The ramblings of an Eternal Student of Life
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Saturday, February 11, 2012
Health / Nutrition ...

Like most people concerned with fueling the body with healthy stuff so as to delay its big decline and fall off as long as possible (which still won’t be all that long, no matter how healthy the stuff), I have become interested in omega fats. This is the whole fish oil thing, the idea that fish oil delivers a rich mix of omega 3 long-chain fatty acids that offset the potential inflammation caused by eating too much omega 6 fat. The typical American diet is quite rich in omega 6 fat and deficient in omega 3. And there just aren’t all that many foods that are good sources of omega 3. The best source appears to be fish, especially oily fish like mackerel and tuna. Most people don’t want to eat these kinds of fish every day, so the main alternative is to gulp down some fish oil, which provides enough omega 3 to help the heart and other major organs.

Being a vegetarian, I’m not going to gulp down fish oil. Veg-heads unwilling to compromise on refusing to participate in the slaughter of sea animals have limited options with regard to omega 3. There is flax seed and flax oil, which are pretty good providers of a certain type of omega 3 (ALA, which the body can convert to the beneficial EPA, i.e. eicosapentaenoic acid). However, they are almost totally lacking in the best of the omega 3 fats, called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). An older male body like my own has almost no chance of converting ALA in to DHA, even if does OK with EPA. But there is one more option, albeit a rather expensive option. I.e., algal oil – an oil processed from specially cultivated algae – yes, just like the green slime that forms on stagnant water. Well, I checked various web sites and found a brand of algal oil on Amazon that wasn’t totally ridiculous in price (about $24 for 90 daily doses).

Algal oil can be consumed two ways – either in capsules to be swallowed, akin to the most popular way that fish oil is taken these days; or as a liquid to be doled out with an eyedropper. I decided on the eyedropper option, as it would same me a few bucks. The average recommended dose for old guys is 14 drops per day, mixed into whatever you want (food, water, cereal, juice, etc.) Given that I weigh about 72% of the average American white guy today, I figure I can get away with 10 drops per day, and stretch out the bottle.

So I’ve been mixing algal oil in with my daily afternoon cocktail of water and psyllium husk, and guess what it tastes like? Despite the lemon flavoring that is added, it tastes like a kid’s fish tank or miniature turtle tank when it needs cleaning. I had hoped that by going the algae oil route, I’d avoid the unpleasant taste of oily fish (people who take fish oil in capsules still often have a few fish burps later on). But instead, I get the unpleasant taste of algae.

Nonetheless, I learned something! Once I pondered it a bit, I noticed that the taste of algae isn’t all that different from the taste of fish. Then I read that fish get their omega 3’s not because of what their bodies produce inside, but because they eat a lot of algae plankton from the water each day. It’s the algae, not the fish, who make most of the DHA and EPA long-chain molecules. Amazing what those slimy little organisms can do. Who knew?

So I’m cutting out the omega 3 middle-man and taking the fish off the hook, even though it winds up costing me a few more bucks to do that. They say that you are what you eat, and now I’m eating slimy fish food. Hopefully it will keep me swimming upstream for a few more years, even if I have to grit my teeth once a day.

◊   posted by Jim G @ 8:27 pm      

  1. Jim, Well, I applaud your concerted effort to eat right. I, however, probably do not eat right. And being in my 78th year, I just don’t think it’s worth it to start eating “right” at this point. Even tho it may cost me a few years, at this point I figure there’s no real difference.

    Then too, while I think that each person must do for him/herself what is important from his/her standpoint, I tend to think that when one is supposed to die, one will die; and that will be that. It’s been the baby boomers who are seriously worried that they will actually die sometime. I tend to think that it’s more in the genes than anything else, baring some accident and/or other type of purposeful act that causes a death.

    Glad you have found what makes you feel you are doing the right thing by your body. I too think I am doing the right thing by my body. So, it takes all kinds; so they say.

    I certainly DO hope that you live a long, happy life, and I’m glad you have found what you consider will help you live longer. MCS

    Comment by Mary S. — February 11, 2012 @ 10:15 pm

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