Updated: May 24
As you may know, I am writing a book titled, "Health Freedom Lost." I am working on a chapter titled, "Under-appreciated Nutrients." If you know me even a little bit, I am either talking about gaussian curves or cod liver oil. For all of you who loathe math, this is your lucky day because cod liver oil is the subject.
Hopefully you will read this but also be aware that this is completely unedited at this time. I appreciate any comments you might have. You can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The section in my upcoming book......
Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is the most important superfood you should take daily and no, it is not disgusting to do so. Just do some root-cause analysis on your preconceived notions. Why do you think cod liver oil is repulsive? Is it the odor, taste, texture, past experiences, or a combination of all of these factors?
There is no sense in talking about the benefits of CLO and other liver foods is you will not consume them. Europeans eat much greater amounts of organ meats compared to United States citizens. They also live longer - by 2.5 years on average - and pay only 40 percent of what Americans pay for healthcare.
Here is how I got over my repugnance of beef liver. My objection was: taste, texture, and the odor of liver and onions that my mother made for my dad. solved each of these by making pate. Here is my recipe:
· fresh grass-fed beef liver ~1/4 pound, sliced into small pieces
· fresh vegetables of all types, sliced and chopped ~3/4 pound. I use whatever is available at the time.
· In a sauce pan with butter, add all the ingredients and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes, covered. Add as many spices as you like. Sage, turmeric, oregano, salt, pepper, ginger, and a Braggs sea salt seasoning are my usual.
· Toward the end of the simmering, add coconut milk for some additional liquid necessary to create the right consistency of the pate.
· Let the mix cool and then blend in a food processor. Add more coconut milk, as needed, to create a consistency similar to hummus.
The pate made this way freezes and thaws well. Add something like salsa or other favorite food when you serve this. All objections are easily overcome, and you get a highly nutritious meal at low cost that is easy to prepare
The objections to cod liver oil (CLO) are even easier to overcome. Start with the liquid version and there are several high-quality brands available. Have a meal, preferably dinner. Consider pate. Right after dinner, fill 1/2 of a shot glass full of cod liver oil liquid. This is about 15 grams. This is the minimum amount you want to combat serious diseases like arthritis, Alzheimer's, and eye diseases. Next, "shoot" the CLO and chase it with something acidic. The CLO is chemically basic so taking in a little acid quickly neutralizes the flavor and texture objection to taking it. My preferred is dilute apple cider vinegar, kombucha, some other type of fermented beverage, or a slice of grapefruit.
Today, we need to count our blessings because over 100 years ago, cod liver oil was much less palatable. The man with a fish on his back was the decal on cod liver oil bottles back in the day and it is the name of an article describing the history of cod liver oil. In that article the early manufacture of cod liver oil was described as, "cut out the fish livers with gallbladders, throw them into barrels, and let them decompose. Fishermen often applied het to extract the last bits of oil from the smelly, decaying mass." In that article, reference was made to a pharmacist who wrote, “cod-liver oil was not a desirable article of consumption; indeed, to put the matter plainly, it was an abomination, and no one could have taken it willingly, even once, not to speak of day after day and month after month. Nevertheless, many people did take it, and the only reasonable explanation is that the oil must have given strikingly favorable results.”
The method of "chasing" the cod liver oil with something more palatable is almost as ancient as cod liver oil itself. Some early ideas for taking this elixir included:
· mixing a little preserve for children, some fruit, a biscuit, or a drop of Bordeaux or Sherry wine,
· mixing into coffee, milk, or brandy,
· taking the oil with smoked herring, tomato ketchup, or in the froth of malted beverages, and
· for those with an “insurmountable aversion to the taste” could take the oil by enema.
We have it good today with the highly refined and purified versions of cod liver oil widely available. Coffee enemas are often used for gut cleansing. Consider adding a little cod liver oil to your coffee enemas. Ok, may this is going a bit too far.
The liver of any animal is the warehouse for the raw materials needed to rebuilt tissue. According to the Hepatitis C Trust website, "The liver acts as a storage site for some vitamins, minerals and glucose. These provide a vital source of energy for the body which the liver transforms into glycogen for more efficient storage. The liver stores vitamins and minerals for the times when they may be lacking in the diet. It can store enough vitamin A and vitamin B12 for four years, and enough vitamin D for four months."
