of Omega-3 With Fish
Oil Will Protect Against Disease
to increase your overall health and energy level. You want to
prevent heart disease, cancer, depression and Alzheimer's. Perhaps
you also want to treat rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, ulcerative
colitis, Raynaud's disease and a host of other diseases. One
of the most important things you can do for all of these is
increase your intake of the omega-3 fats found in fish oil and
cod liver oil, and reduce your intake of omega-6 fats.
types of fat, omega-3 and omega-6, are both essential for human
health. However, the typical western diet consumes far too many
omega-6 fats in their diet while consuming very low levels of
omega-3. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1.
Our ancestors evolved over millions of years on this ratio.
Today, though, our ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 averages from
20:1 to 50:1! That spells serious danger for you, and as is
now finally being reported throughout even the mainstream health
media, lack of omega-3 from fish oil is one of the most serious
health issues plaguing contemporary society.
sources of omega-6 are corn, soy, canola, safflower and sunflower
oil; these oils are overabundant in the typical diet, which
explains our excess omega-6 levels. Avoid or limit these oils.
Omega-3, meanwhile, is typically found in flaxseed oil, walnut
oil, and fish.
the best type of omega-3 fats are those found in that last category,
fish. That's because the omega-3 in fish is high in two fatty
acids crucial to human health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty
acids are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer, and many
other diseases. The human brain is also highly dependent on
DHA - low DHA levels have been linked to depression, schizophrenia,
memory loss, and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's. Researchers
are now also linking inadequate intake of these omega-3 fats
in pregnant women to premature birth and low birth weight, and
to hyperactivity in children.
eating most fresh fish, whether from the ocean, lakes and streams,
or farm-raised, is no longer recommended. Mercury levels in
almost all fish have now hit dangerously high levels across
the world, and the risk of this mercury to your health now outweighs
the fish's omega-3 benefits. .
consumption of fish oil is another highly recommended method
of increasing your omega-3 intake and improving your health,
and is also the most convenient for today's busy lifestyles.
Fish oil contains high levels of the best omega-3 fats - those
with the EPA and DHA fatty acids - and, as it is in pure form,
does not pose the mercury risk of fresh fish.
made one of the first associations between omega-3s and human
health while studying the Inuit (Eskimo) people of Greenland in
the 1970s. As a group, the Inuit suffered far less from certain
diseases (coronary heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes
mellitus, psoriasis) than their European counterparts. Yet their
diet was very high in fat from eating whale, seal, and salmon.
Eventually researchers realized that these foods were all rich
in omega-3 fatty acids, which provided real disease-countering
continue to explore this exciting field. They've found that
without a sufficient supply of polyunsaturated omega-3s, the
body will use saturated fat to construct cell membranes. The
resulting cell membranes, however, are less elastic, a situation
that can have a negative effect on the heart because it makes
it harder to return to a resting state.
nutritionists have come to recognize the importance of balancing
omega-3 fatty acids with omega-6 fatty acids in the diet. Because
most people on a typical Western diet consume far more omega-6-rich
foods (including cereals, whole-grain bread, baked goods, fried
foods, margarine, and others), the ratio is out of balance for
line: Omega-3s appear to help prevent and treat various disorders
in different ways. For example, research suggests that in individuals
with non-insulin-dependent (or type 2) diabetes, omega-3s can
improve insulin sensitivity. They work yet another way to ease
menstrual pain, and so on.
omega-3s in fish oil or other forms may help to:
heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to play
a part in keeping cholesterol levels low, stabilizing irregular
heart beat (arrhythmia), and reducing blood pressure. Researchers
now believe that alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of the omega-3s,
is particularly beneficial for protecting against heart and
vessel disease, and for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride
levels. An excellent source of ALA is flaxseed oil, sold as
both a liquid oil and a semisolid margarine-like spread.
fatty acids are also natural blood thinners, reducing the
"stickiness" of blood cells (called platelet aggregation),
which can lead to such complications as blood clots and stroke.
hypertension. Studies of large groups of people have found
that the more omega-3 fatty acids people consume, the lower
their overall blood pressure level is. This was the case with
the Greenland Eskimos who ate a lot of oily, cold-water fish,
rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Raynaud's disease, and other autoimmune
diseases. Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish
oils) have been shown to increase survival in people with autoimmune
diseases. This is probably because the omega-3s help the arteries--as
well as many other parts of the body--stay inflammation free.
