So the effects of high fructose corn syrup still found in a lot of everyday food is now even worse for us than we thought. But scientists at UCLA just discovered good news as well: an important omega-3 fatty acid known as DHA seems to reverse the harmful changes produced by fructose.
“Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain,” said Gomez-Pinilla, a member of UCLA’s Brain Injury Research Center, “DHA strengthens synapses in the brain and enhances learning and memory.”
I mean?! Did we mention that food is medicine?
We knew sugar was bad. We’re still sad that it’s bad, and also bored of hearing all the reasons why.
But sugar-shaming is showing no signs of decline. If anything it’s getting louder and the science more robust.
Consuming fructose, a fruit-derived sugar that’s common in Western diets – sweetened drinks, syrups, cereals, honey, desserts and juice concentrate – can alter hundreds of genes in the brain that may be linked to diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and ADD.
NOT cool. But there’s hope. And it’s palatable.
“DHA changes not just one or two genes; it seems to push the entire gene pattern back to normal, which is remarkable,” said Xia Yang, a senior author of the study and a UCLA assistant professor of integrative biology and physiology. “And we can see why it has such a powerful effect.”
Did you know your body is terrible at making it’s own omega-3 fats? That’s why it’s called an essential fatty acid – you need to get it from your diet.
Here are 5 ways to get more synapse-strengthening DHA into your day:
Wild salmon is great. Anchovies and sardines win – they’re smaller and lower down the (sea)food chain so contain less accumulated mercury. Aim for a fish dish twice a week.
Pro tip: Get wild salmon or sardines already cooked + canned. Add them to a salad of sliced carrots, cherry tomatos, cooked buckwheat or quinoa, avocado, fresh parsley and lemon. Voila!
2. Do you Seaweed?
We seaweed. If you’re vegan, and even if you’re not, eat what the fish eat to get their dose of DHA – algae. Toss a spoon of spirulina into your smoothie; sprinkle dulce flakes into your soups, stews or salads; make kelp noodles with walnut pesto!
3. Skip the fried stuff and the honey mustard dressing
Omega-6 fats, although good in the right amounts, are abundant in our modern western diet (think anything in vegetable oil, baked goods, onion rings, potato fries, cookies, muffins, pastries). The issue with a disproportionately high omega-6 intake is it interferes with the pathway that makes DHA from dietary omega-3 fats. So it’s basically like omega-6 always gets to the train before omega-3 and takes the last seat, and then Om3 has to walk all the way and usually gives up, never making it to the destination. Kapish? Keep your 3:6 omega ratio chill guys, share the ride.
4. Egg yolks!
(Is there a better word than ‘yolk?’)
The poor Egg Yolk has endured much misplaced scrutiny from cardiologists, primary care doctors, drug companies and individuals the world over. But haters gonna make salmon frittatas, because eggs are back with a vengeance and they brought some DHA! So did poultry – stick to cage-free for both.
5. Supplement smart. Upgrade your breakfast.
You know the benefits of a good breakfast by now. And if you’ve spoken to one of us for longer than 40 seconds, you know that protein is like… Important. And you also know, unless you’ve lived under a rock for 5 years, that omega fats are one of the most popular supplements for managing inflammatory conditions and maintaining heart + brain health.
So why not do what we do and combine all of the goodness in your first meal of the day? Our plant-based, soy-free, gluten-free, multi vitamin and mineral Rebuild protein shake also happens to contain omega fatty acids. Ya. Plus it’s delicious (recipes galore). One of our favorite omega supplement is Omegagenics by Metagenics but the cool thing about Functional Medicine is how it acknowledges everyone’s uniqueness and the favorite part of our job is figuring out what’s right for you.
Request a free consultation and let’s figure it out.