Infant formula is 98% ultra-processed oil, sugar, and protein powder. Homemade infant formula can help a child thrive in many of the same ways as breast fed babies.
When I first saw those helicopter shots of red oil plumes staining the ocean, my only thought was: How could any animal survive in that? As a person who loves animals, this tragedy is too awful to think about. But as a doctor concerned with the prevention of human illness, I can’t help thinking about it. I can’t help but wonder: If the entire Gulf ecosystem is trashed, how will that affect us?
It’s impossible to measure, let alone predict, the long-term human health effects that emerge from a major environmental catastrophe like the one we are now witnessing in the Gulf. The ripple effects from the near-complete destruction of a vast and unique ecosystem will continue to spread for decades. The ramifications of such a disaster are complicated enough, so here I’ll just focus on the effect of the Gulf spill on brain health.
Here’s what I predict.
The oil spill is creating two separate health threats: The toxification of the food chain with aromatic hydrocarbons, and the loss of nutrients—particularly the long chain omega-3 fatty acids which we derive from seafood.
Exposure to aromatic hydrocarbons like those found in crude oil is known to cause brain damage, and omega-3 is fundamental to normal function of brain cells. I’ll focus this discussion primarily on the impending national shortage of long-chain omega-3.
This article is continued below...(scroll down)
It helped. I feel great.
"It’s helped. I feel great."
NBA baskeball player
This has been life changing
"Let me tell you this has been life-changing. I have all of her books, in audible and ebooks! I have gotten rid of all the hateful 8 oils. I have trained my body to eat its own previously toxic body fat. Download that pod it's a game changer!"
Broadcaster / The Megyn Kelly Show
Deep Nutrition changed my life.
Fox News Primetime host
Saved my life
I would like to thank you for literally saving my life. Back in February, I had to be hospitalized while on vacation in Phoenix with an A1C of 11% and had to start taking 2 types of insulin and 2 other meds. I read the Fatburn Fix in April, and followed the program to a tee, and I’m down by 15 pounds, 6.8 A1C, and only one once weekly diabetes medicine. Prior to reading the book, it was almost impossible for me to lose weight as a diabetic.
I feel free
For the last month, I have really been reading all labels on everything. I have completely remove those 8 oils you talk about. I must tell you, I feel great! I have more energy and I am now 197 lbs (have always been around 205 to 210lbs). I eat potatoes with real butter, grass fed steak, pasta with the right toppings. I eat everything! I seem to crave less sugar. I love it!
I feel so much better
I had terrible aches and pains everywhere in my body, my hands, shoulders and knees. I feel so much better and the way I feel is motivating me every day! Thank you
Mike Deb Wootan Burcin
Better than ever
I am an anesthesiologist in Orlando and a huge fan of both of your books! I have been incorporating your principles for the last 10 months and feel that my health is better than ever.
Marnie Robinson, MD
My allergies disappeared
The biggest difference for me (and a surprising one) is that my allergies have almost completely disappeared! This is a big deal for me, because I’ve had allergies most of my life and they have often affected what I do which is a teaching music in [a public school district]. In general, I feel much better and have more consistent energy throughout the day.
Heart Palpitations have Stopped
I’ve lost 20+ pounds (also fasting 16-24 hours daily) and haven’t had palpitations except for one occasion — I had a mini bag of Fritos for the first time in July. And, I feel better now on a daily basis than I ever did all through college.
Deep Nutrition and Fatburn Fix reader
I’ve lost over 50 pounds
I’ve lost over 50 pounds. I’m 56 years old. Cutting processed food and unhealthy fats from my diet was one of the first things I did on my health recovery journey...I went cold turkey off the bad oils. Emptied my pantry into the trash and just started eating real food
Mitzi Wilkinson Champion
Knowledge I didn’t know I needed
Your Fatburn Fix book is amazing, my friend. Thank you! I’m an Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and I know my stuff. This is the extra layer of knowledge I didn’t know I needed. Well done!