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has this to say about the liver. "The liver regulates most chemical levels in the blood and excretes a product called bile. This helps carry away waste products from the liver. All the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The liver processes this blood and breaks down, balances, and creates the nutrients and also metabolizes drugs into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body. More than 500 vital functions have been identified with the liver. Some of the more well-known functions include the following:
· Production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion
· Production of certain proteins for blood plasma
· Production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body
· Conversion of excess glucose into glycogen for storage (glycogen can later be converted back to glucose for energy) and to balance and make glucose as needed
· Regulation of blood levels of amino acids, which form the building blocks of proteins
· Processing of hemoglobin for use of its iron content (the liver stores iron)
· Conversion of poisonous ammonia to urea (urea is an end product of protein metabolism and is excreted in the urine)
· Clearing the blood of drugs and other poisonous substances
· Regulating blood clotting
· Resisting infections by making immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream
· Clearance of bilirubin, also from red blood cells. If there is an accumulation of bilirubin, the skin and eyes turn yellow.
In general, land animal liver is rich in water soluble nutrients while CLO and other marine animal livers tend to be higher in fat soluble nutrients.
Staying healthy is all about taking in sufficient quantities of micronutrients. Liver, as a food, is at the top of the nutrient density list according to Harvard nutrient guru, Dr. Mat Lelonde. It makes sense when you look at how nutrients pass from the soil to foods. The soils provide the micronutrients necessary to build plants. The soil is the "gut" of the plant and the gut of animals is their "soil." Here is the process:
1. Soil contains minerals and other micronutrients.
2. Plant requires minerals and micronutrients to grow (photosynthesis). Roots absorb nutrients and water from the soil. Plants also deliver substances to the soil to help break it down to become more bio absorbable.
3. Plant is mostly carbohydrate but has the micronutrients used to build its structure. The plant also synthesizes certain vitamins.
4. Animals eat the plants
5. Human, particularly Americans, eat the muscle meat of animals
6. Most of the important micronutrients are concentrated in the liver and other organs, not the muscle meat.
7. Americans have the worse health when compared to other developed nations.
That is why this chapter begins with ways to consume more liver. Vegans can hate on this concept but our large brains are due to cooking and an omnivore style of eating. Proof, with an "n" of 1 is Michael Greger.
Cod liver oil gained its popularity not as a snake oil, but as a true medicinal. Historically, cod liver oil contributed to the resolution of serious diseases.
· Arthritis, dating back to the Viking era where topical and internal intake improved the condition,
· Tuberculosis, in the 1800s reduced mortality by 50%, and
· Rickets, a rampant disease around the turn of the 19th century, was all but eliminated by taking cod liver oil.
Resolution of Rickets is the reason your grandmother or great grandmother gave you cod liver oil when you were a youth.
In modern times, strong evidence-based studies show that taking cod liver oil improve many chronic conditions while enhancing overall health. Poignant examples include reduction of early childhood mortality, blindness, and increasing IQ. It can help resolve these varied problems because, at their root, is substantial commonality. The fat-soluble vitamins in cod liver oil have immune enhancing anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties.
The omega-3 components of cod liver and fish oils have a profound impact on brain wiring. The "3" of omega-3 fatty acids refers to the location of "unsaturation" in the long-chain fatty acid. The unsaturated part of the fatty acid chain is the reactive part of that molecule’s backbone. The "6" of omega-6 fatty acid means that the "unsaturation" occurs at a different place along the fatty acid chain. The seemingly slight difference has major consequences to brain function. Most of the publications on fish oils and brain health are not very scientific. Here are a couple of technical paragraphs that explain how important these omega-3 fats are to brain health and why with some editing performed to make it more understandable.
"Omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to influence neurogenesis (growth of new brain cells) through at least two distinct mechanisms. First, omega-3 fatty acids are incorporated into neuronal membranes, where they influence the structure of membrane proteins, some of which act as transporters and receptors. They also can alter membrane fluidity, which is important for neurotransmitter binding as well as signaling within cells. For instance, lipid fluidity modulates the binding of serotonin to neuronal membranes. As serotonin stimulates neurogenesis a change in efficacy of this modulator could influence the levels of neuronal proliferation (replication and expansion). Therefore, omega-3 fatty acids may alter (enhance) the rate of neurogenesis via their contributions to the dynamic structure and function of neuronal membranes.
"A second potential pathway by which these omega-3 fats may influence neurogenesis is by enhancing immune function. For example, EPA inhibits the release of inflammatory substances. Omega-3 fatty acids also influence levels of neurotrophins, molecules that promote neuronal survival and growth. Neurotrophins associated with improvement in neurogenesis and neuronal survival."
