What’s Keto? The Ketogenic Diet Explained In Simple Terms

A ketogenic diet (or “keto” for short) is a ketone-producing diet. Ketones are a source of energy that is used by the body in the absence of glucose.

Carbohydrates are a staple in the diets of most people around the world. Normally, when you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks these down into glucose molecules which are then used as a fuel source for the body.

However, when you reduce the number of carbs that you eat (pass a certain threshold), your body starts to burn fat for energy.

Ketones are energy molecules produced from fat metabolism. They are typically produced when dietary carbohydrate intake is restricted for prolonged periods of time.

Ketones are also the source of energy provided to the body during times of fasting.

When your body starts burning fat to produce ketones, you are in a metabolic state called “ketosis”.

Ketosis occurs when you restrict carb intake to less than 50 grams per day (approximately).*

Thus, a ketogenic diet is a diet that is low in carbs (less than 50 grams per day), high in fat (typically more than 60% of daily calories), and moderate in protein (to some extent, protein consumption may hamper the production of ketones, however, protein has much less of a ketone suppressing effect compared to carbs and sugar, and this effect can vary with individual).

*The 50 grams threshold is only a rule of thumb. The actual threshold amount will depend on the individual. Some individuals require a daily carbohydrate restriction as low as 30 grams to enter into ketosis, whereas others may only need to restrict down to 80 grams of carbs per day to enter into ketosis.

Keto Macro Break Down | Fat, Protein & Carb Guidelines

keto-guidelines-macros

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The Keto Flu: Common Symptoms and How to Remedy Them

keto-flu-symptoms-remedies-cure

Have you tried keto, but didn’t feel so hot? You’re not alone! Read on to learn about the commonly experienced “Keto Flu” phenomenon, why it occurs, for how long, and how to remedy the symptoms. 

What Is Keto?

The ketogenic diet is a diet low in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and high in healthy fats. 

Consuming this low-carb high-fat diet puts your body into a state of ketosis, where fat is burned as the primary fuel for energy, as opposed to glucose (sugar). 

When fat is burned, ketones are released. 

Ketones are the compounds responsible for providing cellular energy in the absence of glucose.

There is a myriad of benefits to being in a state of ketosis. 

Entering ketosis through a ketogenic diet has been associated with promoting heart and brain health1,2, promoting weight loss3, promoting healthy metabolism, reducing inflammation4, and reducing blood sugar and insulin levels5, to name a few. 

What Is The Keto Flu?

The keto flu is a series of symptoms that some people may experience after starting the ketogenic diet. 

When you switch the primary fuel source for your body from glucose to fat, you force your body to change its “metabolic” machinery (genetic expression, enzyme production, etc.). 

Simply put, forcing your body into ketosis by reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing intake of healthy fats can put temporary stress on your body as it adapts to the new fuel source.

You can think of the keto flu as “carbohydrate withdrawal”. Carbohydrates (linear chains of sugar molecules) and sugar, after all, are quite addictive substances.

Not everyone experiences these symptoms. 

Some people are able to better adapt to a state of ketosis than others. The reasons for this are most likely genetics and environmental factors (i.e., how one’s environment influences genetics).

Keto Flu Symptoms 

The ketogenic diet is a healthy diet, but for some people, transitioning to this new way of eating may be especially difficult. 

As the body adapts to burning fat for fuel as opposed to sugar, some susceptible people may experience several “flu” like symptoms. 

The severity of these symptoms differs from person to person and can range from mild to severe.

The most common symptoms include: 

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Brain fog & Poor concentration
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sugar cravings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Low energy & Lack of motivation

Other symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Stomach pain
  • Muscle soreness
  • Heart palpitations 

Causes

The main cause of the Keto Flu is the transition to burning fat as opposed to sugar for most of the body’s energy needs. 

This transition requires the body to change its metabolic machinery. 

Most organs (but primarily the brain), need some time to adapt to this change.

