Ditch the Fish

Ditch the Fish

This summer, I watched while men went out on a boat to sportingly capture and kill fish from the ocean. On the radio, I heard a story about a native woman up north, who participated in killing a whale; a part of “getting back to our roots.”

Here in Newfoundland, fishing has always been a part of life. It was one of the main reasons that people settled on the island, to claim fishing grounds against competing countries.

Admittedly, people living in extreme environments, with very little in the way of fresh fruit and vegetables, had to survive on something. In the cold north, with the long winters, sometimes the only source of sustenance were birds, fish, whales, polar bears and seals. However, this way of eating was never ideal for humans.

Remains of ancient Inuit peoples were studied, two women who had been buried in the ice, one in her 20s and one in her 40s, and both were found to have severe atherosclerosis (plaque-filled arteries), and osteoporosis. Inuits were also prone to deadly nosebleeds from the blood-thinning properties of fish fat. The average lifespan was around 60 years of age. And it was a difficult life, trying to survive the cold. Any Newfoundlander who lived here more than 20 years ago could tell you that, “there were no ‘good old times.’”

These days, we do not have to suffer in the cold climate. We have heated homes, heated cars, and are far less active.

What happens to those of us who consume a high-fat, high-protein, low-carb diet, like the ancient Inuits?

Apart from gaining weight due to the high-fat content, leading to problems like obesity and Type-2 Diabetes, we are damaging ourselves internally.

The high-fat damages our arteries, leading to blockages, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. It inhibits insulin activity, and slows the metabolism. The protein leaches calcium from our bones, leading to gout and kidney stones, and eventually osteoporosis and increases in fractures. The high-fat, high-protein damages the kidneys and liver, eventually leading to fatty liver disease and kidney failure. The lack of dietary fiber leads to many digestive issues, affecting our microbiome negatively, eventually leading to colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, varicose veins, prolapsed uterus, prolapsed bladder, and prolapsed rectum, and more. The lack of carbohydrates keeps the body in a state of ketosis, a starvation mode, which contributes to fatigue, lethargy, mood disturbances and mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.

Fish are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. They are also heavily polluted, even fish caught out at sea. Salmon fillets contain about two dozen chemical pollutants, and farmed salmon are the worst, with ten times more PCBs. Cooking fish in oil releases carcinogenic compounds that lead to lung damage, and in pregnant women can lead to birth defects. Dietary secondhand smoke is one of the contributing factors to lung cancer, and fish fumes are some of the worst. Taking fish oil during pregnancy also prolongs the pregnancy and adds to the birth weight of the child, leading to more C-sections instead of vaginal births. When a baby is not born vaginally, the baby does not get an important inoculation with the mother’s fecal bacteria, an essential component for building a strong gut and immune system. Instead, the baby is exposed first to hospital bacteria. The essential fatty acids required for human function and brain health are provided by plants and converted into usable forms by our own microbiome. Fish oils also act as blood thinners, but they do this by suppressing the immune system, which leaves one vulnerable to infections and viruses. Taking fish oil is not good for your brain. In fact, by contributing atherosclerosis and raised cholesterol levels in the body, fish oils actually harm brain function. Chemical pollutants and heavy metals in fish exist in fish oils as well, and these pollutants damage the brain. Chemical pollutants are fat soluble, and biomagnify through ingestion of animal fat. The chemicals then store within our own fat cells, and can stay there, doing damage, for an entire lifetime. A chemically polluted mother detoxifies during pregnancy and breastfeeding, making the newborn baby, the next generation, the highest on the food chain, and thus the most polluted.

If we are hoping for the fish in the ocean to feed over 7 billion humans, we are kidding ourselves. From 1950 to 2000, 90% of all large fish (the kind people like to eat), are gone from the world’s oceans. That was almost 20 years ago now, and we haven’t stopped fishing since then.

Farmed fish will not save us. In fact, farmed fish, apart from being chemically polluted, are full of antibiotics to stop the spread of disease in such confined spaces; but the pollution from these confined areas, coming from dead, diseased fish and fish feces, spread and pollute surrounded areas. They are just like land-animal factory farms, no better. And small fish are taken from the oceans to be fed to these larger farmed fish, so we are still continually depleting our oceans of marine life. The bleaching of coral reefs is due to the loss of larger fish in the oceans. Soon, there will be more plastic in our oceans worldwide than there are fish, whales, and other marine life.

We do not need fish for survival anymore. And we do not need to just survive, as we have been able to use technology to adapt our way of life to the cold environment. Now, we can eat the diet that gives us optimal health and well-being.

That diet is one based on starchy vegetables, with the addition of non-starchy vegetables and fruits. The potato contains complete nutrition for the human body. Newfoundlanders grow potatoes, among other health-promoting vegetables, like beets, carrots, cabbage, parsnips, turnips, onions, and more. There are some amazing farmers in the province, with magic green thumbs.

Recommended reading: Dr. Oppenlander's Comfortable Unaware.