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Posts Tagged ‘brain’

Algae and Humanity’s Evolution


Could the introduction of algae into the diet of early animal man have had a dramatic impact in our evolution? The theories below are thought provoking and if you have an opinion why not leave a comment below…

Early Animal Man – Dry or Wetland Creature?

What’s your impression of early humans? Do you picture them making their home on grasslands, hunting down prey with sticks and spears? Some believe humans actually started their evolution somewhere a little less dry…

First proposed back in 1960 by Sir Alister Hardy, the ‘aquatic ape’ theory suggests that our human ancestors lived in aquatic habitats such as creeks and sea shores, rather than the savannah lands as is the current consensus.

To keep our heads above the surface while wading through rivers and sea waters, we developed our bipedal stance, and we lost our fur in favour of a layer of blubber-like fat, which would keep our bodies warm while submerged in water.

It’s argued that human sinuses – particularly large among animal species – provided buoyancy aids to further help us keep our heads from slipping under the water’s edge.

The Reason Early Humans Began Eating Algae

The aquatic ape theory may also explain why humans have much larger brains than our fellow apes. At some point in our evolution, humans developed much larger brains than those of primates, and if the aquatic ape theory is true, Omega 3 may have been pivotal in our rise to become the dominant species.

Dolphins have larger brains than land-dwelling mammals, and it’s believed this is because of their diet. Since they live on seafood, dolphins consume a large amount of DHA, the Omega 3 fatty acid which boosts brain growth.

Similarly, the aquatic ape theorises that early humans also had a DHA-rich diet of seafood, including algae (the source of the DHA in Nuique tablets!). It’s this diet which is responsible for the larger brains of modern man and woman.

As larger brains require more energy than typical muscle, our ancestors would have had to trade muscle mass for brain power. This would have made preying on animals rather difficult – as well as weak strength, our underdeveloped senses would have been unable to compete with other predators.

Instead, early hominids may have dined on the algae present in the wetlands – much easier and far less dangerous than hunting for animals! The algae would have provided humans with a sweet/umami taste which was not present in land-based foods – hence, our sweet tooth would have had us coming back for more!

As our brains and senses developed, humans would have moved on to eating aquatic plants, catching fish and breaking open crustaceans with tools – these would have provided even more DHA, as these aquatic creatures live on the algae themselves!

Is It Just A Theory?

Many critics are sceptical of this theory, arguing that our ‘aquatic’ features – bipedalism, lack of fur etc – actually would have arrived at separate points in our evolution. Additionally, water-habiting humans would have had to face predators such as crocodiles, as well as sidestep the risk of drowning. But it’s nevertheless an interesting theory which may, someday, become the consensus on early human life.

To find out more about Nuique’s algae products, and how they can help you, visit our FAQ and Advice section

Sources for this blog:
Did Algae’s Great Taste Make Us Do It? (i.e. Become Human?)
Big brains, no fur, sinuses … are these clues to our ancestors’ lives as ‘aquatic apes’?

Studies & Research on Omega 3 DHA EPA Re Brain Health

The Daily Mail publishes an interesting article on Omega 3 DHA / EPA, essential fats and their importance for brain health and optimal cognitive function. ( Daily Mail: Fat lot of good: How eating more cheese and milk could make you brainier )

Renoir Painting

We need fats for our brain not more fat for our bottoms

More fats for our brains, not more fats for our bottoms!

Despite the obligatory Daily Mail red herring headline advising us all to eat cheese to get brainier, there is a good summary of Omega-3 studies in the article. It’s a shame they don’t go into the benefits of Omega-3 DHA and EPA from Algae but it’s only recently that purified forms of algae have allowed higher doses of plant based DHA that now rival the dosages in fish oil.

With the study on cheese there could be a number of points overlooked. Organic milk has up to 71 percent more Omega-3 than non-organic milk, according to a?study by the University of Aberdeen so the type of cheese may play a part. Also if more of the participant’s calorific content is from cheese, it is likely they are replacing meat with cheese, typical of?many vegetarians who use cheese as a protein replacement for meat. In this case, one would hope they are also eating a higher percentage of fruit and vegetables. “The study was published in the International Dairy Journal, and did not conclusively establish the link between dairy and fatty diets and brain power”,?say the Daily Mail

More relevant is a U.S. study, published in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology,? involving 104 pensioners, where scientists found older people with higher levels of (Omega-3 essential fats) in their blood had less brain shrinkage typical of Alzheimer?s disease.? Relevant because it measured Omega-3 in blood, rather than relying on food diaries.

A study published in the journal Archives of Neurology found that people with the highest levels of DHA in their blood had a 50 percent lower risk of developing dementia from any cause. After nine years, they were also shown to be less prone to Alzheimer?s.

The article is right to point out the perils of very low fat diets, we need essential fat for the integrity of all cell membranes and for optimal inter cellular communication a dysfunction of which is linked to diabetes and heart disease. The type of fat is essential, as is the type and balance of cholesterol in the blood. Too little of good cholesterol could be almost as harmful as too much bad cholesterol. This is why the medical profession are now looking at triglycerides as a more reliable method of assessing chronic disease risk.? Meta analysis of algae Omega-3 DHA studies have shown algal oil to be useful in reducing triglycerides

Another? study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the children of women who had high levels of DHA in their red blood cells around the time they gave birth, scored above average on the intelligence tests at age six. Other studies on fish oil supplements have struggled to prove the benefits of fish oil but this could be because many fish oil supplement research studies are on Cod Liver Oil and this may skew the meta analysis into a neutral conclusion.

Cod liver oil is not the optimum source of Omega-3, it’s cheap but not necessarily good value. Firstly cod liver oil is over 70% not Omega-3. Cod liver oil is mainly saturated and mono-unsaturated fats, already abundant in our diets and found to thwart Omega-3 conversion in our bodies. Cod liver oil is only around 22% Omega-3 and even less than that of DHA. There are also numerous citations of Cod liver oil found to be contaminated with illegal levels of mercury,?PCBs and dioxins. We feel it’s?detected contamination would logically be more frequent?if it were tested more frequently.

Trans fats

Another problem are trans fats in the diet, the? subject of many new laws and legislation to ban or seriously restrict their use especially in restaurants.

Dr Alex Richardson, a research fellow at the University of Oxford and an authority on the impact of nutrition on the brain, is particularly concerned by trans-fats. ?They should have been banned years ago,? she says. ?They are toxic.?

One of the most damaging things about these fats, she adds, is that they actually stop essential fats, such as Omega 3, from being absorbed in the brain.

Leading health consultant and Nutritionist in London Yvonne Bishop-Weston reveals “It’s not just trans-fats that make it difficult to attain the optimum balance of Omega-3 fats from our diet. We need a number of vitamins and minerals such as b vitamins and zinc to process basic Omega-3 fats into longer chain EPA and DHA. The modern half food diet of junk food rather than whole food? is deficient in these nutrients. The balance and ratio of triglycerides and Omega-6 and Omega-3 plays a part too as they need similar nutrients and enzymes to be processed. If your little bit of Omega-3 is crowded out and last in the queue at the bus stop it won’t get to your brain where its’ needed.? If you get tested and find you have insufficient DHA for optimal health and reduced risk of disease, combined with a healthier diet a very pure EPA/ DHA supplement is the most reliable to get you back on track.

Read the Daily Mail article: Fat lot of good: How eating more cheese and milk could make you brainier

See Vegetarian Omega-3 EPA DHA now 410mg of DHA/EPA per daily dose approx cost ?10 per month* (*3 for 2 offer) from? NuIQue

See also Vegetarian Omega 3 DHA vs Fish Oil Supplements