Participants: Margot Marshall (Host), Dr. Eddie Ramirez
Series Code: HL
Program Code: HL000022A
00:14 Welcome to "Healthy Living!"
00:16 I'm your host Margot Marshall.
00:18 I once asked a group why it's important to know sources
00:22 of omega-3 other than fish.
00:25 One gentleman responded, "I might not catch any fish,"
00:29 and another said, "I don't like fish."
00:31 The answer I was actually looking for was - there aren't
00:35 enough fish to supply omega-3 for 7 billion people.
00:39 Today, we're going to discuss the downside
00:42 of sourcing omega-3 from fish.
01:21 Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, our bodies can't make it.
01:27 My guest today is Dr. Eddie Ramirez.
01:29 Welcome Eddie. Thank you!
01:31 First of all, why do we need omega-3?
01:35 As the name says, this is an essential oil.
01:40 In other words, you need to have it in your diet
01:44 for the body functions to work properly.
01:47 Your brain depends on it, and many of your
01:49 cells depend on it.
01:51 There are some substances that omega-3 helps to remove,
01:55 and there are many studies that show the benefits of omega-3
02:00 such as helping avoid atherosclerosis such as help
02:06 decrease arrhythmias; such as reduce the stickiness of
02:14 your platelets that could end up giving you a serious problem
02:19 such as stroke or a heart attack and also there are many
02:23 autoimmune diseases that respond very well with omega-3.
02:29 That's a bunch of very good reasons to make sure
02:32 that we have a good source of it and a good supply of it,
02:36 your brain, your heart and autoimmune,
02:40 it doesn't leave much, does it?
02:42 And it's interesting how we have been conditioned
02:45 to think in a certain way.
02:47 Whenever somebody hears the word, "omega-3, what
02:53 do they automatically think?
02:54 Always fish - ask any group and get a chorus of fish.
02:59 And it seems to be the only thing that people really know.
03:02 That's right! And we don't realize that there are many
03:06 other healthy sources - we will see those in a minute,
03:10 of these omega-3 that is accessible, that is
03:16 cost-effective and that it has those beneficial effects
03:21 to your health.
03:22 And you know, I've been involved in lots of research
03:26 projects - just last year I submitted for publication
03:29 31 studies. Thirty one!
03:30 Thirty one! Thirty one in one year!
03:32 Including one on fish! Okay.
03:36 And it was a very well-designed study - we're talking about
03:39 5,600 people in this study, so it's a nice big sample.
03:47 There were people from all over the world including many
03:51 from New Zealand and Australia.
03:54 Oh okay, even Australia is in your study! That's right!
03:57 And we were also taking into account different religions,
04:05 different ages - the studies were nice and diverse.
04:09 The way people were cooking their fish was varied.
04:13 Some of them like it raw, some of them like it cooked,
04:15 and so forth.
04:17 And we can see that study on the screen.
04:20 This study was presented in a very important meeting
04:25 of pharmacological-related things.
04:29 And the reason why they were interested is because
04:31 this was related to toxins.
04:33 And we found in this study how eating fish had a very
04:41 negative effect on mental health which is interesting.
04:45 Well that's interesting because it's meant - the omega-3
04:48 in fish is you take it so that you can
04:50 improve your brain health. That's right!
04:52 But we actually found the opposite with our data.
04:56 I did not manipulate my data or anything - this is what
05:02 our raw data is showing.
05:05 You could predict actually the level
05:08 of depression but by their intake.
05:11 And see, this is the point, in the past, fish was an
05:16 excellent food, in fact, even Jesus ate fish if you go
05:21 and look in the Bible.
05:24 It was actually not any fish, there were certain rules -
05:27 what type of fish that He was eating which was the fish
05:31 with scales and fins, you know, they have to have
05:35 both at the same time.
05:37 So the problem of today's society is that we have
05:44 polluted our oceans, our rivers.
05:48 There was an expert on pollution that we were talking with
05:54 a few years ago and he was telling us that in the past
05:59 you could actually find mercury-free fish in the rural
06:05 waters of Canada and in the oceans near Alaska,
06:11 but he told us - you know now, today, even that fish
06:16 has been polluted with the mercury.
06:21 And we still actually don't understand the exact
06:25 mechanism on how that is happening.
