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To be human is to deceive ourselves.

We can’t possibly engage with all the truths about our lives all the time, we must ignore most of them most of the time lest we drive ourselves mad.

One universal truth is that we choose what to focus on in life, yet to our peril most of us fail to realise this.  We choose our priorities.  We either choose on purpose or we choose by default, but one way or another we choose, and each choice has consequences.

Choices that move us forward towards one goal inevitably move us further away from another – that’s a natural consequence. 

We can’t always see what the consequences of our long-term choices are – until we can, but some are obvious if we’d only take a moment to think about them.

If we choose to work away from home for months or years on end, or to work all day long to secure our careers, pay the bills, or even just to feel significant – then fair enough, it may be genuinely heroic of us – but it is a choice.

When faced with big problems then let’s at least be honest about the choices that got us here.

We can’t expect to form meaningful bonds with our young children if we hardly ever meet them, and we can’t then expect to have good relationships with these children after they grow up. 

Pain is an inevitable consequence here…for us and for the kids!

When we face a problem capable of sinking our ship, then the luxury of self-deception evaporates.  If we are to prevail in the face of overwhelming odds, we must bring out the best in ourselves.  This requires getting the worst of ourselves out of our own way, and to do this involves telling the truth.

Is your current life choice taking you further away from your goal…Yes or No?

If the outcome of your adventure is guaranteed, then it’s no adventure at all.

If the risk of failure isn’t real, then there’s no motivation to pay attention

If the solution to your problem is certain then you need no effort to solve it.

With no effort comes no growth, with no growth comes no change, with no change comes … no change.

Can you solve your fertility problem by doing what you’ve always done, or does something need to change?

Why am I not fertile?

Why is my body not fertile?

I’m going to suggest that a deep level of honesty is necessary to answer that question.

I’m also going to suggest that at any given moment most of us are not prepared to be that honest, and yet I can tell you with confidence that shift happens the moment we are courageous enough to be honest about what ‘actually is’.

Why am I not fertile? 

The most reasonable high-level answer is that question is – because you have been avoiding the truth about yourself for so long now your body is confused and thus unable to conduct the internal orchestra properly.

It feels judgemental doesn’t it! The implications of it are hard to stomach. 

“What? – you’re saying that I’ve been lying to myself all these years?”

Maybe lying is too strong a term – ‘avoiding the truth’ is a more accurate way to put it.

But you see, the thing is we ALL do this – that’s why all have problems.  But c’mon, think about it – do you really believe you’ve never made mistakes?  Does anyone seriously believe that they never avoid the truth?

If fertility is your problem, then time is of the essence. You need a plan to get from where you are to where you want to be, and this means you must first accept where you are, it also might mean admitting to yourself that you don’t know how to get to the place you want to be.

The truth is your most powerful ally here and failing to accept that is why so many people never engage the journey properly.  Internet fertility forums are full of such people talking about this or that drug and how best to use it, or this or that supplement and how good or bad it was for them, but precious few ever embrace the truth.

The truth is we find ourselves with the problems we have due to ‘The Way We Are’, and we can’t fix those problems if we remain the same.  We must change – that’s life, that’s the truth, it’s also inevitable – so why not embrace it!

Russell Brand was asked one day if he was happy.

“Well…I’m happy right now” he said “but I don’t know if I’ll be happy in an hour”

Great answer.

There’s far too much emphasis in our society on the goal of “being happy”.

Far better I think is to seek satisfying meaningful work.

This always involves a quest to find solutions to problems that cause somebody unnecessary suffering, even if that somebody is yourself.

It also always involves working hard, so it requires discipline.

Discipline feels like the opposite of freedom but is in fact a necessary ingredient of being free – and happy.

If you are having no success getting pregnant, and you don’t know why – ask yourself if you are pursuing happiness instead of meaning.

Responsibility Is Scary

The realisation that there is nobody out there who can assume the responsibility of solving our particular problem, is surely one of the most terrifying aspects of being an adult.

It’s unnerving! 

When we were young and immature, we could turn to someone – a parent, a teacher, a mentor maybe, but now there is nobody we can give our problem to, nobody we can hide behind anymore.  The weight of responsibility rests heavy on our shoulders.

