Archive for October, 2010

Male fertility is declining. Adding more Omega 3 to the diet may help

It’s probably fair to say that human fertility is one of the most important things there is. Without human fertility none of us would be here. And there is now increasing evidence that some male fertility problems may respond to increasing our intake of Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

There is evidence that over the last century male fertility has been declining. The sperm count of men who have been studied has been dropping gradually, and this obviously impacts on any individual male who is having problems with low sperm count.

Whilst there is not general agreement on the cause of this there are various theories, including the impact of various pesticides and herbicides and industrial chemicals, changes in diet and even an increase in our intake of soy milk. Reducing male fertility has been blamed on laptops, depression medications and all sorts of other factors.

The bottom line is that although we know male fertility, as evidenced by sperm count, is reducing, we are not 100 percent sure why.Omega 3 and male fertility

However whether we know the cause or not if there are ways to improve male fertility then this is useful information indeed. And there is now evidence that sperm counts may be raised by use of supplements that contain essential fatty acids called Omega 3, or by adding more oily fish to the diet, thereby also increasing the intake of Omega 3. Fertility diets are common, however many are not backed by research.

However there is research evidence linking an increase in consumption of Omega 3 essential fatty acids to an increase in sperm count. Not only that but research is starting to understand that the type of fats that men eat directly influence their sperm count.

A study at Harvard University has found that men who eat larger amounts of saturated fats are more likely to exhibit a reduced sperm count whereas those who eat a diet rich in polyunsaturated fats, including the Omega 3 essential fatty acids, were more likely to exhibit an increased sperm count.

In the study at Harvard University 91 men were studied, each of them having sought fertility treatment, therefore with a demonstrated fertility problem.

These men had levels of fats in their sperm and seamen measured, and the researchers were able to demonstrate that men with higher amounts of saturated fat as well as monounsaturated fat, had a decreased sperm concentration, whilst those with a higher level of polyunsaturated fats had both better sperm movement as well as shape.

Of course that doesn’t clearly demonstrate the cause, that is probably a matter for more study. However it does suggest that a man’s diet does affect his fertility, and in particular if he is trying to start a family, it is better to concentrate on a diet low in saturated fats and monounsaturated fats and higher in polyunsaturated fats and in particular Omega 3.

The easiest way to add a daily dose of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids to your diet is to take fish oil capsules.

Whilst increasing your intake of oily fish, which is the major source of these Omega 3 essential fatty acids, will also increase your levels this is more difficult for several reasons. Firstly fish is getting extremely expensive, especially if eaten regularly, and secondly it is now well-known that fish are commonly contaminated with a range of industrial toxins.

Clearly there is some link between diet and male fertility. Whilst this matter requires far more study would seem that there is a growing body of evidence that diet, including the intake of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in fish oil, is an important factor in male fertility.

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In the past taking Omega 3 supplements was unnecessary

Nowadays just about everybody has heard about the health benefits of taking Omega 3 supplements, or eating more foods that contain Omega 3 essential fatty acids. If you are not yet fully conversant with the health benefits from increasing your intake of essential fatty acids then spend some time reading our website.

But today we wanted to do a comparison between the benefits of taking high quality Omega 3 supplements and eating foods that contain Omega 3. And in particular the essential fatty acids DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid).

Fish, and in particular oily fish, offer the richest source of DHA and EPA available. Whilst in the past our diet was reasonably high in fish over the last century or so our reliance on fish in our diet has dropped dramatically. As a result most of us are now deficient in the important essential fatty acids DHA and EPA found in fish oil.

However whilst fish is the richest source of these Omega 3 fats there are other sources as well. There are foods that you and I eat regularly, perhaps even daily, which are also good sources of DHA in particular. Two of these are beef and eggs, so today we wanted to discuss whether you are better taking Omega 3 supplements then you are eating beef or eggs, or some other plant based foods.

Firstly we should mention that there is also an essential fatty acid fat called Omega 6. Whilst important to our health our average consumption of Omega 6 has increased dramatically in the last few decades. It is considered that our Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio (in other words the amount of Omega 6 consumed compared to the amount of Omega 3) was somewhere around 1 to 1. In other words we ate roughly as much Omega 6 as Omega 3.

It is now considered that, whilst not totally clear, our average ratio will be somewhere around 20 to 1, or thereabouts. In other words we are now eating way more 6 than before, and much less 3. This change in the ratio of our intake of essential fatty acids is one of the major reasons postulated for the increase in the incidence of so many lifestyle related diseases that so many of us seem to suffer from in the last few decades.

Now let’s consider 3 sources of essential fatty acids that we consume as food.

1. Beef.
Omega 3 in beef

Beef used to be high in Omega 3. That’s because animals that ate grass are consuming Omega 3 fats, because these are present in grass. In fact this is the same reason why fish are high in these important fatty acids, because they eat seagrasses that contain them. Or at least they eat other fish that have eaten the seagrass.

And grass fed beef is still a good source of healthy essential fatty acids. The problem is that most of our beef is now no longer raised on grass. It is in fact grain fed, commonly on corn, and we are now eating primarily grain fed beef.

