Eating for “Their” Profit
If I was the CEO of a major drug company of pain and anti-inflammatory medications looking to boost my already incredible sales, I would open up a restaurant. Why? Because, food — if eaten in the improper proportions, from a biochemical standpoint — has the ability to create excessive and uncontrollable inflammation, making a chronic, painful, inflammatory condition all the worse. Hence, the need for more of my medications. It’s a great idea!
My menu, unbeknownst to my patrons, would revolve around fatty acids. Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats. While it’s true that most Americans are keeping a watchful eye on the amount of fats they are consuming, the body still needs a certain amount of fat to survive and conduct daily operations. Truth be known, it’s pretty hard to escape fat. It’s present in just about everything — even if it happens to be in a trace amount. My biggest focus will not necessarily be on the amount of fat they will consume in my restaurant — although more would definitely be better for the bottom line — but the type of fat they consume. This will be the key factor that will ultimately drive my business. My golden goose goes by the name of Linoleic Acid — the head of the Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Family. Yes, this little gem is the seed that produces the short-lived, hormone-like substances known as an Eicosanoids. These Eicosanoids in turn are utilized by the body for a number of physiological responses — one of which happens to be the promotion of pain and inflammation. Another fatty acid I’ll keep my eye on that produces the same end is Arachidonic Acid. It’s found mostly in certain animal products. Not to worry though if my patrons/victims happen to be vegetarian — my Omega-6 Acid will eventually produce the Arachidonic Acid anyway.
My plan is not entirely sinister. Inflammation and pain — while generally viewed by the public as bad things — do actually serve useful protective and restorative purposes in the initial stages of healing after an injury. And the Linoleic Acid I affectionately describe above is actually needed by the body. So much so that they term it an Essential Fatty Acid. So, in a way, I’ll be doing a good thing. I’ll be doing a public service — that is if you only plan on eating a mouse-size portion of my restaurant fare. My scheme is to dish out such an unproportionate amount of this stuff that the public’s pain and inflammatory responses will be so out of whack that they won’t be able to turn it off. They’ll be like a leaky faucet without a plumber. And the beautiful thing is that they won’t know what hit them. They’ll be begging for my medicine!
Getting them to eat my booby-trapped dishes will be a cinch too. Most are used to the food already. As long as I focus my efforts on their consuming foods high in Omega-6 fatty acids and/or Arachidonic Acids, I’ll be in good shape. Red meats (hamburger, steak, prime rib) and shell fish (clams, oysters, lobster, crab, shrimp) are chalk full of Arachidonic Acid and will work wonderfully. Oh, and for a more exotic, gourmet appeal, organ meats such as liver and kidney will really score too. And I can’t forget to lay on the dairy fats (milk, cream, cheese, butter, ice cream) and egg yolks, they’ll work great. My secret Omega-6 ingredient will come to life in most grains, seeds, and their respective oils. Perfect on the menu will be lots of breads, bagels, rolls, pasta, corn, chips, all types of fours, seeds, nuts, cakes, and cookies. I’ll be sure to utilize, douse, marinate, cook, and fry with the all the Omega-6 rich oils: corn, safflower, peanut, cottonseed, barley, and sunflower. Yes, I think the menu will be very appealing.
I will need to be careful however. In my menu array I will have to avoid a fatty acid that has the potential to be equally as powerful as my little Omega-6 friend. Powerful in the opposite direction, however. It’s called Omega-3 Fatty Acid. It too is essential in our diet, but unfortunately it has an anti-inflammatory action. The foods I’ll conveniently leave off the menu will be cold water fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, cod, sable, and sardines) as they tend to be a very rich source of this stuff. Vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, Spring green salad mixes, green beans, collard and mustard greens, arugala, Swiss chard, and chicory will sabotage my plans. Other foods that you will not be seeing on the menu will be flax seed oil, canola oil, cod liver oil, “northern oils” such as English walnut oil, raw soy beans, dried butter nuts, English walnuts, and wheat germ. Good thing most people don’t eat much of these. Of course, I’ll have to somehow discourage the use of those “fish oil capsules” they have out there. Unfortunately, these will allow our Omega-6 loving customers to reap some of the benefits of an Omega-3 diet without much effort on their part.
There is another little potential threat I need to be aware of. The Omega-6 family of fatty acids that I am placing my stock in, does have a wayward family member that acts very much like the evil Omega-3 family: Gamma-linolenic acid. It’s found in evening primrose oil, flax seed oil, borage oil, hemp oil, black currant oil, gooseberries, and spirulina. While I’m not too worried about these, eating these can have an anti-inflammatory effect, and thus, will not be on the menu.
I’ll need to be savvy though. Some people might start to catch on. So I will serve some foods to make it appear that I am not discriminating with my fatty acids. I will make a seemingly rich Omega-3 fatty acid selection, well, not so rich. I will serve canned tuna, not packed in water or olive oil, but rather in one of the oils rich with Omega-6. I’ll serve farm-raised fish versus wild fish. Farm-raised fish are typically fed a diet of Omega-6-rich grains, a considerable change from the Omega-3-rich diet they would consume in the wild. Consequently, their meat reflects this. This, by the way, goes for all of our farm-raised meats — making our hamburgers and steaks all the more Omega-6 laden. Ca-ching!
I’ll be strategic in my marketing efforts as well. By encouraging my patrons to frequent my restaurant during times of pain and inflammation, my food will help keep their furnaces raging. I can see it now: “Second helpings free on Sciatica Sundays”, Lumbago Lunch Specials, and “Rheumatoid Arthritis Club Members enjoy 10% off on all menu items”.
The thing that will really make this restaurant work, however, is “disproportionment.” Currently the dietary ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids in the United States is estimated to range between 20-25:1. This is definitely a good thing for my drug company — as this equates to lots of out of control inflammation and pain. What I don’t want to see is a person alter their ratio to the more healthful range of 5-10:1. This could really cut into my profits. If a person were to strike a balance such as this — substituting their linoleic acid (Omega-6) and Arachidonic Acid intake with Gamma-linolenic acid (good Omega-6) and Omega-3 fatty acids — a definite shift would occur in their systems. No longer would the production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids predominate, but rather anti-inflammatory eicosanoids. This would not be good for business. To make matters worse, research is showing that people with enhanced Omega-3 status have improved pain tolerance. And, to underscore just how important it is for my business to steer people away from a balanced Omega-6/Omega-3 diet, research is suggesting that those who have a healthful balance, not only have better overall health, but may also be reducing their risk of several common diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, and cancer. I just might have to make this research “go away.” I’ll see what I can do about suppressing it.
Actually, now that I think about it, Americans don’t really need me to create a restaurant to serve them Omega-6 and Arachidonic Acid – rich diets. They’re doing a pretty good job on their own. I think I would do better by focusing my efforts in the Antacid business.