RHR: How to Feed Your Brain
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RHR: How to Feed Your Brain

by Chris Kresser

Last updated on

Revolution Health Radio podcast, Chris Kresser

We all use our brain intensively. Reading, writing, learning, synthesizing and making decisions are part of our daily lives. Learn about the six micronutrients that are most important for optimized brain health and the therapeutic nutrients you can add to your routine.

We could spend many episodes on this, but today we’ll consider basic and therapeutic nutrients to optimize brain health. I’ll also talk a little bit about some other things you can think about with regard to your diet and lifestyle if you’re trying to optimize your brain health and I’ll direct you to some resources where you can learn more about those things.

In this episode:

5:36 What Chris ate for lunch
12:50 Micronutrients that optimize brain health
22:13 Therapeutic nutrients that affect brain health
24:41 The Paleo Cure bonus chapters and supplement guides
26:46 Lifestyle tips that support brain health

Play

Steve Wright: Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. You are listening to the Revolution Health Radio show. I’m your host, Steve Wright, co-author at SCDlifestyle.com. If you don’t know, this episode of RHR is brought to you by 14Four.me. If you’re starting out this New Year, you’re not sleeping correctly, maybe you’re carrying a little extra weight from the holidays, a little acid reflux from all the stress, 14Four.me might be the program for you. In this program, it’s a 14-day lifestyle reset, diet reset, movement reset, and stress reset program that Chris has put together, where you’re actually handholding and it’s much simpler than that long line that I just put together to try to tell you about this course. It’s actually pretty simple. It really helps with integrating new healthy habits and sort of changing around your health. So if you haven’t, go check out 14Four.me. Check out the program that Chris has put together. Moving on to the podcast, Chris Kresser, you are the integrative medical practitioner, healthy skeptic, and New York Times bestselling author. Welcome.

Chris Kresser: Hey, Steve. How’s it going?

Steve Wright: I’m enjoying my day today.

Chris Kresser: Sounds like it. You might have had a couple extra cups of coffee.

Steve Wright: I am coffee-free!

Chris Kresser: Or you’re just high on life?

Steve Wright: I am high on life and maybe a little bit of spearmint green tea that I just chugged.

Chris Kresser: Hey, if that’s your vice, you’re doing pretty well.

Steve Wright: Yeah, man. I got into tea. I’ve got all these cool, like turmeric ginger ones and yerba mate, and just playing around with them.

Chris Kresser: Have you tried pu-erh?

Steve Wright: I do have a little bit of it.

Chris Kresser: It’s one of my favorites.

Steve Wright: One packet tastes like licking the ground.

Chris Kresser: Dirt.

Steve Wright: Yeah. The other one tastes pretty delicious.

Chris Kresser: You have to like the bitter taste to go for pu-erh. But I found that it has a really kind of mentally-clarifying effect without giving me the jitters, which I can get if I have too much caffeine. That’s actually relevant to the topic that we’re going to be talking about today. But yeah, it’s fun. I’ve been a tea connoisseur for a long time. We actually have a store down in Berkeley, the entire store is devoted to tea. They have a tea bar. You can go sit there and sample tea. You know, each tea has a proper method of preparation, the proper water temperature, and the amount of time it should steep. It’s really cool. They don’t do the full tea ceremony experience, but they do at least part of the ritual. That’s part of what I like about it.

Steve Wright: Yeah. That’s basically what I asked for for Christmas from all my family and friends, “Give me some different, cool loose-leaf teas.” Then I had the kettle, but I needed the rest of the apparatuses.

Chris Kresser: Yeah. Do you have a programmable kettle, where you can dial in the temperature?

Steve Wright: Oh, no. This is the next level.

Chris Kresser: Sorry, sorry! I have that for making coffee and tea, because I’ve gotten pretty into coffee too with the pour-over method.

Steve Wright: Yeah.

Chris Kresser: Then I have a burr grinder and a kettle with a special pour spout. It’s programmable, so you can dial in 205 degrees. Then press the hold button, and it just brings it to 205. It holds it there. If you’re doing something else, you can come back. You know, different teas, like black tea, you steep at a higher temperature, then the green tea lower, and then white tea even lower still. It’s a whole new world, Steve.

Steve Wright: Oh, man. Well, I’ve been doing the AeroPress and the hand grind for coffee for a long time.

Chris Kresser: I just stepped it up from that. I was doing the AeroPress and the home burr grinder, the hand one. I’m now using the Kalita Wave.

Steve Wright: Sounds Egyptian. It must be cool.

Chris Kresser: It’s a pour-over filter. It’s Japanese.

Steve Wright: Oh!

Chris Kresser: Almost all the good coffee tools are. Then I finally broke down and got the electric burr grinder for home, just to speed things up a bit. Then there’s this amazing coffee store in downtown Berkeley, right in the same place as the tea store, called Artís. They roast right on the spot.

Steve Wright: Oh, wow!

Chris Kresser: So you order coffee, and they will literally just roast it right in front of you, give it to you. It’s so fresh that I actually recommend you wait for a couple of days before you consume it. They’ve got all kinds of organic and fair trade varieties. They have a coffee-tasting bar. They do classes on how to do the pour-over method correctly. They have little handouts that they give for each brewing device, like the Kalita Wave or the AeroPress. I can see we might need to do an episode on coffee and tea making.

Steve Wright: We could, we could.

Chris Kresser: This isn’t the intended topic, but I can see there’s a lot to say and people might have questions.

Steve Wright: They might. They might want to know about Ethiopian coffee and lots of other fun coffee.

Chris Kresser: Yeah.

What Chris Ate for Lunch

Steve Wright: Without further ado—we’ve since moved our podcast recording time to a little later in the afternoon. So Chris, what did you have for lunch today?

Chris Kresser: Elanne, my wife, made a really delicious kind of chicken curry dish in the slow cooker last night. So I had that. I had some salad and a little bit of white rice with the chicken curry. That was it. You know, Steve, we were trying to figure out why my video looks like somebody just painted light gray over my entire situation here. I think it might be the time of day.

Steve Wright: Oh!

Chris Kresser: We usually do this in the morning, and the sun is in a different position coming through the window. It’s very bright and sunny outside, but the sun is kind of behind a tree right now.

Steve Wright: Very serious right now. You’re businesslike.

Chris Kresser: Yeah, cold and serious. Anyhow, we’ve got a really good topic for the show here. This question is from Julia. Let’s give it a listen.

Julia: Hi, Chris. I recently started working on my PhD, and my life revolves around reading, learning, and memorizing. I already follow Your Personal Paleo Code guidelines, but considering how heavy the mental workload currently is, I was wondering if you had any specific advice on how to modify diet to enhance cognitive function. Any tips on what to eat and possible supplements to take to help with focus and memory? Thanks.

Chris Kresser: This is a great question, one that’s near and dear to my heart—or brain, I should say. It’s something I think a lot about. We all use our brain intensively, but I do a lot of reading, learning, and memorizing. Maybe not so much memorizing now, but reading, learning, writing, synthesizing, and researching. That’s pretty much how I spend my days.

Steve Wright: It’s not taking barista classes?

Chris Kresser: Yeah. Well, that’s what I do in my spare time.

