Fish Oil Is In Hot Water

Fish oil supplements are one of the most popular products on the market. But if you review the research, something smells a...

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • Something smells fishy

  • Can protein pass another test?

  • The strongest immune system

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A Fishy Situation

Fish oil has been hailed as a health superstar, but does it deliver on its promises?

A recent study suggests that less than 10 percent of people get the amount of fish oil recommended by the American Heart Association. But that’s just scratching the surface of the real issues.

Research suggests approximately 9 percent of supplements meet the recommended intake of combined DHA and EPA — the two oils associated with health benefits (for the record, you want approximately 2 grams combined). The supplements are under-dosing what you need, but there’s an even bigger concern.

Taking fish oil supplements might not provide the same cardiovascular health benefits as getting fish oil from whole foods. While research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids help fight cardiovascular disease, most studies focus on people who get healthy fats from food. But you don't see the same boost when you look at research that uses fish oil supplements. In fact, in one study of more than 15,000 people, those who took fish oil did not see a significant boost in cardiovascular protection compared to those who didn’t. And that’s not the only research to suggest fish oil supplements fall flat on some claims.

According to the American College of Cardiology, another trial of 12,000 people tracked for up to 7 years saw no significant benefit. A different study of people taking a higher dose of fish oil for two years also saw no improvement compared to those who didn’t take fish oil.

Translation: Eating two or more servings of fish per week helps fight cardiovascular disease, but the same can’t be said for taking a similar amount of fish oil pills.

Does that mean the fish oil supplements are worthless? Not necessarily, because fish oil might offer other health benefits, such as lowering triglycerides. But it appears the best approach is eating more fish and seafood or adding options such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, edamame, and seaweed, which will likely provide the best overall health protection.

Did You Hear The One About Protein?

Protein lives a double life. On one hand, experts tell you to eat more every day. On the other hand, you have gurus suggesting that it causes kidney issues and lessens lifespan. We’ve previously shared that the kidney claims are unfounded, as are the suggestions that it will lead to a shorter life.

A recent study offers more retribution: research suggests that high-protein diets do not increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers examined the effects of high-protein diets on the health of more than 200,000 participants, covering multiple years. They didn’t find that protein itself was linked to poor cardiovascular health or stroke.

The concern about higher protein diets is often linked to other variables, such as eating too much saturated fat. However, not all protein is loaded with saturated fat, meaning protein itself isn’t the issue.

In fact, another analysis of 32 studies reviewing more than 700,000 participants found that high-protein diets were linked to a lower risk of all-cause mortality. And another study of more than 500,000 people also found that high-protein diets don’t increase the risk of stroke. In both studies, however, better health outcomes were associated with people who ate more plant-based foods. (Just in case you felt this was proof that an all-protein, no-vegetable diet was the way.)

When in doubt, you don’t need to follow any particular dietary tribe obsessively. Figure out what works best for you, and find a plan that doesn’t require perfection (and ideally lets you enjoy takeout and dessert — because that will keep you more consistent). And remember that protein, plants, and fiber are the three key ingredients of a healthy diet, regardless of food preferences.

Quote of the Week

"Avoiding stupidity is easier than seeking brilliance. 90% of success can be boiled down to consistently taking the simple and obvious action for an uncommonly long period of time without convincing yourself that you’re smarter than you are."

The Strongest Immune System

If you want to boost your immunity, your best approach might be strengthening your muscles. That’s because research suggests pumping iron does more than make you stronger, it also improves your body’s ability to fight illness.

Researchers examined data from multiple studies involving healthy adults to determine how lifting weights affects your body’s response to sickness. They found that heavy resistance exercise led to significant changes in biomarkers associated with immune system function and regulation.

Adults willing to push hard in the gym experienced increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which is a sign of a strong immune response that can help you fight off sickness and bounce back faster. 

Some have speculated that weight training could potentially suppress immune function, but that’s not the case. However, if you find yourself sick, this doesn’t mean weight training is the solution if your immune system is already compromised. In those cases, rest up, hydrate, get better, and then get back on schedule.

You can see the benefits in just two to three challenging workouts per week. In other words, keep pumping!

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell