Column #168

When people realize that nutrition actually plays a role in their long-term health and wellness quite often that’s when they start making changes. Usually the changes are small ones they learned about from their friends, medical doctor, and the media. That means they start off with mostly myths, half truths, and rarely with what’s known in the scientific literature.

Almost always initial changes provide some positive results. That’s because when beginners start, they are in such malnourished states that any positive change, however slight, heads them in a better direction. Just eating a little less processed foods, a dab more vegetables, and switching from processed grains to whole grains can provide that improvement. But on the continuum representing the way food impacts health and disease, their initial changes only pull them a few notches away from disaster.

After some initial improvement based on the common knowledge, their progress stops. Despite that, they are still definitely a little healthier than they were, but many issues often persist. There’s a reason for this.

In September 2014 Dale E. Bredesen, MD released a paper titled “Reversal of Cognitive Decline: a Novel Therapeutic Program.” He’s an expert on the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and a professor of neurology at the Easton Laboratories for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.

His approach, as described in the 2014 paper, was born out of the recognition that the medical community has spent billions of dollars and has not yet developed a treatment protocol for AD. That’s because its work mostly focused on single pathways, and targeting one pathway can show change, but in human studies, limited approaches do not work.

Alternatively Dr. Bredesen recognized that AD is analogous to chronic illnesses like cancer, osteoporosis, and atherosclerosis. That inspired him to think of a metabolical approach that would address multiple modalities. He concluded that the approach would have to involve diet, supplements, sleep, exercise, and meditation and that dietary and lifestyle changes could prevent or at least delay the cognitive losses that once seemed to be one’s destiny.

Remarkably his protocol soon garnered some success! Based on his research and test results he now has his own website that provides information about what he calls “The Bredesen Protocol™.”

The reason his protocol is successful is that his diet and lifestyle changes are significant and persistent, not minor and haphazard. This differs from what most people do. For instance, a customer told me that she had been eating our grass-fed and Omega-3 meats for nearly two years. Yet her health issues remained and her Omega-3 blood test came back with an Omega-6 to Omega-3 essential fatty acid (EFA) ratio above 8:1, a level associated with many chronic diseases. So she concluded that she couldn’t change her EFA balance nor subdue her health issues because her body was too messed up to start with.

Humans need many nutrients. From them our bodies synthesize thousands of components required for life. But some of the needed nutrients are essential. Essential nutrients must be eaten in their original form because the body won’t make them. For instance, if we do not consume Vitamin C, we’ll end up with scurvy and eventually die from it.

There are reasons why attempts to lower the EFA ratio to less than 2:1 fail. The average American does not eat enough nutritional whole foods. Most foods consumed are loaded with Omega-6 EFAs and are low in Omega-3 EFAs. The worst are oils (even olive oil), nuts, grain, seeds, and grain-fed meats, grain-fed dairy, and grain-fed eggs. Americans are also addicted to sweets. They may cut down on sugar, but turn to high glycemic alternatives. And rarely do they know enough about food chemistry to know which food choices are nutrient dense and diverse.

The very best foods with all the checks in the box are grass-fed meats, Omega-3 meats, wild-caught seafood, green leafy vegetables, many other vegetables, and some fruit. All of these offerings would fit in a small section of the average grocery store. For the most part they are not offered in fast food joints or even finer restaurants.

If one narrows their diet down to ONLY the best foods and takes a fish oil supplement, their EFA ratio WILL drop. That’s because if the body can take on Omega-6 EFAs creating a high EFA ratio, it can most certainly take on Omega-3 EFAs at the same time if they are present. So anyone with an EFA ratio of 8:1 can lower that ratio when their total diet has a ratio of less than 8:1. Over a matter of a few months a diet that’s close to 1:1 will lower the 8:1 ratio to about 3:1 or less. But to do that means one has to be as strict with their food intake as they would be in following the advice of their doctor for taking prescription drugs.

Just like Dr. Bredesen has shown us, when diet is combined with supplements, sleep, exercise, and meditation that creates a very powerful metabolical approach that addresses multiple modalities. But one can’t approach any step half way. For instance, just eating grass-fed and Omega-3 meats won’t do it alone. One has to nix high glycemic foods, nix foods that do not offer complete nutrition, and nix the six.

To your health.

Ted Slanker

Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.

Don't miss these links for additional reading:

Dawn of the Era of Treatable Alzheimer's by Dale E. Bredesen, MD

Reversal of Cognitive Decline: a Novel Therapeutic Program by Dale E. Bredesen, MD

Nix the Six by Bill Lands

The Importance of the Ratio of Omega 6 Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids by Dr. Artemis Simopoulos

Blood Fatty Acid Changes in Healthy Young Americans in Response to a 10-Week Diet by Andrew J. Young et al.

Food Analysis: GI, GL, Fat Ratio, Nutrient Load, and Inflammation by Ted Slanker

Scurvy and Fatty Acids by Ted Slanker

Grass-Fed vs Grain-Fed by Ted Slanker

Live Holistic by Ted Slanker

Ted Slanker’s Omega-3 Blood Test

Omega-3 Blood Test and use slanker as a code for a discount