Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Fish Oil

At the risk of sounding like some fanatical evangelist, I'll do a book review and give some advice today.

Several years ago I read a book called The Omega-3 Connection: The Groundbreaking Antidepression Diet and Brain Program by Andrew Stoll. This book discusses the use of Omega 3 fatty acids to increase vascular health and relieve depression. The book was a miracle for me.

For most of the first 3/4 of my life I suffered from anxiety attacks and panic attacks. As a kid I did not recognize the attacks as such. I just thought the things I was worried about were actualy normal things to panic about. Much later I recognized the attacks as such. Still there seemed to be no solution. I chalked it up to genetics.

A few years ago, while at the library, I felt inspired to pick out this book. It discusses how hunter-gatherers eat lots of fish. They got plenty of Omega-3 fats in their diet. In the modern world we are very deficient in Omega-3s. Cell walls are made of fats. Whatever fats you have in your diet will get incorporated over time in your cell walls. This effects two factors. First is the flexibility of cell walls. If you eat a preponderance of hard fats, your cell walls and thus arteries will be harder. The second effect is that neuron cell walls follow the same rule, so the balance of fats will effect neuron activity.

The result of having a sufficient quantity of Omega-3s is that your susceptibility to heart attack is decreased, and depression, anxiety, and such is decreased. This change is related to cell wall composition, so there is a delay while the fats get replaced in cell walls.

The two big sources of Omega-3 is fish oil, and flax oil. I've tried both and now take 4 fish oil capsules a day.

So the results. After taking fish oil for about a week, I suddenly 'woke up'. It was very strange. Something happened that usually would have sent me off on a panic attack, and instead I was simply rational and calm. No panic. It was so obvious and clear that I was quite startled by the change. After several weeks of fish oil I became accustomed to the new me.

Several weeks later I forgot to take fish oil for a few days. After a 3 day delay I suddenly had a panic attack right out of the blue. It was the strangest thing because it was so blatantly obvious that is was almost funny. Since I had not had a panic attack of any kind in weeks, I could clearly see it as such.

It could be the Placebo Effect, but if it is, it's the best effect I've ever seen. Also, there have been times since when I forgot to take the fish oil pills, and forgot that I forgot, and got hit by a panic attack.

In Europe, if you have a heart attack, the hospital will prescribe fish oil when you leave. It has been shown to reduce the chance of recurrences.

So, where to get Omega-3s? I buy the big bottle from Costco or WalMart. You may need to try different brands to find one that is not 'fishy'.

Human genetic variability is so broad that dietary advice for one person might not be applicable to another. The whole Omega-3 thing has so much evidence that it should be worth a try. I hope this article helps even one person to have a better life.


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