The Omega-3 War Part I

The Omega-3 War Part I

There's a war going on inside your body. It has to do with two kinds of fat in your body. During the paleolithic era, Omega-3's were plentiful in our food supply. Our modern American diet of highly processed, genetically modified, pesticide sprayed food is more Omega-6 dominated. These two fats, Omega-3's and Omega-6's should be balanced in our body. According to the World Health Organization, you want your ratio to be close to 3:1: three Omega-6's to one Omega-3. The average American tends to have a ratio closer to 25:1. What does this exactly mean? If you have too many Omega-6's, your body has too much inflammation.

Both Omega-3's and Omega-6's are considered to be essential nutrients. That simply means that your body cannot make this kind of fat. You must obtain it from an outside source. Both forms of fatty acids need to be eaten on a daily basis. Some experts are now saying that a 1:1 ratio helps reduce signs of aging. 

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, Omega-3's play a very important role in your body. They are an integral part of your cell membranes and affect the function of the cell receptors located inside these membranes. Omega-3's are part of the building blocks of hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation. Genetic function and expression require Omega-3's. New discoveries are being made regarding Omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have demonstrated they prevent heart disease and stroke. Even symptoms of lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis may be improved with Omega-3 intake. The link to Omega-3's and cancer prevention is now being studied at medical centers across the globe.

Omega 6 fatty acids are not entirely bad. Your body constructs hormones from Omega-6 fatty acids. Hormones made from Omega-6 fatty acids tend to increase inflammation (an important component of the immune response), blood clotting, and cell proliferation. Omega 3 fatty acids do the exact opposite.

When you eat too many Omega-6 fats, you block the absorption of Omega-3's. They both compete for the same conversion enzymes.  If there are not enough Omega-3's, then the conversion enzymes will convert Omega-6's leading to inflammation. If you choose the processed food and conventional meat route you won't be achieving the balance you need to stay healthy. What's alarming is that according to recent statistics, 70% of Americans are deficient in Omega-3's.You'll understand this better by looking over the chart a little further down this blog.

The imbalance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids may contribute to obesity, depression, dyslexia, hyperactivity and even a tendency toward violence. According to Andrew Weil, MD, at the 2006 Nutrition and Health Conference sponsored by the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine and Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Hibbeln cited a study showing that violence in a British prison dropped by 37 percent after Omega-3 oils and vitamins were added to the prisoners’ diets.

One example of an Omega-6 source is soy oil. Most Americans, if eating the standard American diet, are getting 20% of their daily calories from soybean oil that is found in many processed and fast foods. You need to balance your Omega-6 intake with enough Omega-3 foods to keep your ratio in balance. Taking an Omega-3 supplement can also help you stay in balance.

 

Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Food Sources

 Omega-6 Food Sources Omega-3 Food Sources
processed foods salmon
fast food sardines
soybean oil herring
corn oil mackeral
chicken halibut
eggs trout
nuts (most) tuna
cereals oysters
fried foods (most) algae
baked foods (most) krill
whole grain breads
hemp nuts (precursor of omega 3)
sunflower oil macadamias (precursor of omega 3)
walnuts (precursor of omega 3)
flax seeds (precursor of omega 3)

 

The important thing to remember is to eat Omega-3 foods on a regular basis and take an Omega-3 supplement to keep your ratio in balance.  A simple blood test can be ordered by your doctor or a health practitioner to make sure you are balanced. 

Previous article The Omega-3 War Part II: Your Brain
Next article Food, Minerals and Your Child