Nutrition and Health Today

A car needs fuel and oil to operate. It is exactly the same for our bodies – they need the right ingredients to function optimally. Drink water, yes! Exercise, yes! Eat healthy, yes! We do our best, but what new discovery is science revealing?

Our food systems and diet have changed over the last 60 years in one fundamentally harmful way. Scientists and health authorities increasingly have begun to sound the alarm about the imbalance in our fatty acid intake specifically the excessive consumption of omega-6 (plant oils, meat and modern processed foods) vs. omega-3 fatty acids (from fatty fish and traditional foods).

Balance vs. Imbalance

Omega-6 and Omega-3 balance
A picture illustrating importance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 balance from a book Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber MD PhD

Balance refers to the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in cells of your body. Both omega-6 and omega-3 are essential to vital functions in our bodies. The problem is the imbalance created by changes in our diet. Too much omega-6 creates imbalance. Too little omega-3, specifically bio-available EPA and DHA, creates imbalance.

Before 1960 the ratio of omega 6/omega 3 in the western world was 4:1 or less. Leading health authorities (including the Norwegian Ministry of Health) recommend a ratio of 5:1 or less to be in balance. Today in Europe the average is 15:1, and often 25:1 or greater in the USA. Even those taking Omega-3 supplements are not in balance showing ratios of 20:1 and 7:1 in the USA and Europe, respectively. Even the most health-conscious people are discovering they are out of balance.

What Has Happened to Our Diet in Last 50-100 Years

Dietary shift 1950-2000
Dr. Paul Clayton illustrates dietary shift from 1950-2000 in his slide

The rapid and extensive dietary changes that have occurred over the past 100-150 years are a new phenomenon in the history of human evolution, and have had a dramatic impact on our intakes of fatty acids and flavonoids. Ready meals and processed foods have turned our diet away from marine omega 3’s, and towards the omega-6’s in vegetable oils (+46%), with increased saturated fatty acids in meat (+36%), and huge increases in the empty calories provided by sugars and starches (+35%). At the same time we have reduced our intakes of complex carbohydrates and fibre (-38 %) and fresh vegetables (-24%).

These unhealthy trends have been exacerbated by a 50% decrease in physical activity and an equally substantial reduction in our calorific needs and food intakes. In brief, our western diets have turned from balanced and anti-inflammatory to unbalanced and pro-inflammatory. These changes have had a profound impact on our health, and are driving the current epidemics of degenerative (inflammatory) disease.

The contribution of fat to our energy supply is qualitatively and quantitatively important. Since the 1970s our intake of calories in the form of fat has steadily  decreased, but obesity has  increased. This is partly due to excess energy from sugars and starches being converted and stored as saturated fat in adipose tissue in the body. This has major consequences.

The molecular structure of fatty acids determines both their effects on health and how fast they can be released from adipose tissue; and we now know that polyunsaturated fatty acids are released and oxidized much more rapidly than their saturated fatty acids. This is especially important during prolonged muscular exercise, when up to 80% of the energy is supplied by lipid oxidation. A carb-rich diet therefore lays down fat that is not only more pro-inflammatory, but is harder to lose.

The key message is that a balanced fatty acids profile is an essential part of a balanced diet to promote good health.

3 Relevant Examples on Food Change

  1. Cell membrane with Omega-3 and Omega-6
    Figure 1. Cells and cell components are surrounded by a cell membrane storing omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids

    Between 1909 and 1985, increasing consumption of soya oil in the US raised intakes of the omega-6 linoleic acid (LA) from an average of 1 kg to 12 kg/year. At these high intakes, dietary LA is automatically converted to the omega-6 arachidonic acid (AA), which is stored in our cell membranes (Figure 1). When AA breaks down it forms compounds that both cause pain, and initiate and drive chronic inflammation in the body; a process now known to drive the chronic degenerative diseases.

  2. Cod-liver oil was originally consumed for its valuable content of vitamins A and D. However, cod-liver oil is also a rich source of the marine essential omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Like the omega-6 fatty acid AA, these omega-3 fatty acids are stored in our cell membranes (Figure 1).But whereas AA forms inflammatory compounds, the compounds formed from EPA and DHA have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. That is why a dietary balanced intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is so important, and why the huge increase in the omega-6/omega-3 ratio has triggered pandemics of degenerative disease all over the world.After synthetic vitamins A and D became available, consumption of cod-liver oil decreased drastically. Compared to the diet on which humans evolved, today’s western diets are widely deficient in omega-3. The plant omega-3 fatty acid precursor alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is sold as an alternative to the marine essential omega-3 fatty acids (Figure 2), but conversion to EPA and DHA in the body is very poor; ALA generally provides less than 4% of EPA and DHA in the fatty acids profile in the blood. This is insufficient to support good health, which requires EPA and DHA from marine sources. Our early ancestors were not vegetarians!
  3. Omega-6 and Omega-3 metabolism
    Figure 2. The metabolism of omega-6 linoleic acid (LA) to omega-6 arachidonic acid (AA) and vegetable omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to marine omega-3 EPA and DHA.

