Do you need more FAT? You probably do...more than likely you need more Omega 3 fats.
What is Omega 3?
The answer is quite complex, but crucial to your health so take some time to understand how you can improve your life by making some simple changes.
Everyone has heard of omega 3 and fish oil, but few know what it really means. Good for your heart, lowers cholesterol right? But how can eating oil lower your cholesterol? This is a complicated question, but let’s make it as simple as possible.
There are several types of polyunsaturated fat and Omega 3 is one of them. Polyunsaturated fats are the types of fats which effect how your body reacts to damage. This includes every type of damage from a broken bone to a bacterial infection. Our body uses these polyunsaturated fats to tell the body there is damage and it needs to send help. The messages that are sent call in reinforcements which in turn cause four things to occur.
3) Pain Generation
4) Immune Activation
These factors are released from the fat surrounding our cells. This cascade of events leads to inflammation, which is necessary. Inflammation is also the cause of massive dysfunction in our bodies when it is not properly regulated.
You see, the type of polyunsaturated fat acid (PUFA) you eat effects what type of fat is surrounding our cells and in turn the type of signals your body sends out when it is damaged.
Omega 3 PUFA can be thought of as OFF switches. They send messages that limit or stop clotting, stop swelling pain and stop immune activation. Omega 6 PUFA are the ON switches. Both are necessary. Think about what happens when you have a cut. You need your blood to clot, but it also needs to stop or you will have a stroke. The problem is that we eat far more omega 6 PUFA (ON switches) then we do omega 3. Therefore our bodies have massive overreactions when damage is interpreted by the body (cells).
We as a society tend to have the following conditions and they all are all affected by our inflammatory profile (omega 3 to 6 ratio).
1) Allergies, autoimmune disease, celiac and irritable bowel disease, and thyroid conditions
- Immune system ON
2) Chronic pain, joint pain, and arthritis
- Pain generator ON
3) Strokes and Heart Attacks
- Blood clotting ON
4) General aches and pains, tendonitis, bursitis, neuritis, myositis or any other –itis (which means inflammation of the tendon, bursa, nerve, muscle…)
- Inflammation ON
- Chronic inflammation which causes chronic pain, lethargy and inhibits our bodies hormones and neurotransmitters from working properly
- Haphazard deposition of fiber, clotting factor and fluid which allows for a mutated cell (which occurs regularly throughout our bodies) to have an environment created in which it can thrive. Kind of like a petri dish.
Are you starting to see how important your ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 can be?
So why do we get so much more Omega 6? That is an easy one. Money! Foods which contain omega 6 are cheaper in the US then are those with omega 3. This begs the question, how do I know what foods have omega 3 and omega 6 in them? This is not as easy of a question to answer. This is due to the fact that omega 3 and omega 6 content is not listed on food labels typically unless they are remarkably high in omega 3. Also, products such as mayonnaise state “heart healthy omega 3’s” which further complicate the situation because I think we can all agree that mayonnaise is not healthy.
Here are the broad strokes. Omega 3 PUFA are found in fruits, vegetables, some seeds (chia, flax, rape seed/canola oil), grass fed beef, fish (not farm raised fish), and omega 3 eggs. Large volumes of omega 3 can be obtained in the supplements below:
EPA /DHA (best) Omega 3 Fish Oil
Flax seed Oil Krill Oil Cod liver Oil
Getting a quality supplement is crucial since omega 3 is a delicate substance (vulnerable to heat, sunlight and time). I suggest you spend a little extra money when buying these supplements to make sure you are getting what you paid for.
The foods highest in omega 6 fatty acids are grains, any product made with grains, animals which are fed grains, cereal, bread, pasta, soy, cookies, fried food, and most processed food.
Ideally we would have a 1 to 1 ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. Realistically if you are able to attain a 4 to 1 ration (6 to 3) then your health will be drastically improved. Supplementation is always recommended in attaining this goal. Eating well and being mindful of avoiding major sources of omega 6’s (i.e. peanut butter, which is a legume or bean and not a real nut). Eating wild caught, fatty fish (think salmon) at least twice a week also helps your 3 to 6 ratio tremendously. Minimize your whole grain, and processed food intake. And finally educate yourself about sources of omega 3’s and 6’s as much as possible.
At our clinic we have the ability to test your levels of omega 3's and omega 6's to help you determine if this is indeed one of the causes of your problems.
You can make this change. Your health is riding on it.
The supplement we recommend is Metagenics Omegagenics EPA/DHA 720. This product offers the highest quality of EPA/DHA you can find on the market for a reasonable price. To order online go to: www.yostwellnesscenter.com/supplements/
At Yost Wellness Center, we are leading a Wellness Revolution that advances a new model of health care by pioneering cutting edge treatments while utilizing Functional Medicine.