Sunday, March 05, 2006

Eating Fat Improves Mental Health, Study Finds

Why so sad? You know, you really need to start eating more fat!

A new study presented at the 64th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Denver, Colorado this weekend has concluded that an increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids could play a role in improving overall state of mind, controlling mood swings and diminishing erratic and sometimes suicidal behavior.

For those of us who are livin' la vida low-carb, this is excellent news since we have been preaching the message that omega-3 fatty acids are important for heart health for a long time. Now this study shows that consuming fats like these can also benefit your mental health as well. BONUS!

Led by Dr. Sarah Conklin, from the psychiatry department at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine's Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine Program, researchers examined 106 healthy volunteers and discovered a rather peculiar link between omega-3 fatty acids and the study participant's overall mood.

Side-by-side blood test comparisons of the dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acid levels were lined up with the study participants' scores on three accepted tests for depression, impulsiveness and personality. For the study, the researchers did not ask the participants to make any changes in their regular eating schedule.

What they found was eye-opening to say the least.

Those study participants who had lower blood levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reported having symptoms of depression while also having a pessimistic view of life. Additionally, many of these same people were also found to be more spur-of-the-moment in their decision-making and taking unnecessary risks.

Conversely, those study participants with more elevated levels of omega-3 fatty acids had a happier demeanor and attitude on life as well as a much more stable mental state of mind.

Dr. Conklin said this newfound connection between omega-3 fatty acids and mental disease in otherwise healthy adults warrants further investigation into whether dietary recommendations should be altered to include higher consumption of foods that contain the omega-3s to help treat mental disease.

"A number of previous studies have linked low levels of omega-3 to clinically significant conditions such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse and attention deficit disorder," Dr. Conklin explained. "However, few studies have shown that these relationships also occur in healthy adults. This study opens the door for future research looking at what effect increasing omega-3 intake, whether by eating omega-3 rich foods like salmon, or taking fish-oil supplements, has on people's mood."

I have previously blogged about how some people actually think eating a low-carb diet can cause you to be in a perpetual bad mood. However, my experience has been that diets that are lower in FAT, not carbs led me to experience wild mood swings mostly because they kept me on a sugar rollercoaster ride most of the time and, even worse, failed to satisfy my hunger. I get irritable when I'm hungry and I stayed that way the entire time I was on a low-fat diet.

But not anymore now that I'm livin' la vida low-carb, enjoying the great-tasting healthy foods I get to eat now, and consuming more fat as part of my healthy lifestyle while controlling my weight permanently. I supplement my diet with fish oil and have done so every single day since I started low-carbin' it in January 2004.

The study conducted by Dr. Conklin and her fellow researchers concludes that since the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends Americans eat fish twice a week to get omega-3 fatty acids into their diet, that advice should be heeded to improve heart health and quite possibly improve mental health as well.

So what do you think about all of this? While we should certainly be jumping for joy at yet another health benefit of consuming omega-3 fatty acids, how is this going to translate in a world that has become so scared of ANY kind of fat that they'll just ignore the call to consume more? Fat-phobia in the United States is very real no thanks to the government indoctrination we have heard over the past three decades about eliminating fat from our diet.

That's exactly what I have been afraid of with all these low-fat apologists out there barking away at their message as if they have the final say about what is healthy for people. We know better because we have educated ourselves about why consuming fat is a good thing for our health while eating sugar, white flour, starchy, and processed foods are decidedly unhealthy.

Dr. Nicholas Perricone recommends eating more omega-3s as part of his "Perricone Weight-Loss Diet" plan and suggests people start eating more Wild Alaskan Salmon. Ever since I read his book, I have eaten at least 3 servings of salmon every week. My wife makes it for me like tuna salad with sugar-free pickle relish and yummy mayonaisse. Put that on a slice or two of low-carb bread or fiber crackers and you've got a filling, high-protein, low-carb meal chock full of healthy portions of omega-3 fatty acids!

Also, omega-3s can be found in various protein powders, including this one made from hemp that I recently reviewed for you.

When are we going to hear the message that FAT is healthy from the AHA? All they ever say is low-fat/low-calorie/portion control! But clearly there are good fats to be heralded and it's high time they start doing that now that not only heart health is being affected but mental health also.

Why don't YOU send them your story about how an INCREASED consumption of fat combined with a DECREASED intake of carbohydrates has led you to become happier and healthier as a result? Click here to share your experience with the ADA directly and urge them to share your experience with those public officials and health leaders who look to them for real-life examples.

You can also e-mail Dr. Sarah Conklin about her fascinating study at

3-7-06 UPDATE: Dr. Sarah Conklin kindly responded to my blog post about her study today.

Dear Jimmy,

Thank you very much for the article and congratulations on your accomplishments.


Sarah M. Conklin, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine
Department of Psychiatry
University of Pittsburgh

You are VERY welcome! I'm anxious to see what else she discovers about the healthy benefits of omega-3 consumption. We'll keep you posted!


Blogger Science4u1959 said...

The ADA... well, as long as there's a certain mr. Kahn as a senior scientist and chief demagogue in charge there, who even publicly dares to state that sugar "does not make you fat" it is probably more easy to grow spinach on the moon than to have the ADA tell the truth - let alone spew forth proper dietary advice.

This "independant" organization receives tens of millions of dollars from vested interests to tell their disgusting lies for them. And the ADA has been faithfully doing that now for several decades. It really is a total travesty.

That's why indeed all of us should write that same ADA and expose them for what they are. If enough of us do that, and hopefully finally somebody in the media too, then indeed there is a chance that the ADA realizes that the game is over and the ivory towers will topple.

I for one will write them... who will join Jimmy and me?

3/05/2006 4:40 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

I've been taking an Omega-3 capsule in the morning. I eat very little fish - and I can't stand salmon (yuck!) - so I figure this is something at least. It's about a 1g capsule.

3/06/2006 1:09 AM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

Cod liver oil caps are the best source of Omega-3's. Try shrimp, buy it peeled and pre-cooked (frozen), easy to prepare (just heat it in a full-fat butter rousse sauce with some garlic, chopped onions, pepper and salt, and some bits of leek, and enjoy!)

3/11/2006 9:38 PM  

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