Fatburn Fix reader
Lost a solid 20 lbs and my bloodwork is great
I have lost a solid 20 lbs and my bloodwork (after 3 months of eating your way) was even better! I was metabolically healthy (per your book) before I read your book, but barely. Lowering my weight, sealed the deal! I have been talking about you and your book to anyone who will listen...Thank you for all you’ve done and what you continue to do! You are changing lives for the better!
FatBurn Fix reader
Lost 20 lbs I could never shed
I love your Fatburn Fix! Has helped me so so much! I have had the dreaded weight all my life - 20 or so pounds I could never shed. I have lost that now. I only eat 2 meals a day lunch and dinner with a glass of milk or cappuccino around 4 to hold me over. No snacking and not bad oils. It has been the key to unlocking my fatburn. I work out in the am and believe I am burning fat for energy not from food!
I feel great
My waist is four inches smaller. I feel great and many of the minor aches and pains that I had (knees and lower back) are gone. Also, my muscle tone is amazing, even though I have not increased my workout routine.
Completed Dr Cate's online course
The go-to for strength and conditioning coaches
Whenever I advise my clients about eating to perform I go straight to what I have learned from Dr. Cate. Her book Deep Nutrition has become the go-to for strength and conditioning coaches across the country.
Major League Baseball Agent with WME Sports
Dismantles the lie
Dr. Cate dismantles the lie that seed oils are healthy, which may the biggest lie about nutrition and health because it’s so insidious.
Ken D Berry, MD
Author of Lies My Doctor Told Me
She knows the chemistry
Dr. Cate alerts us to the harms of seed oils and she’s convincing because she knows the chemistry better than anyone.
Dr. Drew Pinskey, MD
Globally recognized internal medicine and addiction medicine specialist, media personality, LoveLine Host, and New York Times bestselling author
No one is better at communicating nutritional truth
Dr. Cate has had the single greatest impact on how we talk to people about fueling for both performance or durability. While we all are a little unique, the foundational principles of human nutrition are immutable. If you are looking to create a more durable, resilient body, no one is better at communicating nutritional truth than Dr. Cate.
Dr. Kelly Starrett
Physiotherapist coach and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author
Highly recommend The Fatburn Fix
Dr. Shanahan has had a significant impact on my practice of medicine. I am known as a Low Carb Doctor, but I never really appreciated the negative effects of processed seed oils on the health of my patients. I highly recommend The Fatburn Fix to my patients and have a loaner copy in my waiting room. It is amazing how quickly blood sugars and overall health improves with cutting seed oils. It is not just about the carbs!
Dr. Brian Lenkzes, MD
CEO of LowCarbMD San Diego, co-host of Low Carb MD Podcast and host of Life's Best Medicine Podcast
Respected in the sports world
Dr. Cate reordered my diet when I was with the L.A. Lakers, and the benefits, for me personally, were felt immediately and have served me to this day. I’ve come to take real food so seriously I started a small family farm. I know of no M.D./nutritionist more respected in the sports world than Dr. Cate Shanahan.
Brought seed oil issue front and center
Cate brought the seed oil issue front and center. Healthy fats matter. So much so that I created an entire product line to swap out bad fats with good.
Founding Father of the Primal/Paleo Movement
Optimal health starts with food
If you want to understand how optimal health starts with food, start with Dr. Cate. Her book Deep Nutrition leaves you with an appreciation of the profound relationship between our genes and the planet, inspiring us to be good shepherds of both.
Attribution author of The Whole 30
Helped me with endurance
Deep Nutrition really helped me with endurance. I started to feel better as a player. I was able to run more, I was able to be more active …and I just decided to keep going with it to this day.
Silver bullet for me
Dr Cate’s teachings helped me lose 60 pounds like it was nothing. It was like a silver bullet for me.
