I’ve been enjoying reading The Weight Maven. In her words, her focus is on “weight, diet, and the current hysteria around the obesity ‘epidemic’ — especially as it relates to both policy decisions and the demonization of fat people,” as well as about “figuring out the best way for me to eat to get to and be able to maintain a healthy weight.”
She brings a more scientific/analytical bent to the mechanics of the process, which I appreciate. She’s lost more than 125 pounds and says, “More importantly, I have peace of mind about my eating. I’m not ravenously hungry, I am mostly craving free (save when triggered by major stressors), and I feel like this is something I could do for the rest of my life.”
Hmmmm…sounds like something I’d say.
Anyway, in her recent Quote Of The Day, she provides a link to a Psychology Today article entitled “Why Are We Eating So Much More Than We Used To,” which, in turn, provides a compelling take on the role of omega-6 fatty acids on our appetites.
“It’s the high levels of omega-6 from vegetable oils (most notably corn and soybean) in our diets that act like a consistent drip of THC to our brains: ‘We are also learning more about how omega fats influence the appetite-regulating cells in the hypothalamus. These cells are rich in receptors for endocannabinoids, our body’s form of the ingredient in marijuana that increases appetite. Because these are made from the active form of omega-6, arachidonic acid, more omega-6 in the diet means more munchy-promoting endocannibinoids’.”
Also from the Psychology Today article:
“And there are two “essential” types of polyunsaturated fat in our cells, omega-3 and omega-6, that can only come from our diets. If we compare the current American diet with our diets forty years ago, we find similar levels of sugars, amino acids, and total fats, but the amounts of the two types of omega fats have changed very dramatically. In a natural diet of grains, meat, dairy foods, fruits, and vegetables, there is a bit more omega-6 than omega-3, but today there is more than twenty-times more omega-6 than omega-3. This shift in the proportion of these different fats is by far the biggest change in our diets over the past forty years.”
Might my recent bout of emotional overeating been partly fueled physiologically by the omega-6-rich snacks I was consuming?
I have also read that the increased use of omega-6-rich oils has affected mental health, notably depression, bipolar disorder, and violence. New Science Links Food and Happiness discusses the research of Joe Hibbeln, M.D., a Captain in the United States Public Health Service. He is the acting chief on the Section of Nutritional Neurosciences at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. He is also a psychiatrist, a lipid biochemist, and an epidemiologist.
Might reducing omega-6 (especially in the winter) help with my anxiety?
For further information, along with some really great tips, read The Conscious Life’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet: How to Balance Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids. Omega-6 in and of itself isn’t a bad guy as long as it is in proper ratio to omega-3. From what I’ve been able to gather, modern Western diets typically have ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 in excess of 10 to 1, some as high as 30 to 1. The optimal ratio is said to be 4 to 1 or lower.
I’m thinking it will be easy to make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of omega-6-rich foods I eat.
NOTE: This post has been edited to include additional information.
When you understand information like this, does it make it easier for you to avoid a certain type of food because you know that it’s bad for you? And in this case I don’t mean “bad” as in naughty.