At Bremen Family Health and Wellness Center, we offer two main nutrition therapies:
- Antioxidant Therapy
- Nutritional Therapy for Arterial Sclerosis
This is a multi purpose diet designed to reduce and eliminate the dietary intake of those substances known to be pro-inflammatory to our cardiovascular, nervous system, and musculoskeletal system and replace them with the anti-inflammatory nutrients that will restore optimal health to each of these systems. This diet is ideally suited for those with chronic joint, muscle or spinal related pain, cardiovascular disease, and neurological dysfunctions. While this is not intended to be a weight loss diet, strict adherence may result in a significant reduction of weight for some individuals.
Recent research has clearly demonstrated that an imbalance in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is pro-inflammatory and is a promoter of heart disease; all types of cancer; pain; neurological and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and many other inflammatory, metabolic and degenerative diseases.
Today's diet which is typically very high in grains, trans-fatty acids and hydrogenated fats and oils, results in an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of between 20:1 to 40:1 when ideally, it should be 2:1 and certainly less than 4:1. The presence of too many omega-6's, causes cell membranes to become too stiff to function properly and also results in an imbalance in the production of hormones known as eicosanoids which include prostaglandins, leukotriens and thromboxanes. These substances are essential for normal bodily functions and can either be anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory. In general, omega-3 fatty acids are converted to anti-inflammatory eicosanoids and omega-6 fatty acids are converted to pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. An imbalance of these hormones or the presence of too many pro-inflammatory eicosanoids has been linked to many immune system disorders and inflammatory diseases. Since omega-6's, are significantly more abundant in many of the foods we eat an imbalance in these fatty acids is obviously quite easy to obtain. It is therefore essential that we identify and avoid these omega-6 rich foods and replace them with the omega-3 rich foods.
Omega-6 fatty acids are most prevalent in highly processed and refined foods, such as but not limited to; margarine, shortening, prepared mixes, deep-fat fried foods, commercial baked goods, bread, cakes, cookies, crackers, rice, pasta, processed cheese and deli goods, candies, fast foods and snack foods. Most all of these foods contain high amounts of trans-fats and or hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. Potato chips and French fries, which are usually cooked in these oils, are among the top producers of omega-6's with a ratio of over 60:1.
Omega-3's are most abundant in fish and shellfish and to a lesser extent, in dark green leafy vegetables, walnuts, wild game meat, grass fed beef and poultry and omega-3 rich eggs. As it can be difficult to obtain enough omega-3 fatty acids through food intake alone, supplementation with fish and flax seed oil is highly recommended.
I have provided a list of those foods that contain significant amounts of omega-6's and need to be eliminated or significantly reduced from your diet. There is also a list of the omega-3 rich foods that should be an integral part of your diet. Your ultimate goal is for an omega 6 to 3 ratio of about 2 to 1. As mentioned above, supplementation is important. The more omega-6 foods you eat, the more omega-3 supplements you will need. Following the foods to avoid list is a suggested supplementation guide. As we will be eliminating a substantial amount of grains from the diet, fiber intake may need to be increased somewhat and this can easily be accomplished by eating more fruits and veggies or adding a little flax meal or psyllium powder to your food, salads or shakes.
The following foods should be significantly reduced or eliminated from your diet
- Bad Fats: Do not eat anything that contains damaged or altered fats which include: Trans fats, Hydrogenated or Partially Hydrogenated oils, Margarine or Shortening. Bad fats are also found in most all Fast Foods and in many Bottled Salad Dressings, Buttermilk, Cream substitutes, Half and Half, Imitation Mayonnaise, Imitation Sour Cream, Whipped Cream and Dessert Toppings, Sandwich Spreads, Corn Oil, Palm Oil and most Vegetable Oils.
- Processed Meats and Cheeses: Virtually all processed cold cuts including: Bologna, Salami, Corned Beef, Sausage, Honey Loaf, Pastrami, Pepperoni, Pork Headcheese, Vienna Sausage, Aged cheeses, Yellow cheeses, and any Processed cheese and meats.
- Refined Grain Products: Bread, Pasta and Rice products including: Bagels, Biscuits, Bread Stuffing, Cold Cereal, Corn Cakes, Corn Tortilla's, Popcorn, Croutons, Dinner Rolls, Doughnuts and commercially baked goods, Flour Tortilla's, Macaroni, Noodles, Spaghetti, Pizza, Pancakes, Waffles, English Muffins, Pita Bread, Pie Crust, Pastries, Cakes, Popovers and Ice Cream Cones. In limited quantities, you may have the following: Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, Cream of Rice and Brown Rice.