Corn is extremely high in Omega 6 and very low in 3. Because our beef cattle are now being raised on corn and other grains, and they are no longer eating much, if any, grass, so beef is now a rich source of Omega 6, of which we eat too much, and a poor source of Omega 3, of which we eat too little. In fact our grain fed beef is now exacerbating the problem.

2. Eggs.

Eggs were also, in the past, an excellent source of healthy fatty acids. However for similar reasons eggs are now no longer a good source of Omega 3. Again it comes down to feeding. A hundred years ago our chickens spent their day roaming around eating grass and insects. (Yes chickens really do eat grass, just watch one for a while.)

And from their diet, and in particular grass, they were able to produce highly nutritious eggs. However just like cattle, chickens too are now grain fed. Just like cattle it’s all about modern feedlot production, and feeding grain is the easiest way.

So as you can see we are getting very little of those good fats from 2 sources which were very important in our diet in the past, beef and eggs.

3. Flax seed oil.
Flax seeds
Flax seed oil is commonly promoted as an excellent vegetarian source of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. However the essential fatty acids found in flax seeds, as well as many other foods commonly promoted as rich in essential fatty acids such as many other seeds, nuts and leafy vegetables, is different to the important Omega 3 fats, namely DHA and EPA.

Most plant-based sources actually contain ALA, and evidence is that this is a way less useful to our health than DHA or EPA. In fact it’s advantages to our health stem from the fact that ALA can be converted into DHA in our bodies, but only a small percentage is actually converted.

And so for this reason plant-based ALA is not nearly as effective.

As you can see our traditional food based sources of essential fatty acids have changed. We don’t eat much fish and our beef and eggs in particular are now higher in 6 and lower in 3. Hence our ratio of intake has gone from healthy to unhealthy, and taking fish oil supplements┬áhas become widespread.

Fish oil supplements don’t, or shouldn’t, contain any Omega 6 fats at all. The best fish oil supplements certainly don’t.

If you have your own farm, raise your own cattle and chickens and raise them on grass you may well be getting much more good fats in your diet than the rest of us. Unfortunately very few of us are in this lucky situation.





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Fish oil capsules, or what are sometimes called Omega 3 capsules, help with a weight loss program

Fish oil capsules, or what are sometimes called fish oil supplements or Omega 3 supplements, contain the essential fatty acids DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid). These are generally known as the Omega3 fatty acids, though there are others. Let’s examine whether taking fish oil caps can have a role in an effective weight-loss program.

First let’s understand exactly what the Omega 3 fatty acids are. They are called essential fatty acids because they are very important to the overall health of the body however they cannot be manufactured in the body and so must be obtained through the diet. The vast bulk of our Omega 3 consumption in the past has come through eating fish in particular and seafood in general.

Over the last hundred or so years the role of fish in our diet has declined dramatically and many people now eat no fish at all. There were also Omega 3 fatty acids in our beef and eggs, however modern methods of feeding our animals has meant that there is now very little in either of these sources.

And modern research is finding that this reduction in our intake of Omega 3 fatty acids has significant implications for our health. However this reduction may also have implications for those seeking to lose weight.Losing weight with fish oil capsules

Researchers have found that increasing your intake of the omega 3 essential fatty acids helps you lose weight. There is a hormone called leptin. This hormone has a role in regulating your appetite, and of course regulating your appetite plays a large part in any effective weight loss program.

When your body’s store of leptin is too low your appetite will be higher because it is more difficult to feel full. However as your store of leptin increases your appetite would reduce because of the reverse effect.

And it has been found in research that increasing your intake of the essential fatty acids, commonly by use of high quality fish oil capsules, helps your body increase the rate at which it produces leptin.

Of course simply adding a regime of fish oil capsules to your diet is unlikely, of it’s own, to result in you losing significant amounts of weight. However this is an important step in an overall weight-loss regime.

For example a study has also shown that regular exercise also increases the level of leptin sensitivity, thereby also producing the result that appetite may be reduced. So there is no doubt that exercise also plays a part.

And there are other ways as well to increase the amount of leptin in the body. For example some research suggests that more zinc in the diet also helps raise the level of leptin. Zinc can be found in red meat and some grains.

But it seems that for anyone seeking to lose weight adding a daily dose of quality Omega 3 capsules to the diet will certainly be worthwhile to help improve any weight loss outcome.

And of course losing weight is only one of many reasons for reversing the trend to lowering our intake of the essential fatty acids. There are a wide range of other health benefits as well, including a reduction in the risk of diabetes, one of the more serious implications of obesity.

And there is also a wide range of other heart health benefits, including a reduction in the risk of death from heart attack, and all of these benefits are thoroughly worthwhile for anyone who is overweight.

So if you’re looking to lose weight then remember, as part of your overall weight-loss strategy start a daily regime of fish oil capsules and you my well improve your result.

And remember as well that increasing your intake of Omega 3 essential fats is only part of the weight loss equation. Whilst an important part it is also essential to improve your diet and to exercise more.

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