This change is tougher for some people compared to others. 

Typically, the keto transition is hardest for those who are transitioning from eating a diet high in highly-refined carbohydrates and processed foods like pastas, sodas, and cereals.

When you lower your carbohydrate intake and start burning fat for fuel, the production of the hormone insulin begins to drop. This is healthy and one of the main goals of the ketogenic diet (the health benefits of keto arise not only from the production of the healthy energy and signaling molecules, ketones, but also from lowering the chronically elevated insulin levels experience on a high-carb diet, which is responsible for multiple health issues).

When Does Keto Flu Appear?

This differs for every person. However, if you are to experience the keto flu, symptoms typically appear within the first week of the transition. 

Keto Flu symptoms are only experienced during the transition period. Once someone adapts to the diet, the symptoms should disappear. 

However, the length of time that one experiences the symptoms depends on the person, and what you do to remedy the situation.

Remedies

Despite the many health benefits of a ketogenic diet, the Keto Flu is one of the main reasons why people give up the diet after starting. 

Instead of giving up the diet, consider the following remedies (of course, as always, always consult your healthcare practitioner regarding anything health-related and before starting any dietary protocol, especially if you have underlying health conditions and/or if you are experiencing severe symptoms).

Increase Your Intake of Electrolytes 

One of the effects that the ketogenic diet has on the body is to lower blood insulin levels. 

When insulin levels are lowered, the kidneys begin to increase the excretion of sodium salts from the blood. 

Decreased electrolyte levels are responsible for a number of the keto flu symptoms mentioned above.

In addition to this, most people do not consume enough potassium when switching to a keto diet, since the diet contains low levels of fruits and starchy vegetables. 

An excellent way to increase potassium intake is to consume leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and avocados (an excellent source of healthy fats in addition to being high in potassium).

Another important electrolyte that can remedy keto flu symptoms is magnesium.

Magnesium is a wonder element. Aside from playing an important role in neurotransmitter regulation, cardiovascular and muscle health, and gene maintenance6, it also can help to remedy some keto flu symptoms such as cramping and nausea, and sleep issues.

It is estimated that only 52% of people in the US are consuming the recommended daily amount of magnesium.7

Drink Plenty of Water and Stay Hydrated

The ketogenic diet by nature is diuretic. As mentioned above, a side effect of the keto diet is that your body begins to excrete salts. When this occurs, fluid also leaves the body. 

Additionally, glycogen levels drop on the ketogenic diet. Glycogen is the stored form of carbohydrate in the body. In the body, water binds tightly to glycogen. When glycogen levels drop, water is excreted.8

Get Plenty of Sleep

In addition to disrupting brain health, lack of sleep can cause cortisol levels to rise, which can cause a host of issues, including keto flu symptoms. Cortisol can also exacerbate keto flu symptoms, making them more severe.

If you are having difficulty sleeping, try any of the following tips:

  • Stop working at least one hour before going to bed: e.g. stop checking emails and working online etc.
  • Avoid physical exercise or strenuous activity at least two hours before bed.
  • Eat your last meal at most four hours before going to sleep (no later).
  • Reduce exposure to blue light before bed. Blue light has been shown to disrupt our circadian clock. You can do this with eye masks, and/or by placing blue light shields on your smartphones or electronic devices.
  • Eliminate all other light illuminations, e.g. from lamps. Even though they’re not a significant source of blue light, these light sources still can stimulate the brain.
  • Consider taking a high-quality melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone made by the body that regulates circadian rhythms. It also is a powerful antioxidant. 
  • Prepare your day in such a way that the most stressful activities, or those which demand the most energy, are reserved for the earliest part of your day (the farthest from bedtime).
  • Take magnesium before bed.

Avoid Strenuous and Intense Exercise

While your body is going through the keto transition, it is important to not cause extra stress on your body. Your body is already experiencing a form of stress by switching its metabolic machinery to adapt to ketosis. Don’t exacerbate this by performing high intensity or strenuous exercises while starting the diet.

