Discovering the essentiality of DHA: the African story


Dr. Michael Crawford describes how his career began in Africa, why he studied brain chemistry and his African experience. His discovery of the primary essentiality of DHA to build and maintain the brain. Hear his early learnings, how opportunity, basic science, and 32 species in Uganda answered this question: Why do animals have different size brains? Bonus! You get to hear about his new book, Brain Under Siege, expected fall 2021.

Topics Discussed:
2:10 Introduction to his African experience
6:46 Deep dive into research on brain chemistry
9:20 Discovery of DHA to build and maintain the brain
12:06 What you should know about DHA and the brain
15:26 Sources of DHA and trace elements
18:30 Dr. Crawford's book Brain Under Siege

Resources Mentioned in this episode:

Michael Crawford Bio
1971 paper mentioned
1973 paper mentioned
Energetic and nutritional constraints on infant brain development 

It was not the chemistry that changedfrom speci of bafis; it was the extent to which the brain had evolved. Thesize of the gray black told us that a recanati, a son,to cause a head no case were absolutely key compo for the emotion of the brainthrough outcome of alien species and that set us off on the r. We publishthe data in one thousand nine hundred and seventy one hello and welcome to the science andthe story behind omega three: a podcast brought to you by wiley companies,where we explore one of the most research nutrients on the planet.Listen in the as global omega. Three experts and researchers translate thescience, reveal personal insights and share their stories of discovery whilenavigating the sea of a mega ree science thanks for joining us today. Now here'syour host greg lindsay welcome back to another episode, thescience and the story behind omega three, where we talk with experts fromall over the world. Our guests today hails from the imperial college oflondon. His former director of the institute of brain chemistry in humannutrition was awarded the gold medal for science and peace from albertswitzer international university and in one thousand nine hundred and sixty twoled the research team to investigate the role of nutrition and disease ineast africa. Today we will hear about his early discoveries on lipidnutrition and the brain we are honored to welcome to the program today. Drmichael crawford welcome dr crawford were excited to have you with this.Today you have an amazing career and we are eager to hear your stories. Wecould jump in anywhere and have a fascinating conversation, but let'splease start at the beginning from what i understand your omagaristory began in africa. We are interested in learning why you went toafrica and what you discovered. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourstory? Well, i was working at the post graduate medical school in london andfor some reason or other professor sir john, would bicos head of maxine askedme to his room one day he just been to uganda and the british government wasgiving you gander a brand new hospital as a given way present before it'scoming into pendent and he said, there's an urgent need for people likeme in the basic sins to get out there and start basic sciences, because hesaid it is a complete open book. There is no contemporary disease such if weknow it of the uk in uganda is a completely different story, so he wasso persuasive that we went through for carara in uganda and i set out by achemistry and chemical pathology teaching there and set up a researchcrook as well. That's how it happened. Well, what was it like being in africaat that time? Can you tell us about the people and about your experiences there?Well, o. So john was absolutely right. There was no mortality from cardiac any.For example, there was no breast count or colon cancer to speak of the primaryhealth concerns of the atpat end of my cardio five groces, which was thecommonest court of death from heart failure and vol felso double thought for us ofthe sick. One corn, which is extremely excruciatingly, painful condition andthe commonest surgical emergency will have you ever heard of other of thesetwo sank. The answer is no, but if we don't seehim in this country, but on top of that primary cast now, what's the liver of,what's the number one cancel and there...