EPA and DHA are successful at this because they can be converted
into natural anti-inflammatory substances called prostaglandins
and leukotrienes, compounds that help decrease inflammation
studies over the years, participants with inflammatory diseases
have reported less joint stiffness, swelling, tenderness,
and overall fatigue when taking omega-3s.
an exciting review of well-designed, randomized clinical trials
reported that omega-3 fatty acids were more successful than
a placebo ("dummy drug") in improving the condition of people
with rheumatoid arthritis. The research also showed that getting
more omega-3 fatty acids enabled some participants to reduce
their use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
depression and symptoms of other mental health problems.
The brain is remarkably fatty: In fact, this organ is 60% fat
and needs omega-3s to function properly. Now researchers have
discovered a link between mood disorders and the presence of
low concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in the body.
omega-3s help regulate mental health problems because they
enhance the ability of brain-cell receptors to comprehend
mood-related signals from other neurons in the brain. In other
words, the omega-3s are believed to help keep the brain's
entire traffic pattern of thoughts, reactions, and reflexes
running smoothly and efficiently.
trials are underway to further investigate whether supplementing
the diet with omega-3s will reduce the severity of such psychiatric
problems as mild to moderate depression, dementia, bipolar
disorder, and schizophrenia. Interestingly, the oil used to
help the child with a degenerative nerve disorder in the popular
film Lorenzo's Oil was an omega-3 fatty acid.
cancer prevention and cancer support. Preliminary research
from the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that
omega-3 fatty acids may help maintain healthy breast tissue
and prevent breast cancer. Also, in a recent study, participants
who supplemented their diet with fish oils produced fewer
quantities of a carcinogen associated with colon cancer than
did a placebo group. More research into this exciting use
for omega-3s is underway.
There is no established recommended daily intake for omega-3s,
but a healthy diet containing significant amounts of foods rich
in this essential fatty acid is clearly wise. By increasing
your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, you will naturally bring
the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids back into a healthier,
2-1 or (optimally) 1-1 balance.
Try to reduce your consumption of omega-6-rich foods at the
same time that you increase your intake of omega-3-rich foods
in the following categories:
--Marine sources: Atlantic salmon and other fatty, preferably
cold-water fish, including herring (both Atlantic and Pacific),
sardines, Atlantic halibut, bluefish, tuna, and Atlantic mackerel.
As a reasonable substitute (or even an occasional alternative)
for fresh fish, commercial fish oil capsules are available containing
omega-3s such as DHA and EPA.
--Wild game: Surprisingly, venison and buffalo are both
good sources of omega-3s and make a healthy choice for people
craving meat. These wild game meats can be purchased through
mail-order sources if your supermarket doesn't carry them.
--Plant sources: Canola oil, flaxseed, flaxseed oil,
walnuts, and leafy green vegetables such as purslane are all
good sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based
omega-3. A quarter-cup (1 ounce) of walnuts supplies about 2
grams of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, slightly more than
is found in 3 ounces of salmon.
There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated
with increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids through foods.
However, if you decide to take omega-3s through supplements
(especially those containing fish oils), be sure to check with
your doctor first if you are taking a blood-thinner such as
warfarin or heparin.
There are no known side effects associated with increasing your
intake of omega-3 fatty acids through foods, although fish oil
capsules do pose the risk of a "burp" factor. This is a harmless,
although not exactly pleasant, fish-y aftertaste that occurs
with some brands of fish oil capsules.