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Too Much Omega-6 May Be Bad For Your Brain

Twenty years ago, former Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Dr. Barry Sears didn’t buy into the high-carb/low-fat nutritional mantra of the day, and instead championed a diet that would reduce cellular inflammation — and the world’s rising obesity rate.

Fast forward to today: diabetes diagnoses have risen nearly 180% over the last 3 decades thanks in part Sears says to the continued adherence to the high-carb/low-fat diet dogma. And now Sears thinks it’s not a coincidence that new Alzheimer’s Disease cases have risen dramatically over the same period.

In Sears’s new book, The Mediterranean Zone, he makes a strong case that a pro-inflammatory diet can be directly linked to diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

According to Sears, almost all chronic diseases can be tied to cellular inflammation which over time can negatively impact the brain.

Sears says the best approach to beating the odds of developing many diseases ranging from cancer to heart disease is to keep your cells as healthy as possible through an anti-inflammatory diet.

While Sears recommends a Mediterranean diet, and I’d say Paleo is the best way to go, the end goal is similar. Both diets promote consuming balanced meals of protein, low glycemic carbs (such as fruits and vegetables) and moderate amounts of fat that are low in omega-6 fatty acids (such as found in vegetable oils) and rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Sears points out the typical American diet includes way too much omega-6 fatty acids…up to 20-times more than omega-3. It’s no surprise fast food meals loaded with vegetable oils are one of the biggest offenders.

Due to the inflammatory properties of omega-6, Sears speculates this 20:1 fatty acid imbalance may explain many psychological and emotional issues people experience today, and omega-6 rich diets may even raise an individual’s propensity for violent behavior.

Sears cites studies that seem to indicate high doses of omega-3 fatty acids may help in the treatment of depression, ADHD and anxiety.

The point in Sears’s assessment is you need to cut way back on omega-6 and other foods that may cause cellular inflammation, and make a conscious effort to work more omega 3 fatty acids into your diet.

Wild salmon is one of the best natural sources for omega-3. Stay away from farm raised salmon – producers are increasingly using vegetables oils rich in omega-6 to feed the fish.

Sears also says only the Japanese eat enough fish to properly balance the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, and the best solution for most people is enhancing their anti-inflammatory diets with high-quality omega-3 supplements made from anchovies and sardines.

Read “What Our Diet Is Doing To Our Brains” via Forbes online for more.

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Is It Time For An Oil Change?

If you’re new to paleo, you may be wondering why I’m constantly reaching for high-fat coconut or olive oil to cook with instead of a “healthy” bottle of canola oil with the cute red heart on the label…  Read more

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Paleo Meal Building Made Easy

Paleo Meal-Building Made Easy

Paleo Meal-Building: Here’s How To Make It Deliciously Simple!

So you’re thinking about giving the paleo diet try. You’re certain you’ve got the willpower to kick refined sugars and grains to the curb. But…there’s just this one little thing keeping you from making the leap – paleo sounds like a heck of a lot of work!

If that’s what’s holding you back, you’re not alone. I hear it from Paleo Newbie website visitors all the time…and it’s one of the big reasons why most of my Paleo Newbie recipes are super-simple.

But I’m going to be honest with you here: Yes, it does take a little more time and effort to eat paleo.

Now here’s the good news – putting together a simple and tasty paleo meal is not nearly as difficult as you might think.

Sure, you can’t just toss any old pre-packaged meal into the microwave or pull into a fast food drive-through on your way home if you’re paleo.

But there is a very simple formula you can use to quickly figure out all your paleo-approved meals…

The 4 Ridiculously Simple Steps to Successful Paleo Meal Building:

  • 1. CHOOSE A PROTEIN

    roasted-chicken-300x244Easy, right?

    What sounds good to you right now: eggs, chicken, beef, seafood, pork?

    You’ve got lots of choices here and already know what you like.

    Just go for the highest quality protein you can find/afford – naturally raised and minimally processed.

    If you’re concerned about portions, the protein on your plate should be about the size of your fist – more if you’re really active.

  • 2. PICK 1-2 VEGETABLES

    spinach-300x200OK, maybe a little tougher choice here because with paleo you should skip the white potatoes, rice, beans and peas.

    But once again, there must be at least a few veggies you like on the paleo A-list.

    How about sweet potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, all leafy greens, carrots, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, celery, zucchini, squash, bok choy, onions, beets…and the list goes on.

    A good rule of thumb is to choose one green vegetable, and you can make your second one more starchy if you like. But if one of your paleo goals is to lose weight, take it easy on the root and tuber veggies like carrots and sweet potatoes.

    If you just can’t come up with a second vegetable, go with some fruit instead.

    Avocados are actually a fruit and offer lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

    Other good paleo fruit choices are any kind of berries, and cherries, melons, peaches or apricots. Once again, if you’re trying to drop some pounds, avoid the fruits with higher sugar content such as apples, mango, pineapple, grapes, pears, bananas and dried fruit like dates and figs. That said, any fruit is still better than a bag of chips as a side dish.

    And as far as portions, you ideally want your two vegetables (or veggie and fruit) to be about the size of two fists on your plate. Again, dish up more if your physical activity demands it – or if you’re just really hungry today.

  • 3. SELECT A HEALTHY FAT

    Olive-Oil-300x246Contrary to popular belief, fat doesn’t make you fat – that’s usually the handiwork of too many carbohydrates and not enough exercise.

    Fat actually helps keep your energy levels up, makes you feel satisfied longer after a meal, plus it supports body fat reduction.

    So for your paleo meal building, choose a healthy fat to enjoy along with your meal.

    Some good fat examples include olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee, lard, tallow and full-fat coconut milk. No refined vegetable oils including margarine, canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil and flaxseed oil please!

    Cook with it, drizzle it on your veggies, make a salad dressing out of it, or you can even put a spoonful of coconut oil in your morning coffee.

  • 4. ADD HERBS AND SPICES

    Spices-300x231As wise as your choices have been so far, your paleo meal is going to be a little bland without some tasty seasonings to liven things up.

    As far as I know, all pure herbs and spices are paleo approved – and no, a shaker of sugar and cinnamon is not a spice.

    So go ahead and load up your meal with wonderful flavors.

    Some of my paleo kitchen must-haves include garlic, onion powder, chili powder, chipotle, paprika, cayenne pepper, ground pepper, parsley, dill, mint, chives, cinnamon, ginger, rosemary, oregano, nutmeg, basil, ground mustard and cumin.

That’s it!

This simple, four-step formula will always help you create a well-balanced and perfectly paleo meal – whether you’re following someone’s recipe or winging it on your own.

Just remember: 1) Protein; 2) Veggies/Fruit; 3) Fats, and 4) Flavor – paleo meals are easier than you thought, right?