Save the high-intensity workouts for when you officially adapt to ketosis. This will help ensure a smooth and fast transition into ketosis, and will help you avoid symptoms of the keto flu.

Tools & Keto Products

Here is our list of recommended products and tools to help you achieve success on your keto journey:

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Keto Paleo Friendly Magnesium-Rich Foods

Magnesium is a wonder element. Aside from playing an important role in neurotransmitter regulation, cardiovascular and muscle health, and gene maintenance, it also can help to remedy some keto flu symptoms such as cramping and nausea, and sleep issues.1

It is estimated that only 52% of people in the US are consuming the recommended daily amount of magnesium.2

The following is a complete list of magnesium-rich foods. To include more magnesium in your diet while on a ketogenic diet or a paleo diet, we recommend the following keto and paleo-friendly food sources (labeled below as “Recommended”; avoid food sources labeled as “Not Recommended”):

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The Fish Oil Freezer Test – Can You Really Test Fish Oil Quality By Freezing?

Do you take fish oil? Have you heard of the fish oil freezer test? In this video, watch as HealthSnap co-founder and scientist, Dave Berry, debunks this commonly used test.

What Are Omega-3s?

Omega-3s are essential fatty acids. They are considered essential because our body cannot easily make them, yet they are needed by the body for normal physiological functioning. Thus, we must get Omega-3s from the food we eat, or by taking a high-quality omega-3 supplement, like fish oil or krill oil.

Why Should I Care About Omega-3s?

Omega-3s have been shown to promote brain and neural health, help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and help reduce inflammation in the body.

Key Takeaways & Tips

  • Putting your fish oil in the freezer only tells you the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fatty acids in your fish oil. It does not give you an accurate picture of the full quality of your supplement.
  • The freezer test does not tell you any information about how fresh your supplement is.
  • The freezer test does not tell you if you have mercury or other heavy metals present in your fish oil.
  • Make sure to only get fish oil that is sourced from small wild-caught fish. Larger fish have a tendency to accumulate mercury, and farm-raised fish.
  • Check to see if your supplement is free of hexanes, dioxins (check the ingredient label), and are filtered for mercury.

Krill Oil | A High-Quality Bioavailable Omega-3 Supplement

HealthSnap Antarctic Krill Oil is sustainably-sourced from arctic waters and contains optimal ratios of EPA/DHA bound to phospholipids. Omega-3s bound to phospholipids have been shown to influence the distribution and metabolism of omega-3s in the body. Additionally, our krill oil contains astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that helps to reduce harmful free radicals and inflammation in the body. Order today and receive a free ebook on the best food sources and health benefits of omega-3s along with your purchase!

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Study Finds Artificial Sweetener Toxic To The Gut

Recently published in Molecules, a collaborative paper by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore concluded several artificial sweeteners and supplements, approved by the FDA, were lethal to digestive gut microbes.

Found in an abundance of low-calorie and reduced-sugar food products, many individuals may not be aware they are imbibing these potentially harmful products. Additionally, artificial sweeteners are more often being found in water supplies making them an increasingly troublesome pollutant.

The relative toxicity of six artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k) and 10 artificial sweetener-containing sport supplements were specified in this study. Results showed that when microbes in the gastrointestinal tract were exposed to concentrations of only 1 mg/mL of the artificial sweeteners they became toxic.

“We modified bioluminescent E. coli bacteria, which luminesce when they detect toxicants and act as a sensing model representative of the complex microbial system,” explains Prof. Ariel Kushmaro, John A. Ungar Chair in Biotechnology in the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering, and member of the Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev.

According to Prof Kushmaro, one benefit of the tested bioluminescent bacterial panel is the possibility to test for artificial sweeteners in the environment. While more research is warranted, this study offers a constructive step in understanding the toxicity of artificial sweeteners to the gut microbiome.

