I recently came across some interesting information on a blog that I frequent, Whole Health Source. He consistently puts out really good information that he is fortunate enough to have easy and free access to, being a PhD candidate. He recently posted about a very interesting turn of events taking place at Boston Children’s Hospital. A nurse there sent him an email that read like this:
On the unit I work on we get lots of babies who have “short gut syndrome” due to a variety of causes who have to be on parenteral nutrition to supplement their nutrition while their GI system grows and hopefully heals fast enough. The big problem (among many) with TPN (total parenteral nutrition) is that it destroys the liver and kids get horribly jaundiced (which also causes brain damage) and often they die of liver failure or need a liver transplant before their GI system grows enough to take them off TPN. Boston Children’s has done some amazing work showing that this is largely due to the fact that the lipids part of the TPN was a soybean based oil so they started using Omegaven instead which is a fish oil based IV lipid solution. So far the results have been amazing and reversed the damage in lots of kids livers and prevented it in those started on Omegaven at birth.
Short bowel syndrome (SBS, also short gut syndrome or simply short gut) is a malabsorption disorder caused by the surgical removal of the small intestine, or rarely due to the complete dysfunction of a large segment of bowel. Most cases are acquired, although some children are born with a congenital short bowel. It usually does not develop unless a person has lost more than two thirds of their small intestine.
The normal TPN formula consists of either soybean or safflower oil (probably whichever one is cheapest at time of production, they are used interchangeably, another great topic discussed in The Omnivore’s Dilemma). These oils are composed of mainly pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, and no matter what the government, FDA, and ADA may want you to believe, these vegetable oils have no place in a healthy diet.
I agree with Stephan that as much as the fish oil substitute is clearly a much better option, since it is not only preventing but in some cases curing short gut syndrome, I still think there is room for improvement. The fatty acid composition should more closely resemble breast milk (I’m surprised the FDA hasn’t mandated that we pasteurize that) since that is what we evolved to be weaned on. I would like to see a higher saturated fat intake there, and agree with one of Stephan’s options: extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, and fish oil. You get heart healthy medium chain tryglicerides with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that do not need digestion, along with the great monounsaturated fats and EPA/DHA for proper heart, brain and nerve health and development.
It is also interesting to note that roughly 25% of Americans have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and it is now the number one cause of liver damage in the US, above cirrhosis. Recent animal studies are showing some scary reasons for this, the big one: high intake of omega-6 vegetable oils, like soybean, corn, and safflower. Hhhmmmm. Seeing a trend?
We need to stop the massive amount of refined vegetable oils that go into our food production, it is not benefitting any of us, especially developing infants.
On a much lighter note, I just dominated a homemade bison burger for dinner. Bison is pretty cheap relatively speaking, found in most supermarkets, free from hormones, antibiotics and is usually grass-fed. I added some Montreal steak seasoning, spinach, tomato, mustard, salsa, a slice of sharp cheddar raw milk cheese, all on an Ezekiel sprouted grain hamburger bun. Fantastic. Had a little pineapple for dessert.
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