I have always found it fascinating that Tibetan Medicine teaches that those suffering from anxiety, depression and restlessness need to increase their intake of nourishing, oily foods. I see many patients who eat very low fat diets and then wonder why they are feeling exhausted, anxious, depressed and suffering from a wide range of hormone imbalances.
It can be hard to persuade people that they need to increase their intake of fats. Fats have had a bad press and people worry about cholesterol and putting on weight. Fats are not all bad though, modern research has confirmed what Tibetan Medicine has been teaching since around 500BC. Foods that contain fats provide a concentrated source of energy but also the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Polyunsaturated fats are absolutely essential for good health and are the most prone to being deficient in our diets. There are two main types of these essential fatty acids – Omega 6s and Omega 3s.
The average Western diet is deficient in both types, and the ratio is completely skewed towards Omega 6’s which are often 10 x the level of the Omega 3’s. Ironically supplementation can skew the balance further if it is not done carefully. It is much more preferable to obtain essential fatty acids from whole food sources.
Omega 6 fatty acids (in particular linoleic acid) are converted to gamma-linolenic-acid (GLA) in the body, which is then converted into series 1 prostaglandins, extremely active hormone like substances. They keep the blood thin, relax the blood vessels, help to prevent hypertension, reduce inflammation and pain as well as improving blood sugar balance. If you are suffering from hypertension, PMS, dry skin, dry eyes, inflammation such as arthritis, difficulty losing weight, blood sugar irregularities or mental health problems then you may well be short of Omega 6 fatty acids. You should have 10–17 grams of Omega 6s per day, ideally from raw seeds. To get your optimal allowance you could have 1 tablespoon of hemp seed oil, 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds, 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds or 1.5 tablespoons of sesame seeds. If munching this quantity of seeds daily is too much for you then you could take 1000mg of Evening Primrose Oil or 500mg of Borage Oil.
The Omega 3 fatty acids are much less prevalent in our modern diets as they are easily destroyed by cooking and food processing. They are converted by the body into series 3 prostaglandins which are essential for proper brain function. If you are affected by low mood, poor vision, poor memory, lack of coordination, inflammatory health problems and dry skin then you may well be deficient in Omega 3 fatty acids. You should ideally be consuming 8-17 grams of Omega 3s per day and you could obtain this from a tablespoon of hemp oil, 1 tablespoon of flax seed oil, 2 tablespoons of flax seeds or 4 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds.
You can get good levels of fatty acids by combining sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds (one part of each and two parts of flax seeds) and grinding them fresh daily. However in my opinion the absolute best source of fatty acids is hemp seeds.
Hemp seeds have excellent levels of both Omega 6s and Omega 3s (19% alpha-linolenic acid, 57% linoleic acid, 1.7% gamma-linolenic acid) and have a delicious nutty flavour. The seeds are very high in protein and this protein is easily digestible. Udo Erasmus of ‘Udo’s Oil’ described hemp seed oil as: ‘Natures most perfectly balanced oil’. Hemp seeds do not produce a narcotic effect.
I prefer to get my fix of essential fatty acids by drinking freshly made hemp milk. I have a wonderful kitchen gadget from Yaoh www.yaoh.co.uk which makes hemp milk easily from the soaked seeds. Most mornings I drink a high protein smoothie made with hemp milk, a banana, some Synerprotein supplement from Nature’s Sunshine and various probiotics and powdered herbs as I feel the situation demands.
If you haven’t already discovered the wonderful health benefits of hemp milk I heartily recommend that you try it.
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