OK, now that I’ve presented a little of my personal background, I can get on to the “meat” of this blog.
I have to start with Bill Lands. I consider him to be one of the (if not THE) most important figures on the diet-health landscape. To be sure, there are others, but they are more well known , and besides, Lands was the first island of sanity I discovered back when I was drowning in the sea of dietary confusion.
I first encountered Lands’ work two or three years ago via a video of a talk he gave at an NIH conference back in 2009 [1-4]. I was so impressed with what he had to say that I immediately stopped everything else I was doing and rewrote my nutritional software to incorporate the results of his work. Here’s what Wiki has to say about him :
William E.M. Lands (born July 22, 1930) is an American nutritional biochemist who is among the world’s foremost authorities on essential fatty acids. … Lands is credited for discovering the beneficial effects of balancing the effects of excess omega-6 fatty acids with dietary omega-3 fatty acids.
I’d read Barry Sears’ Omega-Rz Zone Diet  book back in 2002 when it first came out. Sears was clearly influenced by Lands’ work, but in oversimplifying the message, Sears got it all wrong. More helpful than nothing at all, to be sure, but still not enough to turn around the rampant disease generated by the Western lifestyle. I can only imagine Lands’ frustration at how little of his full message has actually made its way into mainstream thought and how long it’s taken for even this superficial understanding to have taken place.
Why am I so impressed with Lands’ work?
He’s got the full package: epidemogy, biochemical pathways, plus predictive equations that relate the known biochemistry to the observed mortality and morbidity. The work explains observations across multiple disciplines and renders previously puzzling paradoxes understandable. He’s put forth a unifying theory of western disease that is more than just conjecture; it’s backed up by 100 years of biochemical study and thousands of medical journal papers. His story hasn’t changed over the years; it’s the same now as it was 10 years ago; only difference is more supporting evidence has been accumulated.
In addition to all that, he will turn 82 this year and is still going strong. He is passionate about this work; I’m sure he practices what he preaches. I for sure wouldn’t mind being in his shape in 14 years when I hit 82!
So what is his message?
The short version is:
- We give lip service to the notion that association is not causation, yet continue to chase biomarkers of disease instead of achieving actual disease prevention.
- When we eat more at a single sitting than the body needs to satisfy immediate (one to two hour) demands, excess food energy translates into reversible biochemical imbalances which may over time become irreversible.
- These “transient postprandial oxidative insults” (the problems caused by simply eating, never mind even the overload caused by overeating) as well as injury from foreign invaders and heritable genetic weaknesses, while bad enough in and of themselves, are translated into disease and death under conditions of excessive dietary omega-6 consumption.
What is “TOO MUCH” omega-6 and why do we have too much of it?
This is a big topic and will be the subject of part 2. Meanwhile, you can watch any of the videos below (37 minutes) [1-4] to get ahead of my story or even less time, watch the two (shorter) NIH PowerPoint presentations [7-8] that give you so much information so fast, it will leave your head spinning. The Powerpoint slides do have narration; be sure to click “View Show” on the “Slide Show” menu.
References and Links:
- Lands, Nutritional Armor for the Warfighter: Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Enhance Stress Resilience, Wellness, and Military Performance? (Day 2) – This is the original video of his 2009 NIH lecture, starting at 12:45 into the video.
- PowerPoint slides for Nutritional Armor Lecture – slides to accompany the lecture
- Learn Why Omega-6 Fats Matter to Your Health – Here you can download the entire Nutritional Armor lecture video (free), although you will have to register and become an iAmplify member first.
- Dr. Bill Lands on Cardiovascular Disease: Omega-6 displaces Omega-3, 1 of 4 – The same video on YouTube, much easier to watch than the version on the NIH site, and you don’t have to register. But it’s divided nto 4 parts.
- William E.M. Lands – wiki
- Barry Sears, The Omega Rx Zone: The Miracle of the New High-Dose Fish Oil
- Lands, The Story (5 minutes) – Links the metabolism of foods to eicosanoid formation and disease severity.
- Lands, The History (5 minutes) – Puts the information into its historical perspective.