Our thoughts? This research is interesting, however, it doesn’t mean that artificial sweeteners are toxic to humans. Firstly, the study was done in “modified” bacteria. Secondly, the “toxic” dose was found to be 1 mg/mL, which is much higher than what is typically observed in drinks and consumable products. This also doesn’t mean that there is no side-effects from consuming artificial sweeteners. We simply need more research and data. It is clear that these compounds impact the bacteria of the gut. But “How” is the question.


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Discover The Solution To Your Biggest Health & Fitness Challenges (Even If You’ve Looked Everywhere and Haven’t Been Able To Find An Answer!)

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Emerging Contaminant PFAS Discovered In Parchment, Michigan

PFAS-Content-In-Textiles
PFAS Content In Textiles. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4592498/

A crisis in Michigan late last year was a catalyst for many states now reviewing standards for Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. In August of 2018, The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced that high-levels of PFAS were discovered in the municipal water of Parchment, MI. Three wells that provide water to the municipality were found to have levels around or above the federal advisory level (70 ppt) with one well 26 times over the threshold currently recommend by the EPA.

PFAS are manufactured chemicals used in numerous industries and found in products such as textiles (see graph above), pizza boxes, cookware, and stain-repellents. Humans can gain exposure to PFAS through the usage of products containing them or through contaminated food and water sources. Exposure to these PFAS can build up in the human body, which cannot break them down, and has been linked to high cholesterol, cancer, low infant birth weights, as well as kidney and liver disease.

The state is currently investigating the source of the contamination, which may be related to the city’s industrial history. Parchment is known as “The Paper City” and currently houses a closed paper mill and landfill within its limits. These sites are a potential source of the contamination due to the common use of PFAS in paper production. Results from analysis of well water retrieved from near the landfill site are pending.

Immediately following the discovery, affected residents were supplied with clean bottled water for drinking. The state continues to look for a permanent solution and plans to link Parchment’s system to nearby Kalamazoo for the immediate future until the contamination is controlled.

Source: MLive.com


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What Causes Déjà Vu? Science May Help Explain This Eerie Phenomenon

deja-vu

Déjà vu, meaning “already seen” in French, is a commonly experienced phenomenon. Deja vu occurs when an experience we objectively know to be unfamiliar feels instinctively familiar. It is often described as if one is re-living the same moment for a second time or remembering a premonition.

The cause of déjà vu has been widely speculated and scientists offer numerous explanations as to its etiology. However, studying déjà vu in an experimental setting can be problematic since experiences are hard to predict, subjective, and difficult to measure. Therefore, the exact cause remains a mystery but there are some leading theories among experts.

Neurological explanations support the idea that our brain is playing tricks on us. Spontaneous brain activity occurring in the area related to memory may cause a feeling of familiarity. Similarly, another hypothesis suggests a delay in the speed of information transmitted from one area of the brain to another could be responsible for producing incorrect memories of an experience.

Memory explanations suggest that you may have experienced a similar situation in the past but do not consciously remember the experience distinctively from the present moment. Single element familiarity is a hypothesis that déjà vu can be triggered by a single familiar element within an encounter, like seeing your neighbor in a foreign country.

Gestalt familiarity is a more easily tested hypothesis that suggests a familiar arrangement of objects within a scene can provoke a déjà vu experience. For example, walking into a room you have never seen before that has a similar layout to one you are familiar with may cause the feeling of déjà vu.

Whichever hypothesis is correct will require more research to determine; although each hypothesis discussed suggests a momentary glitch in cerebral function resulting in the false feeling of familiarity. For now, scientists need to design more studies to directly measure and examine the causes of déjà vu.

