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Essential Fatty Acids - in the Evolution of the Brain

by David E Marsh(more info)

listed in essential fatty acids, originally published in issue 64 - May 2001

Charles Darwin believed there were two great controlling forces behind evolution: one was natural selection, the other the 'conditions of existence'. He saw natural selection as dependent on the conditions, so he considered the conditions as the most important of the two controlling forces.[1]
Fatty acids = fat. Some are essential: some are not.

EFAs Explained

We are still in an era of discovering and learning about the essential fatty acids, or lipids. There are two types of fat found in the body.

One is storage or saturated fat, the white blobs one sees in butchered meat. This is the sort of fat found bulging around many of today's waistlines. Storage fat is solid at room temperature, like grease or butter. Our bodies convert excess dietary energy to make storage fat which it can store somewhere, ready to be called upon as an energy reserve in hard times, when food is short.

The second type of fat is polyunsaturated fat, which is intracellular, invisible and can only be seen in tissues when stained and viewed through a microscope. Polyunsaturated fat is liquid, like olive oil.

Unlike saturated fat the polyunsaturated fats cannot be made by the body and have to be obtained in the diet. For this reason they are known as 'essential'; and 'structural' because they help build tissue – cell walls, cell membranes and other cellular constructions, and nerve cells: with proteins they build nearly everything.

As with the 'parent' essential amino acids from which protein is made, structural fats (or lipids) have 'parent' fatty acids (only two, not eight or nine as with amino acids). These are known as omega-3, and omega-6. The parent omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic, is to be found in green leaves; and the parent omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, is to be found in the oily part of seeds.

These polyunsaturated lipids are fluid: they have 'bendy-hinges' (double bonds) in their molecular structure, which give them elasticity. Storage fat has no double bonds, which is why it is solid. The omega-3 parent has three double bonds, whilst the omega-6 parent has two double bonds.

Once ingested, the parent fatty acids are converted, slowly and somewhat laboriously by the body, into progressively more and more complicated molecules: omega-3 goes through five such stages of change, ending up as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which proudly sports six bendy double bonds, making it unique in the spectrum of fatty acids. The ready-formed long-chain omega-3 DHA is found predominantly in aquatic food sources, namely fish and shellfish.

Omega-6 goes through similar such changes, finally landing up as arachidonic acid (AA). This long-chain omega-6 is found in animal tissues, particularly in offal, liver, kidney and heart. It is essential for vascular tissue, and especially the placenta, which creates the new vascular system built to supply the fertilized egg/developing foetus with nutrients.

Both DHA and AA are 'neural lipids' which make up 60% of the human brain. DHA is used in synaptic junctions in the brain, in nervous tissue, and in the photoreceptor of the eye. Foetal nutrition is – guess what – 75% DHA and AA, water, etc. Meanwhile, AA is as important for the vascular system.

To summarize: the human body can make the long-chain derivates AA and DHA, but it is a slow, not very efficient process. Those cultures traditionally using fish would get rich supplies of DHA, the end product of omega-3 biosynthesis, 'oven-prepared' by the fish. Some quite long chain lipids are to be found in certain blue-green algae available today from health food shops and niche marketers. Sources such as chlorella, spirulina, aphanizomenon flos aqae and duniella have promising nutrient spectrums: these can be useful for vegetarians or vegans.[2,3]

The Five Evolutionary Phases

Students of evolution rarely fail to be impressed when, examining each evolutionary epoch and its various phases, we find again and again that in every new epoch, when a new, more highly evolved life form becomes established, gathering itself for its future of dominance, the supporting 'conditions of existence' (to borrow Darwin's phrase for the environment) had always to be in place and functioning first: preparing for the dance of the DNA with the environment.

To see this more clearly we'll look at a few epochs of evolution: an epoch can be divided into five parts.

Phase one sees a rich, nurturing environment supplying the right temperature, light, food and other basic living materials to small populations, which under such protective and stimulating conditions reproduce rapturously; populations thrive and grow successfully.

Phase two is more of the same, but population numbers have increased.

Phase three populations have increased considerably, to the point where there is a dwindling of food and resources per capita – any species or type that has extra abilities in capturing their necessities will succeed over less efficient types.

This carries on through Phase four, until its end, when an exhausted environment fails to supply the needs of hugely increased populations when even the best-fitted cannot survive.

