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The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Contents Page
The Inquisition by Ronan McDonnell - Semper Quarens - Always Looking

Crime Stoppers

Fossil evidence links Homo Erectus’ cranial development towards Homo Sapiens with a diet which included fish. In fact, shell middens occur globally in the archaeological record. It is now thought that this increased, hugely, the amount of DHA in our our forebears’ diet. DHA is an abbreviation of docahexaenoic acid and is a component of that staple of culinary TV and over-processed dairy products – omega-3 fatty acids.

The basic mechanism of omega-3 is such that our bodies synthesise it into the proteins it needs to build neurons; the information super-highways of our brains. As we depend more on intensive farming our diets have largely moved from the sea to the land to the point where our ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 (seed oils predominantly) is normally 1:15 or even as high as 1:25. Bear in mind the fatty acid content of our ancestors diet over the 200,000 years during which their brains grew threefold, is presumed to have been 1:1.

Click to see larger (World fish consumption per capita and per year. (2009). In UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library. Retrieved 23:58, May 25, 2009 from )

Click to see larger (World fish consumption per capita and per year. (2009). In UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library. Retrieved 23:58, May 25, 2009 from )

The Research

Various studies have been done on the intellectual and neurological impact of omega-3 deficiencies and sufficiencies on our diet. In 2001 Dr Antti Tanskanen at Finnish Psychiatric Services found people whose diets had a significant amount of fish were less likely to be clinically depressed. In the same year Dr Joseph Hibbeln in the United States Public Health Service compared the murder rates of 26 countries to their per capita fish intakes and demonstrated murder rates drop when you eat more fish. You can use the map above to figure out which countries to avoid emigrating to.

Bernard Gesch from Oxford used 230 inmates at HM Young Offenders Institute in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire to show that diets supplemented with seafood-derived omega-3 decreased unruly behaviour. As with Hibbeln’s research it appeared that actions of a greater severity fell by the greatest margin.

Professor Adrian Raine of the University of California enriched the diets of children in Mauritius, along with other measures. Before they entered their teens they had increased brain activity on brain scan read-outs, and by their mid-twenties they were 64 per cent less likely to have a criminal past. Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform in the UK made the argum

ent that the proof is, in the eating, and its inter-personal interaction: “these youngsters need to be taught how to shop, how to cook a nutritious meal and, crucially, how to sit down and eat it with others.”

Professor Michael Crawford of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition at London Metropolitan University, warned us that Irish people are 50 times more likely to develop mental issues than countries which had a large marine culinary tradition, such as Japan. He listed depression, bi-polar disorder and childhood behavioural problems like ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia as being the possible end results of a poor diet.

Other fishy benefits

Although, the brain and our mental well-being is the point here, fish is beneficial in many others ways as certain populations with largely marine diets have shown. Cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes have little of the stranglehold in the Japanese or Inuit communities that they have here in the west. Between swimming fish and shellfish we can expect to include vitamins A, B and D in our diets along with magnesium calcium, idoine, zinc, iron and selenium.


Cooking oily fish couldn’t be easier. Get yourself a mackerel, herring, sardine, trout or salmon and slice the length of its belly. Pull the guts out and rise the fish under a tap. After putting some olive oil onto it and some salt (if you want you could stuff it with peeled garlic cloves and some rosemary or parsley) throw it on a barbecue, under a grill or onto a pan until the flesh is nice and crisp, then tuck in.

The River Cottage Fish Book, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher, Bloomsbury, 2008
UN funded research on fish consumption
The Guardian on the Raine survey
BBC News covers omega-3
UK Food Safety Authority
Irish Times article on Michael Crawford
Irish People are eating more fish (than before)
After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000 – 5000 BC: A Global Human History 20,000-5000 BC, Steven Mithen, Phoenix, 2004

This article was posted by on Tuesday, May 26th, 2009 at 05:00.
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