The essential definition of being an adult is that we have to deal with our own problems.

We can of course recruit help, but the responsibility sits on us, we have to make the decision.

Not accepting this fundamental truth is the cause of much stress, suffering and even neurosis in the world, which is a true pity because there is a way to transmute this burden of responsibility into something that creates joy, satisfaction and meaning – define a worthy goal for yourself and then pursue it with everything you’ve got.

A worthy goal becomes a magnet that draws you forward with anticipation, it creates in you the desire to overcome obstacles, to stretch yourself, to learn, and to grow.

The desire to make a baby when your body won’t allow it…that’s a profoundly powerful goal!

Husband comes home, hands his wife a book saying, “here, I got you a present”.

Wife takes the book, but without looking at it shows a pained expression on her face.

Facial expression annoys the husband, who instantly feels unappreciated and wonders why he bothered to buy her the book.

I thought you’d like it” he says, it’s your favorite author. 

Oh” she says, now interested, “I thought it was just some boring book you were giving me”.

What’s going on here?

Reading between the lines one can easily see that each reaction – the pained look on her face, and his annoyance of it – are conditioned reactions based, most likely, on a series of past events.  In other words, there’s history here.

Maybe the husband has a history of getting his wife stuff she has no interest in, and this hurts her feelings.

Maybe the wife has a history of reacting before she takes time to consider the situation and thus the husband feels momentarily rejected.

We can’t change the past, but we can acknowledge that our past actions – and more importantly our reactions – create within our brains unhelpful patterns that now condition us and make it far more likely we will react the same way over and over.

There’s a sense in society that we need years of therapy to overcome this kind of stuff, but we don’t.  If we first choose to acknowledge the truth of the situation, ie that we are reacting based on conditioned patterns in our personality, then we just need to interrupt those patterns a few times to break the hold they have over us.  It’s the simple biology of brain wiring!

One tool that is freely available to us all that would instantly solve both of the above conditioned reactions with no judgment or difficult introspection is the act of being present with the person you are engaging with.

A wonderfully humorous paragraph by a patient of the famous Dr Beer (RIP) recounting her memory of the crazy days women go through after IVF transfers:

After 2 paranoid weeks of checking everything…nada…no HCG reading…not even a hint of pregnancy.  I hadn’t drunk any coffee, hardly touched red wine, walked the dog daily, eaten broccoli and generally tried hard to keep in good shape. I’d done everything right!  Finally, after 2 days of abject misery I had to do something – so I signed up for emergency acupuncture and hypnotherapy

Such is the mindset of a lot of women who are on the roller-coaster of fertility treatment.

But I’m here to tell you…all of the above stuff may be good to do, but it’s not even close to a home run. 

When I hear people on online fertility forums say “We tried everything to get pregnant – nothing works” I want to pull their hair. 

But luckily that urge soon gives way to a feeling of compassion for them and for the struggle they are going through.

If you have ongoing infertility, or a series of miscarriages, or failed IVF’s – you need to let go of simplistic notions and be prepared to tumble deep into the rabbit hole to learn what your body is trying to tell you, and you need to do it fast. 

You need to be prepared to go where you haven’t gone before.    Action alone won’t get a bun in the oven, you need a plan based on a proper understanding of what’s actually happening inside you. 

If you’ve already tried lots of ‘things’ with no success, then you may need to rethink your plan.

Successful Fertility Case Study – Jenny

About three years ago a woman, whom I’ll call Jenny, came to see me looking for help getting pregnant, here’s her story.

Jenny was 35 Years old (pushing it..I know!), she worked as a hairdresser, was married for 5 years, but only began TTC’ing seriously over the previous year. From the beginning there was little mention of her DH so I was suspecting some relationship issues may be at play -which turned out to be the case!

Jenny had been on the pill for 18 years and only came off it a year earlier to begin a family.  As an aside…this is not a good plan IMO, it takes a while for the body to readjust it’s hormones after years of forced dysregulation, so you really need to come off the pill well in advance of TTC’ing.  (Whether or not going on the pill is ever a good idea is a different debate!!) 