Phase five is Phase one of the new epoch, when different species, better-fitted to the new environmental matrix* become dominant (*the new chemistry is often brought about by the activities of the sheer numbers of the previously dominant species).

One of the earliest life forms, the blue-green algae, were the dominant life form for over 2.5 billion years. They produced oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis, and over this time slowly oxygenated the planet. Equally importantly they produced proteins, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids which were rich in omega-3 including DHA. The blue-greens laid down the basic building blocks of life, upon which we rely on now and for the foreseeable future.

So DHA played a huge role in the 2.5 billion years of early blue-green life. In their teeming zillions, the blue-greens (some divide into four every 28 hours) gradually oxygenated the planet, which had previously been without oxygen (anaerobic). When the oxygen level rose from 0% to 3% of today's oxygen levels, and oxygen began to be used to provide superior fuelling, animal life fairly whooshed into being in top gear. Within 500 million years, all the phyla – or branches of the animal family tree – were laid down, and evolution took off, with the creatures getting larger and larger until the age of the great reptiles, and of course the dear old dinosaurs.

Their 'conditions of life', or their environment, were a 'sine qua non' of their success. A vitally important part of these 'conditions' was an environment rich in DHA: a nutrient to which the landlocked food chain does not have access.

Over thousands of millions of years of blue-green activity, the environment of all living things was spectacularly rich in DHA. Fish and reptiles need omega-3 lipids for reproduction: they prospered for thousands of millions of years, cashing in on the billions of years of the blue-greens' exertions.

Now we take a great leap to the end of the Cretaceous period, roughly 70 million years ago when the dinosaurs disappeared, after which the mammals were to rise to dominance.

Here we can see a further example of the environmental mix coming first, before the evolutionary change actually happened, in the evolution of the placental mammals. For their evolution to be possible there had to be a widely available source of AA, the long-chain 6 linoleic (see below) which became widely available only after the demise of the dinosaurs. Then a strange thing happened which no one has yet managed to explain entirely.

In the terrible obliteration of most terrestrial animal life, when the dinosaurs met their pitiful end and some creatures retreated to flourish in the sea, most plant life changed from ferns and ginkos, to flowering and seed-bearing plants and trees!

We have the giant meteorite theory, the 100,000-year period of intense volcanic activity theory and rare metal theories; but speculation also points to a giant sun flare dowsing the planet with solar storms and unusual clouds of radio or quantum activity which effected a genetic mutation – or was it a modification? – which suddenly produced seeds, a rich source of linoleic acid from which AA is made, biosynthetically by the animals that eat them.

Now AA is a vitally important part of the vascular system; the mammalian placenta is basically a new vascular system specially created to support the nutritional and other needs of the growing foetus. The mammalian explosion couldn't have happened without the AA from 6 linoleic, which, it's worth repeating, only became widely available when the flowering and seed-bearing plants took centre stage.[4]

Also from the family of the omega lipids come the long-chain and very highly specialized prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Certain of these sophisticated biochemicals are so powerful they are one thousand times more powerful than histamine, the chemical that makes hay-fever sufferers sneeze. Their functions in mammals include regulating our blood flow, immune systems and reproductive processes.[2,3]

Prostaglandins have been discovered to affect gene behaviour, or how the gene 'expresses' itself. This means it has the ability to make the (same) genetic structure (DNA, genome) behave in a different way. They have been found to have the ability to affect the expression or viral genes, and in mammals to switch on muscle protein syntheses.[2,3]

Here we have a link between genetic expression, diet and physical activity. The latter played a prominent role in our evolution. The results of lack of this highly biologically-desirable activity over only one or two generations is now being seen, sadly, in growing numbers of our children.

The Savannah Paradigm

Mammals have bigger brains than fish and birds, and this is largely due to the vascular system of the placenta providing rich supplies of AA and DHA to the growing foetus.

However, a riddle presented itself in the development and growth of the land mammals. As their bodies grew larger and larger, their brains became proportionately smaller. Also, early hominids, apart from Homo erectus (our line) such as Australopethicus, an early savannah dweller, had a far smaller brain than ours (less than half the size of modern brains), and they stayed the same size for some three million years, whereas Homo erectus, which gave rise to Homo sapiens, developed larger and more capable brains over a fraction of that time – a few hundred thousand years. Why?

For about three-quarters of a century the perceived wisdom amongst scientists has been that our line of ancestors, Homo erectus, after emerging from the forests became savannah or plains dwellers, living on large mammals, roots, shoots and fruits. The challenges of life on the open plains, having to outwit large and dangerous animals, the climate, etc., was according to the old dogma, how our earliest ancestors learned to stand on two legs and developed their large brains.

