• 22-01-2019

    Whats the Dish on Fish Oil?

    With tons of supplements on the market, it can be difficult to determine what you need, the brand, the dose, and how long you should be taking it for. When we usually think of fish oil, the sensory effects like taste and burp back are huge considerations when choosing a fish oil brand.  With all this in mind, why is fish oil so heavily recommended? Whats the Dish on Fish oil?

    Fish oil has been a health recommendation for many years. It is often recommended in conditions ranging from skin health such as eczema, psoriasis, and dry skin to brain health, cognitive improvement/development, ADHD and depression as a therapeutic intervention. Our body has anywhere from 30-60 trillion cells, and each cell has a membrane that is composed of fat and protein. The fat composition in our diet has a tremendous influence on the fat in our cell membranes, which in turn has an influence on our skin, eyes, brain, joints and so much more.

    In todays culture, omega 6 fatty acids are in everything we consume. Packaged foods and conventional cooking predominantly utilize grape seed, palm, soy and vegetable oils which are sources of omega 6 fatty acids. The Standard American diet (SAD) is high in animal foods such as beef, eggs, pork and chicken, and low in cold water fish, nuts and seeds. This leaves many people deficient in omega 3 for a variety of reasons. Omega 3 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid, which means that our body is unable to produce it. A diet that is high in omega 6 fatty acids, such as the SAD, means that we are consuming 20X more omega 6 than omega 3. 

    Just as with everything in our body, the ratio of fatty acids, proteins, neurotransmitters, and hormones need to be balanced for us to be feeling good and in homeostasis. 

    So this does not mean that Omega 6 fatty acids are bad, but it means that our high consumption is changing the ratio of essential fatty acids in our body which can show up as inflammation. This inflammation is not referring to pain inflammation, but inflammation on a cellular level. When we consume nutrients and foods, they need to be processed, assimilated into membranes and, converted to other end products. This requires enzymes, but also messengers called prostaglandins. These messengers on the most basic level, tell our body whether we should induce inflammation or reduce inflammation. Thus, this can show up as dry skin, eczema, dry eyes, stiff and painful joints, trouble focusing, poor cognitive function (memory) and depression. What do all these conditions have in common? They are all inflammatory!

    If you were to try and consume enough dietary omega 3 for a therapeutic effect this would mean eating 5 servings of salmon or 27 servings of tuna a week (per 3oz serving.)

    If you choose plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids the EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids need to be formed in the body from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Depending on your diet, and if omega 3s need to be increased to therapeutic levels, it can be difficult to achieve this from diet alone. This is because the delta-6-desaturase enzyme that converts ALA to SDA which goes on to eventually form the omega 3 fatty acid EPA, is inefficient and is also used in the omega 6 pathway. Thus, a diet high in omega 6 fatty acids, makes it difficult to achieve high omega 3 levels in the body from plant sources that require the conversion of ALA to EPA. 

    Remember, your body cannot make omega 3 fatty acids. There are two main forms of omega 3, EPA(eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid.) 

    They are both omega 3 fatty acids, but they serve different roles in the body. For example the most abundant fatty acid in the brain is DHA, which is why consumption for kids and teens is so important for brain development. EPA alternatively, is typically used for reducing inflammation and may also be used in brain health for inflammatory conditions such as memory and depression. Regular consumption is key, because omega 3s are not drugs, they are essential nutrients. It takes time for them to assimilate into your body and change the profile of your cells. Understanding how diet may influence your omega 3 fatty acid profile, the type of fatty acid that is best for you and the dose are all conversations you can have with your Naturopathic Doctor. Just as you would consume Vitamin C to prevent scurvy, remember, Omega 3s are also essential!

    Written By: Dr. Mashael Mawji, ND
    BSc. FNH (Hon)

    • 15-01-2019

    Skin - Is there a quick fix to problematic, aging skin?