Steve Wright: Oh, okay.

Chris Kresser: I’m an aspiring barista, Steve.

Steve Wright: I knew it!

Chris Kresser: One day, you’re going to walk into a Starbucks and see me behind the counter there.

Steve Wright: I knew it.

Chris Kresser: Let’s hope not. Nothing against baristas, but I think I’m not really cut out for that work. I don’t have the patience for it.

Let’s see, brain health. I mean, we could spend so many episodes on this, but I think I just want to stay really focused on what Julia was asking about. So we’ll consider basic and therapeutic nutrients to optimize brain health. Then at the end, I’ll talk a little bit about some other things you can think about if you’re trying to optimize your brain health. I’ll maybe direct you to some resources where you can learn more about those things, if you haven’t been listening to this show for a while, reading my blog for a while or my book. Let’s first talk about diet, particularly macronutrients, before we dive into micronutrients.

Steve Wright: Before you get too deep, Chris, I just want to remind the listeners that this podcast is for you and created by you, as evidenced by the question today. Go to ChrisKresser.com/podcastquestion to send us your question. We’ll make sure to get the show out about your question soon.

Chris Kresser: Thanks, Steve. It’s amazing to see how all the questions come in and how they break down. It really helps me to organize my research. So definitely keep them coming.

With diet, usually the first thing people ask is, “What about carbs? Should I be on a really low-carb, high-fat approach, even a ketogenic diet, to optimize my brain health? Or should I maybe eat more carbohydrates?” Of course, as usual, the answer is it depends. I think most people, just generally, if you’re overall relatively healthy, you don’t have any significant metabolic problems, you’re not dealing with a neurodegenerative condition like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, neuropathy or something like that, then a moderate carbohydrate diet, somewhere within the 20% to 30% of calories is carbohydrate range, will tend to work best. Really low-carb approach can sometimes be helpful on a temporary basis. Like if you have an exam coming up, some people feel better if they eat. Let’s say you have an exam at 11:00 AM. You might do better if you have a relatively low-carb, higher-protein, higher-fat breakfast that morning. Some people feel like that gives them kind of a temporary boost in mental clarity. But I would say most of my patients, most people I’ve worked with, find that if they stick with that diet over a long term, eventually, it kind of starts to have the opposite effect. It starts to sap their energy and ability to retain information and just stay focused and concentrated over a longer period of time. On the other hand, if you do have any of the conditions that I mentioned—metabolic issues, neurodegenerative disorders or a tendency in any of those directions—you might actually do better with a low-carb, high-fat diet or even a ketogenic approach.

Certainly, as we’ve talked about on the show and as I’ve written about on the blog, those approaches are being used successfully therapeutically in many of those conditions that I just mentioned, because the brain can utilize ketones for fuel when carbohydrate metabolism in the brain is damaged and not working well. So this is just yet another case where we need to distinguish between an approach that’s appropriate and useful therapeutically, and one that is like the basic recommendation for everyone. They’re not the same thing. At the end of the day, the best thing to do is just experiment a little bit. Try several days with a much lower-carb, higher-fat approach. See how that affects your cognitive function. Then go back to a more moderate-carbohydrate approach. Try that for a few days. Then actually boost the carbs up a bit and see where you feel best in that spectrum. Because ultimately, your body is going to be the guide.

Steve Wright: Yeah. Another thing to mention might be the timing in which you decide to eat those carbs. Some people, like myself, are much more morning people. My brain is on already in the morning. So sometimes I will actually eat most of my carbs at dinner, just because I actually do better with maybe just a banana or small apple or something, and then a bunch of protein and fat in the morning and throughout lunch.

Chris Kresser: Yeah.

Steve Wright: So you could always mess with the timing too, based on if you’re a night owl or a morning person.

Chris Kresser: Exactly, yeah. And I mentioned that in the book and provided a few different scenarios as well. We’ll come back to that at the end.

Micronutrients to Optimize Brain Health

Okay. Now let’s talk about micronutrients to optimize brain health. The first one is DHA. It’s a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid. It’s a fundamental building block of the brain and it’s a critical nutrient for brain cell function. It improves the fluidity of brain cell membranes. It supports the growth of the connective structures in the brain. It improves the ability to release neurotransmitters. It enhances communication between the neurons. And a significant percentage of the driveway to the brain is fat and is DHA. So it’s very, very important fat for the brain. That’s why when you look at studies of fetal development and you see mothers who don’t get enough DHA, that directly affects the brain function and even intelligence of their baby. So very important nutrient. Of course, you can get it in cold-water, fatty fish and shellfish. That’s the primary source of DHA in the diet. It’s not really found in any other food that we can consume, other than algae, although I don’t know that many people who consume algae. You can consume plant-based forms of omega-3, but the conversion of those plant-based forms into DHA is less than one-half of 1%. That’s the best-case scenario. So you really have to get it from fish or seafood, or from fish oil, cod liver oil. Even if you’re getting enough DHA in your diet, you may find that higher doses of DHA from supplements might be useful for shorter periods of time if you really need to optimize your brain function, like if you’re studying for a big exam or in Julia’s case, if she’s preparing for her dissertation or something like that. It’s not something I’d recommend over the long term, but doing that for short periods of time can certainly be helpful.

The next one would be vitamin B12. I’ve written and talked a lot about this. It’s a really, really crucial nutrient for humans. It’s really one of the main reasons that I think humans need to eat meat and/or shellfish, and that meat and shellfish probably played a significant role in our evolution. That’s because we require B12, and it’s not found in its actual form in any plant foods. B12 plays a crucial role in the function of the brain and the nervous system. It’s a cofactor for methylation, which turns on and off genes. It also impacts the metabolism of several different neurotransmitters and it plays a major role in providing cofactors for myelin, which is the protective sheath around the nerves. If you think that your brain is like a tangle of wires, which is one way to think about it, imagine what would happen if those wires didn’t have any insulation around them. So myelin is just absolutely crucial for the function of the nervous system in the brain. I’ve talked a lot about B12 deficiency. It’s a pretty involved topic, so I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here. If you want to learn more about it, just Google “Chris Kresser B12 deficiency” and you’ll see the articles there.

But the takeaway is that it’s a lot more common than people realize. Up to 40% of people between the ages of 25 and 83 have B12 in the low-normal range. We’re talking about serum testing. And what we know is that serum B12 is often one of the last markers to go out of whack when B12 is deficient. There are more sensitive markers like methylmalonic acid and holotranscobalamin that will be out of range before serum B12 is. So if 40% of people are in the low-normal range for serum B12, then that suggests that a similar percentage of people might actually be deficient or in the early stages of deficiency. B12 is found in organ meats, red meat, and some shellfish. You can also supplement with it. The form that’s best to supplement is generally the more active forms, like hydroxocobalamin, methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin. That’s also a pretty involved topic, because we start to get into methylation and genetic mutations that affect which form of B12 might be best for you. I think we talked about those a little bit on the show we did about methylation, so you can refer to that. But for a lot of people, taking 400 micrograms of methylcobalamin or something like that is a pretty safe bet. It’s nontoxic even at high doses. It’s a water-soluble vitamin, so it’s not really dangerous to take at that level.

