Fish and shellfish are full of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Great for our physical and cognitive wellbeing, they’re a solid addition to a nutritious diet.1
That said, not all seafood is created equal. This post will outline the differences between farm-raised and wild-caught fish, including their impact on our health and the environment.
What are the differences between farm-raised and wild-caught fish? Fishermen catch wild fish and shellfish in lakes, rivers, oceans, and other bodies of water. These fish eat a natural diet.
Farmed fish are bred for human consumption through a process called aquaculture. This means they live outside their natural environment and are generally given processed feed.2
Specifically, farmed fish are placed in pens submerged in ponds, lakes, or even saltwater.1 Some pens are filled with water and kept on land.
While this might not sound ideal, fish farming isn’t inherently bad. Sustainable farming practices have become more common than ever, as the World Bank estimates that almost two-thirds of seafood will be farm-raised by 2030. In Norway and Canada, for instance, most farmed salmon are cultivated through an eco-friendly recirculating aquaculture system.3
Here are some other items to consider:
Nutrition: Which fish variety is better for your health?Fish have been shown in clinical studies to display anti-inflammatory properties, not to mention being rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.3 The overall quality of seafood, however, depends largely on what fish eat. Wild fish consume a natural diet lower in saturated fats.5
What does this mean? Let’s focus on salmon for a moment. In addition to being higher in saturated fat than wild salmon, farmed salmon contains more omega-3s and 46% more calories. The wild-caught stuff, however, is richer in minerals like potassium, zinc, and iron.4
Consider the following when evaluating both fish varieties for your health:
Most people consume too much omega-6, which may cause inflammation and other symptoms. And farm-raised salmon specifically—despite containing higher quantities of omega-3—has a significantly higher omega-3-to-omega-6 ratio.4 The ratio is still good enough, but it isn’t quite at the level you would find in wild seafood.
Of course, the trace metals found in fish aren’t limited to mercury. Farmed salmon contains higher arsenic levels, while wild salmon contains more cobalt, copper, and cadmium.7 Fortunately, levels of trace metals in both wild and farmed fish are usually so low they’re unlikely to harm the average person.4
Some studies indicate that farm-raised fish have higher levels of contaminants.4 Furthermore, seafood raised via aquaculture may have a higher rate of disease because of some of the farming practices and conditions.5
For example, approximately 530 grams of antibiotics were used per ton of harvested Chilean salmon in 2016. (In contrast, Norway used just 1 gram of antibiotics per ton of harvested salmon in 2008.)4As such, it’s essential that you understand where your fish is from before consumption.
Sustainability: Which fish variety is better for the environment?Fish accounts for 17% of our global protein intake.8 For this reason, we can’t rely on wild-caught fish alone. There just isn’t enough wild seafood to keep up with the growing demand.
Based on our current trajectory, there’s a global need for another 80 million tons of farmed fish per year by 2050.8 Yet aquaculture may be detrimental to the environment too. Use of antibiotics can cause damage to the environment and adversely affect human health as well.4
Moreover, when lots of fish are crammed together in a small space like a pen, they create a ton of waste that can pollute rivers, lakes, and oceans.8
And the environmental consequences of fish farming doesn’t end there, either. Some fish farms are disease-ridden, which can be toxic to the environment; in Indonesia, shrimp farming specifically has contributed to the decline of the nation’s mangrove forests.8
Since we don’t want to deplete what’s left of our wild fish resources, where does that leave us?
Fortunately, some experts say that feeding farmed fish a higher-quality diet free from antibiotics can help address some of the problems described above. Similarly, as fish farmers gain efficiency, governments will be more likely to offer incentives for the adoption of sustainable practices.8 Ideally, the environment will become an even greater focus for everyone in the near future.
The verdict on wild-caught vs. farm-raised fishWhile wild seafood is generally healthier than farmed fish and shellfish, sustainable methods make many farm-raised options completely viable. Both wild-caught and farm-raised fish varieties offer plenty of protein, the omega-3 Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and other essential nutrients.4
To make sure you’re eating top-quality seafood, be sure to look into where your seafood is from, and opt to eat local, low-mercury varieties when possible.
For more information on nutrition and general wellness topics, please visit the Metagenics blog.
Specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) are a way to help support the body’s natural ability to resolve physical stress.1 While the body can make SPMs naturally, supplementing with exogenous SPMs may help facilitate the body’s natural resolution process and completion of its response to physical challenges.2,3*
Metagenics, in collaboration with world-renowned leaders in the field of resolution physiology and other SPM experts, set the standard for defining SPM oils based on activity for use in nutraceutical formulas. But where do these SPMs come from?
From the first drop of marine oil through a specialized fractionation protocol and creation of the finished product, Metagenics follows a stringent, patent-pending process to create SPM Active®.
