This continues a series of basic posts each focusing on a single key topic that, in modern society on an average diet, has gone badly awry with negative consequences. This gives me something to refer back to each time concepts are brought up in future posts. As I am not by any stretch of the imagination the first to discuss these topics, the majority of these posts will simply be referring you to excellent background resources.
What to do: Supplement with ~3g of fish oil per day and try and avoid using cooking oils high in omega-6 fatty acids (canola and corn oils). If you suffer ‘fish burps’, try storing the capsules in the refrigerator.
Why should I?: ‘Omega-3’ refers to a specific chemical feature of a family of fatty acids. Other fatty acids commonly found in the diet include omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. Fish and pasture-raised animals have body fat rich in omega-3 fatty acids while some farm-raised fish (e.g. tilapia) and animals raised on a grain-based diet (as is common in modern, high-density feeding operations) have body fat enriched in omega-6 fatty acids. The average American diet results in an omega-6:omega-3 fatty acid ratio of something often surpassing 10:1 (current research suggests something more akin to 2:1 to be ideal).
None of this would interest us in the slightest except it seems that our bodies use the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet as a powerful signal of environmental suitability. Dietary fatty acids are converted in the body into various signaling hormones; omega-3s into generally anti-inflammatory hormones and omega-6 into generally pro-inflammatory hormones. I imagine by now you can see where this is going.
Five things you should read:
(from Dr. Davis’ HeartScan blog; the man is a fish oil font of wisdom)
- Omega-3 MUST be from fish oil
- Getting your dose of fish oil right
- The Omega-3 Index: the higher the better?
- Fish oil makes you happy
- Why does fish oil reduce triglycerides?