Steve Wright: For methylcobalamin, do you like sublinguals or sprays over the pill forms?

Chris Kresser: Yeah. I mean, depending on your absorption, right? If you don’t have any significant gut issues, the pills are probably fine. But if you have SIBO or other gut issues, sublingual or liposomal forms are going to work better for sure. While we’re on the subject of methylation-related nutrients and nutrients that affect brain function, B6 and folate also have positive effects on memory and cognitive performance. They’re both cofactors in the methylation process as well. Folate is found in dark, leafy greens and in chicken liver primarily, and then in lentils. B6 is found in sunflower seeds, fish, chicken, turkey, beef, and avocados. It’s a little easier to come by in the diet, but functional deficiency is still somewhat common; I see it all the time in my practice. SIBO is a major risk factor for B-vitamin deficiency, because bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine will impair the absorption of those B vitamins. So we run tons of urine organic acids tests in our clinic on patients, and the ones with SIBO almost always have B-vitamin deficiency. As you know, Steve, SIBO is shockingly common. It’s a problem that affects a lot of people.

Steve Wright: Yeah. The one thing I also wanted to ask you about, Chris—and you might circle around to this later, but it fits here for me, in my head—if somebody’s under pressure to finish her project or complete a dissertation, the stress levels are going to be a little bit higher than normal.

Chris Kresser: Mm-hmm.

Steve Wright: Would they want to think about doubling up on supplementation or doubling up on their organ meat consumption to get these B vitamins, to help out with the stress hormones?

Chris Kresser: Yeah. I mean, I would say this is kind of a situation of just optimizing generally throughout the next period of years that Julia’s doing her PhD. Most of this stuff could be obtained through diet. But then during times where the heat is on, like preparing for an exam or the dissertation or whatever, that’s when maybe supplementing, in addition to getting all these nutrients from diet, can be useful.

Choline has been shown to improve cognitive performance and memory and protect against neurotoxicity. That’s found primarily in egg yolks and liver. Very important nutrient. It plays an important role in liver function and liver detoxification. It also balances the effects of methionine, which is an amino acid found in the leaner forms of protein. So very important nutrient, not just for brain function, but for overall health.

Iron, of course, is required for adequate oxygen deliverability to the brain. The brain needs two things to function properly more than anything: oxygen and glucose (ketones). Iron deficiency is a huge problem around the world. It affects 2 billion people worldwide. It’s less common in the US, but it’s still a major problem, especially with women. So making sure you’re eating enough organ meats, red meat, oysters, and clams, which are the major sources of heme-based iron, is important. Heme iron is the form of iron that’s found in animal products. It’s much, much better absorbed than plant-based forms of iron. That’s important to understand.

Then vitamin D just seems to turn up in any discussion about nutrients that are important for X, Y or Z. It turns out that vitamin D plays an important role for preserving cognitive function, particularly as we age. Low vitamin D levels are associated with cognitive issues in the elderly. So that’s another reason to keep your vitamin D levels in an optimal range, which for me, is about 25 or 30 ng/mL to about 55 ng/mL, somewhere in that range. So those are the basic nutrients that are obtainable through healthy diet, a nutrient-dense diet.

Therapeutic Nutrients That Affect Brain Health

Then we can talk a little bit about therapeutic nutrients, which may not be things that you eat so much in your diet, but you can supplement—I mean, some of them do occur in the diet, but others are supplements that you would add to your routine. There are so many different supplements that affect brain function. You know, if you fire up the Internet, TV, magazine or whatever, you’re going to see promises of all kinds of supplements that will turn you into a genius. But here are some of the better ones that I’ve found in my work with patients and in my own experience.

One would be curcumin. Curcumin really has several remarkable effects on the brain. It protects the brain from oxidative stress. It’s anti-inflammatory. It improves memory. It protects against neurodegeneration and neurotoxicity. It also has some pretty profound immune benefits. It promotes T regulatory cell production. T regulatory cells really help balance and regulate immune health. Dosage would be maybe 400 to 600 mg per day. Some forms are better absorbed than others, so that’s something to pay attention to.

Acetyl-L-carnitine stimulates energy production in brain cells, especially in the frontal cortex, and it protects brain cells and even can help regenerate them, which is amazing. The dosage for that would be like 1,000 to 2,000 mg a day in divided doses.

Then we have phosphatidylserine, which is found in every cell membrane, but it’s especially prevalent in the brain. That determines what nutrients can enter the brain cells, how waste gets out of the brain cells, how brain cells communicate. And some studies, though not all, have shown that it can improve memory, learning, concentration, and mood. The dose for that would be 100 to 300 mg per day in divided doses.

Last is a traditional Ayurvedic herb called Bacopa. This has been used to boost memory and cognitive performance and to reduce anxiety in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Modern studies have shown that it improves attention, memory, and several other measures of cognitive performance. The dose for that would be about 200 to 600 mg per day.

The Paleo Cure Bonus Chapters and Supplement Guides

Now when I wrote my book—which is now in paperback as The Paleo Cure; it was published in hardcover as Your Personal Paleo Code—I wrote several bonus chapters for how to tweak and customize the Paleo diet and lifestyle for particular health conditions. One of the bonus chapters was on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression. If you have the book, you can log into the website and download this bonus chapter. If you don’t have the book, you can purchase the book and then get access to these bonus chapters for free.

Then what I also did is created packs of supplements for each of these conditions, based on the recommendations that I make in the bonus chapters. Because I know there’s a ton of confusion out there about which products are the better ones, which ingredients you should get, what form you should take the nutrients in, and all of that. So I wanted to just make it easy for people and provide recommendation on products that I would use, based on all of these nutrients that I’m recommending. If you go to store.ChrisKresser.com, there’s a little green box there that says, “I read Chris’s book and am looking for supplements recommended in it.” If you click on that and then click on the “Cognitive” collection, there are a few supplements that have all the nutrients that I’ve talked about on this show here, to make it easy for you.

Steve Wright: I’d like to second the acetyl-L-carnitine for sure. I actually stack that with ubiquinol, the reduced form of CoQ10.

Chris Kresser: Yeah.

Steve Wright: I found that if I really want to rock out in the morning, 200 mg of ubiquinol twice, morning and noon, with the acetyl-L-carnitine and some curcumin, that’s my go-to.

Chris Kresser: Cool. It’s interesting how different it is. Some people have absolutely no response to CoQ10, whereas other people, it’s really like turning the lights on. So it goes back to this whole biochemical individuality principle that we’re always hammering on here.

Lifestyle Tips That Support Brain Health

Just a couple of other considerations to think about with brain health. One would be the gut-brain axis, something we’ve talked a lot about and I’ve written about. If you search for “Chris Kresser gut-brain axis”, you’ll find some podcasts and articles to read. The quick summary is that there’s a profound connection between the gut and the brain that works in both directions. So if you want to optimize your brain health, you really have to optimize your gut health. You could take all these other supplements we’re talking about, but if you’ve got SIBO, leaky gut or any other of the conditions that can affect digestive health, then these are going to have limited impact and value. So optimizing that entire axis is really important.

