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Feeling Achy? Try Eating These Foods

If suffering from joint pain is a common start to your day, consider adding these foods to your diet. Each can help to address the pain and symptoms associated with stiff, painful joints.

If your mornings begin with stiffness, pain and swollen joints, you may be experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis. In addition to getting regular exercise (low-impact is the best) and maintaining a healthy weight, consider the following nutritional strategies to help prevent or lessen symptoms.

1.   Eat foods rich in antioxidants. A variety of colors of fresh organic fruits and vegetables are good sources, and may help reduce tissue damage from inflammation.

2.   Get enough omega-3s. The omega-3 fatty acids provided in oily fish (such as wild Alaskan salmon), walnuts and freshly ground flaxseed might help reduce the inflammation and pain of arthritis.

3.   Regularly use ginger and turmeric in cooking and/or supplements for their natural anti-inflammatory properties.

What Fish Can Do for Your Brain

Here’s a strategy that could help you keep your wits about you as you age: eat baked or broiled fish at least once a week. A study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that seniors who routinely ate baked or broiled fish had larger brain volumes in areas linked to memory and cognition. The researchers were surprised to find that the connection between a weekly dish of broiled or baked fish and bigger brains seemed to be related to lifestyle factors (of which diet is one part), and go beyond the fish providing omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to help stave off age-related brain changes. The 260 seniors who participated in the study were cognitively normal when they joined a larger study of heart health in people over 65 and they all remained cognitively normal when tested later in the heart study. For the brain study, all the participants underwent high resolution MRI scans, which revealed brain volume in the two key areas. Those who reported eating broiled or baked fish weekly were more likely to have a college education than other study participants. Eating fried fish, however, provided no evidence of these benefits for the brain.

Sources:
Cyrus A. Raji and James T. Becker, et al “Regular Fish Consumption and Age-Related Brain Gray Matter Loss.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.05.037

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Eat Farmed Fish

Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is a favorite food of many, but when buying salmon and other fish, it is important to know its origins. Farmed fish is not a better option than wild-caught fish. Most farmed fish:

  1. Have unfavorable ratios of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids to pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids – meaning you get less of the good omega-3s and more of the less healthy omega-6s.
  2. Are raised in crowded conditions that are unnatural – and to help prevent infection they are given antibiotics. This means the fish are likely to contain residues of pesticides, antibiotics and other synthetic compounds used to control diseases that occur when fish are crowded in pens.
  3. May have lower levels of protein - as much as 20 percent less - compared to wild fish, making it a less valuable source of this essential nutrient.
  4. May have higher concentrations of cancer-causing chemicals such as PCBs and dioxin.
  5. Are resource- and energy-intensive (it takes several pounds of feed fish to produce one pound of farmed fish) and do not protect dwindling wild stock.

Choose wild-caught salmon, especially from the Pacific fisheries - they are more sustainably fished and have a larger, more stable population. If wild-caught salmon is cost-prohibitive, canned salmon (choose products containing salmon from wild, not farmed, sources) is a good alternative.

Eating Anti-Inflammatory Made Simple
Take the guesswork out of a healthful diet with Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging. Our shopping and eating guides, over 300 recipes, tips and videos follow Dr. Weil's recommended anti-inflammatory principles for promoting better health, from head to toe. See what it's about - start your free trial today and save 30% when you join!

Getting Enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Video)

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial to optimal brain and nervous system development in the fetus. Dr. Weil discusses how we have an imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids due to our diet. Dr. Weil also suggests taking an omega-3 supplement derived from molecularly distilled fish oils that are naturally high in both EPA and DHA and low in contaminants.

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Omega-3s for a Good Night’s Sleep

A new study from the UK suggests that taking supplements of omega-3 fatty acids may improve sleep, at least among kids. For their sleep study, researchers at the University of Oxford recruited 362 children between the ages of seven and nine. The children chosen weren’t selected because they had sleeping problems, but it turned out that 40 percent of them did. The researchers outfitted 43 of the kids who weren’t sleeping well with wristband sensors to monitor their movements in bed over five nights. All the youngsters received supplements of either 600 mg of omega-3s from algal sources or a placebo, which they took for 16 weeks. The researchers reported the sleep-monitored kids given the omega-3s slept 58 minutes longer than they had in the past and awakened seven fewer times a night than the kids who received the placebo. The study found that higher blood levels of long-chain omega 3 DHA (the main omega-3 fatty acid found in the brain) are significantly associated with better sleep. Study leader Paul Montgomery noted that lower ratios of DHA have been linked with lower levels of melatonin, which he said fits in with the finding that kids with sleep problems may have lower blood levels of DHA.

