The following article was given to GalTime with permission by Dr. Barry Sears, one of the leading authorities on the impact of diet on hormonal responses and inflammation. He is the author of the #1 New York Times best seller The Zone.
If there were one super food that is essential to be part of your diet, it would be fish. The reason is simple; fish (and in particular fatty fish) are the richest sources of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that are critical for human health.
These omega-3 fatty acids are key to controlling inflammation in the body. It is excess inflammation that makes us fat, sick, dumb as well as accelerating the aging process.
At the molecular level, inflammation disturbs the intricate hormonal signaling communication system that allows our cells to remain in contact with each other. As the levels of omega-3 fats decrease in the cells, the likelihood of dropped signals (as in a cell phone system) increases dramatically.
This is why of all known nutrients, the proven clinical benefits of increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids is incredibly robust. Whether it is obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, ADHD, arthritic pain, Alzheimer’s or a vast number of other chronic diseases, supplementation with adequate levels of omega-3 gives dramatic benefits.
So what is an adequate level? I would say the minimum would be about at least 2.5 grams of EPA and DHA on a daily basis. Since the current intake of Americas of these two fatty acids is about 125 mg per day (20 times less my recommended dose), it not surprising our health care system is spiraling out of control.
2.5 grams of EPA and DHA seems like a lot, and it is if you are eating lean fish or no fish at all.
Here are some examples of the amount of fish you would have to eat on a daily basis to get 2.5 grams of EPA and DHA.
- 6 pounds of cod
- 2 pounds of tuna
- 8 ounces of salmon
- 6 ounces of anchovies
That’s why I said you best bet for getting adequate levels of EPA and DHA is from fatty fish as opposed to lean varieties. Alternatively, you could take fish oils. This is way your grandparents got their EPA and DHA by consuming tablespoon a day of cod liver oil (probably the worst tasting food known to man).
Today, much more purified versions of fish oil exist, but make sure you are taking an adequate level to get the benefits.
How long will it take to see a difference? Give yourself about 30 days. The most obvious change will be a greater ability to handle stress and a greater sense of happiness (remember the omega-3 fatty acids are great for treating depression).
But the most important reason to be taking these omega-3 fatty acids is their ability to reduce the likelihood of the development of chronic diseases that are ultimately caused by inflammation.
This is how you live longer and better.