This followed the discovery in the 1920s of 'Maung Child' in the Olduvai Gorge in South Africa, by Raymond Dart, the anthropalaeontologist from Witwatersrand University, South Africa, who was largely responsible for this scientific belief system or paradigm.[5] He went on to make other important palaeontological finds, and lectured and published widely. His story was written up by Robert Ardrey in his best-selling book African Genesis, first published in 1961.

However, in 1960 Sir Alistair Hardy from Oxford University, enlarging on the ideas of Max Westerhofer (published 1923), suggested that 'some modern human anatomical features indicate an aquatic form of adaptation'.[6] Hardy floated the theory that when our forebears, Homo erectus, emerged from the forests they became riverine, lacustrine or marine shore dwellers.[7]

Elaine Morgan, with Hardy's help, developed the idea in her books The Descent of Woman,[8] The Aquatic Ape[9] and The Scars of Evolution,[10] creating the new paradigm of water's-edge evolution.[11]

The theory is based on certain anatomical features that man shares with marine mammals (the cetaceans – whales, dolphins and porpoises), which are not found in other land mammals. These include loss of body hair; a layer of subcutaneous fat; innate ability to swim; a 'diving reflex' which slows down the heart rate and reduces oxygen consumption when the face is submerged; face-to-face copulation; the ability to weep (with the exception of elephants, which by the way have webbing between their toes, and have been known to swim 300 miles); and far more sweat glands than any other land mammal.[8-10]

In our books The Driving Force: Food in Evolution and the Future and Nutrition & Evolution (Crawford and Marsh), we added specifically environmental and nutritional dimensions to the debate, describing important implications for our food choices today.[2,3]

New evidence is now coming from archaeological discoveries in North and South Africa, Australia, Chile and northern Spain of remains and artefacts from 100,000 thousand years (kyr) ago in South Africa,[12] from 125 kyr ago in Eritrea, and 14,700 years ago in Chile, which clearly demonstrate that the early forebears of Homo sapiens were shore dwellers living on fish, shellfish and aquatic plants, in addition to food from land or woods.[13]

A significant number of top scientists from various disciplines are now espousing the water's-edge evolution theory, which explains that Homo sapiens didn't come from the lines of prairie dwellers after all. Homo erectus, being shore dwelling, would have had a very different diet to that of the landlocked savannah-dwellers, with their 'meat and two roots and shoots' and Neanderthal behaviour.[4,6,13,14]

In the last ice age, 100 kyr ago, the sea level would have been much lower, as water was held frozen in the poles. Using coastways as tracks, the early travellers radiated out from Africa using the oceans, rivers and lakes for their food supply.[12] They would have had ample DHA (long-chain essential fatty acid, see below), one of two essential fatty acids which make up 60% of the human brain.

This 'Out of Africa' hypothesis, pioneered by Chris Stringer, professor of Human Origins from London's Natural History Museum, refutes the 'multi-regional development theory', which theorizes that modern man emerged in different parts of the world at around the same time.[12]

Meanwhile 'Mungo Man', from Lake Mungo Australia is, at 60,000 years old, challenging the Out of Africa enthusiasts. As our distinguished ancestors were travelling out of Africa over 100,000 years ago, developments of this tale will be fascinating. (As Mungo Man was lacustrine it does not detract from our thesis.)[15]

A New/Current Paradigm Shift

Thomas Kuhn in 1962 published his hugely successful book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions – which was quoted for decades afterwards – describing how one scientific belief system – or paradigm – would, following progress in scientific knowledge, supersede previous paradigms which can be seen as the belief systems of previous eras.[16]

Examples of paradigm shifts in the past include Darwin's theory of natural selection replacing the belief that God made the world in seven days; and in Mendel's discovery of recessive and dominant genes, resulting in what is known as 'the modern synthesis' in 1935.[2,3]

Paradigm shifts don't happen every day and usually take decades to bite and take hold. Not everyone lives to see a paradigm change. So we are privileged at the moment to be witnessing a major paradigm shift in evolutionary thinking, by a growing number of senior scientists and researchers worldwide.

This new research, which has followed on from the human genome project and subsequent DNA mapping, together with new work tracing isotope patterns which can show past climates, and exciting new palaeontological finds worldwide, points to a new environmental dimension being grafted into natural selection.

