Saturday, 28 January 2012

Health and Nutrition Class

Last night I was lucky enough to get out with the girls and enjoy a class on nutrition, and an excellent class on competing in an ironman and the lessons learnt along the way. As I was ruminating at the end of the evening on all that I had heard, and the inspiration I gained from the second class [on triathlons and life] what kept on coming back to me was how I was bugged by some of the miss information presented as fact in the nutrition class. The fact of the matter is that you need to constantly be updating yourself in the field of nutrition to truly stay on top of the current information, but that the basics of nutrition haven't changed in eons. So, as the packed room soaked up the information presented, anxiously jotting down notes, and the presenter repeatedly offered up information that was only halfway there, it started to bug me. For example, said presenter said,"Salmon is the best, and only whole source of omega oils, and should be consumed daily." From this sprung a stream of questions and answers on which fish oil supplements are best, whether you should eat farmed or fresh salmon, and how to deal with the nasty 'fish' burp side effects of ingesting fish oil supplements. As an afterword, flax was mentioned an an other source, but was not recommended as it is not a high source of the desired oil. Here's my rebuttal:

Fish and Fish Oil Linked to Diabetes Risk

posted 8/14/09

A new Harvard study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition links fish and omega-3 oil consumption to type 2 diabetes. Following 195,204 adults for 14 to18 years, researchers found that the more fish or omega-3 fatty acids participants consumed, the higher their risk of developing diabetes. The risk increase was modest for occasional fish eaters, but rose to a 22 percent increased risk for women consuming five or more fish servings per week.
Prior studies have suggested that fat accumulation within muscle cells can lead to insulin resistance which, in turn, contributes to diabetes. People who eat no animal products have less fat in their cells and much less risk of developing diabetes. A low-fat vegan diet has been shown to improve type 2 diabetes.

Kaushik M, Mozaffarian D, Spiegelman D, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, fish intake, and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul 22. [Epub ahead of print]
Goff LM, Bell JD, So PW, Dornhorst A, Frost GS. Veganism and its relationship with insulin resistance and intramyocellular lipid. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005;59:291-298.
Barnard ND, Cohen J, Jenkins DJ, Turner-McGrievy G, Gloede L, Green A, Ferdowsian H. A low-fat vegan diet and a conventional diabetes diet in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled, 74-week clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:1588S-1596S.

So, what is my recommendation for the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids?

Hemp hearts.

Here's why:

"Hemp hearts (also known as “shelled hemp seeds” or “shelled hempseed”) are a rich source of nutrition, putting them in the “superfoods” category. Hemp hearts typically contain 33 percent protein, 9 percent omega-3 essential fatty acids, and are an excellent source of iron, vitamin E and GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), an Omega-6 fatty acid.
Omega fatty acids are essential because human bodies cannot make them on their own, which means we need to get these good fats from our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly beneficial to the brain, skin, joints and heart and Omega-6, such as GLA, is important to hair, skin and bone health; and regulates metabolism and the reproductive system.
The protein profile in hemp hearts makes them one of the densest sources of plant protein, which can be of significant benefit to vegetarians, athletes and anyone looking to add a healthy source of protein to their diet." [source]

Hemp hearts are the only source, whether it be plant or otherwise, with the optimum balance of omega 6 to omega 3. To be readily absorbed by the body, the oils must be balanced at a 3 or 4:1 ratio. Even in other great plant sources, like flax for example, the ratio is not optimal, and therefore puts the balance in your body slightly off kilter. It is also important to factor in the quality of the source when considering where you are getting your nutrients from. Sure you can get vitamins from enriched prepackaged 'foods', but do you really consider them to be on par with the vitamins you will be getting from fruits and vegetables? This is the same scenario  you must consider when looking at the various sources of omega oils: sure you could get them from fish, or you could get a higher quality, more absorbable form from plants - is there really any question what you should choose?

The bottom line, and point I'm trying to make is please do your own research. No matter what a teacher says, you need to make sure that you have the facts right. It is your body, your health, that is at stake - do you really want to gamble that the teacher really knows all he/she thinks they do? 

Make the most of your nutrition, and your body will amaze you with what it can do!

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