaxseed, as it can cause significant binding in a dehydrated individual.
  • Flaxseed is full of good fats: Keep in mind that flaxseed is a potent source of omega-3 fatty acids, containing a 4:1 ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. This is a great way to balance out the predominant ratios in the Standard American Diet, which is so heavy in corn, canola, soy, and peanut oils, all of which have several orders of magnitude more omega 6 than omega 3.  

How Much Should I Take? 

Generally, a tablespoon or two of meal a day is a good dose for ensuring you are getting a physiologically significant amount. The same goes for the oil. I have personally consumed five tablespoons of meal a day without any harm, and have used a good amount of the flaxseed oil in place of olive oil as salad dressing (I happen to like the taste of flaxseed better). Everyone will be different, so go with your intuition if you are just experimenting. If you are sick, consult your health practitioner or dietary coach to obtain specific recommendations. Also, listen to your body. If you aren't finding flaxseed agrees with you, then back off on the amount or stop it until you find another dietary intervention that does work for you. Another alternative that has many of the same health benefits is chia seed.

Just the Nutritional Facts

We'll leave you with some nutritional snapshots of flaxseed from the more quantitative perspective, so that it is clear how valuable it is in human nutrition simply as a source of both macronutrients and micronutrients, above and beyond its clearly medicinal function  (a reflection of what I would call it's "therapeutic information" content) in the wide range of health conditions our database shows. The information below is based on 1 cup (168 grams) worth of flaxseed whole.

Flaxseed Protein and Amino Acid Content

Flaxseed Vitamin Content

Flaxseed Mineral Content

Flaxseed Fatty Acids

For more nutritional data on flaxseed, visit the website.