In our previous post we discussed how we should add omega-3's to your diet. In this post we'll discuss things you may be feeding your youngin's that are doing them more harm then good.
In rat studies brain growth has been shown to be altered by a diet high in saturated fat. These animals fed saturated fat over a long period of time consistently didn't perform as well on memory tests, and on other learning tasks like finding their way out of a maze. It appears that the damage is cumulative, that brains get dumbed down by a constant diet of saturated fat.
Not all fat is equal, saturated animal fats are the "bad" fats — whole milk, butter, commercial meat, and the worst of the bunch: cheese.
The reason a diet high in saturated fat may be so harmful is that this isn't the fat the human body was created on. According to evolutionary nutritionist Dr. Boyd Eaton, things like milk, butter, and cheese are "new" to the human genome. Humans evolved eating meat, but the meat they ate was very lean. Things like wild fish and venison, not a McDouble. The result was a diet in meat that was not only low in saturated fat, but had omega-3's in the fatty tissues (around 2.5% omega-3 in wild game, compared to commercialized meat which has next to nothing).
If your child is having trouble learning, look at what meat and dairy they eat. It may be a great idea to try a dairy fast altogether, as cheese may be one of the most dangerous fatty foods out there.
Stop The Omega-6 Barrage
It isn't enough that we supplement with omega-3's if we do not decrease the intake of omega-6 and trans fat in our diet. Our cells communicate and send messages to each other via their outer shell, their cell membrane. So much happens at this cell-membrane that it would take a series of posts to even touch on it, but if you'd like to read more, go here for a starter course. To accomplish all that a cell needs to do, it must be malleable, moveable, changeable. Omega-3 fats are those flexible agents that make a non-rigid barrier that can still adapt and move. Picture the fluidity of a fish, how it moves and how slippery it is, and that's a good way to think of the characteristics of omega-3 fats. When a cell can move and slide around, and is flexible to "hear" the chemical messages from its surrounding cell buddies, all is well. When a cell is rigid, inflexible, communication and cell function in general begins to break down. Trans fats are these rigid, hard, nasty fats. Omega 6's are also not as mobile as omega-3's, and are pro-inflammatory. Omega-6's aren't bad in and of themselves, they're just bad when we have an imbalance between omega 3's and omega 6's. The ratio should be between 1: 1-5, sadly most Americans is between 20-40 omega 6's to one omega 3. (If you want to know exactly where you or your kid stands, get the fatty acid blood spot analysis that our office offers that shows how much of your red blood cell is made up of 3's, 6's, and even trans fats.)
At the cellular membrane level, their is competition. So it doesn't matter if you take a ton of omega 3's, if there's still more omega 6's or trans fats to make a membrane, your cells will take those. They are non-discriminatory, and take whatever fat they can that is available. Therefore, we must not only increase omega 3 intake, but decrease bad fat intake.
NEXT PART IN THE SERIES, LEARN ABOUT ONE THING YOU EAT THAT CAN LITERALLY MAKE YOUR PRECIOUS NEURONS EXPLODE TO DEATH... bad stuff.
- Wainwright, P.E., et. al. A saturated fat diet during development alters dendritic growth in mouse brain. Nutritional Neuroscience; 1: 49-58, 1998.↵
- even though it is the most delish! Read Dr. Fuhrman's Eat To Live (2003) for a fantastic summary of research against dairy. This book's only fault is its take on meat, all referenced articles against meat consumption are based on commercialized meat, not wild game and fish↵
- Go here to download a great PDF review on the subject.↵