Life holds irony. Last Friday, I posted on injury prevention, ways of doing so while you reach for your goals. Yesterday, as I was teaching a stretching class of all things (and I highly promote stretching) I dislocated my left patella. In everyday language, that’s my left knee cap. It was rather weird how it happened: after demonstrating various ways of doing a stretch, I rolled back into the normal version the wrong way. The floor connected with my knee…and my weight and the force in the roll just kept pushing the patella over.
It happened really, really fast. It was painful but not nearly as painful as it could be. The ER doctor on call popped it back into place. (The ambulance medics and the ER staff were pretty darn impressed with me. I had no pain killers on board–I hadn’t eaten in several hours and had no desire to add nausea to my ailments.) My nerves screamed for a bit more through the x-rays, which showed no break and no tissue damage. I’ve been told I’ve got to take it easy for a week or two, one Naproxen (twice daily), and wear a knee brace.
My response: no problem, doc! (Doesn’t mean I won’t teach those stretch variations again!) I have a twinge on the inside of my knee, where the ligaments were stretched. Otherwise, I am in good spirits and have even had a good laugh over it already.
Fish! There is some debate about the slippery, scaly creature in the health community as to whether or not it’s a health food. Personally, I believe it is. (Having read the some of the personal opinions by others–who aren’t doctors, but maybe activists and dieticians–I think some of the claims against fish are waaaaaaayy off the mark.) There is always room that I might be wrong but if I am, I’ll post on that another time.
I love fish. In fact, I would eat fish almost daily if I could afford to. Sushi is one of my favorite ways of eating it too…and before you dog on raw fish, try it. Certain fishes, like salmon and tuna, have very mild flavors that don’t offend a first-timer’s pallet. (If you’re a texture person, try tuna rolls before you go for nigiri-style sushi.) Other lean, mildly-flavored fishes include bass, brook trout, cod and flounder.
When I lived in Japan, I tried to eat fish (sushi) at least once a week. As a result, my high density lipoprotein levels (HDLs) were some of the highest my doctors had ever seen in a white woman. (Rock on!) I felt great. I felt healthy. I was happy because many fishes are gentle on the stomach while filling you up.
So, what do fish and shellfish do for you?
- They are nutrient-dense, a source of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals.
- They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which is primarily responsible for many unique health benefits (2000+ scientific studies demonstrate that a higher intake of omega-3s prevent or treat at least 60 different health conditions, the best-known of which is heart disease, and may lower the risk of certain cancers (including breast, prostate, colon, and lung) and chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, macular degeneration, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).) The Mayo Clinic states that the benefits far outweigh the risks here
- Omega-3s make blood platelets less likely to stick together and may reduce inflammation.
- Fish oil may help relieve autoimmune diseases such as RA a psoriasis.
- They contain significant sources of B vitamins.
Fish and shellfish are grouped by their omega-3 fatty acid content. Higher-level fishes include herring, salmon, and tuna; medium-level, freshwater and striped bass, mussels and oysters, swordfish, and rainbow trout; and lower-level, cod, flounder, grouper, haddock, perch, pike, sea trout, shrimp, clams and crab. To select fish, look for freshly cut, colorful flesh (no pools of water); moist, firm, smooth skin; a clean saltwater scent (having been to the largest fish market in the world, I can tell you from personal experience: it did not smell fishy); and bright, clear eyes if the fish is left whole. Flash-frozen fish is usually of excellent quality, even to fresh fish, but should be cooked as soon as possible and not refrozen.
As on the concerns for safety (most of which regard mercury, which can accumulate in a person’s body and cause neurological problems, and pesticides), here are ways to reduce intake of toxic chemicals:
- Limit your intake of freshwater (especially lake) fish as they are more likely to contain chemicals and carcinogens.
- Eat smaller, younger fish as they have had less time to accumulate toxins in their fat. Salmon, which live two years, are preferable to halibut, which may live many years.
- Eat open-ocean, deepwater fish more often.
For safety of freshwater fish, and to help fishermen, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Listing of Fish Advisories (NLFA). This provides information on fish consumption advisories issued by the federal government, state, territories, tribes, and local governments.
Be mindful when you eat. Some people, adults and children, do have allergies to fish and shellfish. Mild reactions include itching skin while medium and severe symptoms include difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis. People with thyroid disorder and a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should consult their physicians about fish consumption, as fish and shellfish contain iodine and a small amount of oxalate.
If you can, go out and enjoy what the world produces. I’m sure you won’t be sorry. Remember, moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle. Just as those things we consider as “bad” for us can hinder our health, so can an excess of those things we consider “good” to eat.
Margen, Sheldon, M.D.; and the editors of the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. Wellness Foods, A-Z: An indispensable guide for health-conscious food lovers. Rebus, New York, NY, 2002; p. 309, 319, 320.
Murray, Michael, N.D.; Pizzorno, Joseph, N.D.; and Pizzorno, Lara, M.A., L.M.T. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. Atria Books, New York, NY, 2005; p. 525-533.
A brief end note: as my schedule has changed, I will post health-related topics on Thursdays instead of Fridays.