She was a really nice person to work with, open to ideas and in obvious need of nutritional but also emotional support.  It seemed she couldn’t talk openly with her husband about the whole idea of there being ‘a problem’ and was even reluctant to talk to her friends about it as they all had kids, plus she felt they’d give her the “ya left it to late girl” speech.

She was perhaps half a stone overweight…nothing too serious, and showed evidence of early skin deterioration for her age…basically there was a story of struggle in her face.  To me this means she was living with a degree of stress and thus experiencing chronic inflammation in her body…which is ultimately the thing that messes up hormone cycles…and mood…and all the other ‘stuff’ we tend to not value until it’s too late.

Her diet was far from ideal:  Boxed cereal for breakfast for as long as she could remember, with skim milk, toast and coffee.  At the weekends she would eat a fry up with sausage, rasher and scrambled eggs or else she would leave off breakfast entirely. A pretty common breakfast for sure…but in terms of using food to support your health and prepare for pregnancy this is a horrendous way to start most days of your life.  Some of you might be shocked to hear that it was probably the weekend breakfasts that were keeping her afloat!!  Jenny’s weekday breakfasts were a deal breaker for fertility because from this foundation alone it is well nigh impossible to get your body to where it needs to be to support the huge task of pregnancy. For lunch Jenny might have a salad roll or a sandwich, which was eaten usually quickly in the small canteen at work.  Fast eating means poor digestion I’m afraid.  The rolls would contain margarine (another deal breaker), white or brown bread (which is neither here nor there in terms of nutrition), ham or turkey slices, cheese, some salt and some lettuce.

She would eat a bar for an energy pickup later on in the afternoon and on getting home might have a beef stew, or spaghetti bolognese, or shepherd’s pie or chops, or steak or some fish…with spuds and broccoli, or some variation of the above.

Those of you who know me and my work with the Weston A Price Foundation will know that I aim to achieve far higher levels of nutrition than promoted by the standard food pyramid with its so called 5-a-day rule etc., but honestly Jenny’s diet fell far short of even the basic government recommendations for most nutrients. Jenny was taking Folic Acid in a multivitamin recommended by her doctor.  For me whilst this may be better than nothing and will help prevent neural tube defects, multivitamins dont come even close to supplying your body with solid nutrition…and the form of folic acid recommended for pregnancy is, well, better than nothing but a long way from optimal.  Optimal health should be the goal in advance of pregnancy.

Jenny was displaying symptoms of irregular cycles with some pain leading up to, and again during, her period.  Now for sure it is not essential that a woman have regular periods in order to conceive…but it really does help…and so period timing can be used as a target to aim for. On questioning it transpired that Jenny and her hubby didn’t really know when the best window was to have sex…they were guessing based on partial understanding of timing, so the first thing I suggested was for them to talk to a Billings Practitioner, which they did.  Later it turned out that this was actually the one element of the whole program that gave them the biggest confidence boost…which was a blow to my professional ego…but hey…whatever works right!

I considered running a saliva hormone panel over Jenny’s cycle but figured there was a lot to clear up first so I put it on hold.  This test involves collecting 11 samples of saliva spread out over the month and it shows you the exact hormonal pattern your body is working to…which is most definitely NOT what a blood test for hormones do…instead blood tests for hormones are used as a basis to take a guess at what your hormones are actually doing.   

Jenny’s DH had never actually been checked out for sperm quality, yet here she was…assuming the problem was all her! I have an issue with this because it is now pretty easy for a man to get his seed tested so I always advocate that he should do so at the first inkling of doubt!  With the rising rates of infertility I advocate that all men should have their sperm quality tested.  Why?  Because it’s only a few hundred quid and if something is found then it can save a lot of time and angst.  Men are so much simpler to test than women so they might as well get it done and if problems show up then well and good, don’t waste another day worrying about it…let’s get to work fixing them! Sperm problems can sometimes be cleared up in three months all going well.  For sure some problems are more complex and need more specialist intervention but most are just ‘functional’ issues whereby some function needs support and then the whole system comes into balance …and all is good.

