OMEGA 3 BENEFITS
Fish Oil and Fertility: A Surprising
One question I am often asked is, “Does the Zone Diet work
the same for women as it does for men?” After all, the Zone
Diet is based on controlling your hormone levels—which leads
to a second question which is, “Aren’t men and women
supposed to be hormonally different?” Actually, the answers
are yes and yes. Yes, both men and women can reach the Zone through
my dietary plan. And yes, both sexes are hormonally different.
From a hormonal standpoint, women are far
more complex creatures. (My wife would argue that women are more
complex from an emotional and intellectual standpoint as well.)
A woman’s hormones must speak a more complex language that
prepares her body for pregnancy, deals with the complexities of
pregnancy, and ushers her body through menopause. Women’s
hormonal fluctuations are much more complex than men’s.
That’s why I think women understand the power of hormones
to a far greater extent than men do. Yes, women get the same hormonal-based
health problems as men, like heart disease, diabetes, obesity,
and depression, all of which can be mitigated by my dietary program.
They also have an expanded list of health conditions and problems,
like premenstrual syndrome, menopause, osteoporosis and breast
cancer that can be addressed by the same dietary technology with
a few small adjustments.
An adult female’s unique hormonal
life can be divided into three distinct time periods: pre-menopause
(menstruation and pregnancy), menopause, and post-menopause. Let’s
see how my dietary program can help alleviate conditions that
may occur through the pre-menopause phase of her life.
Pregnancy & Infertility
During the 1960s, many pre-menopausal women would have identified
their main health concern as “not becoming pregnant”.
Now, as women choose to delay their pregnancies, they face a growing
problem of how to become pregnant. Women who wait until they are
over 30 to become pregnant increase their risk of infertility.
I also believe that a dietary component may be involved. Americans
are eating far more carbohydrates today compared to the 1960s,
and this has caused a dramatic surge in our insulin levels. Another
clue to increased female infertility may involve an imbalance
in eicosanoids since research has indicated that low-dose aspirin
significantly improves the success rates in women undergoing in-vitro
fertilization. This would suggest that my dietary recommendations
might provide a unique intervention to improve fertility. Let
me discuss why.
A primary cause of female infertility is polycystic ovary syndrome
(PCOS). This condition is linked to increased insulin levels.
In women with PCOS, the ovaries release an egg from a follicle
sporadically, if at all, instead of the usual every 28 days. These
irregular cycles can be corrected once women with PCOS lower their
elevated insulin levels, At this point their fertility almost
magically reappears. Unfortunately, even after women with PCOS
become pregnant, they still have higher rates of miscarriages.
Thus, simply reducing insulin levels alone is not the total answer.
The other important factor appears to be an imbalance of eicosanoids
that can be treated with the increased consumption of fish oil.
Epidemiological studies of pregnant women who consume large amounts
of long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids, like EPA and DHA, found in
fish oil tend to carry their babies for a longer period of time.
They also have a correspondingly lower rate of premature births
which can cause physical and neurological problems such as learning
disabilities. Since 6 to 10 percent of all births in America are
premature, I feel it is quite likely this unfortunate statistic
may be linked to our growing decrease of long-chain Omega-3 fatty
acids containing EPA/DHA in the diet.
Even if you don’t suffer from infertility, high-dose fish
oil is the most important supplement you can take during pregnancy
for several reasons, but most importantly for the development
of the child’s brain. Long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids are
critical for fetal brain development to provide your child the
best possible mental advantage coming into this world. The fetus’
need for DHA is greatest in the last trimester of the pregnancy
as fetal brain cells are being created at a prodigious rate (more
than 250,000 nerve cells per minute). If you don’t have
adequate supplies of DHA in your body, your fetus’ brain
is going to have trouble keeping up with the growing demand for
DHA building blocks. Thus, pregnancy is a critical time to take
fish oil supplements.
Fish oil can also help pregnant women avoid two serious conditions
that can occur during pregnancy: pregnancy-induced hypertension
(pre-eclampsia) and gestational diabetes. Both of these conditions
can be treated either by lowering insulin levels (gestational
diabetes) or by decreasing the levels of “bad” eicosanoids
(pre-eclampsia). To accomplish the first goal, pregnant women
need to consume an optimal ratio of carbohydrates to protein.
To accomplish the second, they need to take ultra – refined
EPA / DHA fish oil concentrate supplements.
Thus, the best diet to accomplish both goals and also provide
adequate levels of DHA is one following my dietary recommendations.
If you are pregnant you should be consuming extra calories beyond
a typical woman’s nutritional needs—on the order of
about 300 calories more a day. This simply means using a slightly
larger plate at each meal, but still keeping the correct balance
of foods. (Alternatively, you can consume an extra two or three
glasses of low-fat milk every day, since milk has the appropriate
balance of carbohydrates to protein.) Following my dietary plan
during pregnancy will ensure adequate protein for both you and
your fetus, and the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables
will supply the necessary micronutrients for both. It’s
never too late in your pregnancy to go on my dietary program—because
your fetus actually gets the biggest benefits during the last
After giving birth, new mothers should keep supplementing their
diet with high-dose fish oil to lower their risk of getting post-partum
depression. After birth, the levels of long-chain Omega-3 fatty
acids (especially DHA) drop dramatically in the mother’s
blood. This is similar to the decreased levels of long-chain Omega-3
fatty acids that are observed in depressed patients. By supplementing
her diet with adequate levels of high-dose fish oil, a new mother
can avoid that drop in long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids, and thus
will likely avoid any resulting depression. Supplementation with
ultra - refined EPA / DHA fish oil concentrate is also important
for the mother who is breast feeding her child to maintain the
DHA levels in her breast milk that are crucial for the development
of a young baby’s still rapidly growing brain.
(For more information on this subject read Dr. Sears book The
OmegaRx Zone and always consult with your physician prior
to any dietary changes.)
Editor's Note: Watch for part two of this
series in which Dr. Barry Sears will be disussing menopause and
Excerpted from The Omega-Rx Zone. Copyright 2005 by
Barry Sears, Ph.D. Used by permission.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and
Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose,
treat, cure, or prevent any disease. As with any natural product,
individual results will vary.
For more information about Dr. Barry Sears, his incredible fish
oil supplements, or the popular Zone Diet, please visit www.zoneliving.com.
If you purchase any Zone Labs, Inc. products, part of the
proceeds support CBN ministries.
Dr. Barry Sears is a leader in the field of
dietary control of hormonal response. A former research scientist
at the Boston University School of Medicine and the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Dr. Sears has dedicated his efforts over
the past 25 years to the study of lipids and their inflammatory
role in the development of chronic disease. He holds 13 U.S. patents
in the areas of intravenous drug delivery systems and hormonal
regulation for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
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