HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR OMEGA- 3 TO OMEGA- 6 RATIOS
While the effects of omega- 6 fatty acids on heart health are still uncertain, many studies link it to cardiovascular problems, necessitating the need to optimize omega- 3 fats. Limiting the usage of omega-6-rich oils, eating animal-based foods with more omega- 3 fats, and supplementing with omega- 3 can help optimize the omega-3 to omega- 6 fatty acid ratio.
Omega- 3 and omega- 6 are essential fatty acids, and the body must get them from your diet since it cannot make them on its own. While omega- 3 fats are anti-inflammatory, omega- 6s are pro-inflammatory and are related to pathogenic effects and increased risks of heart diseases, diabetes, cancers, and other chronic lifestyle conditions. Still, the Western diet worsens this situation because it capitalizes on omega- 6s at the expense of omega- 3 fats, and it’s no wonder that man has a shorter lifespan than before. How can one maximize his omega- 3 to omega- 6 fatty acid ratio? Peer into this article and get the answer to this question.
Omega- 3 and 6 fatty acids are essential fats
The body lacks the appropriate enzymes to manufacture omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. As such, it relies on the diet, both plant-based and animal-based, to get these fats; hence they are described as essential fats. After making them, the body uses them for various functions, including critical roles in inflammation and clotting. Besides, these healthy fats, especially omega- 3s, also play a role in heart health, limiting the risk of cardiovascular problems.
The Non-Industrial and Western omega- 3 to omega- 6 ratios
Studies show that the omega- 3 to omega- 6 fatty acid ratios during the non-industrial period ranged between 4:1 to 1:4. The hunter/gatherer community had the highest omega- 6 consumption, recording 4:1 (omega-6 to omega-3), while the Alaskans and Inuit who relied on seafood revealed a 1:4 omega- 6 to omega- 3 ratio, indicating that they were taking more omega- 3s than omega- 6s.
This eating trend has changed a lot over the last 100 years or so. For instance, one study showed that the consumption of omega- 6 fats has steadily increased in the last half a century, with the US population consuming more soy oil than ever. Looking at the curve for this study, there is a straight line, showing that as years go by, the Western diet features more and more omega- 6s. Meanwhile, omega- 3s are suffering, and their ratio to omega- 6 is the lowest ever. In fact, recent studies confirm that omega- 6 to omega- 3 in the Western diet is currently somewhere between 17:1 to 14:1.
Explaining the popularity behind omega- 6s at the expense of omega- 3s
As the Western diet takes a sharp shift toward consuming more omega- 6s at the expense of omega- 3s, the body suffers more. Life expectancy slowly decreases, and the risk of inflammatory chronic conditions skyrockets. Why is the trend toward omega-6 fats? The primary reason is that most foods in the Western diet feature more omega- 3s. These fats should be typically balanced in the animals’ systems, but farming practices and industrial processes concentrate omega- 6 fats, which then bypass omega- 3s.
Furthermore, omega- 6 fatty acid sources seem cheaper than omega- 3 sources. For instance, cotton, corn, sunflower, and soy oils are typically cheaper than palm, lard, oil, and coconut oils. Of course, all vegetable and seed oils have these two fatty acids, but some have more omega- 3s than omega- 6s and vice versa. The market favors omega- 6s; hence the fats come at cheaper prices and attract many people.
A steady balance of omega- 3s and omega- 6s is critical for good health
Research on the effect of fatty acids on health is among the most complex studies. For instance, many sources generally claim that saturated fatty acids may have something to do with increased risk of heart disease, yet no single study can elaborate on the exact relation. Besides, most studies are merely observational and focus on relationships as opposed to causes and effects. As such, fatty acids remain among the most controversial topics in the research field.
Furthermore, studies about the relationship between unsaturated fats, primarily omega- 6s, are mixed. Of course, most seem to point fingers at omega- 6s for increased cases of heart diseases. However, none details how the fats exactly cause an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Fortunately, though, many studies have proved that omega- 3s are beneficial to the human system. For instance, one study conducted in the US in 2018 found that replacing saturated fats with omega- 3 unsaturated fats lowered the risk of heart failure by at least 20% in more than 1,000 participants. Consequently, there is every reason to believe that omega- 3s are heathier in sustained amounts. Still, keep in mind that these are fats, and they are loaded with calories. As such, consuming them in excess amounts may lead to unnecessary fat and body mass gains.
How to optimize your omega- 3 to omega- 6 ratio
It is clear that omega- 3s are healthier for the human system in sustained amounts because they are anti-inflammatory. As such, finding a balance between the two is critical. You can optimize omega- 3s by;
- Focus on animal-based foods with omega- 3s
The primary way to increase your omega- 3s in the body is by capitalizing on animal-based foods with these fats. In most cases, grass-fed animals should have more omega- 3s, and they transfer the same to the body when you eat them. However, modern farming practices and industrial processes interfere with the ratio. A wise move would be to eat pastured products or those enriched with omega- 3s.
- Avoid vegetable fats laden with omega- 6s
Vegetable oils packed with omega- 6 fatty acids are generally cheaper than those with omega- 3s. However, you can focus on fats with more omega- 3s to boost your bank for this fat. As such, why not shift to butter, coconut, or lard oil as opposed to sunflower, cotton, or corn oil?
- Try supplements
You can also try supplements to optimize your fatty acid ratios. In fact, many companies trade in different supplements typically manufactured to help boost your omega- 3 banks.
Omega- 3s and omega- 6 are polyunsaturated fats the body gets from your diet. Although they are both needed, omega- 3s are anti-inflammatory while omega- 6s are pro-inflammatory; hence the body needs more omega- 3s than omega- 6s. However, humanity has evolved in many aspects, significantly interfering with this ratio and increasing the risk of chronic conditions. Thankfully, you can restore the balance by minimizing your usage of omega- 6-enriched vegetable oils, eating foods rich in more omega- 3 fats and supplementing with omega- 3s when need be.