Anyway I suggested to Jenny that her DH’s sperm should be tested but for whatever personal reason he refused, and so my original suspicions began to take shape.  Indeed it transpired there was a communication problem in their marriage (isn’t that always the case?? I hear you say), but I wasn’t in a position to broach this with her just yet.

We decided to work on her diet first as she was all on for this, she was also on for the occasional eating of lamb’s liver which a lot of women balk at.  This is the power food, a sacred food in many cultures and an intervention that can sometimes make the difference all on its own. I prescribed a nutrient dense diet with lots of good healthy fat, organic sources of meat and eggs, I trebled her intake of a diverse range of vegetables and made sure she include at least a small amount of rice or spuds for carbohydrates.  I advocated that she use butter liberally and throw out the margarine.  She would later say to me that she was worried about eating so much food…she reckoned it was perhaps three times the volume she had been used to eating…yet she lost weight.  It’s actually possible she was eating more food but less calories overall, visual quantities can be deceptive…Go figure!! 

Once I saw a change in her eating habits and confirmed a beneficial change in her bowel habits from once every two or three days to once a day I knew we were making progress. I stepped up the program to include some herbs that are known to help the brain manage hormone levels.  Lot’s of people don’t get this idea…but it is the brain that regulates our hormone patterns so supporting your hormones doesn’t just mean feeding the glands, it means clearing stress out of your brain and then nourishing it…along with the rest of the glands.  

I advised Jenny to enjoy a massage once a week for 6 weeks to relieve tension in her body.  Looking at her from the front it was possible to see that her left ear was slightly lower than her right ear…a posture imbalance often due to the body being torqued out of alignment by chronic stress, and which also indicates a pelvic imbalance.  It is plausible that such a posture imbalance has a knock on effect on ones ovarian cycle by compromising nerve conductance and or blood flow to the ovaries and or womb.  I figured there are numerous ways to address this but the massage idea resonated with her so we went for that!  Acupuncture or osteopathy would also have been good options.

I was concerned about the potential for toxic build up in her body as a result of constant exposure to hairsprays, and coupled with the fact that her diet had been poor with generally low levels of fat, protein and minerals, I figured Jeny’s detoxification potential was definitely compromised.  I suggested we run a test on her urine (called an organic acid test) to look for evidence of compromised detoxification and systemic inflammation.  She declined this fearing bad results would only stress her out…which is a good reason not to do it I admit. In the absence of this I recommended a product that promotes liver detoxification, as the liver is where it is all at when it comes to detoxification.  (Well…mostly!)  It contained whole food B-Vitamins, milk thistle extract, N-acetyl-Cysteine, and turmeric extract.  All of these activate various pathways of detoxification in the liver and can often have a very strong noticeable effect on some people.

After a few more months it was clear that there was still some pain leading up to menstruation so I recommended Jenny take a magnesium supplement, which has many uses – one of which is to assist with muscle cramping.  This worked a dream…the pain stopped completely.  I love magnesium, it’s such a useful product and quite reliable (when you are using the right form of it), yet I sometimes kick myself for not suggesting these things sooner…but the truth is I rely on feedback from my clients to know how far and how fast to push things, so I tend to go slowly and ‘suck-it-and-see’.

10 months after contacting me Jenny was pregnant and 9 months later had a beautiful boy. As Hannibal Smith says…”I Love It When A Plan Comes Together”.  

Sometimes plans don’t always work out perfectly…sometimes they work out a lot sooner…it’s a very personal journey and so it’s hard to compare between different people.

Buried within these case studies lies a deeper analysis that would take too long to share.  It can get seriously complicated when analysing hormone patterns, detoxification pathways, toxin accumulation and dietary adherence, but it’s a job I love doing and when it works out the satisfaction is really powerful!

I hope to share more of these case studies with you all regularly now that my website is finally working properly!!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to pass this link on to who ever you feel would be receptive to them and may be in need of guidance.

Brendan O’Brien NT MSc

A Case of ED & Sperm Morphology Issues Resolved!