The new discoveries indicate that Homo erectus, far from being a savannah dweller was a shoreline dweller, living at the water's edge, on river and lake banks, and marine shores. From the above new work most palaeontologists have left the savannah origin of our ancestors behind, and are now espousing the new paradigm. It is now thought that our earliest ancestors, for perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, were shore dwelling, living off aquatic foods on the water side and land foods on the other.

The shore-dwelling food chain would therefore be quite different to the meat and two veg of the savannah dwellers. Mineral and EFA content would have been far more opulent at the water's edge. But the one nutrient that stands out is DHA. In its ready-made form it is not available to the plain and savannah dwellers, apart from those who lived in well-rivered lands, islands or near coastal areas which would have provided bountiful supplies of fish, like the UK, Japan and much of the USA.

Top scientists worldwide are now pinpointing DHA's implications in more ways than brain size. DHA has been found to be used in some of the most sophisticated bio-electrical wizardry in the brain and nervous system: it acts both as biological building blocks, and because of the unique pattern of its carbon 'flexi-' chains and bendy 'double bonds', the DHA molecule appears particularly efficient at conducting bio-(di)-electrical messages along its structure. This efficacy seems unmatched by other essential fatty acids.[4,14]

It seems that many people are at risk of DHA deficiency; not that (some) fish is not still plentiful, but people are eating less (over half the world's fish catch goes to feed animals, and fish). Also overmuch meat eating (omega-6) can impede omega-3 levels as they both compete for the same enzyme.[17]

Pondering on the now well-understood transgenerational effects of nutrition,[14,18] and considering the eating habits of certain social groupings over the last couple of centuries, it could be reasoned that the diseases of our civilization – some of which have reached pandemic proportions, such as cancer, heart disease, depression, mental illness, asthma, Alzheimer's, diabetes, suicide and other common problems such as low birth-weight babies, and autistic, attention deficit hyperactive (ADHD) and allergic children, can be seen, collectively, as examples of non-adaptive evolution.[19]

This non-adaptation is 'a response to', or 'the results of' an increasingly unsupportive, nutrient depleted and polluted environment – providing poor national diets on a multi-generational level. Many of the above diseases are implicated with EFA deficiency, usually accompanied by multiple vitamin, mineral and fibre shortfalls.

Front-line researchers worldwide are now suggesting that DHA deficiency in pregnancy is giving rise to babies with similar deficiencies, which affect both the developing and developed brain. Mood disorder, depression and possibly schizophrenia are implicated: as is the inclination in sufferers to violence.[17,20-22] ADHD is definitively linked to DHA deficiency in the minds of most front-line researchers.[28]

Many of us would support the ideas of the (then) First Lady Hilary Clinton (speech 20.3.2000) when she implored everyone, including the professions, to come up with more help for children with behavioural and mental disorders. Commenting on a four-year period (1991-1995) when the use of ritalin alone rose by 150% and anti-depressants by over 200%, she called on 'experts from the administration, parents, advocates, educators, researchers, health care professionals and consumers' to confer and come up with some answers.[25-27]

Coincidentally or not, the UK, with its Neanderthal diet, has the worst health record of any country in Western Europe. We also are known for antisocial behaviour, and have more people in prison than any West European country apart from Portugal.

This scenario of 'worst diet – most antisocial behaviour' has a kind of logical, common-sense ring to it, which might even motivate politicians and professors such as run our Food Standards Agency to brush up on nutrition.[19,23] How can food be safe – in the long term – if it is grown on nutrient – and humus-starved soil, sprayed with potentially harmful chemicals up to ten times, refined and purified almost to nutritional extinction, filled with more 'edible' chemicals, and often manufactured months if not years before?

Making political targets to ease these problems is worthy: more teams to discover the cancers, and providing better ways of coping with them sound very good. But how about preventing it in the first place?

We know that many cancers grow in specific nutrient-starved conditions.[24] Heart disease is largely preventable; yet the scientific knowledge is often going little further than researchers and pioneers and a few hundred medical doctors.[14]

One suspects this is for political and economic reasons, with the 'Health of the Nation' being skilfully played-off against the 'Health of Share Performance'. The latter seems currently to be in a stronger situation.

Solutions lie in educating the public (including the professions), improving the quality of our environment, our soils, our food chain and eating habits, thereby helping to prevent greater disaster in the near future.

