Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Depression & Essential Fatty Acids

The Todo Institute Newsletter (current issue) contained contained an interesting piece about depression and Omega 3 and 6 in the diet. We have all heard about EFA's or essential fatty acids, and in particular Omega 3 and Omega 6. EFA's cannot be produced by the body, hence we need to ingest them from our food choices. The recommended ratio by dietitians is 1:3 (Omega 3 to Omega 6). The typical diet in this part of the world is the reverse, 15:1 (Omega 6 to Omega 3). Apparently, this is to due to our consumption of meat, animal products and common cooking oils.

And what does all of this have to do with depression you might ask? The writer continues, referring to the April 07 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, that researchers looked at people whose diets were high in the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio and found that these people manifested more depressive moods. These scientists felt that diet does have an effect on the body and even more so, for people living with depression.

You will often read that eating fish is a sure way to make sure you are getting proper EFA's, but here is an interesting point made by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine . The Omega 3 found in fish oil is not as stable as the Omega 3 found in plant sources. Fish oils tend to decompose and in doing so can release those dreaded "free radicals".

If you are following a vegan or vegetarian pyramid here are some sources of both Omega 6 and Omega 3:

OMEGA 3: flax seed (contains twice the amount found in fish oil); mustard seeds, pumpkin seeds, soya beans, walnut oil, green leafy vegetables, grains, spirulina, flax seed oil (or linseed oil) canola oil, soya oil

OMEGA 6: vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, hemp seed, safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soya oil

One of my favourite sources is hemp seed hearts which I sprinkle on my cereal in the morning. I also use ground flax seed as well. Fortino's sells Manitoba Harvest Hemp Oil and Seeds. My son has also purchased hemp hearts in bulk at the Horn of Plenty in Dundas

If you are interested in reading the in depth details, click on the highlight links above.
I'm repeating myself here, but I highly recommend the PCRM website for interesting and useful information about a plant based diet.

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