By: Mark Hyman, MD
This article was originally published in The UltraMind Solution.
Do you gather wild plants to eat or hunt for your meat? If not you are likely to be one of the 99 percent of people in the 21st century who are deficient in the most important ingredient in our bodies for normal cell and brain function—omega-3 fatty acids.
You may have heard omega-3s referred to as “essential fatty acids.” Want to know what they are called “essential?” Because your body can’t function without them. If you don’t get enough, your biology breaks down from the very root and you whither.
Despite our fat phobic culture and the rhetoric you may have heard about “low-fat diets” the reality is that you must have fat in your diet if you are going to survive.
For example, the Greenland Inuit (a native tribe in Greenland) consumed between 15-19 grams of omega-3 fats a day from eating whale, walrus, seal, and arctic char. That may be how much we are designed to operate on. Most of us consume far less than 1 gram a day.
But here’s the key thing: You need to get the right kind of fats. Eating the wrong kind of fats will kill you.
What are the right kind of fats?
These special fats come from wild things—which means they are hard to find in today’s society. Today our only real source of omega-3 fats is fish, and most of the fish we eat is contaminated with toxins and mercury, and our oceans are now being severely overfished making the decisions about what to eat that much more complex. So this is a very real problem …
Aside from controlling your gene function, regulating your immune system, and improving your metabolism, these fats are vital components of the cell membrane covering every one of the 100 trillion cells in your body. Without omega-3 fats, the proper messages can’t be communicated from one cell to another.
The two most important omega-3 fats to know about are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). They are both necessary omega-3 fats. Since your brain is mostly fat, and 60 percent of your brain is specifically made of DHA it is easy to see why they are so important. If you don’t have enough, your brain doesn’t work.
Unfortunately, in the last 150 years we have seen an unprecedented change in our fat intake. Refined, omega-6, inflammatory oils including corn, soy, and safflower oils replaced omega-3 fats from fish, wild game, and wild plants.