Omega 3's are GOOD. Omega 6's are BAD, sort of. We need Omega-6's, but we need more Omega-3's. Let me explain. The average American diet takes in 20 times more Omega -6's than Omega -3's. This needs to be reduced. The average American should take in only 3 times the Omega-6's than Omega-3's. We need to change our dietary habits to make this change in our balance of these fatty acids.
Millions of dollars have been spent by the drug companies educating the population to the importance of improving the cholesterol ratio of HDLs (good) to LDLs (bad). We need to continue to do the same with Omega 3's (good) and Omega 6's (bad). It's not that we need to cut out Omega 6's completely (which is impossible to do), but we need a healthier dietary balance.
Certain fish are rich in Omega-3's such as wild salmon, rainbow trout, black cod, Mediterranean Bass (Branzino), and sardines. Certain grains and nuts such as walnuts and flaxseed are rich in Omega 3's. In contrast, most snack foods, cookies, crackers, chips, and sweets in the American diet, as well as fast food, are rich in Omega-6 fatty acids. Refined corn, safflower, soy, and cottonseed oils are examples of polyunsaturated vegetable oils that are loaded with Omega-6's. Olive oil, expeller pressed canola oil and walnut oil would be great substitutes. We need to work hard to balance the intake of Omega 3's to Omega 6's.
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It's not a weight loss diet, and not a diet to treat acute inflammation from some acute infection. Rather, the anti-inflammatory diet is a long-term commitment to prevent chronic inflammatory conditions that cause many serious diseases often seen with aging. It is a diet to reduce the risks of age-related disease and optimize health. Auto-immune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, coronary artery disease, some cancers, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, all have some links to inflammation and in fact are believed to stem from inflammation in the body.
The anti-inflammatory diet provides a healthy balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Improving the intake of Omega-3 fatty acids with low mercury oily fish, walnuts, flax, hemp, and canola oils, among other products, is helpful in maintained a proper balance of Omega-3s and Omega-6's. Along these same lines, carbohydrates contribute to pro-inflammatory compounds and moderating one's blood sugar and reducing simple carbohydrate intake will help. Eating less crackers, chips, snack foods, pastries, sweetened drinks, refined and processed foods, and avoid fast foods and avoiding high fructose corn syrup drinks will help comply with the anti-inflammatory diet.
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This is a very controversial question, and one that most oncologists don't like to face. The issue is the following: Radiation and Chemotherapy work by developing free radicals which kill rapidly dividing cancer cells. Antioxidants get rid of those free radicals and thus might interfere with the beneficial effects of cancer treatment.
So why take anti-oxidants at all? Well, the anti-oxidants also work to scavenge and get rid of the free radicals that can cause cancer in the first place. They are a wonderful source of protection for the cells of your body. But the case is different during chemotherapy. For the most part, I advise my patients to refrain from anti-oxidant supplementation while undergoing therapy. This helps to prevent any potential interaction between the radiation or chemotherapy and the supplements. If patients want to take a basic multivitamin, then that is okay. Once finished with treatment, however, it is okay to start with the antioxidant rich supplementation.
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Ah, yes, the high-fructose issue. High-fructose corn syrup is a sweetener and preservative used in many processed foods, including cola. It extends the shelf-life of foods (ugh!), and is cheaper and sweeter than sugar. Many of my colleagues blame increased consumption of high-fructose corn syrup for the growing obesity problem in America. One theory is that fructose is more readily
converted to fat by the liver than is sugar, and thus increases the levels of fat in your bloodstream. Some animal studies have suggested a link between high-fructose corn syrup and adverse health effects such as diabetes and high cholesterol.
The fact remains that Americans consume tremendous amounts of high-fructose corn syrup in soft drinks, fruit-flavored beverages, and other processed foods. This has got to change!!! Reducing intake of high-fructose corn syrup should be very easy---just read the label. Buy 100% fruit juice, instead of fruit-flavored juices; buy fresh fruit, rather than processed fruits. Don't drink soda, there are better and tastier alternatives out there.
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Generally speaking, most nutritional benefits from fruits and vegetables come from eating raw or slightly cooked. The tomato is the exception. Numerous studies have discerned that the tomato's beneficial effects are more available to the body when taken as a juice, sauce, or soup. While I love the tremendous power of the tomato, for the most part, the less processing of fruits and vegetable, the better. Furthermore, cooking is okay, but overcooking is not. Healthy vitamins and minerals can leach into the water or broth and are lost to the consumer. So the quick answer would have to be that raw or slightly cooked fruits and vegetables are probably the most nutritious form for these very powerful foods. A word to the wise: just because you are not eating raw fruits and vegetables doesn't mean you are not doing the right thing. Keep it up with the healthy fruit and vegetable intake...just try to refrain from overcooking.
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It's impossible to consume just "good" cholesterol, or to refrain from "bad" cholesterol. When we eat cholesterol, it comes in one form--cholesterol. Our body has the enzymatic pathways to develop good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol comes from animal products, such as meat, fish, and chicken, eggs, and dairy products. The more cholesterol a person consumes affects the balance of cholesterol in the body; genetics plays a strong role as well. Reducing fat and cholesterol intake, especially saturated fats, will help affect blood cholesterol levels and will help balance good and bad cholesterols in the body. Even worse than dietary cholesterol intake, the intake of saturated fats has a greater negative impact on the blood cholesterol levels.
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There is great promise in fish oil intake, either from foods or as supplements. As mentioned in several previous hot topics above, the fish oils refer to the Omega-3 fatty acids. Preliminary research does hold promise for fish oil intake and relief of certain inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and other auto-immune diseases. Many studies have shown high intake of fish oil supplements combined with pain medication can reduce joint swelling, ease morning stiffness, lessen fatigue, and increase pain tolerance.
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Fish oils contain Omega-3s (long chain fatty acid) that are slightly different from the Omega-3s found in plants (short chain fatty acid.) Fish have the ability to convert linolenic acid to DHA and EPA which are the end products that are beneficial to humans. Humans can convert the linolenic acid from plant sources into EPA and DHA to a very limited degree. Therefore, the beneficial effects of DHA and EPA are more available from fish oil sources rather than plant sources. However, despite this fact, I am happy if people take ANY kind of Omega-3 rich foods, whether it is from fish, or from plants. Fish oil supplements come in liquid and capsule form and come in different concentrations and quality. Be sure to look out for pharmaceutical grade when buying fish oil supplements.
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Omega-3 fat, from any source, does not directly lower blood cholesterol. Omega 3fatty acids, however, do compete with Omega-6 fatty acids for the same enzymes. Increasing Omega-3 intake will cause increased conversion to healthy prostaglandins and will, by competition, decrease conversion of Omega-6 fatty acids to unhealthy prostaglandins. In addition, fish intake has tremendous healthy heart advantages. The increased intake of fish (not battered or fried fish) will in turn decrease the intake of meats and cheese and other cholesterol laden foods, thus allowing an affect that way. So while fish intake with Omega-3 will not directly lower cholesterol, increased fish intake will decrease meat and fat intake, thus lowering cholesterol in that manner. Fish especially high in omega-3 fat, such as salmon and rainbow trout, seems to lower risk of heart disease through a variety of mechanisms. Omega-3 fat may help keep heart rhythm normal, decrease inflammation, reduce plaque and clot formation in blood vessels, lower blood triglycerides, and slightly reduce blood pressure.
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