What Makes Fish Oil and Omega-3 so Special?
Are Fish Oil Supplements Right for you?
Learn more: watch the video or read the transcript below.
Transcript of Video: What Makes Fish Oil and Omega-3 so Special?
There are a lot of questions about nutritional supplements such as; which ones to take, when are they appropriate and what is the correct dosage. Today, we will concentrate on fish oil because of its current popularity and its many potential benefits.
Why should we take it? Why should we not take it? How does it help us?
If we look at the length of time that we’ve been consuming food on this planet as a species, it is only the last ten thousand years that we’ve been eating agriculturally produced grains. Imagine that the entire pencil represents the length of time that modern humans have existed, and that the eraser represents the length of time that modern humans have been eating grains, which is just ten thousand years.
Prior to this period of time we were hunter/gatherers who consumed roots, tubers, berries and meat, when we could bring it down. When we developed grain, it helped us to become stationary. We could stay in one place; we didn’t have to travel with the seasons and with the food which helped us become civilized. The problem with that is our gastrointestinal tracts have not caught up to the need to process these grains.
What happens when we eat a lot of grains and pastas and baked goods? These foods are all essentially made from grains, and the grains produce something in our bodies called omega-6 fatty acids. We should have some omega-6 fatty acids in our systems, but not an excessive amount. What we should have is a ratio of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids which is equivalent to about a 1:1 ratio. That’s what we are looking for and that’s what our bodies need – the omega-3 fatty acids. We are used to hearing that we should eat our fish, such as salmon, to protect our hearts with the omega-3 essential fatty acids, and that is true.
The ratio that we are looking for is 1:1 and that was the ratio that we had when we were hunter/gatherers before we started producing grains. In the USA, our diets are very heavily laden with grains. The reason that is a problem is it produces the omega-6 fatty acids in much higher ratios than our bodies need.
If we look at the American diet, what we see, instead of a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, are ratios as high as 60:1. The problem with that is the excessive omega-6 fatty acid will produce arachidonic acid (an essential fatty acid found in most animal fats). This fatty acid crosses our cell membranes and creates prostaglandins (an unsaturated fatty acid found in all mammals), which in turn creates inflammation.
Let’s look into what happens with inflammation, and the reason we need fish oil. The inflammation that we are talking about isn’t just muscle inflammation, a stiff neck, or tight muscles. This inflammation is occurring on a cellular level in our bodies and is driving certain diseases such as heart disease. There are other conditions that we may not commonly associate with this ratio imbalance such as: obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, neurological disorders, and many others.
This country, although it is one of the wealthiest on the planet, is leading the world in these diseases. So how do we stop this from happening? We need to realize that we should consume less grain – safely one to two servings per day. If you are eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a big lunch with sandwich bread, and a bowl of bowtie pasta and garlic bread for dinner, then you are consuming an a lot of omega-6 fatty acids. As discussed above, too much omega-6 will create arachidonic acid which leads to inflammation, and imbalanced ratios. The consequence can be the production of the same diseases you have seen in your ancestors such as high blood pressure from arteriosclerosis and heart disease.
What can we do about it? One proactive step we can take is to supplement our diets with fish oil. This will allow us to continue to consume grains and protect ourselves with the fish oils’ rich omega-3 fatty acids. The EPA and DHA, two fatty acids found in fish oil, are going to protect the cell wall. Protecting the cell wall will then reduce the amount of arachidonic acid that is able to enter the cell. Less prostaglandin will be made and therefore, the amount of inflammation is reduced.
Not everyone should take fish oil. Excessive dosage of fish oil may create allergic reactions and adverse side effects on the body. Further, fish oil can be problematic in many conditions and hence, it is necessary to take fish oil supplements cautiously. You should consult a doctor or physician for the correct dosage.
To summarize, if you are going to consume grains, which most of us are, do it within limits and also take fish oil in the correct amount. Remember to check with your physician before you begin adding any kind of supplement to your diet.
If you’re interested in speaking with us about fish oil or other supplements, please go to our website, http://wakeforestchiropractic.com. If you would like to make an appointment, please get in contact with us by calling 919-562-0302. We would be happy to help you. Thank you.