Something New Under the Sun:
Adapting to Change in the 21st Century


AnthroHealth News

June 2002

Volume 1, Issue 6


Greetings!! Just as May was a good month to think about the women in your life, June is a good month to think about the men. Many men often take a somewhat cavalier approach to their health: working when they should be in bed resting to recover from an illness; delaying seeking medical treatment until an illness has reached an advanced stage. Since many men seem to hate to give in to illness, the best recourse is to stay as healthy as possible. Following the advice in AnthroHealth News should help keep the men in your life in fighting trim.


News Updates: There are two major themes this month. The first is the value of color to human memory and well-being. The second is the importance of eating plenty of fatty fish for best physical and mental health.


Color Aids Memory: European researchers testing the ability of human subjects to remember naturally-colored, artificially-colored, or black-and-white scenes discovered that subjects remembered naturally-colored scenes significantly better than those that were black and white or artificially colored. In addition, if the scene had originally been shown in natural color, but was tested in black and white, ability to remember was worse than when the test was also in natural color. The ability to see in natural color is important to human learning. F. A. Wichmann, L. T. Sharpe, K. R. Gegenfurtner. The Contributions of Color to Recognition Memory for Natural Scenes, Journal of Experimental Psychology -- Learning, Memory and Cognition; 2002: 28: 509-20.

Comment: Primates (monkeys, apes, and humans) are among the few animals with color vision. Clearly, color must be critically important to the success of these species. Since learning and memory in humans are improved by exposure to scenes and objects which are naturally colored, variations in color in the living environment must play a role in our navigation of the environment. If we look at the environment in the most basic sense it supplies two major needs: food and shelter. Richly, deeply-colored fruits and vegetables provide us with an abundance of vital nutrients and anti-oxidants necessary for maintaining good health. But such foods are widely scattered throughout the natural environment which means that our ancestors had to have very good mental maps of where a particular tree or bush would have ripe fruit at a particular point in time and where shelter could be found when the sun set. Our color vision is an excellent clue to the type of diet we should eat: richly colorful. It is also a clue that humans are meant to be active during the day and to sleep at night.

Color Vision the AnthroHealth way: Eat a colorful diet. Work during the day, sleep at night. Home décor should include the use of a variety of natural colors. Monochromatic or black and white environments, while striking, conflict with the human need for color.


Fishing for Health: The importance of fish in our diet is a major theme in this month’s health news. A diet rich in the fish oils from eating fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, etc.) helps prevent depression and heart disease, prevents insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes, and aids neurological development.

Fish Oil, Depression, and Neurological Development: Recent research indicates that post-partum depression, which affects 15-20% of women who have given birth in the US, may be due in part to inadequate levels in their bodies of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega 3 fatty acid. The best source of DHA, which cannot be fully synthesized by the body, but must be obtained from the diet, is fatty fish. Compared to European and Japanese women, women in the US have a significantly lower intake of DHA: 40 – 50 mg (US) to 200 mg (Europe) to 600 mg (Japan). Post-partum depression is 50 times more common in countries with low fish intake compared to those with high. Other research found that the rate of major depression in New Zealand was 60 times the rate in Japan. Since both countries are located at the same latitudes (N and S) the difference is unlikely to be due to differing exposure to UVB radiation (vitamin D deprivation is also related to depression). The major difference between the two groups appears to be that those in Japan eat about four times as much fish as do those in New Zealand. Research done at Harvard found that patients hospitalized with depression improved dramatically when fed diets high in omega 3 fatty acids. DHA is critical for proper neurological development. Infant monkeys fed formula lacking in DHA (as is the case with formulas sold in the US) had poor neurological development compared with those fed DHA-supplemented formula. The amount of DHA in breast milk is directly correlated to the amount of DHA in the mother’s diet. Therefore, women who wish to avoid post-partum depression and ensure their infant’s neurological development need to make sure their diet contains high levels of omega 3 fatty acids which are most readily obtained from fatty fish. Champoux M, Hibbeln JR, Shannon C, Majchrzak S, Suomi SJ, Salem N Jr, Higley JD. Fatty acid formula supplementation and neuromotor development in rhesus monkey neonates. Pediatr Res 2002;51:273-81. Hibbeln JR. Fish consumption and major depression. Lancet 1998;351(9110):1213. David Kyle, PhD, U.S. director of the Mother and Child Foundation, news release, April, 2002.