Another would be exercise. If you’re preparing for a PhD, Julia, that usually means spending a lot of time on your butt. You know, reading, writing, researching, and all of that. So I would definitely investigate something like a standing desk, or if you really want to go for it, a treadmill desk. For me, that made an unbelievable difference when I was writing my book. I mean, I’m sure a lot of people know this story. When I first started writing my book, after a couple of weeks of just sitting on my chair researching and writing, I was like, “This is going to kill me or shave a few years off my life.” That’s when I first got the treadmill desk. Then in the course of writing my book, I ended up walking over 2,000 miles. So writing became an extremely healthy, energizing experience instead of something that drained me. We know that sitting less is as important or possibly even more important than getting enough exercise throughout the week. So make sure you’re breaking up those sitting periods with standing and walking periods.

Then make sure you’re getting enough exercise as well, because that’s absolutely crucial for cognitive performance. Steve mentioned stress earlier in the show. Managing stress is vital as well. When you’re doing a PhD, there’s a lot of that. Things like mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and meditation are—numerous, numerous studies show how powerful they can be in terms of affecting cognitive performance, focus, memory. I find my meditation practice is probably the single most important thing in terms of determining my daily ability to focus and produce.

Diet is right up there. Maybe they’re tied for first. But they’re both really, really vital. In 14Four, I of course provide exercise, a whole routine that you can follow along with at-home body weight techniques or stuff you can do even when you’re traveling on the road. But I also have stress management audios and videos. So I have guided meditations. I have mindfulness-based stress reduction, guided programs. I have some qigong. I find qigong to be really helpful for cognitive performance as well, because it’s like a moving meditation. You get the same kind of benefits in terms of awareness, focus, and concentration, but you’re also moving. That, especially when your mind is really busy and you’ve been using your brain a lot, I find that to be really restorative and rejuvenating. Then of course, we can’t talk about cognitive performance without talking about sleep.

Steve Wright: I knew it!

Chris Kresser: Yeah, you knew it. Everybody listening to this show knows how sleep affects cognitive performance. All you have to do is sleep poorly one night, and the next day, you’ll see how much your brain function torpedoes. It’s vital. Ironically, sleep is one of the first things that suffer when we get stressed or busy or when we’ve got a lot of work to do. So setting up your schedule in such a way that ensures you’re getting enough sleep, Julia, is really going to serve you well during the time that you’re doing this PhD. There’s probably a lot more we could say about this topic, but I think these are the really key suggestions. I hope they’re helpful to you. Good luck with your PhD.

Steve Wright: I think this is going to help a lot of people. And it sounds like we just stumbled on two new topics for shows: tea and coffee, and performance and productivity.

Chris Kresser: That’s right. That sounds good.

Steve Wright: We’ll have to continue with that. Just another reminder for you. Send your questions in to ChrisKresser.com/podcastquestion. In the meantime, if you’re wondering about maybe what meditation Chris is using or what research he’s reading, he’s going to be posting that stuff on his social media typically. If you’re not following him on your favorite social media outlet, you’ll definitely want to do that—specifically, Facebook.com/ChrisKresserLAc and Twitter.com/ChrisKresser.

Chris Kresser: Thanks, everyone, for listening. See you next time.

Steve Wright: Thank you.

  1. There was a great Remarkably Human podcast with Jesse Lawler that talks about all things smart drugs, including racetam, and modafinil.

  2. The Micronutrient Miracle book is misleading. As many reviewers note, it is not about DAIRY FREE and neither is the product Nutrience! This is totally misleading for those of us that have a reaction to the product, which I did. I wasted the money buying Nutrience, and with a disease, I cannot afford to waste money. My kids also have autoimmune and food restrictions that come with that. I was trying to find a vitamin that they can take. What a struggle! And the Calton’s are NOT helping with this misleading “reverse disease” position. Nice marketing, but not a nice product. Stick with real food.

  3. Hi Chris!

    I am moving from NYC to south of Seattle and need to buy a new coffee machine, grinder and would love to get a programmable kettle that doesn’t have plastic inside. I love your input and choices, and would like to ask clarification on the Kalita Wave and electric Burr grinder. Do you recommend the glass or ceramic Kalita Wave? Can you recommend a particular make for the Burr grinder? If your kettle doesn’t have plastic inside, which one do you use?

    Thanks for all you do. Look forward to your training.

    Jenn Gibbons, LAc, MSTOM

  4. Thank you for this podcast. Great topic for me as I am preparing to go back to school again in the next couple of months. For the four supplements you recommend, is it safe to take them together, or would just trying one or two be better?

  5. Hmm…. not sure what to think of Dr. Jeffs assertions. I find that fish oil helps to keep my joints from aching which is a direct result of my C-reactive protein getting too high. I have MS and if I screw up my diet or exercise regimen my c-reactive protein climbs and the fish oil always brings it down pretty quickly. I do not take it every day (about 3-4x per week) and I buy high quality. I notice if I run out and stop taking it by how my body feels. Can’t speak to the science of it though-just my own observation.

    • I think it is best to stay away from the concentrated omega-3 fish oils; the higher the concentration of omega-3, the more rancid they usually are (meaning they have less saturated/monounsaturated fats which will stabilize the omega-3´s and thus serve as a powerful antioxidant). I think liquid cod liver oil like Carlson is probably good (20% omega-3). it has added vitamin E in it also for further protection. But I don´t think one need to supplement EPA/DHA at all. You can buy omega-3 enriched eggs for example. Besides there are many anti-inflammatory supplements like turmeric that will also have other beneficial effects on liver, digestion etc. Also, don´t buy promoted products: then you will typically have to pay more for the product. Alas the internet message boards are filled with people spreading nonsense to promote their products. As regards C-reactive protein, there´s some suggestions that higher betaine/choline intake can reduce this. Eating omega-3 enriched eggs you´ll get the DHA plus the choline. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18258634

    • I wouldn’t take the opinions of those internet “experts” too seriously.

      My personal advise for you is adopting a proper sustainable anti-inflammatory lifestyle first. It should at least consists of a healthy nutrition-dense whole food diet, regular exercise regime (keep normal BMI), adequate sleep, good stress/emotion management and proper dental hygiene.

      You should always consider getting your nutrition from real food before taking any supplements. In this case, eating oily fish such as sardine, Herring or Mackerel. JJ mentioned turmeric, it’s anti-inflammatory and I use it for cook often too. I use it to make curry and it tastes great with fried rice.

      Sedentary lifestyle and over-weight can promote systemic inflammation just like many other factors. Personally, I try to do at least 3 sections of resistance training and 3 sections of HIIT each week for metabolism enhancement and keep my lean body mass.

      Speaking of fish oil, MANY cheap fish oil are rancid. It’s good to hear that you choose high quality ones only. I take nordic naturals ultimate omega 3 + D3 when I am not eating oily in that day. It’s in rTAG form and it never gave me one single fish burp. Make sure your batch is fresh and buy it directly from the manufacturer or from other reputable sources.

      It’s more detrimental to health eating rancid and oxidized vegetable oils than taking fish oil. Just cook more at home and ditch all processed craps!

      If something works for you and you feel ok with it, I don’t think there is any need to change, unless there is cogent evidence suggesting otherwise.

