Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fish and no chips

The wonders of docosahexaenoic acid

TO PIN one big evolutionary shift on a particular molecule is ambitious. To pin two on it is truly audacious. Yet doing so was just one of the ideas floating around at “A Celebration of DHA” in London this week. The celebration in question was a scientific meeting, rather than a festival. It was definitely, however, a love-in. It was held on May 26th and 27th at the Royal Society of Medicine to discuss the many virtues of docosahexaenoic acid, the most important of that fashionable class of dietary chemicals, the omega-3 fatty acids.

DHA is a component of brains, particularly the synaptic junctions between nerve cells, and its displacement from modern diets by the omega-6 acids in cooking oils such as soya, maize and rape is a cause of worry. Many researchers think this shift—and the change in brain chemistry that it causes—explains the growth in recent times of depression, manic-depression, memory loss, schizophrenia and attention-deficit disorder. It may also be responsible for rising levels of obesity and thus the heart disease which often accompanies being overweight.

Michael Crawford, a researcher at the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition in London, believes, however, that DHA is even more important than that. He suggests that it was responsible for the existence of nervous systems in the first place, and that access to large quantities of the stuff was what permitted the evolution of big brains in mankind’s more recent ancestors.


I think making sure one has a good ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s is one of the most important parts of a healthy diet. Here’s an article on the subject: 6s and 3s and the logic of grain avoidance

If you are looking for a quality fish oil supplement, check out Carlson’s.

Or maybe you’ll want to check out krill oil for your omega-3 intake (video plays automatically).

And if you haven’t seen it, I posted a link on the right to a health-related blog I set up for another type of experiment (I wanted to see how many people would click on a newspaper ad if I ran it for a week – the total was 10): 2 Hour Weight Loss