Ever wonder why people in Okinawa, Japan, lead the longest and and highest quality lives in the world? Or, why Greenlandic Inuit have a rate of heart disease 85% lower than that of the US? The answer: they’re the biggest consumers of omega 3.
Read on to find out why everyone’s talking about omega 3, and how you can feel the benefits by adjusting your intake to the correct level.
What is omega 3 and how does it affect the body?
Omega 3 is a fatty acid that plays a crucial role in the health of your heart, brain, skin, hair and much, much more. The effects can be even more pronounced for women, with omega 3 helping to generate certain prostaglandins (hormones) which in turn affect inflammation, decrease menstrual cramps and increase immune system functionality. As the body can’t generate its own omega 3, we must consume it as part of our diet or in the form of a high-quality supplement.
Omega 3 is inherently linked with another essential fatty acid; omega 6, again, must be consumed in food or supplements. Like omega 3s, omega 6 fatty acids are vital to good health, they assist your body in making prostaglandins, and have many other bodily functions. However, the typical western diet contains a much higher rate of omega 6s and a lower rate of omega 3s, than that of our ancestors. This can lead to chronic inflammation and many health problems. It is important that the intake of omega 6 fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids maintain a specific ratio. Overall, you should be aiming for a ratio of between 3:1 and 6:1 (in favour of omega-6). However, most people tend to maintain an average well above recommended levels at a ratio of between 10:1 and 25:1. This is due to high consumption of processed carbs, vegetable oil, and baked products. It is, therefore, advantageous to your health to try and reduce your intake of omega 6 and increase your intake of omega 3.
The typical Mediterranean diet contains more omega 3 fatty acids and less omega 6 fatty acids. The trick in not to eliminate omega 6 fatty acids but to decrease them, making sure they are balanced with the correct amount of omega 3 fatty acids.
Food sources of omega 6s occur in meats and other animal products, mother’s milk, black current seed, borage oil, and evening primrose oil, flax oil, hemp, pumpkin, safflower, sesame, soybean, sunflower, and walnut.
Here are just some of the positive health benefits that you can gain from omega 3:
|Increase energy||Weight loss||Improve fertility|
|Healthy skin||Ease anxiety||Decrease inflammation that leads to heart disease|
|Slow the signs of ageing||Enhances insulin function||Boost immune system|
|Improve memory and focus||Lessen joint pain/arthritis||Reduce symptoms of ADHD|
|Decrease cardiovascular risk||Reduce risk of eczema, psoriasis, dandruff – perhaps even wrinkles||Reduce risk of eye disorders|
|Lowers blood pressure||Decrease risk of blood clotting in inappropriate places||Decrease risk of depression|
While omega 3 from the right type of fish oil (containing Eicosapentaenoic and Docosahexaenoic) can help you with everything listed above, those based on red meat or flaxseeds (containing Alpha Lipoic Acid) are not quite as potent.
Why is everyone talking about omega 3?
Omega 3 can boost your defences against a host of illnesses, such as:
Omega 3 has been found to have a positive effect on various forms of cancer, including colon, prostate and breast. Docosahexaenoic can be taken alongside tumor necrosis drugs to boost their effect.
2. Cardiovascular health and stroke risk
Omega 3 plays an important role in protecting against cardiovascular disease and stroke as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Alzheimer’s Disease
The fatty acids in omega 3 that support brain functionality also help prevent brain atrophy, which slows cognitive degradation and may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
4. Digestive health
Research points to a correlation between adequate omega 3 intake and conditions such as IBS or Crohn’s Disease, as well as potentially reducing proportions of bodily fat – especially around the belly!
5. Mental health
Omega 3 may play a role in improving mood disorders for some people, including depression and anxiety, support ADHD treatment and improve defences against Parkinson’s Disease.
Fish oil could help people suffering from type II diabetes by lowering triglycerides and apoproteins.
7. Bone health
Omega 3 has long been known to help with suppleness and movement, significantly decreasing joint tenderness and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis and maintaining or increasing bone mass for people suffering from osteoporosis.
8. Immune system
Omega 3 could give your immune system a real shot in the arm. It has been shown to help prevent the weakening of the system in animal trials, as well as autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and nephropathy.
What dosage you need and how to use supplements to get it?
Consuming foods rich in omega 3 is the first step towards finding nutritional harmony. As mentioned earlier, there’s no magic number when it comes to omega 3 intake. Instead, it’s about finding balance with your omega 6 intake, with an ideal ratio of between 3:1 and 6:1.
These are some of the top performers for boosting your omega 3 intake:
*All fish listed should be wild-caught, while red meat sources should be grass-fed.
Whether they become part of your daily routine, or are just a stopgap for the days when eating oily fish is just not a possibility, high-quality supplements are a must-have for every medicine cabinet. But, remember; more is not necessarily better, it’s about finding balance.
Some fish oils are heavily processed and so their effectiveness is diminished overall. Fish oils or (preferably) krill oils should contain phospholipid complex in order to increase absorption and reduce triglyceride levels. Vitamin E should be ingested alongside omega 3 to prevent it from oxidising, while vitamins A, B and C, biotin, magnesium, niacin and zinc all help fatty acids turn into usable hormones.
Omega 3 does more than fortify your defences against illness. It’s a boost to your everyday wellbeing that could help you discover a new level of health. Follow these simple steps and see for yourself!