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........taking health and wellness to a whole new level
May 2007 - Vol 4, Issue 5
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Welcome to our monthly e-newsletter! We hope that you will find this and future issues helpful and relevant. We are very interested hearing from you. Please let us know about topics you would like to see covered in the future. Last month we looked at the differences between fish oil and flaxseed oil in terms of omega 3 content. In this issue we will explore the potential health benefits of these essential fatty acids. Look for a discussion of the potential health benefits of yoga in our June e-newsletter.

Don't forget to check out our recipe of the month. This month we will focus on a recipe high in Omega 3 fatty acids that you will want to try out.

Portland Health and Wellness is anything but your typical medical clinic. We offer health-based cooking classes, a drop-in weight control group for men and women, and group psychotherapy for individuals with eating disorders or food and body image issues. We continue to offer exceptional individual healthcare services, workshops and classes on various health topics, and our year-long comprehensive weight reduction program. Victoria Mosse, MA, ATC, CNT, offers pilates at ph&w; on Monday evenings and Wednesday mornings. Heather Rice is now offering a variety of yoga classes, including yoga for larger bodies. Look for yoga for baby boomers soon.

Please join us in welcoming Joyce Stilwell to our team. Joyce is our new office manager and comes to us with years of medical office experience and a strong interest in integrative medicine. She is a great addition to our team, although we already miss Marilyn Roady, our former office manager.

Our clinical team is committed to providing cutting-edge healthcare services. Donald Altman, MA, in addition to being a counselor, is a former Buddhist monk and award-winning writer. He offers '12 Weeks to Mindful Eating', a program he created to help individuals develop a healthier relationship with food, as well as workshops on stress management and mindfulness. Donald also offers individual counseling at ph&w.; Juleeanna Andreoni, MS, RD , is a clinical nutritionist with a broad range of experience. She is certified in adult, adolescent, and childhood weight management. Juleeanna has appeared on AM Northwest. Christine Howard, PsyD continues to provide individual psychotherapy and is now offering group psychotherapy for individuals with bulimia or binge eating disorder. Marcela Vinocur, MD serves as the director of PH&W;'s unique weight reduction program and maintains a psychopharmacology practice.

  • May 12.........One Pot Cooking: a class for college-bound students
  • May 19.........Cooking for Diabetes Made Easy
  • May 23.........Intro to Mindful Eating
  • June 16........Mindful Eating and Yoga
  • June 16........Cooking 101: a class for men who hate to cook
  • June 23........Cooking 101: a class for women who hate to cook
  • June 27........12 Weeks to Mindful Eating
  • Wednesdays..Yoga for Larger Bodies

  • Ongoing groups include a weekly drop-in weight loss group on Mondays from 4 to 5 pm (led by Juleeanna Andreoni, MS, RD / cost:$15 per session) and weekly group psychotherapy for individuals with binge eating disorder or bulimia on Tuesdays from 4 to 5:30pm (led by Christine Howard, PsyD / cost: $45 per session). We are now offering a variety of yoga classes, with an emphasis on beginner yoga. Please call us for additional information.

    For up-to-date information about our upcoming workshops and classes, please check our website or give us a call. Registration and payment in advance are required for all ph&w; events and space is limited to 12 (cooking classes are limited to 6). We strongly encourage early registration.

    The role of omega 3 fatty acids on health is a hot topic. A Medline search of keywords 'omega 3 fatty acids and health' yielded 527 abstracts on the subject and a Google search yielded over a million results. Despite all of this interest, the exact role of omega 3 fatty acids, or omega 3s for short, in human health has not yet been clearly defined. In fact, there have been studies yielding conflicting results regarding the actual health benefits of these essential fatty acids. The strongest positive link thus far has been between omega 3s and their ability to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. There is also mounting evidence that omega 3s play an important role in brain development and function, reducing inflammation, and decreasing the risk of certain chronic diseases. Omega 3s may play a role in a variety of health problems including asthma, osteoporosis, mood disorders, skin disorders, infertility, certain types of cancer, and vision loss, to name a few. A comprehensive review of the current literature is beyond the scope of this article, but we will cover some of the less controversial findings.

    Omega 3 fatty acids are a family of poly-unsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs, that are essential to human health and are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. There are three major types of omega 3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Since our bodies are unable to manufacture omega 3s, we must obtain them from our diet, thus the term essential fatty acids.

    Omega 6 fatty acids are also essential fatty acids, but, unlike omega 3s, these fatty acids seem to have a pro- inflammatory effect. There is research indicating a relationship between good health and the ratio between omega 3 and omega 6 in our diet. Ideally, the ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s in our diet ought to be between 1:1 and 1:4. However, the typical American diet is so deficient in omega 3s that the ratio is closer to 1:20 to 1:30. Researchers believe that this imbalance is associated with a significant rise in inflammatory disorders such as heart disease and arthritis in America.

