News Trawl 12 – Addressing US Mental Health Problems

mental health problems in the US
Photo credit: hansvandenberg30 via Visualhunt.com / CC BY

Around 10 million adult Americans have serious mental health problems, reported News Max last week. The story was based on the latest Behavioral Health Barometer report from SAMHSA.

As we’ve written many times on this website, one of the great underlying problems is the modern dietary trend of not feeding the brain. Our mental and physical stability depends on the correct balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The latter saturates our diet, while the former has been in decline for many decades. This is bad news.

“The typical Western diet tends to over-supply omega-6”, wrote Complementary Medicines Australia’s Miho Kikuchi in a recent Nutraingredients article. “While human beings have evolved eating omega-6 and omega-3 at a ratio of about 1:1, the current typical Western diet is extremely deficient in omega-3 and has an excess amount of omega-6.

“The average omega-6/omega-3 intake ratio is calculated to be 15/1 to 17/1. Indeed, only 20% of Australians obtain an optimal omega-3 intake and only 10 per cent of women of childbearing age meet the recommended intake of DHA. Further, modern agribusiness has greatly increased the production of omega-6-rich vegetable oil and grain feeds for domestic livestock, resulting in increased human consumption of omega-6 and decreased omega-3.”

Professor Michael Crawford struck a similar tone in his clarion call article A Tale of Two Fats.

The Battle for Omega-3!

Staff Sgt Salvatore Giunta. Photo credit: familymwr via Visualhunt / CC BY

Encouragingly, the message is getting through in some places. The US military is currently involved in a trial to assess the impact of increased omega-3 – and reduced omega-6 – in soldiers’ diets.

The latest findings – suggesting that this dietary switch is working at every level – are part of the ongoing work of Dr Joe Hibbeln and Dr Bernadette Marriot, currently involved in a clinical trial  (the Ranger Resilience and Improved Performance on phospholipid bound Omega-3s (RRIPP-3) study). Their study examines “the efficacy of krill oil supplementation on specific cognitive processes that underlie key elements of soldier performance that may have a measurable impact on performance and mental health under the extreme psychophysiological stress of military officer training”.

Now that’s something worth fighting for!

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