06:27 We are theorizing that it may be related to rains and so forth.
06:32 As our world environment is getting so loaded with
06:37 toxins, even some of them are going via the rain and so forth.
06:44 And what happened is that these toxins start to accumulate,
06:51 and see - with mercury this is something serious. Oh yes.
06:55 Because things get accumulated and especially in your nervous
07:01 system and mercury is something extremely toxic.
07:06 So we theorize that the mechanism why we are seeing
07:11 more depression among those fish-eaters has to do with the
07:16 fact that you may be eating small amounts of that mercury
07:20 but as you continue doing that, that mercury accumulates
07:24 in your system and ends up affecting your mental health.
07:29 In fact, there's plenty of research that shows
07:32 that when you get fish, any fish, every fish has mercury
07:41 to a certain level.
07:42 I'm coauthoring a book called, "Rethink Food," together with
07:47 Michael Greger - if you want to find some good information
07:50 detailed about journals where this information comes from,
07:54 I would invite you to search "fish and Michael Greger,"
07:58 and you will find some good sources there to inform you
08:02 of real causes of the problem.
08:04 You do medical practice, you do research,
08:07 you write books and you're doing even more than that!
08:10 I just don't know how you ever fit it all in, but we are very
08:13 privileged to actually have you talking to us about this,
08:16 and I'm very pleased that we can actually understand
08:19 because fish is actually promoted because of omega-3,
08:23 but it always does come with a warning:
08:25 "No more than twice a week," and that's a concern in itself,
08:28 and it should be a bit of a red light
08:30 to people, shouldn't it? That's right!
08:31 And pregnant women should not have it.
08:33 That's why there are some international guidelines
08:36 that show that - that pregnant women, children, small children.
08:40 So if it affects them, it will also
08:43 affect you. It would have to, yes.
08:46 And there is something in ecology that is called,
08:54 Biomagnification is how we describe the phenomena of
08:59 how toxins increase as they move up on the food chain. Right.
09:07 Not actually too far from where I live in northern California,
09:12 they had a study in which they documented this biomagnification
09:18 and we're going to see that study on the screen.
09:21 In this study, they were studying a toxin called "DDD."
09:30 It's something very similar to DDT.
09:32 If you notice, in the lake water, there was only
09:35 .02 parts per million. Okay.
09:38 It is so small, that amount, that any international
09:44 body will tell you, "That's acceptable, you can
09:46 drink that water."
09:47 But the microscopic vegetables that live in the plant
09:52 that are called "phytoplankton," those have 5 parts per million.
09:56 This is quite a bit jump actually, isn't it?
09:58 That's right! From.02 to 5, still that 5 is
10:04 parts per million, so still is very small
10:08 within acceptable range.
10:10 But the worrisome part was those vegetarian fish that
10:16 ate those microscopic vegetables - those had between
10:20 40 and 300 and then you jump to the carnivorous fish
10:26 which are the ones eating those vegetarian fishes
10:30 which have up to 2,500 parts per million.
10:36 Tremendous levels of this DDD.
10:41 Now I just need you to use your imagination and imagine
10:45 now the humans that eat those carnivorous fish
10:48 that are going to have even higher levels.
10:52 That's why this is something serious because -
10:54 Have they ever done a test to see how many
10:57 parts per million humans have?
10:59 Not on the DDD. Not on that, interesting!
11:02 That would be very interesting to know, but this is
11:06 something serious because these toxins have serious effects -
11:11 such as affecting the growth of a baby.
11:15 If you expose a baby to many of these toxins,
11:19 you could actually end up with something serious such as
11:22 malformation in the baby.
11:25 So that's why I would encourage every pregnant woman
11:29 especially to stay as far as possible away from fish
11:33 as you can because those toxins are there and as you get
11:40 exposed to that, many times this accumulates in your body
11:44 and can have some negative consequences.
11:46 So each time you take it in, take in any mercury
11:51 in any form, does it ever leave your body
11:53 or does it just keep accumulating?
11:55 You need special interventions
11:58 to help them get out of the body.
12:01 So, no, it just keeps on accumulating.
12:03 The body does release a little bit of it, but most of it
12:07 can continue to accumulate in your body.
12:10 Now omega-3 has been so well researched that we know
12:18 very well that it helps for many things.
