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Julie A. Wilczynski: Don't Fear the Fat

by on September 11, 2012 6:17 AM

We have all heart about the negative attributes of fats in our diets. The media has filled airwaves and print media with terms such as fat-free, low-fat, no-fat, low in trans fat or even trans fat free.

We have become “fat-phobic.”

The sad truth for those of you who became so fearful of all fat that you avoided it — you need good nutritional fat in your diet.

During the last 100 years the lack of omega 3 fatty acids in our diets have shown produced measurable decrease in brain size, a decrease of 10 percent has been recorded.

Dietary intake of omega 3 fatty acids has greatly decreased in the U.S. Farm-raised fish are usually raised on corn, so they have little or no omega 3 fatty acids.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are compounds that cannot be made by the body, but are required for many crucial biochemical processes. There are two groups of EFAs: omega-6 and omega-3. The relative levels of these two groups of EFAs are critical to the health and development of the brain and the body.

If the level of omega-6 is much higher than the level of omega-3 in the diet, there can be negative effects on cognition, mood, and behavior. The ideal ratio between these EFAs has been estimated at 2.3 omega-6 to 1 omega-3. Most American diets provide too many omega-6 EFAs and not enough omega-3 EFAs.

Grains, processed foods, meat, milk, eggs, and corn oil all contain omega-6 EFAs. Eggs (especially omega-3 eggs), canola oil, and walnuts contain omega-3 EFAs. However, the best sources of omega-3 EFAs come from fatty fish such as cod, tuna, halibut, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, and salmon (studies have indicated that farm raised fishes are higher in mercury, PCB’s, dioxins and other pollutants — your best choice when selecting fish is still wild caught).

Omega-3 EFAs can be added to a diet with a fish oil supplement purchased over-the-counter or online at a grocery, drug, or health-food store. It can be taken one or more times every day. Children may find swallowing fish oil capsules difficult, and several flavored chewable or custard-like options are also available.

Alternatively, adult-sized gel caps can be squeezed into a small child's mouth or “popped” by an older child.

Adequate levels of the Essential Fatty acids DHA and EPA are of vital importance for maintaining good health. Deficiencies can be a factor in skin conditions, leaky gut, cognitive functioning, inappropriate pain response, poor muscle reflexes, immune system function, inflammation and many other conditions.

Symptoms of EFA deficiency:

  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Dry, straw-like hair
  • Asthma
  • Excessive thirst
  • Bedwetting
  • Stuffy, runny and/or itchy nose
  • Frequent or excessive temper tantrums
  • Dandruff
  • Brittle fingernails
  • Eczema
  • Frequent urination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Small, hard, white bumps on outer arms, elbows, thighs, or buttocks

Some scientific studies have shown:

  • Boys with ADHD had significantly lower amounts of Omega-3’s than normal controls
  • Boys with lower Omega-3 had more behavior problems, temper tantrums, and sleep problems
  • UK study showed school children who were supplemented with Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids showed significant improvement in reading, spelling and behavior compared with controls

The omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA may help behavior problems that are often found with autism. In 2001, two groups of case histories found that children with autism had low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. In a different study, a group in Austria treated children who had autism and bad behavior with 1.5 grams per day of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, and found that the bad behavior decreased.

The author of that Austrian study also describes other studies that show how omega 3 fatty acids help with other health problems such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyspraxia, and dyslexia.

If you have questions or concerns contact a practitioner you trust and get those questions answered. I look forward to hearing from you, eat carefully.



Julie A. Wilczynski is a correspondent for the Centre County Gazette. She is a traditional naturopath, counselor of natural health, certified nutritional consultant, certified personal trainer and yoga and pilates instructor from Butler, Pa. For more information or for help in creating your own personalized healthy lifestyle program, contact Julie at JulieAW@zoominternet.net.
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