Sources:
Paul Montgomery et al. “Fatty acids and sleep in UK children: Subjective and pilot objective sleep results from the DOLAB study – a randomised controlled trial.” Journal of Sleep Research, March 2014 DOI: 10.1111/jsr.12135

Eat Fish, Improve Cholesterol

Researchers in Finland have found that eating salmon and other oily fish three or four times a week positively changes HDL, the “good” cholesterol that protects against heart disease. Eating lots of oily fish is associated with increased numbers of larger-sized HDL particles. That’s a desirable change, since large HDL particles are the most effective at sweeping up deposits of cholesterol that build up on artery walls and raise the risk of heart attack. The study participants ate fatty fish such as salmon, rainbow trout and herring prepared without butter or cream. The study didn’t reveal whether participants who ate low-fat fish had similar benefits, but the researchers noted that other studies have suggested that eating low-fat fish can help control blood pressure.

My take? This study gives us new insight into how eating oily fish affects HDL and benefits health, and it confirms that to get those benefits you have to eat fish frequently – three or four times a week. Epidemiology shows us that populations eating fish regularly have increased longevity and experience less chronic disease than populations that do not include fish as part of their traditional diets. Fish provides high-quality protein without the saturated fat present in meat and poultry. Wild salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and bluefish are all rich in the omega-3 fatty acids needed for optimum health.

Eating Anti-Inflammatory Made Simple
Take the guesswork out of a healthful diet with Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging. Our shopping and eating guides, over 300 recipes, tips and videos follow Dr. Weil's recommended anti-inflammatory principles for promoting better health, from head to toe. See what it's about - start your free trial today and save 30% when you join!

Sources:
Maria Lankinen et al “Effects of Whole Grain, Fish and Bilberries on Serum Metabolic Profile and Lipid Transfer Protein Activities: A Randomized Trial (Sysdimet)”, PLOS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090352

Fishy Approach to Rheumatoid Arthritis

Eating at least one weekly serving of fish seems to help cut the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by 35 percent.Eating at least one weekly serving of fish – of any kind – seems to help cut the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by 35 percent, and regular long-term (for at least a decade) consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish such as salmon reduces the risk by 50 percent. This finding, from a study at Sweden’s famed Karolinska Institutet, supports the conclusions from an earlier Swedish study showing a 20 percent reduction in the risk of rheumatoid arthritis among both men and women who reported eating at least one serving of fatty fish per month. The researchers reviewed detailed diet questionnaires completed by 32,232 midlife and older Swedish women, 205 of whom were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis over an average of about eight years. The Karolinska team concluded that the lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis seen among participating women seemed to be associated with the omega-3s the women were getting from the fish in their diet. The investigators looked at how often the women reported eating fish, not their use of fish oil supplements. The study was published online on August 12, 2013 by the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.

Source:
Alicja Wolk, et al "Long-term intake of dietary long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and risk of rheumatoid arthritis: a prospective cohort study of women." Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases   2013 DOI: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-203338.

Omega-3s for Strong Bones

Omega-3 fatty acids may protect against bone lossPostmenopausal women who are increasing their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids for heart health may get a big bonus: protection against hip fractures. Researchers at Ohio State University analyzed blood samples from postmenopausal women and found that those with higher levels of omega-3s (from both fish and plant sources) were less likely to have broken a hip compared to women whose blood samples were low in omega-3s. The researchers also looked at levels of omega-6 fatty acids and found that hip fracture risk increased as the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s went up. Omega-6s (from linoleic acid found in corn, soybean, safflower and sunflower oils) are more plentiful in our diets than omega-3s. The ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s should be no higher than four to one and ideally closer to two to one, but it is generally much higher, the investigators noted. Because this study was observational in nature – it showed only an association between omega-3s and lower risks of hip fracture - it did not prove cause and effect. But researcher Tonya Orchard, assistant professor of human nutrition, said the findings “add a little more strength to current recommendations to include more omega-3s in the diet."

Source:
Tonya Orchard and Rebecca Jackson et al, “The association of red blood cell n-3 and n-6 fatty acids with bone mineral density and hip fracture risk in the women's health initiative”, Journal of Bone Mineral Research, March 2013  doi: 10.1002/jbmr.1772.

How Much Omega-3s for Pregnant Women? (Video)

Given that omega-3 fatty acids protect both babies and mothers during pregnancy – babies from impaired brain development, and mothers from depression – it’s imperative that pregnant women ingest adequate amounts of these essential fats.

Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, lead clinical investigator at the National Institutes of Public Health and internationally recognized authority on the link between essential fatty acids and depression, explains precisely how much omega-3s pregnant women need in their diet and where to get them.

Omega-3s for Vegetarians (Video)

Fish are undoubtedly the best source of omega-3 fatty acids in the human diet, which poses a problem for vegetarians and vegans. Here, Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, lead clinical investigator at the National Institutes of Public Health and internationally recognized authority on the link between essential fatty acids and depression, explains what measures those who do not eat fish should take to prevent an omega-3 deficiency.