12:21 There is no question about that, but one of the issues
12:26 that has come out is the reality of the situation,
12:30 that omega-3 oil is very contaminated
12:35 with all these toxins.
12:37 See, it's not just the mercury, there are PCBs that we will
12:41 mention that briefly in a minute and many other
12:45 toxins that get accumulated when you concentrate
12:49 the fish oil.
12:50 So the average fish oil that you buy in the market
12:54 is loaded with these toxins.
12:58 So it's not just mercury we're talking about, but by the time
13:00 you eat it, it's fish oil, it's worse.
13:03 It is worse because it's concentrated, so things that
13:07 may be in some moderate levels in the fish, now they are
13:12 concentrated in the fish oil.
13:14 So you cannot patent omega-3 per se because it's just
13:21 a nutrient, you know.
13:22 So a pharmaceutical company got the bright idea, they said,
13:27 "Why don't we try to separate the toxins from the fish oil
13:35 and then we can patent it, and then we can sell it for
13:39 lowering cholesterol or many other medical conditions."
13:43 So they went ahead and did that and that actually
13:48 patented version of omega-3 oil is actually available
13:51 here also in Australia, it's available around the world.
13:54 But see, when the pharmaceutical representative came to us
13:58 to talk about it, we asked him, "Okay you're saying that you're
14:03 removing toxins, how much toxins are you actually removing?"
14:06 And it was one of those questions that the
14:08 pharmaceutical agent couldn't answer to us and they said,
14:12 "Well, you know, I actually don't know this answer,
14:16 why don't you write directly to the company
14:19 and they'll give you the answers."
14:21 So we went ahead and did a letter and wrote them,
14:23 and they actually answered us, and you know what they said?
14:26 They said, "You know, it is actually impossible to remove
14:31 all the toxins from the omega-3 oil, there are
14:36 still some toxins present but it is less than the average
14:41 fish oil."
14:42 So as you can see, this is a reality and we're not
14:48 making these stories just to make you afraid.
14:50 We're just showing you the facts.
14:52 We need to know, I mean we really do need to
14:54 have that information.
14:56 And if people still want to eat it or drink it,
14:59 they can do it but at least we should know.
15:01 It wouldn't be honest for me, having this
15:05 knowledge and not tell you.
15:07 See I travel very much, just recently I was in Iceland
15:12 enjoying the beautiful hot springs there,
15:15 they're fantastic - if you ever have a chance, go there!
15:17 They are absolutely fabulous;
15:19 those hot springs there in Iceland.
15:21 And near Iceland, there was a fascinating
15:26 research that was done.
15:28 There are some islands that are north of the U.K.
15:32 that are called "The Faroe Islands," and scientists there
15:37 started to realize that the IQ of the children living in those
15:43 islands was starting to decrease and they were very puzzled,
15:47 you know, why are these children's IQ decreasing.
15:51 The Faroe Islands today is a prosperous country
15:54 just like Australia, you know, they try to keep their
15:58 oceans clean and so forth.
16:01 It's not like a developing country that you go and you
16:04 see all the pollutants that have been thrown into the ocean,
16:08 and so forth - they are careful to maintain their oceans clean
16:11 and so forth.
16:13 So scientists started to test the food that these people
16:18 were eating because they thought maybe this is related
16:21 to something they are eating.
16:22 And sure enough, they realized that their intake
16:27 especially of mercury but other toxins were very high
16:32 due to their high consumption of food products.
16:37 Fish products. Fish products, that's right.
16:40 So fish and also they eat whale there - one of the few
16:45 places where they kill whales.
16:47 They have not signed that agreement that
16:48 they should not kill whales.
16:49 But anyhow, they started to have that link
16:54 and realized that the problem lies in that.
16:58 As they were eating these sea products, that was affecting
17:03 their children.
17:04 There is a very good documentary
17:06 if you are interested in this.
17:07 So their IQ was actually noticeably down to the point
17:10 where they thought, "We have to work out what this is."
17:13 It was enough to really get attention.
17:15 This was a public health crisis.
17:18 Do have sort of a figure on that?
17:20 So what I recommend to you is to view the documentary,
17:26 10 to 15 points down than the normal, it was down.