Homo erectus, our earliest line-ancestors, living as forest/water shore dwellers, would have obtained a much broader spectrum of nutrients, including DHA and minerals, and had the intelligence during those harsh times to travel on and around the southern shores, following the seafood supplies around the coasts, delving ever deeper into the southern hemisphere.

For the last number of generations the northern hemisphere diet of meat from large mammals and two veg has been mimicking the eating habits of the extinct Neanderthals, whose diet comprised of meat from large mammals with seeds, roots and leaves. This is a diet inviting deficiencies of DHA and minerals and a surfeit of degenerative disease.

Remembering nutrition's transgenerational effects, we should all make an effort to reverse the progress of the degenerative diseases (it only means eating 2-3 portions of oily fish a week, such as herring, mackerel, sardines, sild, sprats, salmon, oysters, other shellfish, etc.). In so doing, we could individually play our own small part in reducing the load on our strained national health service, and reverse the trend – seen in increasingly antisocial behaviour (particularly at football 'games') and possible steps towards atavism.

Violence, once widely attributed to the 'aggressive' ingredient of red meat, as we have already seen, is now thought to be caused by poor brain development through deficiencies of DHA.[18] Similarly, deficiencies in a developed human brain can be linked with violent behaviour. This, as we have seen above, can be exacerbated by heavy meat eating to the exclusion of fish, with the meat (omega-6) preventing the uptake of DHA.

In conclusion, for more than 70 years palaeobiologists held the view that it was on the savannahs, in fierce laboratories of competition, that the human brain evolved. Michael Crawford (above) comments, 'The biochemical evidence indicates that this was impossible. The savannah species lost brain capacity logarithmically as they evolved larger bodies. The richest source of the lipids and trace elements that would have been needed for cerebral expansion was at the land/water interface'.[14]

Be prepared for more discoveries in the fields of EFAs and genetic expression. If nutritional biochemicals can instruct the genetic mechanism, our current evolutionary theory will have to expand its borders: this 'enlargement' will be music to the ears of environmentalists.