Source: Thought.co

Mysterious Rise in Polio-Like Illnesses

via SciencNews.com: “Chase Kulakowski, now aged 3, developed acute flaccid myelitis in October 2016. Surgery and physical therapy has given Chase use of his arm again.”
Image Credit: ARMANDO L. SANCHEZ/CHICAGO TRIBUNE/TNS VIA GETTY IMAGES

Public health officials are concerned with the cause of a rare polio-like disease, acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). AFM effects the central nervous system producing weakness in one or more limbs. It principally affects children and may lead to paralysis – like polio. Dissimilar to polio, AFM does not have a vaccine, and there are no known proven effective therapies.

Cases of AFM spiked for the first time in 2014 with a record high of 124 confirmed cases. In 2018, an increase from 67 to 90 reported and 127 to 242 suspected cases have been seen over the last month announced the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on November 13.

While parents are desperate for answers, the CDC continues to investigate the etiology of AFM.  Tests of cerebral spinal fluid, the clear fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, produced pathogens in only two of the confirmed cases this year.

Historically, since 2014, cases of AFM have rarely produced pathogens in tested cerebral spinal fluid samples. However, scientists do suspect a hidden viral infection to be the most likely culprit. The CDC continues to explore other potential causes including environmental toxins, genetic disorders and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

What is known from examining the confirmed cases is that AFM often presents as fever or respiratory symptoms three to ten days before limb weakness. At a recent news conference, Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in Atlanta, stated “this time of year, many children have fever and respiratory symptoms [and] most of them do not go on to develop AFM. We’re trying to figure out what the triggers are that would cause someone to develop AFM later”.

Source: ScienceNews.com

The Best Sources of Omega-3’s

best-sources-of-omega-3s

Omega-3s seem to be all over the place in the world of health-conscious people. They are known to benefit heart and brain health, help resolve inflammation, and even promote a healthy pregnancy. You will usually find them in stores as pure supplements, but they are also readily available in our diet.

Why are Omega-3s getting so much attention? Are there such things as “bad omega-3s”? Which foods are the highest sources of omega-3?

In this article, we give you the low-down on which foods are richest in Omega-3 fatty acids. First, however, we are going to review some of the basic information about Omega-3s, including what they are, where they come from, and how they benefit our health.

What are Omega-3s and Why Are They Important?

Omega-3s fatty acids (Omega-3s, for short) are a type of fat that is liquid at room temperature. These sorts of fats are called unsaturated fatty acids, and, more specifically, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).

Omega-3s are essential fatty acids. They are essential because our body needs these fatty acids for normal physiological functioning, but our body cannot easily make them. Instead, we must get them from the food we eat.

There are three main types of Omega-3s for human health: ALA, EPA, and DHA.

Out of the three Omega-3’s above, EPA and DHA are the most crucial, and the health benefits of Omega-3’s are attributed to the metabolism of EPA and DHA within the body. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is found mostly in plant-based oils, while both EPA and DHA are found in most abundance in seafood and grass-fed meats (as discussed shortly).

Omega-3’s are critical because both EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are used by the brain in consistent amounts, and thus we need a steady supply of it for normal neural function. Omega-3s are also important for cell structure, and they have key roles in keeping immune and hormone health.

The structures of EPA and DHA differ slightly; DHA has 22-carbon backbones and 6 double bonds at different positions, and EPA has a 20-carbon backbone and 5 double bonds and different positions.

Omega-3-structure

If you don’t have a strong biochemistry background, it is likely that the differing structures won’t mean much. As with all chemical structures, the structure of the component determines its function. EPA and DHA are metabolized by the body with high efficiency. ALA is converted into EPA and DHA in the body, but this process is slow and inefficient. Thus, the easiest way to obtain the health benefits of Omega-3’s is to consume foods that contain EPA and DHA.

Essentially, since we cannot produce Omega-3s in the body we if we want to increase the Omega-3s in our body, we need to consume more foods that contain Omega-3s, and specifically, foods that contain EPA and DHA.

What are the Health Benefits of Omega-3s?

There are three main benefits of Omega-3s for our health: they promote brain and neural health, they can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and they can reduce inflammation in the body. We will discuss each of them briefly below.