    To make matters worse, until relatively recently all food oils were organically sourced and unrefined. Nowadays most food oils are refined to remove off-flavors, odors and constituents that would otherwise reduce the oil’s shelf life. Unfortunately the process also removes natural antioxidants, vitamins and key components such as flavonoids that have beneficial anti-inflammatory properties.The removal of these nutritional components exacerbates the pro-inflammatory profile of our diet. For example, when olive oil is refined, flavonoids called polyphenols are removed. These flavonoids have important heart health benefits, recognized in a 2011 heart health claim issued by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA): “Olive oil polyphenols contribute to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress”. Similarly, when fish oil is refined, its valuable payload of vitamins A and D is often stripped out.

What is Behind Health Trends since 1950?

Health Trends since 1950
Dr. Paul Clayton illustrates health trends since 1950 in his slide

A lot has happened during the last 50-100 years. Our lifestyle has changed dramatically, the same refers to food we eat nowadays, and apart from dietary shift since 1950, a lot of differences are brought by food industry since 1960-ies. A lot of farmed animals do not eat their traditional foods anymore, a lot of vegetables are grown without soil in so called hydroponics. Do you believe that nutrition value of these products is the same as 100 years ago? More than 3.500 different chemicals can be added to our food and more than 3.000 are in our homes. Every one of them is legal, and you will be exposed to some or all of them, depending on how you live.

Chronic inflammation has never before been seen on the scale that we see it in the developed nations today. This is because we not only consume far lower levels of natural anti‐inflammatory compounds in our diets than did our ancestors, but also we are exposed to far higher levels of pro‐inflammatory compounds, thanks to modern food processing and cooking methods, and, for some, the prevalence of tobacco and environmental toxins. As so many of us suffer from chronic, sub‐clinical inflammation, it is no wonder that the steady accumulation of tissue damage eventually surfaces as a major degenerative disease – and why the degenerative diseases increase in frequency as we get older,” says Paul Clayton in his book “Inflamm-Ageing”.

“Current research, however, reveals that almost all the age‐related diseases – from declining mental powers to coronary artery disease, cancer, hypertension, arthritis, diabetes and stroke – have little to do with ageing per se. Instead, they are largely driven by chronic, sub‐clinical inflammation, a condition that is not inevitable at all. In fact, it is surprisingly easy to prevent. Chronic and sub‐clinical means continuous and unnoticed – until the chronic inflammation has caused so much tissue damage that symptoms of disease finally emerge. There is a growing consensus that chronic inflammation should be minimized or avoided altogether. Yet, thanks to the way we live today, it is occurs in almost every adult over the age of about 30 – and in increasing numbers of teenagers and those in their twenties.”

What to Do Now?

With Zinzino BalanceTest you can find out your ratio of omega-6/ omega-3 fatty acids. Your test results  will show also whether your diet is balanced or unbalanced. This way you can change your diet if necessary. Provided you follow the three-step program below, we are certain you will achieve balance or near balance after 120 days:

1. Eat a diet rich in omega-3 and low in carbohydrates (sugars). Include fatty fish, fruits, salads, vegetables, nuts and in general organic foods, when possible. Reduce excessive omega-6 rich plant oils, and processed convenience foods that contain them. Remember, grain-fed meats also contains high amounts of omega-6.

2. Consume omega-3 rich Zinzino Balance products, as recommended.

3.  Exercise is a crucial factor for good health.

Getting omega-6 / omega-3 balance just from eating the “right” products might be difficult and complicated. However, it is simple with Zinzino BalanceOil or Shake. Just remember – once you have achieved the right balance, you need to maintain it for a lifetime to protect yourself from modern health problems as much as possible.

References

  1. Home page of BioActiveFoods AS – company that produces Zinzino Balance products. You will find a lot of valuable information about importance of Omega 6/Omega 3 balance, and a list of scientific literature and studies behind claims in the Article above.
  2. Home page of Zinzino AB – a Swedish company that makes available all the great Zinzino Balance products in the USA, Canada and selected countries in Europe.
  3. ZinzinoTest page – those who have made a blood test for themselves can find their test results, see their Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio and other indicators in their fatty acid profiles, as well as can read all the scientific summary on how cell membranes work and what is the role of fatty acids measured in our bodies. And – your test results will show you whether your diet is balanced or unbalanced in terms of essential fatty acids.
  4. Dr. Paul Clayton, PhD, believes that it is possible to stay healthy into ripe old age and to prevent, stabilize and even perhaps to reverse, many of the chronic degenerative diseases. “Underpinning all my research and advice is this simple fact. Given the right nutrition and lifestyle, our bodies have amazing powers of self-healing and regeneration”, he says. Visit his site and YouTube account. Read his books “Inflamm-Ageing“, “Health Defence” and “Out of the Fire“.
  5. Presentation of Paul Clayton & Judith Rowbotham “Victorian and Modern Lifestyles: Lessons for Today’s Life Industry?”, 2010.
  6. Two other books are good for further reading and applying to your life: “Anticancer: A New Way of Life” by David Servan-Schreiber MD PhD, and “The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First” by Mark Hyman.

Disclaimer: Statements in the Article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). None of the products listed or mentioned should be used as a substitute for medical advice, or to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any illness.