The SPM fractionation process:
SPM Active is developed through an advanced, patent-pending fractionation process which Metagenics exclusively brings to practitioners. SPM Active is a fraction produced from a high-quality marine oil. This fraction contains standardized levels of 17-HDHA and 18-HEPE, which can lead to the formation of resolvins, an important group of SPMs, in the body. The SPM Active fraction has also been shown to be bioactive and support the existing resolution mechanisms of the body.*
While SPMs are sourced from marine lipids, they are not the same as fish oil. In fact, work done during the development of SPM Active shows that fractions, from the same marine oil starting point, behave differently—not all are pro-resolving, and some fractions may have the opposite effect.4 This makes it essential to test and understand the bioactivity of SPM-rich oils.
Additionally, even though EPA and DHA are the precursors of SPMs, they do not have pro-resolving properties of SPMs.1 EPA and DHA require multiple downstream enzymatic conversions to form 17-HDHA and 18-HEPE, which are further converted into specialized pro-resolving mediators.
Introducing SPM Active
New & Improved
SPM Active New & Improved delivers a greater concentration and dosing size of specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) compared to the previous formula
What has Changed?
Double the concentration of 18-HEPE and 17-HDPA as compared to original SPM Active.
Softgel size is now double that of the original SPM Active.
What are the benefits for your patients?
Greater concentration and dosing size facilitates patient compliance.
Supplementing with SPMs may help facilitate the body's natural resolution process
What hasn't changed?
Why Metagenics SPM Active?
It offers a targeted nutritional approach that is designed to boost the body’s natural capacity to respond to physical stress and promote resolution.
Study in research models suggests that a short-term, high-fat diet may negatively impact natural production of specialized pro-resolving mediators.
Clinical case study results with SPM Active show signiﬁcant improvement in biomarkers of activated immune function, increased quality of life, and reduced interference of symptoms during general activity.
Specialized pro-resolving mediators may help promote resolution of physical stress after an episode of strenuous physical exertion.
Metagenics set the standard for delivering SPMs based on activity for use in nutraceutical formulas in collaboration with world-renowned SPM experts.
When you first decide to supplement with fish oils to support your overall health, you may wonder: With so many product options available, how do I know what to look for?
Watch for Purity Testing when selecting a fish oil supplement, know there are various forms of testing that can be done to ensure the source meets quality standards. You should feel confident that the fish oil you choose lives up to its purity and potency claims and has been extensively tested for contaminants that are potentially harmful. Here’s what you need to know.
Something’s Fishy - Don’t settle for a lesser fish oil. Seek out a reputable supplement company that conducts potency testing in addition to testing for the following contaminants and toxins.
If you suspect a bad fish oil, remember: There are plenty of other fish in the sea!
Fishing for Good Health
Experience the benefits of fish oil by choosing a quality formula with proof of testing to meet your standards and support overall health.*
What’s Eating You?
Feeling overly tired, bloated, or achy? When dealing with these often stress-related concerns, there are a few questions you should ask yourself: Am I eating well? Am I getting enough sleep? Do I drink enough water and get enough exercise?
A healthy body handles daily stress better while an unhealthy lifestyle and daily stress can contribute to a deeper issue—chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to fighting off potential health threats, but unhealthy lifestyle choices can stunt the resolution of your immune response. In fact, chronic low-grade inflammation is often related to common chronic illnesses. But here’s the good news: There are a few ways you can help resolve your body’s inflammation response—starting today!
1. Ditch That Diet
Unfortunately, many of us do not receive our fair share of nutrients from food. You may feel tired and overworked, and rather than taking the time to prepare a healthy, well-balanced meal, you may often resort to convenient inflammatory trigger foods that are lacking in nutrients: refined starches, high-fat and processed red meats, fried foods, dairy, etc. These may cause an activation of the innate immune system and lead to excessive production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
It’s time to break the cycle by incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your day. A Mediterranean-style diet, for example, typically has a high ratio of monounsaturated fatty acids as compared to saturated fats, and more omega-3 to omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. It’s also rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, which have shown anti-inflammatory effects in observational and intervention studies.
2. Stay Hydrated
This one is obvious. It’s always important to drink enough water throughout the day and ensure you are properly hydrated. Water makes up a large percentage of our bodies to keep all our physiological systems working together smoothly, and it helps flush out toxins and unwanted chemicals we may pick up from the environment.
Tip: Bored with plain water? Add in fresh fruit slices to liven up your H2O. Antioxidant-packed green tea is also great for afternoon sipping.
3. Put Stress to Rest
In our fast-paced modern culture, you may find yourself working too much and not getting enough rest. The initial stress response can be positive, but when left unchecked, it can lead to chronic stress and become pro-inflammatory. This is when getting extra sleep, practising yoga, or taking on leisurely activities you love can make a world of difference.
Catching those Zs at night is especially important because it’s your body’s time to rest and recharge. Lack of sleep can make you feel sluggish, unmotivated, and irritable, which only compounds a stress problem; and increased stress disturbs the quality of your sleep. Research has also linked higher levels of inflammatory proteins to getting fewer hours of sleep at night.
In addition to getting proper rest, taking time to move and exercising are helpful stress relievers, as they release “feel-good” endorphins and can reduce your body’s levels of adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones).
It’s never too late to make positive life changes!Eating a nutrient-rich diet, ensuring proper hydration, and taking time for relaxation, exercise, and healthy sleep habits are some simple ways you can support your body’s best health today.