Fish Oil, Diabetes, and Heart Disease: Research on patients with type 2 diabetes found that those given an omega 3 fatty acid supplement with their anti-diabetic medication (e.g. Glucophage) had significantly improved profiles of their triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels compared with those given the medication alone. The researchers concluded that the heart health problems associated with type 2 diabetes would be reduced if patients were given omega 3 fatty acid supplements. These researchers did not find any improvement in glycaemic control. However, other researchers studying omega 3 fatty acids did find an improvement in insulin resistance in their study group of diabetic patients. They also note that populations with a high intake of fatty fish have lower rates of type 2 diabetes. Researchers studying patients with a recent heart attack found that those receiving an omega 3 fatty acid supplement of one gram per day in addition to their regular treatment had a significantly reduced risk of mortality and sudden cardiac death during the subsequent months of the study. The improved health profile was due to the anti-arrhythmic effect of the omega 3 fatty acids. Other research has shown that the higher the weekly fish intake (from less than one serving per month to five servings per week), the lower the risk of coronary heart disease in men and women. Kesavulu MM, Kameswararao B, Apparao Ch, Kumar EG, Harinarayan CV. Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on lipid peroxidation and antioxidant enzyme status in type 2 diabetic patients. Diabetes Metab 2002;28:20-6. Yvonne Denkins, PhD, Louisiana State University, research presented at Experimental Biology 2002 conference in New Orleans. Marchioli R, Barzi F, Bomba E, Chieffo C, Di Gregorio D, Di Mascio R, Franzosi MG, Geraci E, Levantesi G, Maggioni AP, Mantini L, Marfisi RM, Mastrogiuseppe G, Mininni N, Nicolosi GL, Santini M, Schweiger C, Tavazzi L, Tognoni G, Tucci C, Valagussa F; GISSI-Prevenzione Investigators. Early protection against sudden death by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids after myocardial infarction: time-course analysis of the results of the Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell'Infarto Miocardico (GISSI)-Prevenzione. Circulation 2002;105:1897-903. Hu FB, Bronner L, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Rexrode KM, Albert CM, Hunter D, Manson JE. Fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake and risk of coronary heart disease in women. JAMA 2002; 287:1815-21.

Prevent Depression and Improve Heart Health the AnthroHealth way: Eat a serving of fatty fish each day. If you cannot eat fish every day, take an omega 3 fatty acid supplement, but consult with a doctor first to determine the best level and source of supplementation. Vitamin D also prevents depression and improves heart health. Get appropriate UVB radiation exposure to ensure optimal levels of vitamin D or take a vitamin D supplement. The sells vitamin D unbound to other vitamins and minerals in 1000 IU geltabs. For those with no UVB radiation exposure, 1000 IU of vitamin D is a minimal daily dosage.


AnthroHealth Tip of the Month: As the research described this month has shown, eating fatty fish is critical to good health. The fatty fish include salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring. The healthiest populations eat a traditional diet that includes fatty fish on an almost daily basis, averaging about five to six servings of fish each week. However, there is some health concern about the buildup of toxins in the tissues of large, long-lived fish. Although the evidence is equivocal on whether or not there is a long-term health hazard to eating such fish, to be on the safe side, one should limit eating the larger fish (salmon, mackerel) to once or twice each week. On the other hand, the small fish (sardines, herring) can be eaten on a daily basis. Since some individuals have trouble with the taste of sardines, here is a recipe that makes them quite palatable. For one serving: In a small mixing bowl, fork flake one can of water-packed sardines. Scoop out the “meat” of one half of one small avocado and add to sardines. Add ˝ cup of tomato and jalapeno salsa. Mix well. It is quite tasty and packs a major nutritional health punch. Give it a try!


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Copyright © 2001-2009 Kathleen E. Fuller, PhD. All rights reserved.