    Omega 3s play a beneficial role in the prevention and treatment of heart disease. Specifically, omega 3s decrease the risk of arrhythmias (which can lead to sudden cardiac death), decrease triglyceride levels, produce a slight decrease in blood pressure, and decrease the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque. If you do not have heart disease, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that you consume a variety of fatty fish such as wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, or tuna at least twice a week and include oils and foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid such as flaxseed, canola oil and walnuts. If you have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, the AHA recommends that you consume 1 g of EPA+DHA per day, preferably from fatty fish. Alternatively, you could take EPA+DHA in capsule form with your physician's recommendation. If your triglycerides are high, they suggest you take 2 to 4 grams of EPA+DHA as capsules per day under your physician's care. Studies have found a 20% to 45% reduction in triglycerides and up to a 40% decrease in VLDL cholesterol with a dose of 4 grams per day of fish oil, but this impressive finding was accompanied, unfortunately, by a 5% to 10% increase in LDL (bad cholesterol). This dose of omega 3 is considered to be a high dose and should only be taken with physician supervision. In addition to reducing triglycerides and VLDL, omega 3s can also reduce blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. Data suggest that DHA is more effective at lowering blood pressure than EPA. This effect seems to be modest and requires a high dose of omega 3 fatty acids. In other words, if your BP is high, this is not the best way to lower blood pressure.

    Omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in reducing the risk of stroke. Population-based studies suggest that the consumption of omega 3s, especially from fatty fish, may prevent strokes caused by plaque buildup and blood clots in arteries leading to the brain. By eating at least two servings of fish per week, you can reduce your risk of stroke by 50%. There is some indication that people who consume more than 3 grams of omega 3s per day, or 3 servings of fish per day, may be at increased risk for hemorrhagic stroke (a potentially lethal type of stroke in which an artery in the brain ruptures or leaks).

    If you are struggling with your weight, adding fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet and maintaining a routine of regular physical activity may help you achieve better control of your blood sugar and triglyceride levels. While omega 3s don't directly promote weight loss, these essential fatty acids may help you improve your overall health and lower your risk of heart disease.

    Omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial for people with inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. These essential fatty acids may reduce joint tenderness and decrease morning stiffness. In laboratory studies, omega-3 fatty acids have been found to decrease inflammation and reduce the activity of enzymes that destroy cartilage. More research is needed to determine if omega 3s are beneficial for people with osteoarthritis.

    There is some research suggesting that EPA may play a role in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. In a study of women with osteoporosis who were over 65, those given EPA and GLA (an omega 6 fatty acid) supplements experienced significantly less bone loss over 3 years than subjects who were given a placebo. Interestingly, many of these women also experienced an increase in bone density. To date there is no published research assessing the effects of omega 3s on the risk of fractures.

    Last but not least, omega 3 fatty acids may play a role in the prevention and treatment of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder. While the jury is not completely in and there is no current evidence suggesting that omega 3s should be used as monotherapy (without other medications), there is enough promising research indicating that they can be safely used in combination with other medications. Omega 3s can have mild anti- depressant or mood-stabilizing effects. More research is needed before any conclusions can be definitively drawn regarding the role of omega 3s in the treatment of mood disorders.

    In sum, omega 3 fatty acids are naturally occurring substances that our bodies are unable to manufacture. The best way to get omega 3s is by eating wild fish not likely to be contaminated by mercury or PCBs or by taking fish oil capsules, although the latter is more controversial. In general, a dose of 1 gram per day of fish oil, along with vitamin C and vitamin E supplements to prevent oxidization of the fatty acids, is considered safe for most people. There are some vegetarian options, such as oil from certain algae. There is strong evidence that omega 3s can help prevent and treat coronary heart disease. These essential fatty acids also likely offer other health benefits, such as reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and bipolar disorder, to name a few. Like medications, there are potential side effects associated with the use of omega 3s, especially at doses above 3 grams per day. Consult with your physician first if you are thinking about adding omega 3 fatty acids.
    mediterranean pasta with sardines and parsley

    This traditional Italian pasta dish is delicious and will make a believer out of you, even if you are not typically fond of sardines. Serve with your favorite crusty bread, such as a baguette.

    Serves 4.

    1 can of sardines, preferably packed in olive oil; 3 to 4 Tbsp of tomato paste; 1 lb rigatoni noodles; 1 bunch of parsley; 1 medium onion; 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil; salt and pepper to taste.

    BOIL enough water to cook the rigatoni noodles. ADD salt to water (to taste) and COOK rigatoni al dente. While the pasta is cooking, SLICE the onion in half, then into thin slices. CHOP parsley into small pieces and set aside. HEAT olive oil in a medium skillet and SAUTE onions until soft and transparent. Open can of sardines and mash lightly, breaking them into small chunks. ADD mashed sardines to the cooked onions and continue to cook on low heat. ADD the tomato paste and a small amount of water to make a "sauce". ADD parsley and mix well with the onions and sardines. REMOVE from heat and TOSS with the drained pasta. Serve while still hot.

    copyright 2007 portland health and wellness

    We are very interested in your comments and suggestions. Please let us know if you have a topic you would like to see covered in future newsletters. We look forward to hearing from you.


    the staff of
    Portland Health and Wellness

    phone: 503.236.4506