Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Too much of a good thing?

My new boss suggested a great read this week. It's a transcript of David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD, giving a lecture here in Houston at MD Anderson, a medical center with the mission to "eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation, and the world." His lecture included interesting results in anti-cancer research and I'm going to share a few with you over the next few days. If you are interested, you can read the transcript for yourself for all the details and research footnotes. He has also written a book on this, Anti Cancer: A new way of life, that is now on my reading list.

The basis of his lecture is that there is research that proves that not only do genetics factor into the risk of cancer, but increasingly so does our diet and lifestyle! Go figure!
Omega Essential Fatty Acids are, well, essential to our bodies!

The most interesting fact that I took from his lecture is the imbalance we have in our diet of Omega-6 and Omega-3s. We hear these thrown around all the time: "Make sure you get your Omegas!" Ok, great, but why? Well, these are essential fatty acids that our body needs, but cannot manufacture on it's own, so we have to get them from food. These days, so many of us do; we eat salmon and eggs, we take fish oil, we may even add flax seed to our yogurt or smoothies. But, what we need to also be aware of is the imbalance of Omega-6s over Omega-3s? What? Too much Omega-6 could be harmful to us? Well, research shows that when the ratio is out of whack (i.e. too much 6), the risk of cancer increases!

Look for eggs and dairy high in Omega-3
So, guess where the ratio is out of whack? In meats and dairy from grain fed animals, in eggs from grain fed chickens, vegetable oils (such as corn and sunflower) and the ever-dreaded trans fats. So, if you still were looking for a reason to switch to grass-fed beef and Omega-3 eggs/milk, here you could decrease your risk of cancer.

Another great thing I took from his article is that he realizes that we’re humans and we have to find what works for us. We’re not perfect and we are probably not going to be able to eat eggs high in Omega-3’s every chance we get or make sure our salad dressing from the restaurant is made from Extra Virgin Olive Oil. However, we can do our best to choose the best possible whole foods as often as we can to make a difference.

Of course, there are many more things we can do. Think of it as a balance. Just like offsetting your carbon footprint, make it your goal to offset or bring balance to your diet when you can. Come back tomorrow to see how we can find balance!


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