Friday, August 27, 2010

The Canadian Rocky Mountains

Almost every year our family migrates to the Canadian Rockies for as much time of the summer as we can. For me it is the perfect place to spend time with the family. Tucked between the Purcell Mountains and the Rocky Mountains, Wasa, the little village we were staying, offers a nice warm lake with sandy beaches, endless hikes and close by river adventures, to name only a few activities. And in a bit more than an hour one can reach the grand Rocky Mountain National Parks. In the previous years I took advantage of this and took my share of the iconic Canadian Rockies images:

One of my favorites, Moraine Lake

Spirit Island, located in Maligne Lake, near Jasper

Takakkaw Falls

Lake Louise

for more of my Canadian Rocky Mountain images click here:
Canadian Rocky Mountains Gallery

This year, though I stayed put and enjoyed the nature close by. All the following images are taken within a few yards from our lodging.

Curious Chipmunk on the porch

Love is in the air: Mating Boreal Bluet Damselflies

Peekaboo Deer

"Burning Sky", sunset after a thunderstorm

and the grand finale:

Can't wait to go again!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

August Conservation Tip

Omega Fatty Acids

You wonder what omega fatty acids have to do with conservation?
Stay put, I'll explain.

First a little information about the omega fatty acids:

There are mainly two essential (essential means our body can't make them, so we need to take them in with our food) omega fatty acids, the omega 3 and the omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 (O3) fatty acids can be consumed as ALA (I spare you with the exact chemical names here), the “parent” O3, which is then converted into the more effective O3s, DHA and EPA in the human body. ALA is found in high quantities in flax seed oil. DHA and EPA also can be consumed directly through fish/fish oil (salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and tuna).
Omega 6 fatty acids (O6) are more common and found in most vegetable oils, poultry, eggs, nuts and most grains.

What are the benefits of O3s and O6s?

O3s are known to reduce inflammation and may help in chronic diseases like heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. They also appear to be important for brain memory and performance (give me an extra dose...!)

O6s have a crucial role in brain function, growth and development. They also help with skin problems, hair growth and maintain bone health.

These are just some of the proven health benefits, much more are suggested, as for example prevention of Alzheimer, but more research is called for to verify.

Another important fact is the ratio ratio between the two Os, which should be 1:1, or at least 1 (O3) : 5 (O6), unfortunately, in our modern diet the ratio is rather 1:10, even up to 1:30. Why is this so important? To many O6s interfere with the health benefits of the O3s, since both fatty acids compete in the body for utilisation and if there are to many O6s, the O3s "don't have a chance". The result, of course, is the opposite of the benefits and can include heart attacks, thrombotic stroke, arrhythmia, arthritis, osteoporosis, inflammation, mood disorders, obesity, and cancer.

So far, so good, now the question is, how do we get these two magical fatty acids into our body.

The easiest way is to just to eat lots of fish (at least twice a week) or get fish oil tablets, they contain already the more effective O3s, the DHA and EPA. And the O3 to O6 ratio is 6 : 1, perfect, or????

So what's the catch?

First, it might not the best choice for you, since fish potentially can contain heavy metals and FAT soluble pollutants like PCBs and dioxin which even accumulate up the food chain. The American Heart Association warns:”Children and pregnant women are advised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to avoid eating those fish with the potential for the highest level of mercury contamination (e.g., shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish)” Yummy...

Second, it's definitively not the best choice for our planet, most of the fish that are used for the production of fish oil, are already in peril of overfishing. I want to quote Green Peace here:
“Many marine ecologists think that the biggest single threat to marine ecosystems today is overfishing. Our appetite for fish is exceeding the oceans' ecological limits with devastating impacts on marine ecosystems. Scientists are warning that overfishing results in profound changes in our oceans, perhaps changing them forever. Not to mention our dinner plates, which in future may only feature fish and chips as a rare and expensive delicacy.”

So in a perfect, not contaminated and overfished, world eating fish would be the best way to supplement ones diet with the essential O3s and O6s. Unfortunately, we are no longer living in a perfect world. I personally take organic flaxseed oil "soft gels". Yes, I have to take more and they are not quite as effective, but together with a healthy diet, absolutely sufficient. They grow back and they don't contain mercury and else. That's why I think, omega fatty acids are a conservation topic.

You have a choice, choose conservation!