Brain Health and Cognition

Omega-3s are beneficial for brain development of the child during a woman’s pregnancy and lactation periods as well as for the maintenance of brain health throughout life.

In women who supplemented with Omega-3 during pregnancy and lactation, their children showed to have enhanced problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination when compared to children whose mothers did not supplement with Omega-3 (especially DHA and EPA).

In adults, some research shows that supplementation with Omega-3 slowed cognitive decline in people with mild cognitive dysfunction associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Heart Health

Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and circulatory blockages. Consuming more EPA and DHA is linked to a decrease in gene expressions that are involved in heart-damaging pathways.

Another study showed that EPA and supplementation decreased the risk of experiencing a heart attack and other cardiovascular risk factors.

Inflammation

Inflammation is the cause of many chronic diseases. EPA and DHA are thought to have important roles in in reducing oxidative stress that leads to inflammation, thus improving cellular function and gene expression. Inflammatory markers, like C-reactive protein, are linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases, like cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that supplementation with EPA and DHA significantly reduced some types of C-reactive protein.

Additionally, Omega-3s are metabolized into components called resolvins. Resolvins, in addition to being powerful anti-inflammatory elements, also have free radical-scavenging properties that may help to suppress tumor growth and cancer.

Best Sources of Omega-3 in the Diet

1. Fish

Pros:

Certain types of fish have the most Omega-3s of any other food in our diets. Cold water fish, like salmon, albacore tuna, trout, sardines, and warm-water fish like snapper, are the highest in EPA an DHA. Here are the approximate amounts of EPA and DHA per 150g serving:

  • salmon (fresh Atlantic or Australian): more than 500 mg
  • canned sardines: 1,500 mg
  • trout (fresh rainbow): 300–400 mg
  • gemfish: more than 500 mg
  • canned tuna: 300–500 mg
  • rainbow trout: 300–400 mg
  • barramundi, snapper, John Dory: 200–300 mg

Additionally, fish is very low in saturated fat, making it a “lean meat”. The American Diabetes Association recommends that you choose lean meats over meats higher in saturated fat, like “red meats”. In fact, the ADA recommends everyone consume fish at least twice a week.

Cons:

Because of the size and life-span of many of the types of fish highest in Omega-3, they also tend to be high in mercury. This is especially risky for pregnant women, since high levels of mercury exposure can lead to miscarriages and low birth weight.

2. Krill

Pros:

Krill are very small organisms that resemble small shrimp, but are actually zooplankton. They eat phytoplankton. Because of their size, they don’t accumulate mercury like fish do. It is difficult to find krill as such to prepare in your food, but you can find krill oil in capsules.

About 30-65 percent of krill’s fatty acids are stored as phospholipids, whereas fish oil is stored as another type of fat called triglycerides. Our body may be able to absorb phospholipids more easily than triglycerides.

Cons:

According to the study cited above, we may need more krill oil to get the same effect as taking fish oil or consuming fish.

3. Other Seafood

Pros:

Omega-3s are also found in other non-fish seafood, but in lower quantities. Some of the seafood highest in Omega-3s include:

  • Squid: 200-500 mg
  • Lobster- 200-500 mg
  • Crab: 100-500 mg
  • Scallops: less than 200 mg
  • Shrimp: less than 200 mg

Cons:

The foods mentioned above have a lower density of Omega-3s when compared to their fishy counterparts.

4. Grass-Fed Beef

Pros:

When compared to grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef is lower in overall fat content. This is beneficial for those looking to reduce saturated fat intake. Grass-fed beef is also higher in vitamin A.

Regarding Omega-3s, studies show that grass-fed cattle have an increase in Omega-3 fats and generally achieve a more favorable Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio. However, cattle must be fed a pure grass diet to achieve these results.

Cons:

Studies show that, while omega-3 profiles in some grass-fed beef may be slightly higher, in general, people who consume grass-fed or grain-fed food have similar intakes of both Omega-3.