...was measure for finishing breast canceror prostrate country. In fact, that was so interesting that the nationalinstate of health, at the time of the osa, decided to send over a team toinvestigate if it was true and the team found that it was absolutely true notonly that that tennis berfield with his team discovered the first biro coursefor cancer in berceau. So we weren't just a bunch of pigs sitting throughlooking to an an tonics. It's a sum way that we're actually going some verygood work that we published first paper on the nutritional, evolvement, oanomia, o fat roses, and indeed of africo on and primary cast norma theliver. So it was really exciting days because of the contrast between whatyou saw in the uk. What you saw in your canda an i be even more interestingbecause in in you gander itself, you could trye drive a hundred miles whenyou came across a complete quickly, different list of disorders, and thattold me very clearly that nutrition was fundamentally behind both the conicdecisions that we see in the uk and in nugava, and that we really ought to payattention to nutrition. That's what they do en my eyes as you traveledacross uganda. Can you tell us what the people in the environment were like andhow that affected your ability to research? Well, the people werewonderful. In those days i mean you could travel around anywhere in egad,you greta like kings and queens, and things like that. The people are justphenomenal. There was no kind of racial problems, as you might have had in care,for example, because it was a factura there's, no colonial room at all. Itwas a protectorial government, so it gave us freedom to travel throughoutyour gander, stay in little places and enjoy the hospitality of the localgombe on a chief pit was always there, and i was just fool time. The peoplewere wonderful and the climate was with equable because we're four thousandpeak above sea level, and and there was no winter there- the trees would have awinter one side and then those the leaves up one side of then the otherside with loose the legs and, and so it woke so on. It was just and the gardenwas just full of things from pine apples through avocado, pars and boomsand everything it was. It was so far tight, just unbelievable, dr crawford. If i may ask what yearswere there? We were talking one tousand, nine hundred and sixty to sixty five,but it was so interesting that i, with the grace of the medicos council andthe cancer campaign in the ok, i kept the of my abora, while operating untilone thousand nine hundred and seventy two after i took up the headship ofback arastra note in just in london, and i was commuting backwards andforwards and er as at that time that we realize, when i came back to london,that when you set off a brand new of oratory by chemistry, what are we goingto do? And it was quite clear that the the mainproblem was with the uk with so well covered by people working on cardio,aspirates and council. But there was erant and we have published evisonsthat allowed it to the different and livic compositionof the diet and he pipit composition in east africa and that have relevance tothe difference in ses in the two country. And so we thought we shouldwork on with it. But, as i said, you know, all the cardiovascular and castlestuff was so well covered at the time...

...and the interest to die e facts, and soon. So we start, he wait a minute. The ray no is working on the brain, that'sfull of ripping. So why don't we work on the brain, so i set the lab up tobasically to research on lipets in terms of the brain chemistry went wasmade of and how to coget that. So i think you're answering thisquestion r crawford, but i'd love to know how, again that early work inafrica influenced the rest of your career. Well, as i said before, thecritical thing was the is open having come from the period of time when thediscovery of dna and genetics and things like that which was reallynumber one. My eyes were open to the we were a great part of nutrition overmoti generations to change people and, as i said, the interesting thingwas how we actually got inter the brain. It was a very simple thing because ineast africa you were witnessing the nature's last great experiment on thevarian evolution with all these animals all round. You and, of course the thingthat struck me when you think about guerillas and copet, and things likethat which we beban so on was the different in the size of the brain, andso we asked a simple question was why why did animals have different sizebreak, and so we started some thirty two different species hope to brain on.I was joined by andrew separ at the time and here and i study tatitadiffirent species, brain chemistry, bleves, and i also looked at thelittlest of these animals, with the livers tending to refar, to sort ofnutritional genoa get together ending up and what was present of deliver tofree the by so that the result was astalli. When we look at the liver kit,chemistry, the freddy acids were all over the place. They went from fortytwo percent of the highest dont of out point ere, o sixes or lelina. I acasita and and the same apply to practically every fate. As that theywere all of the place, but when you looked at the brain of the assertativespecies, you're an identical the same chemistry, the same propir rich in aracoon, ic acid, the briny, castita jocosa hats. Now a cassic professpotassic ly, that known is dat or over the street to cause the hickoree today. So the conclusion was a very simplecompletion that evolution had produced a single answer for brain chemistry andits function, because brains mainly made your facts of livit, it's sixtypercent of it. It's not protein is the litter stupor, the bran and the cusawas that the brain was being made till this specific evolutionally holdprofile for brain chemistry and function to the same design ofprescription in chemistry. It was not the chemistry that changed from speciesspecies. It was the extent to which the brain had evolved. The size of thebrain, but black told us that a recaro asean because of hicacos wereabsolutely key composed for the evolution of the brain through out theamalien species and that set us off on the way we publish the data in onethousand nine hundred and seventy one and, of course the ducos his onoracassi story was we provided every first evidence tale a behavior, asolando private. I don'tknow we a free deficiency, die example pobble in one thousand, nine hundredand seventy three there's a lot of stuff in goin it, and that was thebeginning of one thousand nine hundred and seventy one. We talk about dha, i'd like to knowwhat you want people to know about dha.

