Monday, March 8, 2010

To fish or cut bait?

Since I’ve started researching nutrition, I’ve come across tons of information about the benefits of fish oil. Book after book and website after website tout the role of fish oil in heart health as well as its efficacy in helping to treat high cholesterol, depression, anxiety, AHDH, low immunity, cancer, diabetes, inflammation, arthritis, IBD, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, eye disorders, macular degeneration and ulcers.

It sounds like a wonder drug – well, not actually a drug. Let’s call it a wonder-substance since it can be had over the counter without a prescription.

The supermarket vitamin aisle is overflowing with fish oil – in fact this past week my local store had an entire endcap devoted to large, colorful jars of the enormous amber capsules. They were on sale so the price was right – the only thing stopping me, aside from the sheer size of the pills [I could probably find a whole fish smaller than some of the capsules] was of course that I recently read information discounting everything that’s out there about the benefit of fish oil.

Insert a big sigh here.

I'd just picked up the book Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, MD which for the most part enforces a lot of what I’ve been learning about the subterfuge practiced on us by the food industry. Dr. Fuhrman advocates a diet rich in fruits and vegetables which makes sense, but on pg. 127 he opines that fish oil can actually ‘decrease the activity of the immune system’ and may have a role in liver dysfunction, citing that much of the oil in those jewel-like amber capsules may in fact be rancid.

He also believes eating fish in general [another health tip promoted heavily everywhere else] isn’t as good for us as we’ve been lead to believe thanks to elevated mercury content.

Once again, information overload wins the day. I’m not saying I believe Dr. Fuhrman over everyone else, but it’s interesting and disheartening to find yet more contradictory health information. If everything we eat is bad for us – then why not just eat anything we want?

I suppose that’s exactly what the food industry is hoping we will do.


  1. If I read as much as you do about this stuff I'd be a certifiable loon.

    (no, I am not certified...yet)

  2. I'm working on my certification - soon I will be a full-fledged, card-carrying loon.