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Protect Yourself From Toxic Farmed Fish!

farmed fish fish toxins Feb 20, 2020

It’s a common recommendation to eat fish several times a week to promote essential fatty acid intake, nutritional balance, as well as heart and brain health. (1)

However, many people end up with symptoms like fatigue, nausea, anxiety, and depression and would never guess the fish they’re eating may be to blame. It was doctor’s orders after all!

I have recommended wild-caught over farm-raised fish for quite some time, but after a recent health scare – I’ve been digging into this topic even further, and I’m shocked by what I discovered.

That’s why I’m laying out all the facts for you, so we can make sure to avoid unnecessary exposure to toxins and support the ethical sourcing of the fish we eat!

My Caviar Nightmare…

Caviar is revered as the hallmark of fine dining, despite a growing overtone of ethical controversy (we’ll get to that soon!). I was given a jar of European caviar for the holidays and ate about a Tablespoon-sized portion.

As with most caviar, it is fish eggs harvested from farmed sturgeon. I couldn’t have imagined the toxic effects that would take over my life for the next three days.

I experienced extreme bloating, stomach pain, GI distress, and watery eyes. My physical reaction to this small dose of farmed fish was extreme. My system was in total distress and I had to investigate the cause…

I immediately checked the ingredients list, and saw something interesting: the code “E285.” I looked it up, and to my horror, I saw that it was the chemical, Borax! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Why would Borax ever be used in food? It turns out it is used as a preservative and to enhance texture.

This “ingredient” is banned in many countries, including the United States… maybe because it is a known ingredient in many harsh detergents, enamel glazes, and fire-retardants. It is no wonder my body had such an extreme reaction.

After this finding, I dug into an arsenal of research and discoveries about farmed fish in general that blew my mind.  I must share what I found out to help you take precautions with your dietary choices too.

There’s Something Fishy About Farmed Fish…

When you go to the seafood counter in the store, fish are labeled as “wild” or “farmed.” You’ll notice farmed is always cheaper. There are several reasons for this!

The prevalence of fish farming became popular because it allows companies to make more profits and seemed to be a more sustainable method of meeting the demands for seafood compared to fish caught in the wild with nets (dumped fishing gear is the number one cause of plastic pollution in the oceans!). (2)

Commercial fish farming allows for large quantities of fish to be raised for cheap. This results in inhumane conditions for the fish. They are living in water heavily concentrated with feces with no room to swim.

Studies show that fungal, parasitic, and bacterial diseases run rampant in these conditions. Wastewater from fish farms also contributes to toxic algal blooms – a major climate change offender. (3)(4)

Current high-yield fish farming methods put our health and the health of our environment at risk. To manage such a high-volume operation, the fish are exposed to antibiotics, vaccines, pesticides, and chemical cleaning agents. (5) These toxins end up in the farmed fish filets that we eat, in our water supply, and in native ecosystems - spreading disease to the wild fish population. (6)

The nutritional value of farmed fish also takes a hit. Corn, soy, and other cheap grains are fed to the fish, which is very nutrient-poor compared to their diet in the wild (and there are many ethical and ecological issues with commercial fishing of wild fish populations). Many varieties of fish are high in mercury, which wreaks havoc on your health.

Harking back to the beginning of the blog, the main driver of adding fish-focused meals to the diet is the coveted omega-3 essential fatty acids. Those can be found in nuts, flax, hemp, and other plant-based sources that don’t come with all these red-flags!

However, if you do intend to keep fish in your diet, check out this list for low-mercury varieties and make sure you look for ethically sourced options.

Top 10 Low Mercury Fish Options:

  1. Anchovies
  2. Atlantic Haddock
  3. Catfish
  4. Flounder
  5. Perch
  6. Arctic Char (a more environmentally friendly choice than salmon!)
  7. Salmon
  8. Pacific Sole
  9. Trout
  10. Whitefish

Also, if you just have to have caviar in your life, there are actually highly acclaimed vegan alternatives! They are sold in beautiful jars and come in a variety of flavors. Check out this One Green Planet review of the brand “Cavi-art!”

The more we become conscious of the systems that are in place that could be harming our health or creating ecological imbalance, the more we can take charge and help pave a new and better way forward.

Want to learn how to detox your system from heavy metals and other additives you may have been exposed to?  Check out my latest live event series: Ignite Your Codes of Consciousness!

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References:

  1. “Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.” www.heart.org. American Heart Association, March 23, 2017. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/fish-and-omega-3-fatty-acids.
  2. Laville, Sandra. “Dumped Fishing Gear Is Biggest Plastic Polluter in Ocean, Finds Report.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, November 6, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/06/dumped-fishing-gear-is-biggest-plastic-polluter-in-ocean-finds-report.
  3. L-R. Sundberg et al., “Intensive aquaculture selects for increased virulence and interference competition in bacteria,” Proc. R. Soc. London Ser. B, doi:10.1098/rspb.2015.3069, 2017.
  4. M.S. Ugelvik et al., “Evolution of virulence under intensive farming: Salmon lice increase skin lesions and reduce host growth in salmon farms,” J. Evol. Biol., doi:10.1111/jeb.13082, 2017.
  5. Gormaz, Juan G., Jillian P. Fry, Marcia Erazo, and David C. Love. “Public Health Perspectives on Aquaculture.” Current Environmental Health Reports 1, no. 3 (2014): 227–38. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40572-014-0018-8.
  6. “Aquaculture.” Ocean Pollution and Diseases from Aquaculture or Fish Farming from the Seafood Watch Program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Accessed December 23, 2019. https://www.seafoodwatch.org/ocean-issues/aquaculture/pollution-and-disease.

 

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