        • Again, if your whole argument is based on Brasky’s studies, some old text books quotes, and ignoring the other studies that suggested otherwise as well as the fact that Brasky has been criticized by some other scientists and researchers for making inappropriate implications and extrapolations beyond his data, it’s not convincing enough to make the case here and make people buy your products instead.

          Your assertion that said any amount of long chain omega 3 DHA and EPA above 2.5mg is toxic contradicts with thousands of science researches. It means all naturally omega 3 rich fishes such as sardine and salmon are toxic to consume, which is not likely to be the case.

          I hope if you want to make your case, please provide more solid evidences and references.

          • If you don’t understand biochemistry then you are not qualified to make statements regarding EPA and DHA. The biochemical pathways are well known (hence old textbooks) and LA and ALA are the only 2 essential fatty acids. Anybody recommending supplementation with derivatives would have to prove they work. Fish oil has 15000 studies, half of which say they don’t work. If they work, they should work all the time, not half the time. The positive studies could be random chance. And fish consumption, that’s fine, but don’t attribute excessively good health to it. There are many societies without fish that do just fine. The original study on inuit of Greenland in 1976 which started the whole fish oil craze has been fully discredited. http://www.onlinecjc.ca/article/S0828-282X(14)00237-2/abstract

            • The point that you are missing is that you asserted that any amount of DHA and EPA above 2.5mg is toxic and unnatural. What I was asking is proper valid science references to prove it, that’s it! You are the one who freaked out.

              You don’t need to keep posting studies to make your own argument stronger. I happened to be someone who spend a fair amount of time learning new things by reading studies on places like Pubmed. In fact, I read Brasky’s studies long before we have this conversation here, were they solid proofs? well, no, why did you ignored the Harvard and swedish studies and only consider Brasky’s as “fact”? Does DHA and EPA cause prostate cancer? Seems to be still inconclusive. that’s the prevailing scientific opinions within the scientific community which I read so far.

              Am I the expert here? I never said I am, you are the one who act as an expert here, and a salesman!
              I don’t know what kind of doctor you are, I don’t have my doctorate in the field of biochemistry, but if you are, please act like an expert and enlighten us with proper references. NOT a salesman!

              I am not a huge fan of supplements, including the products you recommended to people here, eating a proper diet is by far the most effective and important way to make us healthy.

              • If you can find a proper, organic, mostly raw diet, then yes supplementation is not necessary. In a previous article, Chris posted the metabolic pathways for LA and ALA. If you look at it you will see that the LA pathway leads to the production of PGE1, the most potent anti-inflammatory in the body. If you start putting in too much DHA and EPA you set up a negative feedback loop that inhibits production of this most important prostaglandin. Therefore, fish oil and supplementation with excessive DHA/EPA cannot be good for you, luckily most of the ingested EPA/DHA spontaneously oxidizes at body temperature so you actually don’t absorb very much of the oral dose. ALA and LA are more stable, are absorbed and used as the body intended. I can post lots of references, but in reality, you need to take at least 1 year of university lipid biochemistry to understand it and also read the work of Otto Warburg, the greatest physiologist and biochemist of the 20th century. He was meticulous in his research, which is something that cannot be said of research today.

              • Oh and the cause of prostate cancer? Or all cancers, Warburg had that answer 60 years ago, but nobody cares to read about it and his very important research has been forgotten.

                • I hope you find the journey as fascinating as I did. He was a true genius. Once you understand his premise, it explains many of the health problems we are seeing today.

      • I would stay away from the nordic natural ultimate fish oil as much as I can. It has 70% of the oil as omega-3, no vitamin E added. The company has shown a «study report» which is so misleading that it is in my opinion fraudulent.

        The omega-3´s are going to degenerate very quickly in this form. The oil is refined and deodorized and added lemon flavor to mask this randity and that´s the danger. Then synthetic vitamin D is added.

        70% omega-3 fatty acid is not normal in the fish (which has far more saturated and monounsaturated fats in it), the normal is 20-30%.

        I challenge anyone to show me any seafood, fish etc which naturally has 60-70% or more omega-3 fatty acids in them.

        This means the product has been chemically changed so that the consumer can take a smaller dosage to meet his «omega-3 requirement». But there´s likely going to be drawbacks in terms of health.

        I would also be cautious about canned sardines, which alas (they are extremely high in many beneficial nutrients) can be quite rancid too.

        Even the regular fish has a too high omega-3 concentration for the human being in the sense that these are typically living in cold water (and cold blooded) so the fat doesn´t get so rancid.

        I don´t think it is possible to obtain natural fresh unrefined seal oil, but an analysis suggest it has 15% omega-3 fatty acid in it, very high in monounsaturated fats. The seal is warm blooded and more closer to humans biochemically, hence the oil would be better for us (will have natural antioxidants too), that´s likely why it has «only» 15% omega-3 fats.

        • Thanks for your reply

          First of all, I try to get my nutrients from a proper whole food diet, I only eat high quality and fresh foods for my family. As for omega 3, I mainly get it from fresh vegetable greens and fishes, I only eat canned sardine occasionally, Wild Planet’s sardine in EVOO is my only choice.

          I only take one fish oil capsule when I cannot eat enough fish, e.g. on a business trip to my factory in China. Again, not happen every week.

          This nordic naturals product is in Re-esterified triacylglycerol form, yes, it’s purified and concentrated. In fact, I first got to know this brand from someone called Pixie in one of Chris’s old fish oil articles. He works as a chemist in the university and tested over 1800 fish oil products. Acutally, Nordic Naturals is quite a well known brand, tho.

          I read EFSA report regarding fish oil production and aware of the potential health risk of rancidity. I don’t prefer liquid form.

          My safety measures for fish oil are:

          Only buy the freshest batch. Get the least number of capsules ones so that they can be consumed sooner, Actually, I order it once every month anyway no matter how many capsules I have taken. Since I don’t take them everyday, usually I give the leftover capsules away to people who like to take fish oil.

          The lemon flavor is added to the capsule, not the fish oil. I cut open the capsule and taste the oil sometimes and never found it gone rancid once.

          I have my lipid including Apo B counts, crp and other various markers test periodically, so far no problem after taking this fish oil.

          • Hi,

            I fear that the refinement and deodorization of the oil while making it appear fresh, can actually be worse than the oils that taste more rancid as a result of the unfiltered fish residue. It´s like the potatoe chips made from deep frying the potatoes in (highly unsaturated) refined and deodorized soybean oil. These potatoe chips can taste just fine even after years of storage. Yet it´s one of the most cancer promoting foods. I think it is probably best to not take fish oil supplements at all. We do not yet know the long term outcome of «The Great Fish Oil Experiment» in humans. Even if fish eating populations are healthy, it doesn´t mean fish oil supplements are healthy, just as it doesn´t mean isolated fructose supplements are healthy just because fruit eating populations are healthy.

  6. Choline is very important! The brain is probably the organ that has and need the most choline, with around 450 mg found in 100 gm beef brain, 50% more than kidneys or liver. So in the brain of animals, it appears choline is found in almost as high quantities as DHA. Egg yolks would be a good way of obtaining the choline, say 6 egg yolks per day for a few months therapeutically followed by 2 per day as maintenance dosage. 1 yolk could supply 100-150 mg choline, while muscle meat may only have 70 mg per 100 grams.

