EFA, or “Essential Fatty Acids” are important!
Did you know that your brain is composed of more than 60% fat? If you don’t have the proper fats to nourish the nerve cells and myelin of the brain you will have some problems down the road (like Alzheimer’s disease). There are two different kinds of fats—bad fats, and good fats. Examples of bad fats include meat fats, processed fats, trans-fats, hydrogenated fats and fats processed under high heat. Good fats are unsaturated and in fluid form at room temperature and are what you should be ingesting as your fat calories.
Some similarities exist between sluggish thyroid and EFA deficiency, and low thyroid, but there are differences, too:
EFA deficiency is associated with:
- Chronic diarrhea, Crohn’s or IBS
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD)
- Irritability or nervousness
- Dry mouth or dry throat
- Skin dryness or cracks behind the ears
- Emphysema, asthma or other chronic lung disease
- Chronic joint pain or arthritis
- History of kidney, bladder or prostate problems
- Infertility, impotence or a history of repeated miscarriages
Essential fatty acids are those fats that the body cannot produce on its own. The body gets these fatty acids directly from the diet. For example:
- LA (Linoleic acid) is an omega-6 fatty acid found in sunflower, safflower, corn and sesame. These fats are used in a large array of body functions.
- ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid found in flax, walnut and green leafy vegetables. These fats are used in a large array of body functions.
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), comes from fish oil, chicken and eggsand is found in the brain.
- GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) comes from the Evening Primrose or Borage plantsand has been used with some success in treating schizophrenia.
There are other EFA’s but this sounds complicated already. Just know that we need all of these fatty acids, and they need to be in specific ratios to work perfectly. It seems like each body needs a little different ratio, but that is what being an individual is all about. We each are attracted to different diets and different foods. The goal has been to find the ratio that works in general for the “normal” body and how to tweak this ratio for dis-eased body types as well.
The most common unsaturated fats that I see most people needing in my own practice are Udo’s Choice Oil Blend, Wheat Germ Oil (especially for reproductive challenges), Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil (especially in the winter months for mild depression), and the lighter oils like Sesame, Apricot, Avocado and Emu oil for use as an after shower body lotion.
My question, of course, is “Who’s normal?” I don’t know anyone that is the same as anyone else. Even identical twins have differences.
There have also been many of studies done on EFA’s over the last several years in the veterinary field as the food companies keep trying to develop diets that are optimally balanced to conquer all the chronic skin disease caused by fleas (those pesky annoying little creatures).
From EFA’s, our bodies make the brain fats and vital messengers that help regulate a huge abound of body activity necessary for peak function. Fatty acids can be saturated or unsaturated, but EFA’s are always unsaturated. EFA’s can be damaged by free radicals (like with well-done and char-broiled meats, oxygen damage and electromagnetic field influences,) and be out competed for receptor sites by saturated fats (from eating too much meat) and trans-fatty acids (from whipped vegetable oils such as margarine).
Therefore, it is a good deal to include some EFA’s with every meal for ultimate health so at least they have a chance to glom onto those receptor sites to make the cells work at maximum capacity for all that they need to do. The Zone Diet developed by Dr. Barry Sears goes into this in depth and his books have a lot of great recipes—especially for those people with diabetes, hypoglycemia, heart disease and obesity.
The bottom line? Eat your raw vegetables, nuts and don’t forget the eggs. Use butter instead of margarine. Fry only in butter, coconut, ghee or olive oil as these fats are not that easily damaged by high temperatures.
Some factors contributing to EFA deficiency include:
- Fast food, low-fat, or low egg diets
- Taking aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
- Taking cortisone, prednisone or other steroids
- Drinking hard liquor on a regular basis
- Regularly using margarine and refined sugars
- Smoking or chewing tobacco.
Links and References:
- See articles on this website: Amino Acid List, Antioxidant List, and article on Eggs for more information on foods that are beneficial for you.
- One of my favorite references for learning about fats is: Smart Fats. How dietary fats and oils affect mental, physical and emotional intelligence. By Michael A Schmidt.
- A great website on good fats is www.udoerasmus.com