90 Percent Of Americans Are Deficient In This Crucial Nutrient, Are You One Of Them?

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Far more than just caloric energy, food becomes information in the body. It influences gene function, hormones, your immune system, and even gut flora. Quite literally, food controls every bodily function.

That especially becomes true with the omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like wild fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

These fatty acids play critical roles in cognitive development and learning, visual development, immune strength, inflammatory function, pregnancy, brain health, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and so much more. They affect every one of your hundred trillion cell membranes.

From that perspective, you can understand how not getting sufficient amounts of these crucial fatty acids can profoundly affect your health.

How our fat consumption has evolved

Joseph Hibbeln, MD, the scientist in nutritional neurosciences at the National Institutes of Health, said 80 percent of the fats Americans eat are inflammatory arachidonic acid while just 20 percent come from the anti-inflammatory omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

In Japan that number is reversed: 80 percent of their fat comes from anti-inflammatory EPA, while only 20 percent is inflammatory arachidonic acid.

Over the last century in the U.S., we’ve witnessed a thousandfold increase in soy oil consumption. About 10 to 20 percent of our calories come from soybean oil rather than omega-3 fats our bodies need. Those aren’t the fats our ancestors ate. Human evolution occurred in an environment where seafood was the predominant source of dietary fat.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors did't eat any seed oils. And of course, they weren't eating French fries, donuts, and the zillion other Frankenfoods that contain these oils. These refined oils create and exacerbate inflammation, which contributes to nearly every disease and contributes to weight gain.

The key difference between omega-3 vs. omega-6

Unfortunately, about 90 percent of Americans today are deficient in omega-3s. We're eating too many omega-6s and not enough omega-3s. That imbalance of omega-3 fats to omega-6 fats predicts your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and many other diseases.

A preponderance of these inflammatory oils, which contribute to omega-3 deficiencies, even impact children. Young kids with dyslexia, dyspraxia (difficulty writing), learning disabilities, and attention deficit disorder (ADD) are often omega-3 deficient.

The neurotransmitter dopamine, critical for brain function in children, becomes higher when these children consume essential fatty acids. Controlled studies show fish oil improves reading, spelling, and conduct because the nervous system depends on these fats to function.

Chronic disease will only increase as we move further away from the diet of our ancestors, which consisted of lean protein, a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats, and mostly plant foods.

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The healing powers of fatty acid

We’ve gone way off course with the way our ancestors ate. Big food companies have hijacked our taste buds and our biology.

Yet there's hope. Science shows when you eat the right kinds of fat, you get thin and reverse heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, decrease inflammation, and many other chronic diseases plaguing us. You can take control of your health and destiny, starting with your very next meal!

To do that, check out my Eat Fat, Get Thin challenge, a revolutionary science-based eating program that focuses on healthy fats to reset hormones, take back your biochemistry, effortlessly allow you to end your cravings, lose weight, and reverse disease.

To get and stay healthy, eat quality fat including omega 3s at every meal. The right fats improve your skin, hair, nails, and mood. They protect against Type 2 diabetes, dementia, cancer, and inflammation.

Some of my favorite top-quality fats include:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts: walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, but not peanuts (One study showed a handful of nuts a day reduced death from all causes by 20 percent)
  • Seeds: pumpkin, sesame, chia, hemp
  • Fatty fish, including sardines, mackerel, herring, and wild salmon that are rich in omega-3 fats
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Grass-fed or sustainably raised animal products
  • Extra-virgin coconut butter, which is a great plant-based source of saturated fat that has many benefits. It fuels your mitochondria, is anti-inflammatory, and helps optimize cholesterol.
  • Simply put, a quality fat, whole-food diet lower in refined carbohydrates that’s low-glycemic and high in fiber becomes the best medicine to keep you lean and healthy.

    Want to learn how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.

    Mark Hyman, M.D.

    Functional Medicine Doctor
    Mark Hyman, MD, believes that we all deserve a life of vitality—and that we have the potential to create it for ourselves. That's why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. He is a practicing family physician, a nine-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field. He is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post, and has been a regular medical contributor on many television shows including CBS This Morning, the Today Show, CNN, The View, the Katie Couric show and The Dr. Oz Show.
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    Mark Hyman, M.D.

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