17:31 So you can watch the documentary if you Goggle the words
17:36 "Frontline" which is nonprofit government organization in
17:41 America and "Faroe Islands and mercury," Google those 3 words,
17:45 "Frontline, Faroe Islands and mercury,"
17:48 you will see the details of the study.
17:51 And Faroe Island is spelled F A R O E? That's right.
17:54 Faroe, yes.
17:56 That's the way that you'd spell it.
17:57 So this is a big problem - why expose your children
18:04 to these types of problems?
18:06 And also, what you were mentioning in the beginning,
18:09 is a very valid point.
18:11 See, we are depleting our fish stocks around the world.
18:19 As the methods of fishing have improved, we are creating
18:24 an ecological disaster.
18:27 See when you go to places like Africa and you see the people
18:32 there with a little boat and a little net catching fish,
18:37 those people are never going to cause a global crisis. Right.
18:41 But when you have this industrial-sized boat in which
18:45 they throw these huge nets and pick up absolutely everything
18:50 that is in their midst, this starts to have a huge
18:55 negative effect in the reserves of fish in the world.
19:02 In fact, there was a big crisis some years ago in Canada
19:07 in which they over-fished and people had to change
19:12 the location where they were living - there was just
19:14 not enough fish to keep up and be able to provide
19:20 for the fishermen and so forth.
19:23 And also, today in many places, they are raising fish
19:28 in an artificial fashion in which they have them in
19:33 one enclosed area and the fish starts to grow and they
19:38 feed them and so forth.
19:39 Well studies show that that is actually worse for the
19:42 environment than the fish that are running around wild.
19:46 How does that work? The reason why is because
19:48 in order to feed those fish, you need to fish other fish! Oh.
19:54 So not because you're eating farmed salmon and these
19:57 type of foods, you are making a huge impact at the level
20:02 of the ecology when you choose to use that.
20:05 Plus, because those animals are living so close together,
20:10 their risk of disease increases, so they have to throw
20:14 antibiotics and different things and you are being
20:18 exposed to these things.
20:19 There's a fabulous documentary, if you want to see the details -
20:25 That's incredible, we know they feed antibiotics to land animals
20:28 but feeding them to fish is like, oh what else?
20:31 So the name of the documentary is called, "End of the Line."
20:36 I would highly encourage you if you are interested in this topic
20:39 showing the details of this over-fishing around the world,
20:44 and the kind of global crisis that we're facing.
20:47 And "Time Magazine" puts it among the lists - the group of
20:53 creatures that is the most endangered of being extinguished
20:58 are fish in general - that's the number one.
21:01 And when you are doing these choices in your food,
21:04 to a certain level, you actually have some responsibility
21:08 with this crisis.
21:10 Well I think you have fairly well convinced us that
21:12 fish is really something to be very concerned about.
21:16 Omega-3 is something to be very concerned about too,
21:18 we must have it and we must have it in our diet
21:21 because our bodies don't make it.
21:22 So what are we going to do?
21:24 Where will we find a good source of omega-3?
21:26 So we have good sources of omega-3 in the vegetable source,
21:31 so let's see the graphic that we have on the screen
21:35 about the sources of plant-based omega-3.
21:40 If you notice, flaxseed or linseed - that's where you
21:45 actually get the name "omega-3" has tremendous levels
21:49 of omega-3, so does chia, walnuts, wheat germ,
21:54 and even spinach and almonds have certain levels of omega-3.
22:00 That's quite a spread really, isn't it?
22:02 It's not just one or two things, although some are obviously
22:05 richer sources, but the greens while they are not a
22:10 high source, were meant to be having lots of them.
22:13 That's right and green soybeans also - when it's mature,
22:17 it doesn't have it but when it's green, you have that omega-3.
22:21 So what I encourage my patients is that you need to
22:25 make sure, especially if you're on a plant-based diet,
22:28 you need to make sure that you are supplying enough
22:34 omega-3 in your diet.
22:36 So purposely, you need to add
22:38 these foods in your daily intake.
22:41 So make sure that you are eating that flaxseed.
22:44 You need to grind it - you are not a cow so that
22:47 you can just eat it whole, it won't give you any benefit.
22:51 You need to grind it and you can add it on your cereal
22:55 in the morning; to your food that you're cooking;
22:59 to your salads and as you notice, many nuts are also
23:04 very rich in these omega-3s.
