Today everyone knows that we need omega 3 essential fatty acids in order to stay healthy. However, not everyone understands that we also need omega 6 fats, and the most important thing is the balance of the two.
The traditional American diet is extremely rich in omega 6, so you wouldn’t have to worry about not getting a sufficient amount of them. In fact, this isn’t an issue for any person who doesn’t outright starve or follows some quite unhealthy, unbalanced diet.
The situation with omega 3 fatty acids is completely different. The primary food source of these elements is fatty fish, which isn’t a kind of food one eats every day. Most people indulge in it quite rarely, so omega 3 deficiency is extremely common.
At the moment, it’s believed that an average American consumes about 16 times more omega 6 fatty acids than omega 3. The 16-to-1 ratio is not considered healthy, so it’s essential to change your diet in a way that would reduce the difference in these levels.
Omega 6 to Omega 3 Ratio and Inflammation
The reason why people should pay attention to the levels of these fatty acids in their meals is the fact that these elements have opposing effects in the body. Omega 6 fats are inflammatory by nature. This means that they feed the multitude of inflammatory reactions happening inside us every second.
It’s not a bad thing as humans must maintain a certain level of inflammation for our systems to function. This is the reason why our temperature is higher than that of inanimate objects.
However, as you know, when the body temperature gets too high, you develop a variety of health problems. This happens because inflammatory processes within you go overboard, usually because you are attacked by bacteria or virus. The situation with omega 6 fatty acids isn’t so dire, which is why people don’t develop a case of fever because of the high 6-to-3 ratio. However, the inflammatory reactions that occur on the cellular level gradually weaken you. This leads to the increase in risk of developing a variety of health conditions, including extremely dangerous ones, like coronary heart disease.
The effect of omega 3 fatty acids is the opposite of omega 6, which means that they naturally reduce the rate of inflammation. As such, they help control inflammatory reactions inside your body and keep them at a healthy rate.
When the balance between omega 6 and omega 3 is too uneven, the latter cannot do their ‘job’ properly, so inflammatory processes go haywire.
How to Normalize Your Omega 6 to Omega 3 Ratio
The problem with the American (and almost every other industrial-society) diet is the overabundance of vegetable oils that are rich in omega 6. This is the reason why our ratio is so unhealthy, and the main thing that must be changed to get it under control.
Some scientists claim that at the olden times, our ancestors managed to maintain 1:1 ratio of omega fatty acids. Some primitive cultures of today that still live by through hunting keep this rate at 4:1. The Inuit have 1:4 ratio due to the fact that their diet is incredibly rich in fatty fish.
There isn’t some specific ‘perfect’ ratio, so you should focus on simply reducing the gap between the consumption of omega 6 and 3. A modern American can achieve this by:
- Giving up fast food and processed foods.
- Reducing the amount of fried foods in your diet.
- Eating fatty fish regularly.
However, even if you start eating healthy, you won’t be able to bring the level of omega 3 fats up unless you start eating tuna and salmon every day. This problem can be easily solved by taking Omega 3 EPA/DHA supplement that helps support heart health and generally boosts your wellbeing.