Paul Grewal, MD
Dr Grewal Internal Medicine, MD, author of Genius Foods
Radically improve your health…
Dr. Shanahan has provided a solid reference that deserves a place in the library of anyone who is seriously interested in nutrition. Her perspective on the vital role that healthy fat has in our diet is novel and, if implemented, can radically improve your health.
Dr. Joseph Mercola
Author of Fat for Fuel and Founder of Mercola.com
Pull up a chair…
I have based my work on the idea that getting the right kinds of healthy fats into your body and avoiding the worst fats is essential to optimal health. I've interviewed dozens of the world's top experts about this, and I know of no one who speaks more eloquently on this topic than Dr Cate. If she’s talking fats, pull up a chair. Take notes.
Author of the Bulletproof Diet
The key to unlocking my fatburn
I love your Fatburn Fix! Has helped me so so much! I have had the dreaded weight all my life - 20 or so pounds I could never shed. I have lost that now. I only eat 2 meals a day lunch and dinner with a glass of milk or cappuccino around 4 to hold me over. No snacking and not bad oils. It has been the key to unlocking my fatburn.
Saved my life
I would like to thank you for literally saving my life. Back in February, I had to be hospitalized while on vacation in Phoenix with an A1C of 11% and had to start taking 2 types of insulin and 2 other meds. I read the Fatburn Fix in April, and followed the program to a tee, and I’m down by 15 pounds, 6.8 A1C, and only one once weekly diabetes medicine.
> Tears of joy
I'm crying tears of joy and appreciation for all you've done for me and my health! Without Deep Nutrition and Fatburn Fix, I would literally still be in the vicious cycle I'd been fighting all my life! In a nutshell - I am no longer a compulsive overeating addict suffering under the crushing 'thumb' of all food and alcohol.
Life with less omega-3
Because our eating habits have changed over the past 50 years, most people already face a deficiency of dietary omega-3. This is particularly true of the long-chain omega-3 fats that are crucial to neuronal growth in infancy and early childhood, when the metabolic machinery to lengthen shorter-chain omega-3 fatty acids is not yet developed.
Seafood along with organ meats like liver and brain are the best sources of long-chain omega-3. I don’t have to tell you that most people in America can go a lifetime without ever eating the last two, and since most fish for sale in the grocery store are farmed, not wild, even the seafood you typically find in the store is poor source of omega-3. You can buy long-chain omega-3 in supplement form from cultured batches of algae, but I don’t recommend it: Those cultured batches of algae also produce neurotoxins rather unpredictably, and potentially dangerous levels of neurotoxin have been found in some brands of algal-derived omega-3.
So, thanks to BP and Obama’s “slow response to what even casual onlookers saw as an impending disaster,” our nutritional world has been rendered significantly smaller than it was before. I expect the average person will now get roughly 30 percent less omega-3 next year than last year.
Here’s how I arrived at that figure. According to reports from the US commercial fishing industry, in 2001, Gulf of Mexico fisheries represented 30% of the total wild catch. No one can guess exactly what percentage will survive, but of great concern is the fact that, after the much smaller Exxon Valdez spill, omega-3-rich herring quickly disappeared and today, 20 years later, have yet to return. The Gulf equivalent of herring are Menhaden, a small, oily, omega-3 rich fish that many other Gulf inhabitants depend on, including bluefin tuna, red snapper, dolphins, sharks, and pelicans.[i] Menhaden is also one of the most commonly used fish for making fish oil supplements.
What are some of the consequences of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid depletion? The following represents a brief overview.
