“We are oxidizing ourselves with our western diet, essentially we are rusting like an old car.” -Arthur Agatson, founder of the South Beach Diet
Arthur Agatson, the creator of the South Beach Diet spoke to us in class today. While I don’t entirely agree with all aspects of the South Beach Diet approach, he did have some really good points about the lack of good fats and oils in our modern diets.
For instance, he talked about the Omega 3-6 balance in diets today and how the ratio of Omega 3’s to Omega 6’s has changed in our food supply over time. Omega 6 fatty acids are an interesting group of fats because on one hand they are good for you, but on the other hand, too much can be bad for you. Unlike Omega 3 fatty acids, you can go overboard on Omega 6. An important point to remember, however, is that you always want to maintain the right balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids. Our ancestors used to have a 4:1 ratio in favor of Omega 6, and most Western diets are about 15 to 1!!
This ratio sets us up for a host of problems, including heart attack, stroke, arthritis, inflammatory conditions, auto-immune problems, weak bones, low energy, dry skin, obesity, type II diabetes, depression, poor focus, hormone imbalance, poor healing, mental fatigue, inability to deal with stress, and symptoms of mental illness (including schizophrenia, bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, anxiety) and Alzheimer’s. Yikes! And, for a fat that seems to be so important to overall health, 95-99% of the US population is deficient in Omega 3 fats.
One of the main reasons for this huge ratio is the type of food we eat. Factory farm, grain-fed cattle have a 20:1 Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio, whereas wild meats like bison and deer have a 3:1 ratio. So the first step one can take is to start eating more organic, grass fed meats and less of the factory-farm raised meats. Our next best bet is to start incorporating more Omega-3-rich foods into our diets, these include:
- Flax seed Oil (has the highest linolenic content of any food)
- Flax seeds (flax seed & flax oil are the best sources of omega 3)
- Flax seed meal
- Hemp seed oil
- Hemp seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Sesame seeds
- Some dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, purslane, mustard greens, collards, etc.)
- Canola oil (cold-pressed and unrefined)
- Soybean oil
- Wheat germ oil
- Albacore tuna
You can also take a good Omega oil supplement. Click here to see the brand that I recommend. Just like any other machine with moving parts, we need to keep our bodies lubricated to keep them functioning optimally. I hope I’ve helped to clarify this rather complex issue for everyone. 🙂