The a is an irreplaceable structuraland functional component of the signaling systems of the retana. Thesin ap is a neuro the breath and you cannot make a brain was hart now.There's an interesting fact about that that where do you get over the freda,tacon and everybody knows the answer, but they don't think o back brainevolved in the sea. He evolved on the sea five hundred million years ago, andwe know from the chemistry was a caprates of fish, the amphibia of thereptiles, the mammal sabers and ourselves that the chemistry he was inpecause, a hiknata tic, is exactly the same throughout that whole range tofive hundred million years. Rolypolies. That's something that it's really verypowerful everdence as absolute essentiality. It cannot be a place andwe ve published recently some eresus about that into of the quae mechanicalproperties of dh that can't be copied by as a simores there asalto a you knowthe because of pantano casic, which is only one double one different. That'sall so identical part, no just one. So it's on the road to the sympose of thso easier to synthesize, less susceptible to proximation, but neveruse, nor only d over the five hundred or six hundred million years ofevolution. From the beginning of total perception. We see things like the dinofati right through to the evolution through to homesites to day it'sinvariable, and you have to have dj in your diet, not only to build a breakbut also to maintain through our life and the source of d. H is the marinefoot web, although it's also present in fresh, walk in footwear, and what do iwant people to know about it? I want people to know about this, becausetoday, we're seeing an increase of metal health were seeing a decline inmeasures of intelligence, and this is because, if one thousand nine hundredand fifty or thereabout there's been a swing away from the balance betweenwhat we got from to see and what we got from the land towards in casalleproduced than base o and that doesn't contain any delatre, and this is aproblem that we have today. We've got to face. This challenge was a risingmental health like what you hear so far make sure younever miss a show by clicking the subscribe. But now this podast is madepossible by listeners like you. Thank you for your support. Now, back to theshow, i like what you just said: you have to have dh in your diet, not onlyto build a brain, but to maintain it. So can you share about other sources ofdha, especially for those listing who may be vegan anyone, who's ban ormageria? They avoid some of the horror shot the stuff, but we are exomis tento to from the fat sugary level of the site market, but they don't get thecheck, but they can get it from marine archy, but plenty of marinata plenty ofor edible. We not after that, contain tha, and it's not just the also anotherthing that i want to war about, because it's also trace alone. It's like idsalinum, think of copper ida every nose...

...about. I deficiency a metalist data,but not too many know about selenium, sat cop of macanese. These are traceelements which are used by the brain to roll proteins that are take out. Rogueoxygen atoms in the brain that a likely to do damage and dha in a raccoon assidboth are highly susceptible and you have the highest concentration ofanywhere on the body than the brain of these. So you need powerful protection,especially with it a brain uses in the arrow twenty per cent of all the energythat you use. Yet it only occupies two per cent of the forty weight, so theywere amount of oxide being you burnt by the brain bringed by the greenishphenomena, and you've got to protect pract molecules like dear chain arapidan acid, and the brain makes its own protective systems, both from a t,nicholas basani, o ores have shown that dha produces its own protectivemolecule course. It mural protection to one. He says a nice name, but it'sreally christly important. These trace of it is not just deceist was in themarine foot were with trace settlements and you get these in the out as well, and how about for the non vegetarian ornon vegan? What would be the best source of dha? Well, the best source ofdc is a very improve weapon. I would not want to pick anything out of themarine fear. You can start with calaps oysters muscles and you can go and moveup from the sardines to carter and salmon, and things like that from themarifet chains and the duty about the marine food weavers. You can actuallyhave a different real from the larder of the marine stuff. Almost every nightof the week, if not every night, of the monte it so so there's so much raritythey are it it's just wonderful and in america you have something best seefood restaurants in the world. I want to be sure to let our listenersknow about your new book. It's called brain under siege. I believe it's beenpublished this summer. So i love to know who is the book intended for andmaybe just tell us a little bit about the work that went into that? Well, iguess it's a sort of trip up memory lay. So thank you for asking about that. Itis as essentially telling the story of the brain of it's in two part has. Thefirst part is about dablin because- and this is to do with the presentenvironmental crisis, what in tract darwin said in his all six editions ofhis book was that there are two forces in ever ocean natural selection andconditions of existence and of the two, and he writes and all six editionsother to. He says that the conditions of existence were the most powerful.That's actually blindingly obvious when you think about it. If you have ananimal requires, be ninety two and there's no b. Ninetytwo around the animal can't survive regardless of whatever it is that theconditions of existence, the particularly the nutritional conditions,a temperature impression are the current things which determine what ispossible in life. This was dark by august, vice man who didn't like it, hethought it was to remark an he a cat, the tails of the whole bunch of mice,and they continued to grow tails. So hesaid a condition to existence that doesn't fit anywhere in evolution story,and i comigo people call the all sufficiency of natural selection sor.You had neil up wits, which dumped the...

