This morning, a former patient of mine forwarded to me some thoughts on a friend of hers that is a lacto-vegetarian. The friend had been taking Omega-3 flax oil and supplementing her diet with flax seed to get extra Omega 3. She had always had splits at the end of her nails and was interested in my thoughts on why-when she stopped taking the supplemental omega-3 did the nail splits go away. She attributed it to her fats being "out of balance" and her getting too much Omega 3 compared to the other fats in her diet...
I though the question brought up a very interesting topic, that of "nutritional balance".
Here are my thoughts...
Vitamin A and D deficiency, poor circulation, thyroid problems, hydrochloric acid deficiency, iron deficiency, calcium deficiency, protein deficiency have all been associated with split nail ends. However the broader point is that if you eat healthy and can get all you nutrients from nature, then you don't need supplementation at all. I think that's the point she's trying to make.
But most people; and I mean 99% of people - don't eat properly, nor do the plants or animals they eat. With meat animals raised in concentrated animal farming operations (CAFO), fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds grown with pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and more, our foods aren't really our foods. Additionally, most people take supplements for the wrong reasons. Most people will look at the obvious symptoms, not the whole body or the whole life style or know how to properly evaluate the whole problem.
When a doctor does a consultation, she or he starts with the symptoms then probes further. Any given symptoms can have many common conditions that cause that symptoms. So we probe and probe with our questions and when we examine, we examine all related systems.
If our seeds, nuts, fruit and veggies grew in a natural (organic) environment and our meats ate their natural evolutionary diet and our water was pure, we'd all be better off.
I take Omega-3 fish oils simply in an attempt to bring the other fats into balance. You don't need extra Omega-3, you just need your fats in balance. Once you supplement something in an attempt to bring it into balance, once you achieve that balance, you stop. Otherwise the pendulum swings the other way and you're out of balance again.
The average intake of Omega-3 by our caveman ancestors 50,000-1 million years ago is estimated at about 3500-4000mg per day. And it was all dietary, not supplemental. Because they ate all organic/natural plants and meats and drank pure unpolluted water, all fats were in balance and all vitamins, minerals, enzymes and all the little nutrients we have yet to understand were all in balance with how they existed in nature and how our bodies adapted and developed the physiologic systems to metabolize them. Everything was in perfect balance. Back then, we as a species died at childbirth, or of infections or were killed by some of the foods we were hunting. Which is why the average age of a caveman was about 35. But when caveman did survive the odds life threw at us back then, they lived to a very ripe old age like that of today or even older - however the difference was they were vibrant and healthy, not decrepit like most "seasoned citizens" are today.
Once the agricultural age started and we stopped being nomadic (we traveled with our foods hunting and gathering seasonally)...but once we stopped being nomadic and started staying in one place and growing our foods, grains became a larger and larger part of our diets as did dairy. Then there was that sanitation thing too. Disease due to sanitation issues as well as adapting to grains started becoming a regular issue. Most people that write on the subject will tell you that this is when things like tooth decay, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers started becoming prevalent. We started eating the same foods again and again and lost the variety in our diet of differing meats, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds and lost the variety of nutrients they all provided. We started eating more and more grains which were devoid of a lot of the nutrients our bodies had adapted to over the previous millennia. Our bodies never had the opportunity to develop physiologic systems to process them and we then forced out bodies to do so.
Previously, grains were very inefficient foods for our nomadic life. They are small, couldn't be eaten raw and it took a lot of effort compared to picking berries or hunting to extract the energy from the foods needed to support life. Nowadays with big farm equipment it's easy to gather grains, process grains and cook grains. But think about life back when our genes were developing....It rarely happened. Researchers say only in times of desperation. Nowadays, most of us are eating a diet filled with desperation foods rather than the foods optimal for our health.
Our caveman ancestors physique was more comparable to the average modern day Olympic athlete than the "average Joe" citizen of the world today. If we continue to eat desperation food, we will certainly need to supplement our diets to give us just some of the nutrients our body needs. But if you adopt an ancestral diet containing the foods from which our genes developed, you'll need nothing more.
Yes, fats need to be in balance. As long as they are naturally occurring in our ancestral food sources are necessary for us (even saturated fat). What we don't need (and what is toxic to our bodies) are the man-made hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated and their new iteration: interesterified fats.
As Hippocrates said, "Let Food By Thy Medicine And Medicine Be Thy Food". Even he understood this as he himself lived much earlier in the agricultural age.
I wonder what Hippocrates would say today in the age of industrialized, processed, artificial, pasteurized, homogenized, "pesticized", genetically altered and engineered (and coming soon to a dinner table near you) -cloned foods???
I leave you with this one thought...As benign as water seems to all of us, drink to much and you get something called Hyponatremia - or water intoxication which can and does lead to death. Yes, even water needs to be in balance.
We need to be in balance with the food from which our bodies evolved.
Those are my thoughts on supplementation, healthful eating and balance.
Dr. Narson is a 2-term past president of the Florida Chiropractic Association’s Council on Sports Injuries, Physical Fitness & Rehabilitation and was honored as the recipient of the coveted Chiropractic Sports Physician of the Year Award in 1999-2000. He practices in Miami Beach, Florida at the Miami Beach Family & Sports Chiropractic Center; A Facility for Natural Sports Medicine.