CAT | Fish Oils
Decades of clinical research have provided many reasons to add more fish-derived Omega-3 fatty acids to our diets—from better digestion and elimination to improved heart, joint and immune health—but are Americans consuming enough Omega-3s to reap the benefits? New research says no.
Results of a new study published last month in Nutrition Journal show a significant number of U.S. adults (age 19 and over) are falling short of the daily recommendations for Omega-3 consumption laid out in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) issued by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services—and that consuming more Omega-3s from food sources as well as fish oil supplements may be necessary to help reduce the risk of heart disease* and benefit overall public health.
Using data compiled from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for a period of approximately five years, researchers analyzed how much fish U.S. adults were consuming and whether they were significant sources of fish-derived Omega-3s. As it turns out, although older adults and males typically consume more Omega-3s than younger adults and females, most are not meeting the daily recommendations for Omega-3 fatty acid intake—about 250 mg, according to the 2010 DGA (the next edition will be released in 2015).
Because there is extensive evidence that fish-derived Omega-3 EPA and DHA are good for the heart, the American Heart Association recommends consuming the equivalent of about 500 mg per day of EPA and DHA if you are healthy and want to maintain heart health. For those with documented coronary heart disease, they recommend 1 gram (1,000 mg) per day, and those with high triglycerides should aim for 2 to 4 grams (2,000 to 4,000 mg) per day. If oily fish is lacking from your diet, consider a high-concentration, purity-guaranteed fish oil supplement, and be sure to look at the label to see how much EPA and DHA you are getting.
*Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Irritable bowel syndrome affects between 25 and 45 million Americans every day. Although its cause is still unknown, many experts believe the symptoms of IBS—which include abdominal pain and bloating along with diarrhea, constipation or both—are closely linked to the interaction between the gut, brain, and central nervous system. (It’s possible the nerves along the gut alter normal pain perception so that the bowel becomes oversensitive to normal stimuli.)
Most IBS sufferers are adults, and 2 in every 3 are female, but the disorder can affect all people of all ages. Still, few people seek treatment from a doctor for their symptoms, and as a result many cases of IBS remain undiagnosed. If you or someone you know is living with IBS, here are 9 natural solutions to help you take the first steps toward better bowel health.
- Add More Fiber. In addition to its role in heart health and weight management, fiber supports healthy digestive function by helping to absorb and eliminate toxins in the colon that may contribute to IBS symptoms.
- Limit Fatty Foods. Eating foods that are high in fat such as fried foods and certain meats may contribute to IBS. Be sure to consume these types of foods in moderation.
- Cut Back on Caffeine. Highly caffeinated foods and beverages (such as coffee, tea, soda and chocolate) have been shown to worsen IBS symptoms.
- Avoid Foods High in Sulfur. Some foods that are healthy—including vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, garlic, onions and broccoli—are high in sulfur and may actually trigger IBS symptoms. Opt for low-sulfur veggies such as carrots or green beans.
- You May Have a Food Sensitivity. Some people have IBS because they are dealing with an underlying food sensitivity. Gluten and dairy are the two most common foods to which a sensitivity may develop. A gluten-free diet, dairy-free diet, or both can help to improve IBS symptoms in these people.
- Show Your Digestive Tract a Little TLC. Many herbs and nutraceuticals such as marshmallow root, slippery elm, and the amino acid L-glutamine can help nourish and soothe the intestinal tract and bowel.
- Balance with Probiotics. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria in the gut that work to maintain a balanced internal environment and promote optimal digestion and immune health.
- Drink Plenty of Water. Drinking plenty of water (at least half your body weight in ounces every day) will help flush out toxins and other harmful microbes that may be causing IBS symptoms.
- Try Colon Hydrotherapy. IBS sufferers—especially those with severe symptoms—may find that natural colon hydrotherapy can help cleanse the system and improve digestive health and elimination.
Check it Out: A New IBS Information App!
The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), responsible for establishing IBS Awareness Month more than a decade ago, just launched a new mobile app to help people learn more about IBS, its symptoms and treatment options. The free app is called IBS Info and offers real-time information from experts in the gastrointestinal field to promote awareness and education about irritable bowel syndrome. It is currently available for use on iOS and Android platforms.