    The RDA is around 500 mg but some people appears to require as much as 1000 mg. Human milk has 400 mg/2000 kcal, but human milk in general is very low in vitamins and minerals, providing typically only 30-60% of the RDA for most nutrients (the exceptions being vitamin A, C and calcium), hence adjusted for this, perhaps 600-800 mg is more reasonable relatively. Betaine (beets, spinach, wheat bran), may reduce the need for choline however.

    I think excess DHA intake could just lead to poor brain performance, I know this personally and also observe other confused people with brain fog etc as a result of the rancid fish oil capsules they take. Chess master Magnus Carlsen allegedly never eat fish.

    I would also consider blood sugar balance, and take into account the different effects of various types of carbs. Fruits (and honey) helps to increase glycogen to feed the brain, and balances blood sugar, root starches like potatoes appears to have very different effect than grain starches on blood sugar. Each individual should probably do some experiment with different types of carbs. The type, I believe, is more important than the absolute amount.

  7. Great podcast, Chris. Learn more every time you post.

    Your caution re methylation and B12 is spot-on.

    After having my 23&Me raw data analyzed, I learned that my body can’t tolerate methylcobalamin. The recommended alternative was to try hydroxocobalamin. I’ve tolerated it very well, and it’s been a significant component re having energy for the day.

  8. I continue to wonder about EFA supplementation. For many years, I gave my whole family fermented cod liver oil. Then…I stopped for a while, wondering if it was really a good idea. Then, I started giving it again, and finally realized that doses of FLCO dramatically exacerbated one of my children’s Bloody Nose Problem (his bloody noses are amazingly profuse, start with no noticeable trigger, and can last for up to a half-hour).

    I wonder what else might come into play with essential fatty acid metabolism? And I also wonder why it would cause bleeding issues (I have heard of it worsening other types of bleeding)…

    • It is common amongst fish oil capsule manufacturers to have in excess of 300 mg of EPA and over 200 mg of DHA, with insignificant amounts of other omega-3 derivatives. They typically recommend 2 capsules each day for a total of over 600 mg EPA and 400 mg DHA daily. Three grams of plant based essential fatty acids per day is the general prophylactic dosage. Therefore the amount of essential omega-3 (ALA) is approximately 1,000 mg. Given that 2% maximum of this would be converted into the omega-3 derivative DHA, that would mean the body would naturally convert only 20 mg to DHA. Contrast this with the fish oil dosage of more than 400 mg, i.e., a DHA pharmacological overdose by a factor of 20! EPA overdose is even worse, as only 0.26% of ALA is normally converted. Of the 1,000 mg of ALA in a normal dose just 2.6 mg is converted, whereas the fish oil supplement provides over 600 mg or a 250-fold pharmacological overdose of EPA. This is analogous to giving the patient 250 aspirin tablets — you would kill him! Krill oil has less of the overdose amounts (approximately 130 mg EPA and 70 mg DHA per capsule) but it is still quite harmful.

      • Are you saying that ALA is what we need to thrive?

        you said: “Of the 1,000 mg of ALA in a normal dose just 2.6 mg is converted, whereas the fish oil supplement provides over 600 mg or a 250-fold pharmacological overdose of EPA.”

        Sorry, couldn’t find ANY published literature saying that 600mg is OVERDOSE. can you provide any legitimate source of reference for it?

        Are you also asserting that eating oily fish is harmful as it contains a lot more than 2.6mg of EPA and DHA?

        Thanks

        • There are only 2 essential fatty acids, ALA (Alpha Linoleic Acid) is the Omega-3 and LA (Linoleic Acid) is the Omega-6. We need about 1000 mg of these 2 fatty acids everyday from our diet, we cannot make them. DHA and EPA are derivatives, are not required from our diet as we can make all that is necessary. DHA and EPA are 320 times more oxidizable (therefore, unstable) therefore, luckily, most of what we ingest from fish oil spontaneously oxidizes at body temperature and upon exposure to stomach acid (fishy burps?) which the body simply eliminates. If it was fully absorbed, it would be a massive overdose.
          “the physiologic amounts of EFA (Essential Fatty Acids)-derivatives are naturally extremely small. In fact, over 95%-99% of parent EFAs stay in the native form form. There is a maximum of < 2% natural conversion of ALA to the derivatives EPA and DHA and this conversion is easily achieved in the general population.6 Even babies adequately convert PEOs into derivatives.7

          6. Sinclair, A. J., N. M. Attar-Bashi. and D. Li. 2002. 'What is the role of alphalinolenic acid for mammals. Lipids 37: I 113-23: Salem.Jr,. N.,J. Yuhong Lin. T. Brenna. R.]. Pawlosky. Alpha-linoleic acid conversion revisited. PUFA Newsletter. Available at http://www.fatsoflife.com/article.php nid=1&id=15&issueid_31 &edition=arch; Crawford. M. A. 2000. Commentary on the workshop statement. Essentiality of and recommended dietary intakes for omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 63: 131-4: Barcelo-Coblijn. G .• E.J. Murphy. R. Othman. M. H. Moghadasian, T. Kashour and J. K. Friel 2008. Flaxseed oil and fish-oil capsule consumption alters human red blood cell n-3 falty acid composilion: a muhiple-dosing trial comparing 2 sources of n-3 fany acids. Am J Clin Nutr 88: 801-9; Hussein, N . E. Ah-Sing. P. Wilkinson, C. Leach. B. A. Griffin BA. and D. J. Millward. 2005. Long-chain conversion of [13C]linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid in response to marked changes in their dietary inlake in men. J Lipid Res 46: 269-80; Demmelmair, H. B, Iser, A. Rauh·Pfeiffer, and B, Koletzko. 1999. Comparison of bolus versus fractionated oral applications of [13C] linoleic acid in humans. Eur J Clin Invst 29: 603-9.

          7. Camiclli. V. P.. O. J. Wa{timena. I. H. Luijendijk. A. Boerbgc. H. J. Dcgcnhart,
          and P.J. Sauer.I996. The very low birth weight premature infant is capable of
          synthesizing arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acids from linoleic and linolenic acids. Pediat Res 40: 169-74.

          • Seems to me that your whole argument is predicated on the assumption that the long chain omega 3 such as EPA and DHA are the derivatives of the short chain omega 3 ALA, since the “natural” conversion” rate is low for ALA to become DHA/EPA, as a result any dosage exceeding this conversion amount is deemed unnatural and toxic.

            Well, if what you said I right, it means countless published science papers got it all wrong, it also means that eating fishes such as sardine or salmon that are naturally rich in long chain omega 3 can be detrimental to health as well, which I highly doubt it is the case.

            In addition to that, not all fish oil capsule causing fishy burps, those are simply bad products.

