The Omega Fats: 3 to 6 Balance
Do you have any of the following symptoms?
Mental fog, weight gain, allergies, poor quality sleep, dry hair, lack of concentration, memory problems, fatigue, painful joints, hormone imbalances? It could be an omega 3 to 6 imbalance.
What are the Omega’s?
They are one of the three main categories of fats: Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFAs). The main PUFA’s are omega 3’s and 6’s which are known as essential fatty acids (EFA’s) because the body can’t make them itself. Which means we need them in our diet and they are critical for healthy brain function. Both are important in small amounts; the omega 6’s convert to pro-inflammatory hormones and the omega 3’s are converted to anti-inflammatory hormones.
PUFA’s are unstable fats which means they can oxidize and become less nutritious easily and when eaten in large quantities our cells become more fragile and prone to oxidation (damage) too. So we want to minimize the total amount of PUFA’s in our diet.
However when we do eat them we want to balance the ratio as much as possible because the omega 3’s negate the harmful effects of the omega 6’s. In an ancestral traditional diet the ratio was generally 1:1 but in today’s world it is more like 1:25 which becomes a problem. Too many omega 6 fats can increase systemic inflammation that can be the cause of many diseases.
Omega-3 fats improve your cell’s response to insulin, neurotransmitters and other messengers. They also help the repair process when your cells are damaged. On the other hand, because omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory they contribute to insulin and membrane resistance, altering your mood, and impairing learning and cell repair.
We are often advised to eat more nuts and seeds because of the good fats; it is best if we consume them in there raw form. More and more people are now cooking with almond flour and nut butters, this increases the ratio even more so towards omega 6’s.
How to balance the ratio?
- Include more omega 3’s in your diet regularly.
- Decrease your intake of omega 6’s.
What are the best food sources of omega 3’s?
- Fatty fish (has the most usable form by humans)
- Chia seeds,
- Flax seed, and
- Hemp seed.
How does this look practically?
- Eliminate using vegetable oils for cooking,
- Eat nuts and seeds in moderation,
- Cook with coconut oil, butter, ghee or palm kernel oil,
- For dressings use; avocado oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil or walnut oil,
- Eat plenty of sustainable fish, the best is fatty fish but all fish has a higher ratio of omega 3 to 6’s,
- Include chia and flax seed in your diet regularly,
- Eat mostly real, fresh produce,
- Eat red meat from grass fed raised animals,
- Reduce/eliminate processed foods. Vegetable oils in particular are hidden in a lot of processed food.
- Supplement with a high quality fish oil.