    As someone who suffered from eczema, psoriasis, hyper-pigmentation and acne for years, I understand how frustrating it is to have no control over your skin. We aggressively cleanse, over medicate, and apply too many products that really dont remedy the problem as part of the fear response, the fear that if we do not do something it will get worse. Often times we strip the skin or apply so many barriers that our skin cant even breathe. If the placebo or subtle change of it improving begins, its never to last indefinitely, only for the cycle of skin stuff to start again with any sort of stress, change in lifestyle, change in temperature or even change in soap. 

    Let me tell you, my skin journey has included everything from top of the line skin care, laser treatments, facials, chemical peels, at home masks, blu-U light therapy, steroids, antibiotics (topical and internal) and even Accutane in my teens. After each treatment, new antibiotics or anything else, I would have hope, that my skin would improve, and stay better. It never did.

    Today, I go for facials occasionally, take a plethora of supplements, hydrate appropriately, eat well and use very basic skin care. My skin is great, and I often wear little to no makeup, finally being able to show off my skin after envying people for years, who had great bare clean skin. So you might be thinking, is it what I was using that has made this change? Am I seeing a new aesthetician? Was it puberty causing this? (No, this does not last 12 years!) Its none of the above. 

    I believe that superficial facial treatments can enhance your skin and improve your skin, but they cannot change your skin. 

    We spend tons of money on these treatments, expecting a full change in our skin. Some of the more aggressive treatments can definitely changeyour skin, by resurfacing or tightening it, but fundamentally, your body supplies the building blocks for this so your final lasting outcome is dependent on you. You cannot achieve good skin if you are toxic, inflamed, dont drink enough water and have a poor diet or the wrong diet for you (unless you have strong genetics, but trust me that doesnt last forever.) 

    There is no quick fix to changing your skin.

    There are many quick fixes to improvingyour skin, but when your body is producing new cells daily, what you have available and the internal environment of your body will determine what shows up outside. Your internal environment is everything from genetics, other conditions such as PCOS, asthma, food allergies, hormones and more; but it is most importantly your diet. Antiglycation endpoints also known as AGEs arent great for your cardiovascular health, and they show up in the skin as hyper-pigmentation and uneven tone. High aerobic activity and clean eating but not consuming the right type of fat might show up as thin skin, sunken temples, and hard face that looks dehydrated and aged. Consuming high mucus forming foods might be making you puffy, your features undefined, and having the appearance of poor bone structure. Chronic acne can be due to so many things not limited but including, poor gut health, toxic overload from heavy metals, parasites, too much heat in your body (from a TCM perspective), food sensitivities, chronic inflammation or more.  

    The approach you take to skin is dependent on you. 

    Sometimes we need conventional therapies such as accutane, steroids and antibiotics to get things under control, but the burden this puts on the body requires us to also replace, replenish and support what these treatments alter. This can include our liver metabolism, our gut micro biome, nutrient status, and skin thickness and sensitivity to light. Its a double edged sword, where there is no one size fits all approach because the cause of the problem is different for everyone. 

    I have used a a lifestyle approach to skin, and it works. The benefit of this approach is not only that I no longer have acne, hyper-pigmentation, eczema or psoriasis, but my skin texture has improved, I look radiant, my hair and nails are healthier, my gut is happy and I feel good. On my journey to improve my skin, I improved my overall health. There is no perfect, it takes self awareness and when I burden my body too long, things will start to show up, but its not often, its easier to control, and it doesnt last long. 

    So I am not saying dont use good skin care, or not to have enhancement treatments, but what I am saying is that these are the accessories to your skin. 


    Anything that you do that is causing skin cell turnover, micro-inflammation, using your own blood products (PRP), or influencing tightening through collagen formation will benefit from supporting your body first. 

    Ensure you have the right building blocks and co-factors to not only form great skin, but that your body can eliminate waste appropriately so that you look healthy, young and radiant. Take a holistic approach to your appearance, its not a quick fix, and it can take some time depending on the concern,

    but in my experience its absolutely worth it.

     

    Written by: Dr. Mashael Mawji, ND BSc. FNH (Hon)

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