Notes and References

1. Darwin Charles. The Origin of Species. 1st ed. Chs 1,6. 1859.
2. Crawford MA and Marsh DE. The Driving Force: Food in Evolution and the Future. Heinemann. London. Harper & Row, New York. 1989. Mandarin. 1991.
A sketch of The Foundations of the Driving Force, Food in Evolution and the Future is available from the author by e-mail: for £10.00 or dollar equivalent.
3. Crawford MA and Marsh DE. Nutrition & Evolution. Keats. Conneticut. 1995. NTC/Contemporary Publishing Company. 1998.
4. Crawford MA. Evidence for the Unique Function of DHA during the Evolution of the Modern Hominid Brain. World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics. 88. January 2001.
Crawford MA. Institute of Brain Chemistry, London N7 8DB UK.
Bloom M. Dept of Physics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver V6T 1Z1.
Broadhurst CL. USDA Beltsville, Environmental Chemistry Laboratory, MD 20705, USA.
Schmidt WF. USDA Beltsville, Environmental Chemistry Laboratory, MD 20705, USA.
Cunnane SC. Dept Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E2, Canada.
Galli C. Institute of Pharmacological Sciences, Milan 20133, Italy.
Gehbremeskel K . Institute of Brain Chemistry, London N7 8DB UK.
Linseisen F. Dept of Physics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver V6T 1Z1.
Lloyd-Smith J. Dept of Physics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver V6T 1Z1.
Parkington J. Archaeology Department, University of Capetown South Africa.
5. Dart RA. The Predatory Transition from Ape to Man. International Anthropological and Linguistic Review. 1(4). 1953.
6. Professor Emeritus Phillip V. Tobias, Department of Anatomical Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand Medical School, 7 York Road, Parktown, 2193, Johannesburg, South Africa.
7. Hardy A. Was Man More Aquatic in the Past? New Scientist. 7: 64-645. April 1960.
8. Morgan Elaine. The Descent of Woman. Souvenir Press. London. 1972.
9. Morgan Elaine. The Aquatic Ape. Souvenir Press. London. 1982.
10. Morgan Elaine. The Scars of Evolution. Souvenir Press. London. 1990.
11. Douglas Kate. Taking the Plunge. New Scientist. pp28-33. 25 November 2000. See:
12. Stringer Chris. Coasting Out of Africa. Nature. 405. 4 May 2000. See:
13. Walter Robert C et al. Letters to Nature. Nature. 405. 4 May 2000.
14. Crawford MA, Bloom M, Linseisen F et al. Evidence for the Unique Function of DHA during the Evolution of the Modern Hominid Brain. 1999. See: Professor Michael A. Crawford PhD, CBiol, FIBiol, FRCPath. Chairman: the McCarrison Society for Nutrition in Health*. Director: Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, University of North London, 166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB, UK, tel: +44 20 7753 3165, fax: +44 20 7753 3164, e-mail:
15. AAP. http//
16. Kuhn TS. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press. Illinois. 1962. 2nd ed. 1970.
17. Meydani M. omega-3 Fatty Acids Alter Soluble Markers of Endothelial Function in Coronary Heart Disease Patients. Nutrition Review. 58(2/Pt1): 56-9. February 2000.
18. House Simon. Generating Healthy People. Nutrition and Health. (An international journal published in association with the McCarrison Society). ABA, AB Academic Publishers. ISBN 0907360 297. 14(3). 2000.
19. Marsh DE. Water's-Edge Man. Int. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine. London. March 2001.
20. Freeman MP. s Fatty Acids in Psychiatry: A Review. Ann Clin Psychiatry. 12(3): 159-65. September 2000.
21. Hibbeln JR. Fish Consumption and Major Depression. Lancet. 351(9110): 1213. 18 April 1998.
22. Fenton WS, Hibbeln J and Knsble M. Essential Fatty Acids, Lipid Membrane Abnormalities, and the Diagnosis and Treatment of Schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry. 47(1): 8-21. 1 January 2000.
23. Address: Sir John Krebs, The Caroline Walker Lecture, The Royal Society, Carlton House Terrace, London. 2.11.2000. (The Caroline Walker Trust, PO Box 61, St Austell, PL26 6YL.)
24. Goodman Sandra. Nutrition & Cancer: State of the Art. Positive Health Publications. 1995, 1998.
25. Clinton Hilary Rodham. Launch of New Public/Private Effort to Improve the Diagnosis and Treatment of Children with Emotional and Behavioural Conditions. Indian Treaty Room. Roosevelt Room. 20 March 2000.
26. They should be in touch with the Hyperactive Children's Support Group run by Mrs Sally Bunday, whose team has been looking after the welfare of such families for 23 years (71 Whyke Lane, Chichester, West Sussex, England).
27. Mrs Belinda Barnes of Foresight, the Association for Pre-Conceptual Care. Mrs Barnes and her team (including medical doctors, nutritionists, biochemists and Guildford University) have for 22 years advised parents-to-be, for up to two years before planned conception, on how to get themselves as healthy as possible so they avoid these problems in the first place. Foresight has achieved laudable results over two decades, but has (perhaps as a consequence) suffered hostile press. One measure of their success, however, is that Mrs Barnes has recently been lecturing in the USA, having been consulted in the creation of a Foresight model in the USA.
28. Dr Ben Balzer, Beverley Hills Practice, Sydney, Australia. General Practitioner. Author of the forthcoming book The Harmony Diet, Dr Balzer has special interests in nutrition, the omega lipids and lead pollution. Too little of the former or too much of the latter cause a similar problem: a poorly functioning brain.


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About David E Marsh

David Marsh trained initially in agriculture (Shuttleworth, Cranfield) with ten years experience farming in Bedfordshire. He moved to human nutrition and co-authored The Driving Force; Food in Evolution & the Future18 (1989) – later Nutrition and Evolution19 (1995), with Professor Michael Crawford (Inst. Brain Chem. & Human Nutrition, Imperial College London). He has since written broadly (for Resurgence, Positive Health, Healthy Eating, Nutrition and Health amongst other publications) about nutrition, evolution, environment and integrated medicine, including a series in the Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine on energy or vibrational medicine. This article is of particular interest to the author as it brings his special interests in nutrition and food production together in full circle. The Origins of Diversity: Darwin's Conditions and Epigenetic Variations. Nutrition & Health 2008. Editor of McCarrison Society for Nutrition and Health newsletter, and various articles with it, and for the society's Journal Nutrition & Health. Currently working on a new book on evolution. Occasional lecturing on the History of evolution theories. Michael Crawford & David Marsh's new book The Shrinking Brain and the Global Mental Health Crisis – Two Problems, One Solution has been published in 2023 and is available on Amazon and Food and Behaviour Research. David can be reached at

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