23:07 So the nuts again were the walnuts and I think did you say
23:12 almonds had some? Yes, almonds have some,
23:13 not so much but the almonds tend to be more of a
23:17 rich type of food.
23:18 And the chia and so that's lovely - you can do
23:21 some lovely things with chia, and desserts with that.
23:24 And don't just eat just one, try to use rotation. Yes!
23:29 And the second food, chia - actually there's a state in
23:33 Mexico named after chia.
23:35 It's called, "Chiapas." Okay.
23:38 That's how important that state is.
23:42 And then we have another graphic that clearly shows
23:49 another disadvantage that you
23:52 have when you are eating fish oil.
23:58 The next graphic - what we are seeing in the vertical axis
24:02 is cholesterol and we're comparing the different levels
24:06 of cholesterol among fish oil made out of different fish
24:11 and how much cholesterol we would eat if we were to
24:16 partake of 100 grams of beef.
24:20 So you can see that eating a T- bone steak will actually
24:25 give you about 79 milligrams of cholesterol.
24:30 Now compare that to herring oil - much more higher.
24:34 Salmon oil, sardine oil, cod liver oil.
24:38 Eddie, we're just talking about 3 teaspoons of the oils,
24:41 not a large quantity like the steak.
24:44 Just that is 15 grams, it's only 3 teaspoons -
24:47 So very concentrated! - and it's got more cholesterol
24:49 than a T-bone steak - that's huge!
24:52 So yes, these are the implications of partaking
24:57 of this fish oil.
24:59 So especially people that have heart issues and so forth,
25:04 this wouldn't be the best advice for them to eat these
25:09 types of foods in order to provide that omega-3.
25:13 That's an understatement, not the best advice - I mean
25:15 it's really a big concern, really a big concern.
25:18 And, you know, there was a fabulous study that
25:21 showed that some pesticides are actually found in the
25:27 tissues of breast cancer patients.
25:31 And, you know, breast cancer is not a rare cancer
25:34 in Australia - it's a big killer and unfortunately something
25:39 very common.
25:41 So we still actually don't understand the mechanics
25:43 and so forth but we theorize that the exposure of toxins
25:48 via fish consumption may play an important role in
25:53 that increase of breast cancer.
25:57 That's really such an awful thing to hear - I mean,
26:00 it is, it's a tragic thing when people get that.
26:04 And also, not only that, there is also cancer-related
26:10 to the fish - see, we've been studying this for the last
26:15 50 years, there was a published paper that came out
26:18 and they compared in the waters of Michigan the change in the
26:24 health of fish in a 50-year range.
26:28 And what they found, they were studying a particular fish
26:30 there called "the bullhead," it's a very common fish there.
26:34 They found that compared to 50 years ago, now 30%
26:41 of the bullhead that they capture in that lake of Michigan
26:48 actually has liver cancer. Oh.
26:51 And we theorize that this could possibly come due to the
26:57 exposure of those toxins that are in his flesh - they end up
27:03 affecting the health and the fish also end up developing
27:08 this type of problem.
27:09 You've listed a lot of things there - a lot of concerns
27:13 about sourcing omega-3 from fish oil or just eating fish,
27:17 let's just summarize those.
27:18 First of all, it's high in mercury. That's right!
27:21 What else did you say? And we also have
27:24 exposure to DDD; you also have exposure to toxins
27:31 that affect the development of a baby or a pregnant woman.
27:36 It also can affect negatively the IQ of children.
27:41 It is a product high in cholesterol.
27:44 It is a product, the fish oil especially that is very high
27:48 in toxins and we know from studies that PCBs that come
27:53 specifically from fish decrease and damage the sperm in males.
27:58 All of those big concerns - good reasons to look at the plant
28:02 sources that the good Lord placed in a good number of
28:04 things in nature and I think that's a really good way to go.
28:09 Look, some of the things in today's presentation
28:12 might have surprised you but we trust that they'll
28:15 benefit you.
28:16 And if you'd like to watch our programs on-demand,
28:19 just go to our website that's at 3abnaustralia.org.au
28:24 click on the watch button and we look forward to
28:27 seeing you next time.
28:28 Thank you for joining us!