Various fresh fish with oysters, lime slices and garlic.

Troubled Waters?

To eat or not to eat fish...The current verdict, given recent studies on toxicity levels, seems to be solidly out about whether they are “good” or “bad” for our health. We are left wondering which seafood is safe to eat, if any, and how often we should be consuming it.

With so many questions about farmed fish, wild fish, foreign fish, GMO fish, bottom feeders, contaminated fish, large fish, small fish, one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish….it’s enough to say: “The heck with it! We’re having steak for dinner!” But before you swap your lovingly broiled salmon for a juicy steak, consider a few facts that might help you to navigate the waters of “101 Seafood Eating Safety.”

First off, let’s start with the two main categories of fish (as food): wild and farmed. As a general rule, always opt for wild. There are exceptions as some farmed seafood can be raised cleanly and sustainably, but these exceptions are few. Farmed fish are commonly given antibiotics, and their feed is tainted with pesticides. The waters the fish farms are located in can also be dirty from surrounding pollution or the from the fish waste itself. Often, farmed salmon are fed smaller fish from other fisheries, usually anchovies. These tiny, oily fish help give the salmon the omega-3 fats touted for anti-inflammatory health benefits. However, couldn’t we just eat the anchovies, rather than depleting the anchovy fishery just to feed a more popular fish? ALL “Atlantic salmon” found on menus and in stores is farmed, and thus should be avoided (true wild Atlantic salmon is an endangered species and thus illegal to fish). As we now know, farmed salmon is not environmentally sustainable. Moreover, some Atlantic salmon is now genetically modified, which poses a host of ethical, moral, and health-related questions.

This brings us to the main question of which fish to eat. I have a simple answer: eat SMASH fish! SMASH stands for sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon, and herring. These fish are more healthful to eat because they are small and/or from cold and generally more pristine waters. Large fish, like tuna and swordfish, that are higher on the food chain, which means that through a process called bioaccumulation, they store the heavy metals and organic pollutants, most notably mercury, from eating smaller fish. Tuna should be eaten, at most, twice per week (and not at all by children and women who are pregnant, planning on getting pregnant, or breastfeeding). Fish found in cold waters generally have a higher omega-3 content.

How often should we eat seafood? Unfortunately, in today’s world there is no such thing as a perfectly clean waterway. For this reason, I recommend eating thoughtfully selected fish no more than 3-4 times per week.

If you are a big fish eater and wonder about your accumulated toxic load, consider testing your heavy metal or organic pollutants load. Both are available through a naturopathic physician at Reboot Center, or through other environmental health clinics. Another noteworthy test is one that measures how much of the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids you have in your cells. These tests are perfect for ensuring you are meeting your goals for optimal health.

I wish you good, healthy eating!



Greenberg, Paul, 1967-. Four Fish : the Future of the Last Wild Food. New York :Penguin Press, 2010. Print.


Reboot Center for Innovative Medicine is an integrative health center located on Whidbey Island, WA.

a happy group of people from men and women practicing yoga

Healthier Living - BodyLean program

Is it “flu season” or “sugar season”? We are more susceptible to illness when eating diets high in sugar and low in nutrients! Let’s UP our health game this winter with our Healthier Living - BodyLean Group Program! This group is appropriate for anyone and everyone who wants to improve their health through lifestyle and nutrition. 

We will offer a Bioimpedance Analysis (BIA) at the first and last visit to check your body composition of body fat, water, lean muscle, etc. We will  set personal, achievable goals and support each other as we navigate through our individual challenges.

Group meetings, led by Dr. Ruth Dana, are from 3:45-4:45PM on the following four Wednesdays, each focusing on a particular area of healthier living:

  • December 5, 2018 - Brief overview of therapeutic exercise/diet, goal setting
  • December 12, 2018 - Anti-inflammatory nutrition
  • December 19, 2018 - Mindful eating
  • January 2, 2019 - Exercise for health

Once the 4 weeks are complete, we will offer continued meetings on the 1st Wednesday of each month in order to solidify our new healthier habits within a supportive group setting.

Regular office visit copays will apply. Cash rates are available in bundles of $180 for 4 visits if you do not have coverage for naturopathic care through your insurance company.

Please email or call Reboot Center at (360) 331-2464 to register!

BONUS: The BodyLean & BodyClear meal replacement programs will be available at a 10% discount for active group participants.

Sunlight with Cloudy Blue Sky Beauytiful Scene

Group Health Visit: Breaking Through the Clouds

Need some support with depression or seasonal affective disorder challenges?

Join the upcoming group health visit program: Breaking Through the Clouds: Depression and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Support

This 4-week intensive will focus on ways that our health can influence our mindset and provide solutions in addition to providing a safe space to set goals and discuss obstacles.

Week 1 we will have a brief overview of lifestyle management that has been shown to be effective and create a goal that we feel confident that we can achieve. In the following weeks, we will discuss therapeutic dietary changes, how hormones and genes can influence our mental health, and therapeutic exercise. In addition, each week we will have a brief mindfulness exercise.

Group meetings, led by Dr. Ruth Dana, are from 2:30pm-3:30pm* on:

  • November 7 (next week!!)
  • November 14
  • November 28
  • December 5th

After our last visit, we will have refresher meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.

*Please arrive 30 minutes early to check in, have your vitals taken, and to fill out paperwork.

Payment: Regular office visit copays will apply. Cash rates are available in bundles of $180 for 4 visits if you do not have coverage for naturopathic care through your insurance.

Please note: A minimum of 4 participants is required. SO, why not come with a friend, relative, or your partner? Register by November 6th (as in, this coming Tuesday!!) via email or by calling (360) 331-2464.