We have been so indoctrinated by the dogmatic health tenets of the past that going against the norm can seem, at first glance, to be scary and resistant. However, what I believe to be even scarier is walking in the footsteps behind those who are leading lives incarcerated by medications and surgery all because they are following the norms of the Standard American Diet which ultimately leads to decreased longevity and quality of life. It has been said that adults will spend more time rearing their parents than raising their own children. Let’s start by breaking down a very FISHY ARGUMENT.
Eat more fish! We have all heard it. For some time now, nutritionists have recommended that we eat fish on a regular basis in order to get sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (specifically DHA and EPA). We have been told that these “fish” nutrients are good for the circulatory system and have also been proven to boost brain function, including both cognitive function and memory.
Even the American Heart Association recommends all adults to eat oily fish at least twice weekly to reduce their cardiovascular disease risk. What associated health risks, however, are the AMA and other health authorities overlooking and could there be more to the story?
A little science – there are basically 3 types of omega-3-fatty acids:
1. EPA or eicisapentaenoic acid
2. DHA or docosahexaenoic acid
3. ALA or alpha-linolenic acid
Of these three, the medical and nutritional world has established that only number 3 (ALA) is essential. This means that our body can make EPA and DHA from precursors of ingested ALA (the essential nutrient). ALA is found abundantly in the plant kingdom: flax, hemp, chia, walnuts, and green leafy veggies to name a few. Fish obtain their EPA and DHA from plants, specifically marine algae. In fact, plant sources of omega 3 come packaged with added benefits that fish do not provide, this includes: fiber, high levels of antioxidants, phytonutrients, non-animal based protein (decreasing cancer rates), and healthy carbohydrate energy sources.
FACT 2: PLANT BASED SOURCES OF OMEGA 3 COME FILLED WITH ADDED NUTRIENTS THAT FISH CAN NOT PROVIDE
The USDA has not set any organic standards for fish and seafood, so the current problems with contaminants in fish may very well still exist in any fish product that is called organic.
Fish absorb contaminants as the water around them passes over their gills. Many of these chemicals do not break down in the environment, but dissolve easily in oils and can accumulate in the fatty tissues of the fish. Chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), have been linked to various ailments in the children of women who consumed fish contaminated with PCBs during pregnancy. These include low birth weight and negative effects on neurological and cognitive development. According to the National Research Council, PCBs are found in every site where fish have been tested. Indeed, fish is the most significant source of both PCBs and mercury for humans. Nearly all fish contain methyl mercury, but older, larger fish that feed on other fish, such as shark or swordfish, accumulate extremely high amounts of methyl mercury. These fish pose the largest threat to people who eat them on a regular basis.
Two recent studies have shown that people with the higher amounts of mercury in their bodies, caused primarily by fish-eating, have more heart trouble. The first one, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002, found that higher levels of mercury in toenail clippings predicted a greater chance of future heart attacks. The next study looked at the mercury content of the hair and found, “High content of mercury in hair may be a risk factor for acute coronary events and CVD (coronary vascular disease), CHD (coronary heart disease), and all-cause mortality in middle-aged eastern Finnish men. Mercury may also attenuate the protective effects of fish on cardiovascular health.”
FACT 3: FISH ARE BREEDING GROUNDS FOR MERCURY AND OTHER TOXINS
FACT 4: FISH ARE ASSOCIATED WITH INCREASED HEART DISEASE ACCORDING TO SOME STUDIES
1. But, the Eskimos – have protection from heat disease?
This is an easy one! The real question is - why would we want to base our dietary habits on a group of individuals (for example, the Asiatic Siberian Eskimos) whose life expectancy is only 45 years? ENOUGH SAID!
2. But, the Okinawians eat lots of fish?
Recommendations to eat fish are based on laboratory research, but originate primarily from observations of various populations of people worldwide. For example, the rate of heart disease among fish-eating populations, such as the Japanese (Okinawians), is very low, and this has been attributed to the so-called “good fats” they receive from eating fish. Researchers overlook the marked differences between overall Western and Japanese diets. The primary ingredient in the Japanese diet is PLANTS. In fact, over 90% of all the foods they eat are plant based. The small amount of fish eaten daily is incidental. Unfortunately, this is not as marketable and profitable as promoting the omega 3 fish oil elixir every American has come to know over the last decade.