In life, balance is important. People often talk about everything in moderation. The trouble is, “everything in moderation” often includes a barrage of unhealthy items in our meals and for snacks. What people end up eating, then, is still not much that is healthy and a LOT that isn’t.
One example I can think of right off the top of my head is that most of the people I know who are vegetarian (or vegan) actually don’t seem to eat many vegetables. In fact, what I see them eating most are processed grain and fruit products which are marketed toward people who want to avoid meat and live a “healthier” lifestyle. From what I observe, a lot of vegetarian diets consist largely of little natural fats or proteins (replete with a lot of processed low-fat selections like dairy products, soy, and tofu), and the processed grain products. No wonder so many people are getting sick and having trouble with their weight!
Another example: my father continually insists that if you eat a “mixed-diet” you will get all you need. However, my father has for many years been eating a lot of the things traditional diets advise against eating – items on the SAD (Standard American Diet): processed breads, crackers, cookies (and candy), desserts, etc., industrial meat and dairy, and basically a whole slew of industrial oils that are really high in Omega 6s like soybean, canola, and cottonseed oil. So the whole “everything in moderation” mantra really isn’t all that reliable as a gauge.
Now, my father looks great for his age (he’s 72, is a rock-climber and very active), but he had prostate cancer at age 55 (although it has not returned since his surgery) and has been on Lipitor for high-cholesterol for a number of years. This is probably what you might call a classic case of being way too high in Omega 6s…the exact opposite of what traditional diets recommend. Would my Dad still be on medication for high cholesterol if he ate a truly healthy diet? Does this profile fit a majority of people in developed countries? Without a doubt. But does it apply across the board to everyone in general? Maybe not. Here’s why:
For the last 3 years I have maintained an extremely healthy diet, so much that people are constantly in disbelief at the way I eat. I was told to avoid Omega 6s by a well-trained nutritional therapist when I first started my diet. I’ve been seeing another nutritional therapist from time to time, who happens to be my next door neighbor and studied under the first NT when she was studying for her credentials. Both of these individuals ascribe to WAPF (Weston A. Price Foundation) principles.
For some time I was using a small amount of the organic, unrefined, cold-pressed grapeseed oil mixed in with extra virgin olive oil for salad dressing, as we make all our own homemade dressings. Of course I knew grapeseed oil contained polyunsaturated fat and was high on Omega 6s, but it was such a great all-purpose oil I used it anyway because it was great for cooking and mixing with my homemade olive oil dressings. Then I read a few things here and there about grapeseed oil being unhealthy and I stopped using it for a few weeks.
Recently, I went to see the my Nutritional Therapist and she checked to see how I was doing with the fish oil I was using, and I did not respond well to it. She uses muscle-testing, a form of applied kinesiology, which has always been extremely accurate each time I have been tested for anything – whether it be a dietary supplement, food, or other substances. This puzzled her, so she tested me on multiple healthy Omega 6s like sesame oil, evening primrose oil, and sunflower oil. The discovery we made was a surprising one – that I had become DEFICIENT in Omega 6s! Why? Because I AVOID pretty much all Omega 6s in my diet. My diet has been so rigid that I had now been getting TOO many Omega 3s and NOT ENOUGH Omega 6s.
According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, “Cancer as well as heart disease can be prevented by taking a ratio of at least 1:1 up to 2.5:1 unadulterated parent omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids plus specific vitamins and minerals.” So apparently the ratios in my diet have been off. I had suspected all along before I stopped using the grapeseed oil that perhaps it was okay to be consuming this substance since my diet no longer included the rash of Omega 6 foods I used to eat…but I second guessed my own intuition. This is a valuable lesson I’ve learned and will be more mindful in the future of my own body and my own knowledge about what I need to be healthy.
When you eat a really healthy diet which omits the processed, unhealthy Omega 6s, you will need to supplement this important EFA (essential fatty acid) in some way. So let’s make clear the distinction about eating the right Omega 6s and the wrong ones – and that if you have no Omega 6s in your diet, you can become deficient in those, just like many people in industrialized countries can become with Omega 3s. So I’ve added a bit of Omega 6s to my diet – organic sunflower/sesame oil/evening primrose oil – which also has Omega 3s (flax oil), Udo’s brand (cold-pressed). In fact, this oil is formulated to contain the right blend of the essential fatty acid oils for health.
I certainly do not advocate people eating the unhealthy variety of Omega 6s to receive adequate amounts in their diets. Unhealthy Omega 6s include many processed foods such as vegetable oils (canola, soy, safflower, cottonseed, etc.), packaged grains and grain products like cereal, breads, and crackers. Good sources of healthy Omega 6s oils with GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) would be foods such as the following:
- evening primrose oil
- walnut oil
- hemp oil
- pumpkin seed oil
- sesame oil
- wheatgerm oil
- grapeseed oil
All oils should be organic and cold-pressed, kept in dark bottles, and away from light and heat. Check labels for information on oils and do some research to find out how the oils are produced. Best if refrigerated.
So please remember, you need the right balance of polyunsaturated fats which come from healthy sources of Omega 6s and Omega 3s too – from sources like safe-source fish (mackerel, salmon, and anchovies, wild caught from a deep-sea source), grass-fed meats and poultry, pasture-raised eggs, and real dairy from grass-fed cows.
Don’t be fooled: mainstream medical and health sources claim that meat is too high in Omega 6s, which is certainly true of commercially-raised, industrial variety meats and poultry. These animals are fed a steady diet of unnatural feeds containing high levels of Omega 6 like grain, corn, and soy. As a result, their meat is too high in Omega 6s (polyunsaturated), lower in protein, and is high in calories. If you keep your meat consumption to choices from healthy, pasture-raised animals you actually be getting the Omega 3s which are so important in the essential fatty acid balance. These animals consume the food nature intended for them to eat, and as a result you are getting meat with higher protein, lower calories, the right amount of fat, and Omega 3s.
Looking for good sources of grass-fed meats and pasture-raised poultry and eggs? Check you local farmer’s market and farmers who raise meat in your region. Here are some good sources online:
U.S. Wellness Meats – merchant selling a variety of naturallly-raised meats, sausages, pork, rabbit, bison, poultry, lamb, sustainable seafood, and more!
Alderspring Ranch – one of my favorite local sources for grass-fed, organic beef; family owned and operated in the mountains of Idaho
Grass-fed Traditions – pasture-raised beef fed Cocofeed!
Eat Wild – resource for grass-fed meats