Human beings evolved on a diet with an equal ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, whereas today Western diets typically have a ratio of between 15:1 to as skewed as 50:1. This means Western diets are terribly deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids compared with the diet on which our genetic patterns were established. This distorted ratio is one of the primary reasons for the increase in diseases such as cancer, inflammatory-related disorders, and cardiovascular and autoimmune disease, to name a few. Research indicates that bringing the omega-6 and -3 ratio closer to 1:1 is an effective treatment for these diseases. Take note that omega-6s aren’t to be avoided as trans-fatty acids are. Rather, you need the appropriate ratio of omega-3s to -6s for optimal health.
So what can you do about it? Here are nine steps to re-balance your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio:
1. Abolish Hydrogenated Fats
Eliminate all foods that contain the words “partially” or “hydrogenated fats.” These are trans-fatty acids, and there are no safe levels of trans-fats. That is why Canada and the U.S. are forcing food manufacturers to list the trans-fat content in their products. Unfortunately, the U.S. law is too lax regarding the interpretation of the content of trans-fats.
At equal caloric intake, people who eat the most trans fats always weigh more because these fats impair insulin receptors, decreasing insulin sensitivity. Trans-fats also interfere with the body’s ability to process omega-6 and -3 fatty acids, inhibiting their absorption. Additional detrimental effects on health include an increase in the bad LDL cholesterol, abnormal morphology in sperm, and a decrease in testosterone levels.
2. Eliminate Pro-Inflammatory Foods: Corn, Safflower, Peanut, Sesame Oils.
Get rid of all foods that contain corn, safflower, peanut, or sesame oil. As a rule of thumb, these foods cause inflammation and contribute to the excess omega-6s in the diet. The ratio got out of balance from the increased consumption of omega-6 fatty acids since the 1950s due to a shift in the typical human diet and in the diets of animals that we eat. Omega-6s increased as a result of a shift away from the use of unhealthy trans-fatty acids toward the use of vegetable oils (corn, safflower, peanut, etc.) in cooking and processed foods. These oils may be better than animal-based trans-fatty oils, but they should still be avoided.
3. Eat More Wild Meats: Elk, Buffalo, Ostrich, Moose, Boar.
Wild animals are very lean with much higher omega-3 content because they feed on wild plants and prey versus domestic-grown animals, which are fed grains rich in omega-6s and poor in -3s, exacerbating the unequal ratio. Additionally, our modern agriculture is producing eggs, green vegetables, and fish that are significantly lower in omega-3 fatty acids than the same wild foods due to cultivation and feeding methods. This change has upset the omega-6 and -3 fatty acid balance that was characteristic during evolution, leading to a host of health issues.
Be aware that meat varies in fatty acid content based on the gastric system of the animal and on the feed. This means that eating pigs, especially those animals that had omega-3s added to their feed, will result in more omega-3s in your diet than eating beef. It is possible to increase omega-3 fatty acid content in beef and poultry by altering their feed. The best bet is to go for wild animals or wild caught fish—a more likely prospect for many—but if you can’t manage it, look for meats with enriched omega-3 fatty acid content through diet.
4. Eat Only Grass-Fed Beef
Grass-fed beef, such as Tall Grass Beef, is ideal because grass-fed cows consume a higher level of omega-3s from the chloroplasts of green leaves. This means the meat will be two to four times higher in good fatty acids than grain-fed meat. This elevation in omega-3s helps offset the uneven omega-6 to-3 ratio. Be aware that omega-6 fatty acids are not inconvertible in the human body to omega-3s, meaning excess omega-6s do not help balance our omega-3 deficiency.
5. Take Fish Oil Everyday: Use Liquid and Capsules for Convenience
Consume one to one-and-a-half grams of fish oil per percentage point of body fat a day (if you have 20 percent body fat you should take a minimum of 20 grams of fish oil). The fatter you are, the more likely you are deficient in omega-3s. Our Paleolithic ancestors consumed 300-400 grams of omega-3s a week. Make sure they are free of heavy metals, and solvents such as hexanes, a common problem with fish oil supplements. To put your mind at ease, Poliquin Performance only stocks products containing the purest medical grade fish oils—click here
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6. Eat Omega-3-Fed Eggs
Your best bet is to find a local farmer that has free-range chickens and feeds them an omega-3 enriched diet. You can find such a farmer easily on the Weston A. Price foundation website: www.westonprice.org, or go to Local Harvest
to find a community supported agricultural programs and local farms.
7. Eat Green Vegetables and Certain Beans and Walnuts
Be sure to eat lots of green leafy vegetables, such as kale, chard, bok choy, etc. Also, get some beans into your diet in the form of great northern, kidney, and navy beans. Nuts and particularly walnuts are good too. These foods contain a large quantity of alpha-lipoic, which is a very healthy component of omega-3s.
8. Add Flax Seeds to Your Diet
Flax seeds are another great source of omega-3s. Soak the seeds overnight to soften them so they are digestible, and then add them to your workout shakes. Make sure to buy small quantities of flax at a time and keep them in the fridge in a vacuum resealable container to prevent them from becoming rancid.
9. Eat Cold Water Fish: Herring and Arctic Char
Small cold water fish such as herring and Arctic char tend to provide the best sources of omega-3s you can get from fish. Avoid swordfish and tuna at all costs because they are loaded with mercury.
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