            • Interesting you say that because there are only 2 essential fatty acids and they are LA and ALA. Read any biochemistry text book. And if fish oil really worked, you wouldn’t need “countless” studies. (In fact there are about 15000 studies and approx half are positive and half are negative, not an overwhelming scientific endorsement).
              And oily fish? read this. Burr, et al.,”Lack of benefit of dietary advice to men with angina: results of a controlled trial,”
              Eur J Clin Nutr 2003, 57:193-200. Or this,
              Sharon Begley’s insightful Newsweek article, “Why Almost Everything You Hear About Medicine is Wrong,” which cites Dr. Ioannidis’ findings, was published in the January 31, 2011 edition on pages 8-9.
              The number of studies is inversely proportional to the effectiveness of what is being studied.
              Fish oil doesn’t work because it can’t work. It can’t work because there are no significant metabolic pathways that omega-3 EFA derivatives influence that could possibly give those supposed “extraordinary” results.
              1990 from the medical textbook “Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids: Pathophysiology and Roles in Clinical Medicine, New Your: Wiley-Liss, 1990, pages 24-25, “Many doctors and investigators seem to be under the impression that the n-3 EFAs are much more important than the n-6 EFAs. Nothing could be further from the truth….”

            • I’m not sure why my response was not posted, but LA and ALA are the only 2 essential fatty acids, read any biochemistry textbook. If fish oil was truly good for you, there wouldn’t be so many studies. There are about 15000 studies that have been done, half are positive, half are neutral or negative, not a ringing endorsement. It also doesn’t make any biochemical or logical sense that a land animal would be somehow deficient of a fish derived product.

    • Regarding fatty acid metabolism I believe I have a Problem since my carnitine is so low ever though I eat a grass fed beef diet. My anion gap is also at the high range of normal since I became I’ll two years ago. So sarabeth your child with nosebleeds… I had been diagnosed with ( ITP) idiopathic thrombocytic purpra 30 years ago which is a bleeding disorder, due to low platelets. It can give you nosebleeds. I believe my ITP is related to whatever I have going on now, a metabolic disorder due to carnitine deficiency. Does your child also get purple dots on the skin or plain old bruising? Platelet test is a blood test.

      • Hi Stacey,

        I’m continuing to ponder my child’s nosebleed issue, which is definitely exacerbated (though not caused) by fish oil, which makes me fairly certain that fatty acid imbalance is involved. Is excessive bleeding with fish oil a symptom of your “idiopathic thrombocytic purpra” as well?

        Thanks!
        –Sarabeth

              • Hi Jeff,

                I did find your recommended paper interesting: http://www.pharmacologyweekly.com/articles/fish-oil-omega-3-fatty-acids-EPA-DHA-Lovaza-platelet-inhibition-bleeding-risk-mechanism .

                My take-home from this is that in SOME people, therapeutic doses of DHA/EPA can be problematic. But still, for others, it can be useful. Part of the problem seems to be that many people can’t do the conversion from ALA into EPA/DHA, and therefore will get negligible amounts of the latter from their diets, thereby contributing to their health concerns.

                According to CK’s interesting article here http://chriskresser.com/the-fish-vs-fish-oil-smackdown , eating fish provides both more, and more absorbable EPA/DHA than fish oil: “6 oz. portion of wild salmon contains 883 mg of EPA and 1,111 mg of DHA. 2-3 servings a week of salmon, combined with a low intake on omega-6, would be adequate for most people.” It’s hard for me to imagine, then, that it would be universally harmful to supplement n3 fats in the context of an imperfect diet with little access to good-quality fish.

                It seems like balance is important, and taking individual biochemistry into account is also necessary…

                I’m now thinking about my son – we’re still experimenting, because it’s obvious that _just_ adding a source of n3 fats is not a good idea for him. Yet, I would like him to be able to take a high-quality cod liver oil because it has preformed vitamin A, D, etc. For the past two weeks, when I’ve combined a low dose of this with evening primrose oil, there have been no more nosebleeds at all!

                But now…he has dark circles around his eyes. And I wonder which pathway to try next!

                Regards,
                Sarabeth

                • Stop the cod liver oil. You might be seeing early signs of vit A toxicity. Kids make enough DHA/EPA on their own, they do not need extra. Remember the amount of DHA/EPA in fish is mostly destroyed when cooking, they are very unstable. The Japanese consume the most raw fish and have the highest rates of hemorrhagic strokes (bleeding type) in the world. With the proper Omega-6 you are giving him, (evening primrose oil) he will probably be absorbing vit A very efficiently (fat soluble vitamin) so he may now be getting too much. If you want a balanced source of both Omegas, you can click on my name and order. Otherwise, aim for a 2.5 to 1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3, 18 carbon, plant based versions.

  9. Hi Chris,

    Helpful podcast, thanks. Do you have any experience with smart drugs (racetams)? What about Alpha GPC? Also wondering if there’s a simple test that could tell me if I’m choline dominant or not?

    Many thanks!

  10. I was diagnosed by my gi doctor to have a carnitine deficiency. I am celiac. Total and free level 15% below clinical low. He tested me because I told him I was too weak to get out of bed or stand I’m the shower. I eat paleo, mostly grass fed beef diet.
    You talk about metabolic issues while my doctor has not investigated the reason for the deficiency. Can you recommend a doctor that can help me. I live in New York close to manhattan.

  11. Dr. William Walsh, inheritor of Carl Pfeiffer’s work and author of Nutrient Power: Heal your Biochemistry, Heal Your Brain, says that folate is not good for undermethylators. They tend to be intolerant of folate. . But he recommends it for overmethylation. He writes (pg 40) “folates increase methyl levels in tissues and the bloodstream, but they reduce methylation at certain histones that regulate gene expression” [and thus production of reuptake proteins], It’s the science behind the methyl connection to mental health.

  12. I’ve looked all over for an electric kettle that has no plastic coming in contact with the hot water — at the very least, they all have windows showing the water level that are made of plastic. Anybody know of one that’s all stainless, with no internal seams that could rust?

    • Buy from trustworthy sources and not go for the cheapest. Yes, rancidity is a concern with fish oils. Krill oil doesn’t go rancid as easily, I’ve heard, especially if it’s fortified with astaxanthin. A few drops of astaxanthin squeezed out of a capsule in your bottle of olive oil will help prevent oxidation as well.

  13. HI Chris
    I have been reading your articles for a while – and they have helped..but I am wondering if you by chance can recommend anyone in the San Diego area that I can meet with for more advise…someone with the same school of thought.
    In a nutshell, in about Nov of 2013 I started to have a bad cough, and asthma type issues- as well as the first signs of gerd. ( a couple of times waking up at night vomiting from it- but not often). I also had a parasite around that time- not sure which came first but I am sure the whole leaking gut issue came into play.
    I saw a chiropractor and he helped- I rarely have any heartburn anymore, and the only real symptom is a chronic cough- all through the day and most nights.
    I don’t take as many supplements as I did during last year- but I do take Udo’s probiotic and organic Sauerkraut .

    I have read some of Norm Robillard’s site – about the low carb diet being the cause…then I also read about Potato Starch ( he is against it) and Soil based Probiotics….and both make a bit of sense since I think my LPR is probably from some sort of bacteria issue since I had that last year. I just don’t want to mess with SBProbiotics and PS until I have a deeper understanding since there seems to be such different opinions.

    • Seems to me “deeper understanding” in this situation needs to be secondary to the visit to a pulmonologist to exclude more serious causes of chronic cough, especially depending on your age, family history and history, if any, of smoking or occupational exposure.
      While GERD may produce an occasional cough or characteristic frequent clearing of the throat, chronic cough is definitely not an issue to procrastinate and seek answers about online.