(Part of the Case Report blog series)

Pat (his real name, but surname withheld), called me in early 2016 not because of fertility concerns per se but because at just 30 years old he was suffering from ED.  He also wanted to start a family but hadn’t been TTC’ing for real just yet.

From the get go it wasn’t known if Pat had any issue with his sperm but he clearly had difficulties both getting and maintaining an erection. With no further information I can tell you that this problem does not happen in isolation and so I was confident that we’d uncover more to the story if we looked deeper.

Firstly an overview of ED is warranted: An erection is actually quite a complex affair that involves signals from the brain to both initiate and terminate the erection, blood flow to fill out the muscles, nerve sensory feedback, hormones like testosterone, and then when it’s all over there are special enzymes to turn the erection off again once the moment has passed. Men typically get several erections per day as normal, some of which are due to sensual thoughts and others which are simply to do with metabolic housekeeping and happen almost unconsciously in that they dont involve any element of desire.

Of course all of these functions in turn depend on the availability of the right soup of nutrients both in the brain and in the penis (the second brain…right!!). The enzyme that brings erections to an end is called phosphor-di-esterase type 5 or PDE5, without it erections would never subside. The obvious humorous comment from the girls here would be…”Wow..if only we could find a way to turn off this PDE5 in our partners then we’d be able to prolong the fun!!”

Well as it happens this is exactly what the most famous ED drug on the market does.  Sildenafel (marketed as Viagra) supplies a compound that temporarily inhibits the action of this PDE5, so it prolongs erections by inhibiting the body’s ability to end them.

There is also a second effect of the drug…it causes a release of a substance called Nitric Oxide in the body.  Nitric Oxide causes vasodilatation, which is an increase in blood flow due to relaxing of the blood vessels.  Basically if blood vessels are too stiff then blood can’t flow freely in them, but once they relax blood can flow better, thus creating an erection. (Stiff blood vessels = No stiff penis!)

So Viagra causes a flush of blood to the penis and then it stops the PDE5 enzyme from ending the erection. This is interesting because most guys are never fully checked out for the real underlying cause of ED, which are many, and yet they are prescribed products like Viagra under the assumption that this is the only thing that is needed.  So any given guy might be fine with PDE5 and therefore doesn’t need a PDE5 inhibitor – yet they get it anyway.  This probably accounts for one of the side effects of the drug in some men…a boner that won’t subside!

It might sound funny but it’s not when it happens to you.

Anyway, back to Pat. The underlying causes of stiff blood vessels are many. Nutritionally speaking it is fair to say that much of it is caused by blood sugar imbalances…or basically consuming too much sugar over a number of years. This triggers a near continuous amount of inflammation in the body whilst blunting the effect of insulin.  Blunting the effect of insulin has wide ranging effects on the body and one of those is to harden blood vessels! Now to be sure this is not the only cause of ED, there are some diseases that predispose a person to it…like heart diseases, obesity and diabetes.

But wait a minute…aren’t those diseases also linked to blood sugar issues? You bet! Psychological concerns that cause stress and worry can also lie behind ED, and whilst these may not be directly linked to blood sugar issues it is fair to say they are indirectly linked. This is because stress causes us to release cortisol, a type of hormone known as a ‘gluco-corticoid’.  

Spot the ‘gluco’ part there…glucose…blood sugar.  Cortisol is a potent modulator of blood sugar because that’s its job, it causes a rush of stored sugar to enter the blood. Was Pat stressed? Absolutely! Is every guy with ED stressed out? No, but from a functional point of view one needs to look at stress and blood sugar as foundational issues.

So what did we do? First I analysed his diet and found that he was eating a high carb, high protein, low fat diet. How did I figure this out? By putting a week’s worth of his diet into an online diet calculator, but honestly at this stage I can pretty much tell by talking to people. I use the calculator more as a way of illustrating graphically to clients what kind of balance is in their diet because seeing it in a pie chart is a very effective teaching tool. The carb portion of his diet was very high in simple carbs…refined grains, sugars, processed foods, white rice, white bread etc. You should be able to see a pattern here already, he was eating a diet that supplies a lot of sugar in a form that easily slips into the blood, in other words ‘simple carbs’…as opposed to ‘complex carbs’!