...environmental concern of darwin, andwe've got to bring that environmental concern back, and you know, creatorsall the rest of them. They are about the time of change and everything,that's all down talking if he don't want talking, so we restored doinsoriginal thesis on the impact of the environment as number one force indetermining what happens evolution. The second thing we do is to talk aboutwhat a ter stop to pat tabling what we do in terms of the braehead how thebrain evolved and what it's made of and what we are eating today is notcompatible with a healthy brain, and that fix was this rise in theescalation of metral health and if mental ill health continues to escalate,as it is doing at promotte outcome of that is the young thinkable, and that's obvious, it's just astraight logical conclusion that it really is a most serious strap of thesustainability of humanity. If we lose our brains, we lose em worthing. So thebook is about that. That is the seed of of the brain today, and we've got to dosomething about it, so we go forward solutions which is a very simple foresight, a same time, governmentsitaro ted few years ago on the future of food and agriculture. What they saidwas that the land available for incorporating into arable gilks hasreached a limit. We know that the oceans supply of fish and see forbreach to limit in year two hours yet population is expanding. Two thousand.It was six billion. It took only eleven years to get to seven billion and itstill expounded so where we going to fit these people and as far as we cansee, david marshale gave it the high course of or right is a jarmanstuff. The far as we can see it, the one solutionis to start falling in the sea. Seventy one per cent of the glow is coveted tosee, and that has to be the future of humanity, and that will do two things by, for example, planting count,forests for your vegas and things like that, but also colt for as fix a or two.In the same way that rain for is still so here, we have an importantcontribution to the challenge of global lorny, and it's not just a colt forts.Of course, it's all the phycologia, all the other fooks and tepic shines thatwe have on the marine frotet that cos the shape set, and the second thing, of course, isthat camp forests not only pixy or two, but they also provide food and fatalizeit folloson land based by base tap of culture, replacing the trace elementsto be lost over the years and years and years of bran. So comp growing help forus a really important in issue in terms of what we can do in the future. Thesame thing is marine agriculture, in the same way that we grow grass pastswere cows, achievements, ing like that. We also can grow grass pastors take a hero tonaka and your harm in japan's doing exactly that doing grass pastures forthe fish, and so you turned the desert, the marine jesis of have been createdby intestate, scraping the sea bay. You turn these marie deserts into greenpasturs, and so you enhance all the...

...fighter patron and everything thatsupport was marie productivity and it attack a hero to no, as also usedartficial reefs in the sea, all to seven different types of our putares.Each one designed to enhance the conecticut of the environment for theseven different target species that he had fish within and their triple forproductivity, and it's so elementary. He very victuals furnish, but it is soelementary. We have to start getting involved with marine agriculture and anisland like the uk with its extensive costin cant. Just like the parent. Wecan do exactly the same with all the little islands develop the marineresources from that way and the final solution for this ossia course. It notonly does all these wonderful things in terms of providing food for thefounding population, but it also provides brain fruit, pride spray, and that is a solution, because therising toler of metalist and the decline in i could- and we could usethis to help- enhance the brain development from future generations ofchildren so that we have children born that are better able to cope with thisexpanding situation that we have at the moment finding populations of tenchildren little more intelligent that than we are and children lit, are moresensible than we are, and hopefully children. That would lead to a bettersolution of this planet for peace in progress i feel like we could talk for a lotmore time, but unfortunately our time is up today, but i have to ask you,because we've opened up a couple, different topics here- that i'd reallylove to explore. Would you be willing to come back and talk to us aboutanother topic or the evolution of some of the topics we've talked about today?I have to talk any time, the war. We can disseminate the importance of thismessage. The better and happier i will be a dr crawford you've had such anamazing level of work body of work and i'd love to explore that more as we canget on the next program. But thank you again so much for being here today. Ithank you so much for having, and i want to think our listeners and, asalways, be healthy, be well and fight the good fight thanks so much. This has been the science and the storybehind omega three. Thanks to our sponsor wily companies, you can findthem and more information about our show at wiley cocom, a podcast. If youenjoy today's episode, don't forget to subscribe wherever you get yourpodcasts thanks for listening and we'll catch you next time. Any statements on this podcast are theopinion of the scientific guests and or author, and have not yet been evaluatedby the fda. The information we may provide to you is design foreducational purposes, only as not intended to be a substitute forinformed medical advice or care. This information should not be used todiagnose street or prevent any health issues or conditions without consultinga health care. Professional. If you are experiencing a health is you areconditioning, we suggest you consult with your health care, professional, a.

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