As you begin the new school year perhaps you find yourself running in high gear. Never one to skimp on meals, you opt for that “healthy” portion of meat and potatoes and round it off with a nice biscuit. After all, you need the energy and your carbohydrate metabolism knocks that down to basic fuel. You stay awake during all of your classes and distinguish yourself when you are called on by your professor. And you are still skinny enough to wear those tiny jeans, so you aren’t worried about your “solid meals”. Then when evening comes, you are still up and buzzing around. Despite your mental exhaustion your wheels are still turning and you can’t slip into the peaceful oblivion of REM sleep. Why is this? You seem healthy from the outside but have you ever stopped to consider that the oil used in the preparation of your food is feeding your anxiety due to its adverse effects on your body’s metabolic process?
It’s a fact that most Americans consume a diet that is high in Omega 6 fats which are inflammatory and contribute to a negative phenomenon known as insulin resistance. See Livestrong.com’s article on “Serum Omega-3 & Omega-6 Ration Insulin Resistance” at http://www.livestrong.com/article/496436-serum-omega-3-omega-6-ratio-in-insulin-resistance/. Despite the stability of a diet that contains minimal protein and decent amounts of complex carbs such as baked potato and whole grain rice, many Americans are still insulin resistant and suffering from all the related effects such as insomnia, acne, attention deficit disorder, diabetes, and so forth. Most food, even healthy foods such as vegetables, normal portions of protein, and whole grain breads are prepared with refined vegetable oils such as soybean oil which are Omega-6 oils.
How does all of this relate to stress? The body constructs hormones from Omega-6 fatty acids and Omega-3 fatty acids. The different types of hormones constructed from the different types of fatty acids have various effects on the body. Omega-3 fatty acids act to optimize hormonal levels due to their balancing effect on the adrenals and pituitary gland. Omega-6 fatty acids influence the production of cortisol which is a “stress hormone” and contributes to the hard to loose pooch around your middle and a lethargic “stressed out” and tired feeling. Additionally, elevated cortisol levels decrease your sensitivity and metabolic response to insulin, which in turn causes the body to kick up the production of insulin thereby disrupting your blood sugar levels which results in energy imbalances and eventually diabetic conditions. See http://www.docroberts.com/ar-25-the-omega-3-omega-6-balance—-a-crucial-factor-in-health-and-disease–.aspx. A diet too high in Omega-6 fatty acids also affects your brain’s metabolic process. Check out the Journal of Attention Disorder’s article on a study conducted on children suffering from ADHD with a proper Omega-3/Omega-6 ratio. After 6 months 47% of the study group had meaningful reduction of ADHD symptoms simply from this crucial diet change(http://jad.sagepub.com/content/12/5/394.short). Recently there have been numerous studies on this process with similar positive results with even higher percentage numbers. Here are the links to a few:
This is unfortunate for all of us who consume the popular modern American diet of processed food prepared in refined vegetable oil that is high in Omega-6!
The solution is simple and metabolic homeostasis is achieved by having the proper ratio in your diet of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats. The benefits are numerous, too numerous in fact for the word limit on this blog post. Check out this website to educate yourself more on how good a diet properly balanced with Omega-3 and Omega-6 is: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400149/balancing-omega-3-and-omega-6.html.
But wait! Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! You don’t need to give up eating normal portions of meats, complex carbohydrates (baked potatoes, brown rice, whole grains), and vegetables. You just need to make sure you are cooking them in the right oil – a non-inflammatory Omega-3 oil. Cook the Italian way, or the Spanish way, and use healthy oils such as olive oil that are rich in Omega-3. Take the time to educate yourself on Omega-3 diets.
It is likely that your energy level will increase thereby increasing your attention span. You will also rest better at night when your metabolic process is efficient and your cortisol levels are normalized.