5. Chia and Flaxseed

Pros:

Chia and flaxseed and great options for vegetarians and vegans who aren’t getting Omega-3s from most of their foods in their diet. They are high in a type of Omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In general, ALA provides some of the anti-inflammatory and benefits for heart health. To some extent, our bodies can convert ALA to EPA (about 8%).

Cons:

While our bodies can convert some ALA to EPA through enzymatic reactions, our cells have a much harder time converting it into DHA (between 0-4%). DHA is the Omega-3 fatty acid to which we attribute most benefits for brain health.

It is important to note, however, that the cells of people who follow vegan diets are likely more efficient at converting ALA in DHA. Even so, there is no evidence that a lower intake of DHA in vegetarians or vegans results in adverse health or cognitive function, suggesting that their bodies may be more efficient at converting ALA into DHA.

6. Algae

Pros:

Seaweed and algae are good sources of DHA that are comparable to fish sources. In fact, DHA from algal oil is accumulated more in the body than DHA from fish oil.

Algae and seaweed could be good alternatives for vegetarians and vegans to get enough DHA in their diet.

Cons:

Scientists who research the marine food chain have found that algae and seaweed also contain mercury.

Summary of Omega-3 Content in Selected Food Groups

Here is an in-depth list of the ALA, EPA, and DHA content in selected foods (info provided by the USDA):

Omega-3-Content-In-Food

Supplement Sources for Omega-3

If you feel you aren’t eating enough omega-3 food sources, you can take high-quality supplements. Supplements are equally effective to increase Omega-3 content in the blood and provide all of the health benefits of dietary Omega-3.

Not all Omega 3 sources are the same.

Fish oil

Fish oil is the most common omega-3 supplement. It is a natural source of both DHA and EPA. However, unfiltered fish oil could have mercury.

Algae oil

Algae oil is a good alternative for vegans and non-vegans alike. It is one of the only natural sources of vegan DHA.

Krill oil

Krill oil has several benefits over fish oil. Krill does not contain mercury, it resists oxidation to make sure you get the full amount of Omega-3 found on the label it is environmentally sustainable. You may have to take more krill oil than fish oil to get the same results, but this is a small change that you can make for the benefits.

Conclusion

The most important element to notice in the Omega-3 supplement you choose is the source of the omega-3s the supplement contains. Make sure most of the omega-3 oils are from both DHA and EPA, as these are much harder to come by than ALA in our diet. Additionally, regardless of the source, check to see if your supplement is free of hexanes, dioxins (check the ingredient label), and are filtered for mercury.

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Image Credit: DHA and EPA structure by Tao Yi et al.

New Jersey Becomes The First State To Regulate PFNA In Drinking Water

Published Sept. 4 by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in the New Jersey Safe Drinking Water Act rules, New Jersey became the first state to set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) in drinking water. New Jersey’s new standard for PFNA in drinking water is 13 ppt. However, municipalities will be given anywhere from six to eighteen months, depending on their size, to reduce their PFNA exposure to comply with the new standard.

PFNA is a man-made chemical that falls under a class of synthetic compounds called Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These are chemicals used in food production and packaging, textiles, and many other forms of manufacturing. Persistence of PFAS in the body and environment has been linked to adverse health effects in humans. Build-up of PFAS exposure may be related to high cholesterol, cancer, kidney disease, impaired immune function, pregnancy complications, and liver damage.

This ground-breaking act comes in response to an ongoing issue with PFNA contamination along the Delaware River. This contamination is largely resulting from previous releases of PFNA from a specialty polymer plant. Currently, 37 public New Jersey Water Systems fall above the new standard.

Additionally, in the new act, New Jersey has adopted a MCL for 1,2,3-trichloroproprane of 30 ppt. 1,2,3-trichloroproprane is another potentially harmful chemical that is released into the environment as a result of manufacturing practices.


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