But what about the high protein component? This was coming from lean meat and protein powders mostly, it was a holdover from Pat’s training days when he used to do bodybuilding years ago. One of the negative effects of high protein consumption is that it causes a gradual depletion of Vitamin A from the body. This is because vitamin A comes in the fat not the protein part of meat, so a diet of lean meat is also lean in Vitamin A, plus it is used up rapidly when metabolising protein.  What is of concern here is that Vitamin A is absolutely crucial for sperm production, but it is also crucial for maintaining flexibility in the walls of blood vessels.  

Now think back to what we said about ED…it’s a problem with blood flow right!  How does Viagra work…it relaxes the walls of the blood vessels. Why would they need relaxing?  Because they have become too stiff!  Why have they become too stiff?  Well there are a few potential reasons…but a deficiency of vitamin A, along with high blood sugar and the inflammation that brings are all prime candidates.

So here, after just a basic investigation, we have two targets to aim at:

  • High blood sugar, which at this stage is not yet confirmed by blood tests but would fit the pattern of Pat’s diet
  • A potential case of vitamin A deficiency due to a low fat diet and excessive protein consumption.

A third ‘target’ showed up later on when Pat confided in me that he hated his job! That’s a tough one I admit, and whilst I don’t have a direct solution to this particular problem I do have some very valuable tools that can help.

First I could and often do refer clients to various other complementary practitioners who are specialists at finding and opening the pressure release valve in people.  EFT, NLP, counseling and a few other modalities are well worth trying out in these cases.

Let’s be clear…when we are stressed it is hardly ever because the situation is really a threat to us…rather it is to do with our perception of the situation…and the above therapies can often help us change our perception.  Or in the case of EFT in particular it can perform seeming miracles in people by simply altering the neural wiring that links the event to our stressful interpretation! It’s amazing stuff.

I do tend to find guys more resistant to this idea than women…but it works just as well for both. I encouraged Pat to give EFT a go and after just a single session he had a huge shift in his perception and lost most of his job associated stress. He did continue for a few more sessions to finish out the job all the same.

During this time I encouraged Pat to have his sperm quality tested and sure enough there was a problem here too…he had sperm morphology issues. Basically this means a significant percentage of his sperm are misshapen and thus can’t swim properly. A second test confirmed that his HBA1C reading was borderline high. HBA1C is a measure of how much your blood is exposed to sugar…it’s used to determine diabetes. Pat wasn’t near diabetic but his levels were heading towards pre diabetes.

I tell ya…stress and a high sugar diet are terribly damaging to the body over time!

We restructured Pat’s diet to one that included a lot more animal and plant fat, with less protein and simple carbs – mainly I eliminated lean meat and then added raw cheese, liver, organic bacon, salmon, eggs and a lot of vegetables. I also used a specific herb that quickly helps with blood sugar metabolism and getting the proverbial monkey off your back, and a specific supplement to supply the nutrients I estimated to be low in his diet…particularly vitamin A, D E & K2 plus zinc and iodine.  

Vitamin K2 helps the body lay down calcium in the right places, and one of the reasons behind ED is that the blood vessels are stiff because of calcification (in turn due to inflammation)  So whilst I can’t claim that K2 reverses this calcification (I mean it could…I just don’t know for sure) it certainly will assist in preventing further calcification.

Getting calcium metabolism right is also crucial for proper sperm production, so the K2 will help here also. I also suggested digestive enzymes for 2 months to help Pat extract more nutrients from his food. This is because being stressed for prolonged times down-regulates digestion and so it needs to be coaxed back to normality.

There are supplements that can boost ones nitric oxide levels, and I do sometimes avail of them, but not this time because I didn’t need to. Pat responded really well…and at that he didn’t even stick to the diet 100%.

With NO OTHER intervention…no drugs…no surgery Pat was able to resolve his erection problem AND his sperm morphology issues within 6 months. By the time we parted ways he had a new lease of sex life and an obvious increase if ejaculate volume…which is a good sign.

That was over two years ago as of this writing, and after I emailed several past clients looking for testimonials he did contact me to give permission for this article but also told me that his son was born in the meantime!!  

