Is An Imbalance Of Omega 3 to Omega 6 Fats Cause For Concern?

YES!  If unchecked, the imbalance between the two omega fats can wreak havoc on our health and pave the way for life-destroying illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other inflammatory diseases.

Why is it so important to strike a balance between the levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fats in our body? Studies showed that an out-of-balance diet that’s high in omega-6 fatty acids disrupts the balance of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory agents in the body, promoting chronic inflammation and elevating the risk of chronic health problem such as asthma, allergies, diabetes and arthritis.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids both utilize the same enzymes and transport systems in your body. When there are more omega-6 fats, greater amounts of inflammatory compounds will be created, and less enzymes will be available for omega-3 fats to create chemicals that are anti-inflammatory. What’s even more shocking is that high levels of omega-6 fatty acids can actually replace and reduce omega-3 fats.

In other words, omega-3 and omega-6 fats compete with one another in our body, and the presence of one greatly affects the behavior of the other. Although omega-6 fatty acids are essential for good health, researchers believe that when they cross a certain level,  they start to edge out omega-3 fats and diminish their benefits.

What does this mean to you? If your diet is low in omega-3 fats to begin with, and most of your foods are predominantly prepared with soybean, sunflower, safflower, corn or cottonseed oil, then you’re essentially fueling an inflammatory factory even though you may be eating so-called ‘healthy’ foods!

What are Omega-3 & Omega-6 Fats?

Ask just about anyone what Omega 3’s are and they will tell you “fish oil.” But omega-3 fats aren’t only found in fish, and they don’t consist of just one type of fatty acid. Omega-3 is actually a term referring to a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids. In this family, you will find a number of members but the most nutritionally notable ones are: Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Omega 3 Fatty acids are known to support and protect:

  • Cardiovascular health
  • Joint health
  • Improve circulation
  • Fat loss
  • Memory and learning
  • Cognitive decline
  • Optimal brain function
  • Age related eye damage
  • Positive mood /behavior
  • Healthy pregnancy
  • Developing fetuses & infants

Likewise, omega-6 fatty acids also consist of a group of polyunsaturated fats. The ones of concern are: linoleic acid (LA) and arachidonic acid (AA).

The Omega-6 Fat Family

Linoleic acid (LA)–  LA is the parent in the omega-6 family. It is considered an essential fatty acid for the body which must be obtained through one’s diet. However, it’s more likely that you’ve an oversupply rather than a lack of linoleic acid due to the high levels of this fatty acid in vegetable oils.

Arachidonic acid (AA)– Arachidonic acid comes mainly from animal sources such as meat, egg and dairy products. It can also be derived from the linoleic acids in vegetable oils. In the body, this long-chain omega-6 fatty acid is found in abundance in the muscles and brain. It has a close structure to DHA so it will “plug in” to receptors and keep the DHA out.  As arachidonic acid is more readily converted to inflammatory compounds, excess levels of AA has been associated with increased inflammation & reduced anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids.

More Omega 6= more pro-inflammatory compounds, More Omega 3= more ANTI-inflammatory compounds
The trick is to achieve a balance of the two for optimal inflammatory response.

Ideally, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should fall between 1:1 and 3:1, but currently, the ratio in a typical Western diet is at least 20:1. If you are currently at a 20:1 ratio of omega 6 to 3, please make a serious effort to increase your Omega 3 intake.

The imbalance of these “good” fats has occurred concurrent with technological advances that have made it possible to extract soybean oil, corn oil and sunflower oil inexpensively.  Most food manufacturers’ choice of fat is soybean oil as it is plentiful and inexpensive. It can be found in most prepackaged foods, margarine, baked goods, condiments and fast foods, and composes a substantial percentage of the calories consumed in this country. Herein lies the factor that causes the imbalance.

Scientists, researchers, and health professionals are concerned with this trend. Dr. Michael A. Schmidt, author of Brain-Building Nutrition, explains that the brain is composed of more than 60 percent fat. A balanced consumption of omega-6 and omega-3 fats is critical for proper brain function. These fats aid the nerve cells located in the brain in making connections (synapses) with other nerve cells that send information throughout the body to control important functions. Fatty acids are required in the formation of membranes that cover the nerves. He stresses, “A balance of essential fatty acids is critical. We don’t want to go overboard on any particular fatty acid.”

Through reviewing research of past studies, Schmidt concludes that 50 conditions of the brain show links to inadequate levels of fatty acids. Low levels of omega-3 fats have been associated with depression, aggression, hyperactivity, attention deficit, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and many other health issues. Studies are showing that Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the omega-3 superstar for the brain, may have positive results in treating patients with these conditions.

BUY THE RIGHT FISH OIL!  If the thought of smelly fish or fishy burps makes you squirm, try Nordic Naturals Brand!  “Omega-3” will help you balance your Omega 3 to 6 ratios in no time, WITH NO NASTY AFTER  TASTE!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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