Increased Risk of Schizophrenia:
Omega-3 levels tend to be lower in patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, and omega-3 supplementation helps people demonstrating symptoms suggestive of an impending schizophrenic break. An Australian study on 76 youth at risk for schizophrenia showed that supplementation with omega-3 had enormous positive impact. Of 35 given placebo, 11 developed schizophrenia, but of 41 taking the fish oil, only 2 developed the disease.[ii]
Increasing Delusional Ideation Among Women:
From a Swedish study published in 2010, Women aged 30-50 who did not eat oily fish were twice as likely to experience delusional thoughts (answering yes to questions like “Do you ever feel that you are not in control of your own mind?” or “Do you ever feel that your insides might be rotting?”) than women who ate them 1-2 times per week. Interestingly, those who ate oily fish more than 3-4 times per week were also more likely to experience delusional ideation, suggesting a “Goldilocks” effect, possibly due to harmful PCB contaminants, excessive intake of omega-6 along with omega-3, or other imbalance.[iii]
(Only the Swedish know why this study did not include men.)
Increased Risk of Depression and Bipolar Disorder:
A 2010 study from the University of Cincinnati measured Omega-3 fatty acids in the red blood cells of adult men and women. They found that people with either depression or bipolar disorder were, respectively, 20 and 30 percent more likely to have low levels of omega-3 in their red blood cell membranes.[iv]
Increased Risk of Abnormal Brain Development in Children:
A 2010 report in Neurochemistry International showed that growing rats deprived of omega-3 developed abnormal glutamate pathways in their brain, resulting in increased freezing behaviors (a sign of anxiety) and hyperactivity.[v]
We can’t do these kinds of deprivation studies on human children, but we can do supplementation studies.
A landmark study on women supplemented with long-chain omega-3 in pregnancy and breastfeeding showed that children born to supplemented women had higher mental processing scores, psychomotor development, eye-hand coordination, and stereo acuity at 4 years of age than children who’s mother’s diets weren’t supplemented.[vi] Other studies to date show that this effect so far lacks a ceiling. In other words, the more long chain omega-3 a mother gets, the more her child develops superior intellect, visual acuity, and coordination. I think it is reasonable to predict from this information that a mother who gets less-than-average omega-3 will be putting her child at risk of developing less-than-average intellectual and sensory processing abilities.
So what can you do?
I became a physician because I was interested in health. And when a disaster like this happens, people ask my opinion on how it will affect their health, and their children’s, in the long term. In my book Deep Nutrition I argue that the primary function of food is to act as an information stream conducting information from a living Earth to every cell in your body. Well, thanks to BP, the nutritional globe has just been rendered significantly smaller, which is bad news for mothers and mothers-to-be. However, it can also serve as a good excuse to introduce you to some of the traditional foods, which, in the absence of a steady supply of healthy seafood, have supplied vital long-chain omega-3 to our growing children for centuries.
The brains, livers, and a few other organs from animals raised on pasture in a healthy environment are some of the best sources of long-chain omega-3 in the world. Back in the day, everyone made organ meats a regular part of their diet. And back in the day, they liked ‘em. These days, you can tune into TV shows featuring Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, and other foodies and world travelers, and watch as the celebrity-host gobbles up these wiggly tidbits. If you want to get the best currently available brain food for yourself, or your kids, I recommend finding places to buy these secret stashes of healthy omega-3 (and other nutrients) from ethically raised animals, taking them home, and learning to cook them.
I’m happy to see the growing interest in traditional cooking along with increased consumer willingness to pay fair prices for products raised by farmers interested in animal welfare, land-stewardship, and the health of the planet. Will this source of healthy nutrient, like the gulf, become a part of history in the near future?
As a physician who cares about your health, I certainly hope not. My advice: Support the people who do this for us, and get it while you can.
[i] Valdez spill’s effects on fish raise concerns By MATTHEW TRESAUGUE, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, July 17, 2010, 8:08PM
[ii] Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010 Feb;67(2):146-54
[iii] BMC Psychiatry. 2010 May 26;10:38.
[iv] J Affect Disord. 2010 Apr 20. [Epub ahead of print]
[v] Neurochem Int. 2010 May-Jun;56(6-7):753-9. Epub 2010 Feb 19.
[vi] Pediatrics. 2003 Jan;111(1):e39-44.