Love it! Life is good.

Brendan O’Brien NT MSc 

Child’s brain development permanently affected by this one type of food!

Here’s a study that no pregnant mother should read unless they want to send themselves into a stress response and destroy all that lovely pregnancy Zen they have been cultivating!

Maternal dietary imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids impairs neocortical development via epoxy metabolites

You can read it all here if you think you might want to get pregnant any time soon! http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/stem.2246/full

It’s a pretty dense read but in a nutshell it says:

  1. The final positioning of our brain cells is set for life very early in embryonic gestation.
  2. This process is determined by nutritional factors (…Ya don’t say!!)
  3. One common way for the process to go wrong (common in the western world that is) is because of our very top heavy consumption of Omega 6 oils in comparison to Omega 3.

The paper also mentions the very interesting “developmental origins of health and disease” hypothesis which says that “nutrition in early life stages determines the risk of onset of various diseases in adulthood”.  In other words how we are nourished as embryos and as kids has a HUGE effect on our disease risks later on.

Think about this for a minute…it is saying that if we get our kids nutrition wrong from the get-go they are going to suffer badly as they age…and there is little we can do about it after the fact.

I hate this idea but I have to reluctantly agree that it seems pretty spot on.

I do challenge the second part of the hypothesis though….the part that says there is precious little we can do about it.

Here’s why:

Studies do indeed show that poor nutrition in early life (the now famous first 1000 days) has a big impact on us as we age.  But these studies largely relate to people who continue as they started off…in other words if they start off on a poor diet they tend to continue eating a poor diet…and hey presto they eventually get a disease.

Studies don’t show that if those same people began to eat a healthy diet they still go on to get diseases.  Studies don’t show this because it’s hard to find enough people to do these kind of studies on…that’s all!

I maintain that whilst a lot of harm is done by virtue of eating nutrient poor diets it is still possible to roll a good portion of it back once you become smart to the fact.  I can’t ‘prove’ this of course but if you put several Nutritional Therapists is a room and hear their stories you would be filled with awe at the healing power of the human body.  People do get better very often when they nourish their bodies.

But going back to the paper above…if we eat too much omega 6 oil (and most of us are) we develop a complicated imbalance that affects our whole body, but in particular if mom’s diet is lopsided in favour of omega 6 it affects the brain development of gestating embryos, and this effect will persist for life.  The paper is saying that the imbalance gives rise to a complicated milieu of metabolic by-products that alter the very process that determines where baby’s brain cells end up in the skull.  Think about the blob of a foetus that eventually grows a brain…and all the magic that has to occur to orchestrate the migration of those tiny cells to the exact right place in the brain!  As incredible as it is the process can be disturbed by having too much Omega 6 and too little Omega 3.

Exactly what the end result is of having your brain cells end up in the wrong place is not fully elucidated in the paper but it hints at cognitive impairment.

Enough of the heavy stuff…what’s the takeaway message?

Quit eating processed vegetable oils and any foods with that stuff added to it and add some flax seeds and oily fish to your diet.  That’s pretty much it!

All those so called healthy polyunsaturated oils we are told to eat to protect our heart…they are all omega 6 oils…and to boot they are all over-heated and rancid.  It’s the rancidity that has some scientists questioning if it is not the omega 6’s themselves but rather the fact that they are over-heated that is the real problem, but that’s a topic for another day.

The quickest way to rectify an omega imbalance is to drop all processed oils, cut drastically back on the quantity of grains you eat (grains contain mostly Omega 6 oils), and take high quality cod liver or salmon oil for a few months.  I used the words High Quality on purpose there…most of the stuff on sale is not high quality and the evidence is mounting that low quality (ie carelessly manufactured) Omega 3 oils can drive a whole other set of problems in the body.  It’s serious stuff!

I’m not going to openly advertise other people’s products here so if you want my top recommendations for these supplements drop me an email with the subject line Brendan, Tell Me Where I Can Buy The Best Omega 3 Oils…and I’ll email you the answer!  (I don’t sell them!)

Yours in health

Brendan