  14. I would like to add to the sleep portion of this. After taking in a lot of information taking an additional nap during the day will help to solidify what you learned. There are plenty of studies that show this. So if you can work in even just a 30 minute nap every day just count it as “studying” because it really helps for your brain to assimilate the information.

    Good luck to you Julia, I want to become a medical doctor myself and this information will be invaluable when crunch time comes. The 30 minute nap is part of my master plan!

  15. Hi Chris, most of what is said above is correct but your dissertation on fatty acids is completely wrong and not backed up by biochemistry. 99% of the 18 carbon Omega-6 and-3 stay in their native form. Less than 1% get converted to DHA/EPA and for a very good reason, we don’t need that much of them. The brain doesn’t need that much of it at all. I can’t conceive of a natural system that as a land animal would leave us deficient of fish fatty acids that we would have no hope in catching from a mile beneath the ocean surface. This is bad science and all the modern literature is leading us away from the fish oil/krill oil debacle. If you would like, I can put you in touch with the world’s leading expert in this area. Please do not promote this bad advice in amongst all the other good advice you are offering.

      • Journal of Nat. Cancer Inst. July 10, 2013
        JAMA. Vol. 308, No. 10. Sept. 12, 2012
        Am. J. of Epidemiology. Vol. 173, No. 12. 2011. pp 1429-39
        Lipids. Vol. 27, Issue 2. February, 1992. pp 98-103
        Food and Nutrition Science. Vol. 4, No. 9A. 2013. pp 76-85
        Journal of Lipid Research. Vol. 28. 1987. pp 495-509.

        Got more if you want more. All of these studies are well done and supported by known biochemistry.

        • This omega 3 & prostate cohort prospective study has so many confounding variables such as diet and carbohydrates; how about processed carbs and sugars? Was that controlled in the study? My enlarged prostate of 8 years returned to normal when I switched to a low-carb paleo diet..

          • Well I never said the Paleo Diet was bad for enlarged prostate, just the fish oil. See below.

            Am. J. of Epidemiology. Vol. 173, No. 12. 2011. pp 1429-39.

            “The 2011 Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial found
            similar results: Omega-3 fatty acids were associated
            with a large increase in prostate cancer. In this
            study, the researchers reported that compared to
            those in the lowest quartile of omega-3 fatty acid
            intake, those in the highest quartile had a 250
            percent greater risk of high-grade prostate cancer”

            • I think I read this paper before, It’s a paper done by Brasky, right?

              The conclusion in one particular paper:

              ω-3 fatty acids, considered beneficial for coronary artery disease prevention, may increase high-grade prostate cancer risk, whereas trans-fatty acids, considered harmful, may reduce high-grade prostate cancer risk.

              It’s an observational study, so as his SELECT Trial.

              I am sure you have heard of the phase” Correlation doesn’t mean causation”.

              The thing is that EFSA recently reviewed all the evidences and made the following scientific opinion: The Panel considers that, on the basis of available data, there is no evidence for a role of EPA and/or DHA intake in the development of prostate cancer.

              What are the differences between the studies you quoted and this 12 years Harverd study?
              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12540506

              and this? 30 years follow up on fish intake and risk of prostate cancer.
              http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11403817

              If eating fish alone raises prostate cancer risk, then populations, such as the Japanese, in which fish consumption is relatively high, would have very high rates of prostate cancer. This does not seem to be the case. Can you explain this?

              I am not here to defend DHA or EPA, I only try to see things rationally and logically.

              Please enlighten me with more direct evidences.

              Peace

              • Those 2 studies were observational studies and as you say, association is not causation. The men who ate fish probably just had healthier lifestyle. In the end, it doesn’t matter, if you can’t explain something through metabolic pathways, then how could it work? Cancer rates in general are so high in North America compared to the rest of the world, population studies are unlikely to yield many answers. The North American diet is so far from our ancestral diet that comparisons to other populations are meaningless, we are the outliers. But unfortunately, we are dragging the rest of the world down with us. China has surpassed USA for number of diabetics due to adoption of the American diet. And the cause of cancer is not what you think.

              • Also, if you knew how fish oil was produced, you would never put it in your body. Doesn’t it just make sense that we grew up ancestrally with plants, and have only had access to deep sea creatures for only the past few hundred years. Does it make sense that we are somehow deficient in fish fatty acids?

                • Long chain Omega-3 fatty acids are found in high amounts in a variety of land-dwelling creatures and insects that were highly accessible to hunter-gatherers throughout human history. Your characterization that LCO3s are found only in oily fish that live deep beneath the ocean’s surface is inaccurate and misleading.

                  We “grew up ancestrally” with plants, animals, and insects. Consumption of animals has been a part of hominid evolutionary history for millions of years. Are you really sure you want to stake the scientific merits of a vegan lifestyle on the ancestral argument?

        • The international Parent Essential Oils Society? Of course they’re finding DHA and EPA are “dangerous”. This is what came up when I looked up the 5th study.

          “RETRACTED

          This manuscript has been retracted as a result of an undeclared competing interest on the part of the manuscript’s author. “

            • Dr Jeff,

              Just curious. Why have countless people reported improvements after taking fish and cod liver oil if it’s so bad. I am just curious as to your view of this?

              • While there is some temporary improvement, the brain only needs 10mg of EPA/DHA per day, not the 300mg plus in most supplements. If you look you will find most studies are short term ones, try asking if anyone still feels benefit after 2 years, I doubt you will. Most nutritionists I know are giving up on fish oil because they are frustrated with lack of results.

    • Dr. Jeff, it seems like you’re basing your claims that DHA/EPA are not essential on the fact that there is a very low conversion rate from ALA in most people. However, the human body does not manufacture a large number of its own nutrients that are indeed essential.

      For example, the human species is one of the only species of mammals that does not make its own Vitamin C. Do you also propose that you “can’t conceive a natural system that as a land animal would leave us deficient of” Vitamin C, dependent on vegetables for which we’d have to forage? The reasoning isn’t sound.

      If you recommended intakes of nutrients based on what the human body “converts” on its own, we’d be deficient in all sorts of areas. I haven’t seen solid evidence that the body always produces what it needs once given a particular substrate; if that were the case, wouldn’t supplementation as has been popular in the past few decades have eradicated most disease already?

      I disagree with your characterization of the source of long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids. Oily fish that “live a mile under the ocean’s surface” are NOT the only source of LCO3s (even if they were, that’s not a reasonable argument that we don’t need LCO3s anyway). Most fish available at the surface of ocean, sea, bay, and river waters contain LCO3s. Animals hunted throughout human evolutionary history contain favorable ratios of Omega-6 to Omega-3. Early human sites show that humans regularly ate the brain matter of ruminants for nutrients essential to human health:

      http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0128931

      Our closest primate relatives (chimpanzees, gorillas, and bonobos) eat copious amounts of insects that are also high sources of DHA/EPA (come to think of it, hunter-gatherers and even modern humans eat insects as well).

      In this study,

      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140205165757.htm

      , monkeys that were given a diet rich in DHA developed far better neural networks than monkeys deprived of LCO3’s.

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