- Processed, Sweets and Snack Foods: Potato chips, Corn chips and Banana chips, Pork Skins, Pretzels, Sesame Sticks, Candy, Cookies, Crackers, Frostings, Frozen Desserts, Jams and Jellies, Granola and other High Energy Bars, Protein Bars, Canned foods(except for tuna), Pudding, French fries, Cocoa, Gelatin Desserts, Sherbet, Ice Cream and Syrup.
- Other Harmful Food Ingredients: Alcohol(accelerates the aging process), Caffeine, High Fructose Corn Syrup (present in most juice drinks and protein/energy bars), Cornstarch, Olestra, Saccharin, Salt, White Sugar, and the sugar family of Sucrose, Maltose, Dextrose Polydextrose, Sorbital and Maltodextrin(sugars cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies and also accelerate the aging process).
Omega 3 supplementation
Even if you have eliminated all of the above, you will still need to add some omega 3 fatty acids. If you eat out a lot, you will need more and if you still want to cheat a bit on the list above, you will also need more. The following is recommended, use more or less depending on your eating habits:
- Flax Oil: 2000 to 3000 mg's per day (2-6 capsules or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon), flax seed can also be used, mix it into salads, and veggies, it is generally tasteless.
- Fish Oil: EPA/DHA, (should read heavy metal free on label) 5000 to 8000 mg's per day.
- Multiple Vitamins: A whole food multi vitamin/mineral supplement that provides all the daily requirements and includes phytonutrients will prevent deficiencies and enhance omega 3 fatty acid production.
- Co Q 10: A very powerful antioxidant that you can not afford to be without, 100 mg per day.
The following foods are the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids and/or anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and antioxidants and should be the mainstay of your diet.
- Fruits: Blueberries, Raspberries, Cherries, Strawberries, Apples, Blackberries, Concord and Red Grapes. Although these are best, all fruits are generally ok and the more colorful the fruit is, the better it is for you.
- Vegetables: Kale, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cauliflower, Carrots, Celery, Onions, Spinach, Tomatoes, Collard, Mustard and Turnip greens, Peppers, Arugula, Field Greens, Spring Mix or California Greens. Sweet Potatoes are ok in limited quantities, although they do contain some carbs so if your trying to lose weight you may want to eliminate these and the carrots from this list.
- Seafood: Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna (if canned: in water or olive oil only), Herring, Crab, Oysters, Shrimp, and Lobster are best although most fish contain good amounts of omega-3.
- Meats: Wild game such as Venison, Elk, Pheasant and Quail is best. Grass fed or free range Beef, Lamb, and Pork and cage free Poultry is also good and can be bought in most whole food health stores or ordered on line under grassfedorganic.com. Most grocery store meats have been grain and corn fed which means they are probably high in omega-6's and also contain high amounts of hormones and antibiotics.
- Cheese: In limited quantities only: Cottage cheese, Cream cheese, Feta, Goat, Mozzarella, and Ricotta.
- Nuts: Walnuts, Pumpkin seeds and Flax seeds. Most other nuts contain to many omega-6's
- Eggs: Omega 3 rich eggs are available in most grocery stores, with some having as much as 400mg of omega 3 per egg. It is perfectly ok to eat several of these eggs every day if you wish. These chickens have been fed Flax seed, and are also the best ones to eat. The less you cook them the better.
- Cooking Oils: Virgin olive oil (cold pressed), Flax oil or coconut oil. No other oils should be used, Olive oil actually contains anti-oxidants that are more potent than Vitamin C and E. Flax oil contains high concentrations of omega-3's and can easily be used in salads and added to foods during cooking. Keep your flax oils and butter refrigerated to prevent oxidation.
- Beverages: Water and Green Tea are the best. Avoid all ready made fruit juices that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup. Alcohol especially beer, should be kept to a minimum. Red wine can be used sparingly. Add fresh Ginger to Hot Green Tea for a supercharged anti-inflammatory drink.
- Cooking: As mentioned above, use Virgin Olive Oil and flax oil as your primary cooking and Salad oils. Avoid deep frying using flour type batters, and avoid using heavy sauces and gravies on fish and meats that are high in animal fats. A little Butter is ok. All Veggies should be either eaten raw or only lightly steamed or saut�ed in olive oil. Meats should be cooked slow on low heat to prevent damaging the fats, rare to medium. Be careful using Marinades and Meat Tenderizers as well, as many of these contain harmful chemical additives that tend to destroy the omega-3 fatty acids.
- Condiments and Spices: In limited quantities: Mayonnaise (the real kind, try to find the one made from canola oil, most is made from soy bean oil.) and Mustard. The other condiments contain to much sugar and chemical additives and therefore should be avoided. Spices: garlic, rosemary, basil, parsley.