There is plenty in the news at present about the risks of various forms of dementia to an already ageing population. The number of people with dementia in the world is going to double every 20 years. There are obvious concerns about who is going to pay for this NHS care in the future and how to reduce the instances of dementia in the future.
Many studies now point to Omega 3’s being vital in reducing the risk of dementia, some studies into Alzheimer’s show upto a 70% reduction in risk for people who regularly eat oily fish.
As a result there has been a major campaign to promote Omega 3’s in our diet (you may have noticed). However, are we asking the right questions? Why not address the behaviour that is causing this imbalance in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids – not to mention many other essential fatty acids for so many people – THEY’RE CALLED ESSENTIAL FOR A REASON.
So what is the cause of this imbalance?
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Having recently read about Dean Karnazes and his amazing feats it strikes me that the Omega 3 balance must be absolutely vital for athletes. In fact on his site he has a really good section on nutrition. Yet again he makes the classic mistake of thinking organic is related to nutrition when it is primarily about soil protection and the environment.
He would do well to get in touch with Ted Slanker and get some grass fed beef rather than organic corn fed beef he might be eating.
If you run 50 marathons in 50 days then I’m thinking that when your body needs to restore the muscle and body tissue it would be better to provide it with the natural balance of essential fatty acids as these are the building blocks of every cell in the body.
remember also that the right fat is good for you…
See Deans Blog here for some great insight on Nutrition and all things running
I’ve just come back from a very helpful “meet the Cheff” event run by HEFF.
Part of the event was a butchery demonstration by a master butcher. I’ve cut up plenty of meat but this guy was really good.
The thing is he was cutting up half a lamb that was bought at a livestock market – so it was a commercial lamb, bred for production not for flavour.
We used to produce commercial lamb and were part of the EBLEX better returns programme. Basically we were producing lean meat as cheaply as possible that tasted like cardboard.
Part of this agricultural revolution also did for the rare breeds as they had a higher fat content for finished beasts. But as we know the fat is where the flavour and the nutrition is.
Something the butcher said really struck with me: “new regulations meant we had to pay to dispose of the fat we trimmed off the joints so we worked with EBLEX to design animals with less fat on”
When the motivation for producing food is not nutrition or flavour but fat disposal regulations quantity and shape the result is not good food.
With food you reap what you sow!
When we moved from being a commercial farm that looked after the wildlife on the farm to a quality meat producer that based the whole business around managing and improving wildflower meadows and pastures, I’d like to say there was a big plan and that I knew all these positive feed-backs would materialise from the new system but to be honest we just kind of stumbled upon them.
I knew Rare hardy Breeds were ideal for less productive but flower rich pastures- but I also learned that the wildflowers contain properties that act as natural medicines – reducing my need to administer them.
I knew that Rare Breeds produced less but tasted better – but I soon learned that when they grazed wildflower pastures they took on the flavour of the orchids and wild herbs in the sward.
I soon found out that grass fed beef, lamb and mutton was nutritionally better for you but what surprised me was that corn fed or concentrate fed meat was actually harmful. Especially as I had been eating it for so long! I was then forwarded some research from a customer that had found that livestock fed on Wildflower meadows had an even better balance of essential fatty acids that just grass fed stock. More positive feed-backs.
Obviously we care about the environment and so we had been concerened about all the reports about the carbon footprint of meat so I looked into it. Common sense tells us that actually grass fed meat has to be carbon neutral. Which was another great positive feedback.
The upshot is that we have happier, healthier livestock, more marketing tools and a better and more popular product than I could ever have imagined. I can only think that having tried to start something positive there were going to be more positive outcomes than I could have foreseen.
I’ve put together this amateurish flow-chart to show the journey of discovery that we have taken. You’ll have to save the picture to enlarge it if you need to – I need some techie help otherwise.
This organisation are doing the important job of demonstrating just how important Omega 3s are to our nutritional requirements.
But I always wonder why the focus is on trying to remedy the situation after we have created the imbalance in our essential fatty acids. Dosing up on oily fish is fine but why put yourself in a position where you have to do this to be healthy in the first place?
A prime example of shutting the door after the horse has bolted.
Of course the real problem is that the supermarket meat we buy (organic status is irrelevant) is creating the imbalance in the first place. If we didn’t do this in the first place we would not have to worry about oily fish in our diets. Do you think cave men had Omega 3 issues? – Exactly.
Best to buy grass fed red meat from a local farmer in the first place and save yourself the worry.
I sometimes get a bit frustrated with average products being sold as “prime” or “finest” and with dishonest producers unwilling to back up their claims with explanations or information, or worse just lying. That can lead to negativity. So in the spirit of being positive here is a guide to help you find your way through the jungle of local food out there:
You are probably paying more for what you consider to be a prime product so you should get more too! If the information you are looking for is not readily available then you can always ask the farmer. If your enquiry is not important to them, you can always go elsewhere……
Essential Questions to ask the farmer and yourself:
- Are the animals raised AND fattened on natural food? “Natural food” should be the grass and natural herbs in the sward. If they have to feed concentrate food you are better off going to Tesco.
- Taste – Does it taste better – is the taste worth the extra cost? – Clearly the most important test.
- Nutrition – Does it provide adequate nutrition? This is related to the “Natural Food” one.
- Breed – Is it a native and TRADITIONAL or RARE breed of animal? Modern commercial livestock are bred to put on tasteless lean meat in high volume when fed concentrates. Less fat is less flavour and if they are commercial llivestock and fattened on corn then they will not have the right essential fatty acids and imbalance your nutrition.
- Does the product benefit the environment? Better if you can feel good about eating the food as well as enjoying the flavour.
- Are you confident that the animal welfare standards of the producer are up to scratch? Again, helps your peace of mind.
- Are you confident you can talk to and chat to the farmer about the product? One of the biggest selling points for these small businesses is that the farmer or family deliver the meat, answer the phone, pick up the emails etc. Do they see your enquiries as important?
- Is information about the product readily available – websites and leaflets. If the product is better does it tell you why?
It’s that simple! Happy shopping.