"These connections between the omega-3 fatty acids, inflammation, neurotrophins and neurogenesis are also intriguing from the clinical perspective. Inflammation appears to play a potentially critical role in depressive illness. Stress can cause an elevation in inflammation. Therefore, the same molecules that are of importance in regulating neurogenesis, also are implicated in major depressive illness. Although there are not adequate data at this time to make a conclusive statement regarding the functional relationship between neurogenesis and clinical depression, these associations are suggestive of pathways by which omega-3 fatty acids may simultaneously influence neurogenesis and depressive illnesses."
A remarkable benefit of taking fish oil and cod liver oil, in particular, is its impact on mood. Prison populations arguably are people with mood issues that are greater than the general population. And, in some countries, they are accessible people to study as long as the intervention is a "do no harm." There is evidence that prisoners consume diets lacking in essential nutrients and this could adversely affect their behavior. As processed foods, low in nutrient density, have become more heavily consumed, many members of society, not just the prison population, experience substantial brain-related ailments.
One study on prisoners and essential fatty acids is titled, "Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behaviour of young adult prisoners: Randomised, placebo-controlled trial." According to the authors, "Both omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids have been found to be deficient among violent offenders. For this reason, an essential fatty acid supplement was also employed. ‘Efamol Marine’ provides omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids without an obvious after-taste, a factor that could otherwise have compromised the blind. The daily dosage was four capsules providing 1260 mg linoleic acid, 160 mg gamma linolenic acid, 80 mg eicosapentaenoic acid and 44 mg docosahexaenoic acid. A vegetable oil-based placebo of identical colour and clear placebo of identical colour and clear gelatine shell was used."
The authors concluded, "This research strongly suggests that the effect of diet on antisocial behaviour has been underestimated and more attention should be paid to offenders’ diets. It should should be paid to offenders’ diets. It should be noted, however, that the current dietary standards by which dietary adequacy are standards by which dietary adequacy are judged barely take behaviour into account. Thus, having demonstrated empirically an effect on antisocial behaviour, we are only effect on antisocial behaviour, we are only at the start of understanding the potential of this intervention."
The Guardian magazine looked at the link between junk food and violence in an article written in 2006. It is titled, Omega-3, junk food and the link between violence and what we eat. Here is a most interesting quote from the article.
"That Dwight Demar is able to sit in front of us, sober, calm, and employed, is "a miracle", he declares in the cadences of a prayer-meeting sinner. He has been rocking his 6ft 2in bulk to and fro while delivering a confessional account of his past into the middle distance. He wants us to know what has saved him after 20 years on the streets: "My dome is working. They gave me some kind of pill and I changed. Me, myself and I, I changed."
"Demar has been in and out of prison so many times he has lost count of his convictions. "Being drunk, being disorderly, trespass, assault and battery; you name it, I did it. How many times I been in jail? I don't know, I was locked up so much it was my second home."
Demar has been taking part in a clinical trial at the US government's National Institutes for Health, near Washington. The study is investigating the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplements on the brain, and the pills that have affected Demar's "miracle" are doses of fish oil."
Tuberculosis is a serious and often fatal lung disease caused by the bacterium, tubercule baccilum. Late stage deadly tuberculosis infection is called "consumption." The name "consumption" was used to describe the disease because it "consumed" the lungs. In the 1800s consumption had killed one in seven of all people that had ever lived. It was initially thought to be a disease of genetics and many consumptive patients pursued relief in sanatoriums alongside leprosy patients. The belief was that rest and a healthful climate could change the course of the disease while the actual benefit included vitamin D production on the skin at the high altitudes where UV exposure is higher compared to sea level.
In 1882, Robert Koch's discovery of the tubercule baccilum revealed that TB was infectious and highly contagious and was somewhat preventable through proper hygiene. As is usually the case with a new discovery, the medical community was slow to accept Koch's findings as death mounted. This continues to be a recurring story.
According to the Mayo Clinic TB, which should be completely eradicated, has made a comeback in the modern era.
"Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs. The bacteria that cause tuberculosis are spread from person to person through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes.
Once rare in developed countries, tuberculosis infections began increasing in 1985, partly because of the emergence of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV weakens a person's immune system, so it can't fight the TB germs. In the United States, because of stronger control programs, tuberculosis began to decrease again in 1993. But it remains a concern.