Latest Natural Health News

The Japanese Paradox — Americans Have Changed the Fats in Their Diet

Share This Article

When Time magazine asked to Dr. Water Willett, of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard, to name the most significant scientific news of the 20th century, he said simply, “We changed the fats in our diet.”

According to the September 2008 PUFA newsletter, the link between the type and amount of fats consumed and long-term cardiac health is now dubbed “the Japanese Paradox.” Why do Japanese men smoke, have high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure, yet have half the mortality from heart disease as Caucasian American men? And why do Japanese men who migrate to the U.S. develop atherosclerosis (commonly known as hardening of the arteries) as readily or more so than American white males?

Recent research indicates a long-term diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids tends to counteract the development of atherosclerosis. Other studies indicate the Japanese have less carotid artery plaque and a lower incidence of nonfatal heart attacks simply because of their consumption of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

Dr. Willett’s point is that our fast and overly processed American diet changed the traditional ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. This shift not only created more inflammation but more allergies than ever before. And current research indicates that when the ratio is skewed above a certain level, depression and suicidal behavior rise dramatically.
Giants in the field of orthomolecular psychiatry like Abram Hoffer, M.D., and Richard Kunin, M.D., have successfully treated schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, and other brain biochemistry diagnoses by focusing on lifestyle choices that include diet and supplements. Though they have solid scientific backing, these physicians often suffered the attacks of peers and boards of medicine; at the same time, the media were beginning to report that vested interests were affecting many specialties in medicine, but psychiatry in particular.
Other new research showed that women who ate fish more than three times a week had fewer non-fatal heart events; additionally, they had fewer tiny hemorrhages in the brain. People without these brain lesions are less likely to have a stroke or impaired cognitive/thinking ability. Another study showed that EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) supplements reduced the likelihood of having a second stroke in those who have already had one. The incidence of stroke has increased dramatically in recent years, and is now the leading cause of disability in the U.S. Omega-3 fatty acids now appear to be integral to the healthy performance of nearly all the body’s major systems.

Dr. Phil Landrigan of Mt. Sinai School of Medicine says that one in seven American children have a learning or behavior disorder. So it is sobering indeed that there has been so little focus on omega-3 fatty acids in the food pyramid, in school lunch menus, and in other federal guidelines. Research shows that children whose mothers eat more than 12 ounces of fish per week outperform those whose mothers avoid eating fish.
Practitioners like Carol Locke, M.D., and Andrew Stoll, M.D., author of The Omega-3 Connection, found that U.S. women have the lowest levels of DHA among all industrialized countries. Their work with bipolar disorder and omega-3 supplements was groundbreaking, though far too few physicians use key supplements like the omega-3 fatty acids in their treatments. You can find a physician schooled in nutritional medicine at the AAHF website.

The science is clear: a public health campaign to “change the fats in our diet” would have far-reaching health benefits for every American.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts