Essential Fatty Acids – Not Called ‘Essential” for Nothing!
We need an ideal ratio of omega 6:omega 3 in our diet for optimal body function. The omega 6:3 ratio has a lot to do with our overall health ranging from mental health issues to cancer.
With the typical western diet of processed food , the normal ratio between the two is rarely ideal. The typical American diet tends to contain 11-30 times more omega 6 fatty acids than omega 3. This in turn contributes greatly to the manifestation of disease.
The body cannot make omega 3 and omega 6 oils, therefore they must be obtained from the food that we eat.
Getting the ratio right is important because if one fatty acid is in excess it can alter its overall biological effect within the body, and in turn negatively affecting health. However, these fatty acids are different than most other fats. Omega fatty acids are not simply used for energy or stored, they are biologically active and have important roles in processes like blood clotting and inflammation just as essential vitamins and minerals do.
The major types of omega-3 fatty acids used by the body are
α-linolenic acid αLA)
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid )
DPA ( docosapentaenoic acid)
DHA ( docosahexaenoic acid) .
Omega fats in the right concentrations can have marked positive effects on numerous health complaints.
Essential fatty acids play an essential role within the brain. The human brain has a high requirement for DHA, a fatty acid derived from omega 3 or obtained directly from fish oil such as Cod Liver Oil. This important fat is the structural component of not only the brain but the cerebral cortex, skin and retina.
Low DHA levels in the diet have been linked to low brain serotonin levels and low serotonin levels are connected to an increased tendency for depression and suicide. Clinically I have seen positive effects using DHA supplements, especially on children with autism but also any inflammatory condition, cholesterol synthesis problems and as a co-factor for vitamin D supplementation.
First it is important to understand what foods contain what types of omegas. Having the knowledge allows for better choices when choosing foods and reading labels.
For assisting in the treatment of inflammation or any other chronic disease including autoimmunity and cancer. The ideal ratio of Omega 6 and Omega 3 is a 1:1 ratio.
Let’s take a look at Omega ratios….
Healthy Diet 1:1
Disease Begins at 8:1
American/Aus Diet 20:1
Corn Oil 60:1
Safflower Oil 77:1
Soybean, sunflower, corn, peanut, cottonseed, grapeseed and canola (up to) 200:1
Three Easy Ways to Increase Omega 3’s in your Diet
Choose Grass Fed Beef
Grass fed beef will give you an approximate ratio of 3:1. Cattle fed primarily grass, significantly increased the omega 3 content of the meat, and also produced a more favourable omega 6 to omega 3 ratio than grain fed beef. Grain fed beef has also been found to have a negative impact on LDL, the lipoprotein responsible for carrying cholesterol from the liver and out to the body. By making the small switch to grass fed beef, you are able to enhance your bodies cardioprotective mechanisms as well as lower inflammation.
Add hemp seeds to your diet!
Hemp seeds have an ideal omega 3 /6 ratio, the oil from the seeds contains the most favourable ratio out of all the oils available for human consumption. Recent studies have found that adding hemp seeds to the diet reduces LDL cholesterol levels by 22% without affecting HDL levels. An excellent way to add these to you diet is to sprinkle them on salads, add to smoothies or make hemp milk to replace dairy milk.
Our green veggies contain a perfect ratio 1:1 of omega 6:3, making them a perfect choice to add in abundance to the diet.
Cod Liver Oil
Consider adding a good Cod Liver Oil Supplement to your diet. A good supplement such as Nordic Naturals Cold Liver Oil contains no synthetic Vitamin A or Vitamin D therefore I do consider this a wholefood source of Omega 3.
What Went Wrong?
The inclusion of grain fed beef and beef products including butter has contributed significantly to the declining health of the population by directly reducing the omega 3 that we consume. The addition of cheap oils to the diet has also had a huge impact. Cheap oils are used in many processed foods as they are economical and easy to source. But, what comes with this is a decline in human health and chronic disease.
Considering the majority of the population consume a worrying omega 3:6 ratio, it is only reasonable to expect illnesses. Diseases will be born from underlying inflammation which has multiple negative effects on the body.
By missing these essential fats the body had reduced ability to repair tissue, carry fat soluble vitamins and keep blood healthy.
Heidi Dahlenburg is a Registered Nurse and Naturopathic Clinician with 19 years in Professional Health Care. With a passion for preventative health, Heidi is continually immersed in studying and keeping up to date with the latest research on important health matters. Spending 13 years in the hospital system pushed Heidi to begin speaking and writing on the topic of preventative health, patient education and integrative healthcare.
Always seek the advice of you doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.