A Better Ratio for Better Health

Written by Michelle Minahan Thompson, R.N. and Jessica Minahan White, CHC

Omega-3′s, 5’s, 6’s, 7’s and 9’s are called “Essential Fatty Acids”. This means that our bodies cannot produce them on its own and we must source them through our food intake. While too much fat in our bodies can contribute to a wide range of possible health complications, a proper ratio of Omega 3’s to 6’s fatty acids has a positive effect on our bodies, such as preventing arthritis, psoriasis, promoting proper eye and brain health, cardiovascular health, preventing diabetes, regulating glucose levels, boosting that healthy-skin glow, and more. The really cool part is that Omega 3 fatty acids can be obtained through plant-based sources!

Today I’m going to primarily discuss the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3.

Why is this Omega-6 :: Omega-3 ratio so important?

The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health in Washington, D.C. published a research study where they found that the lower the ratio of Omega-6:Omega-3, the greater the health benefits! Let’s take a closer look at some of the results they saw.

  • A ratio of 5:1 or less improved symptoms of asthma. AND reduced cancer-cell proliferation in patients with colon cancer!
  • A ratio of 4:1 or less decreased mortality by 70% for patients with heart disease!
  • A ratio of 2-3:1 or less decreased inflammation and improved symptoms for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

WHOA!!! Talk about incredible results just by altering this ratio!

On the flip-side, research shows that a ratio of 10:1 or greater results in negative health effects.

The sad fact is that the typical American lives with a ratio of 20:1   

Say What!!???

Why are Americans are so overloaded with Omega-6′s?…

Well, lets take a look at Omega-6 rich food sources, shall we?

  • vegetable oil
  • soy oil
  • corn oil
  • safflower oil
  • cottonseed oil
  • sunflower oil
  • buckwheat
  • nuts
  • wheat
  • corn
  • rice

Enough listed? I could go on. When you start reading the ingredients of commonly-consumed foods (even “health” packaged foods), you will quickly realize that Americans typify what one could call the “O6O Diet… Omega-6 Overload Diet.” These are in chips, crackers, breads, trail mixes, granola bars, roasted nuts, cereals, salad dressings, and the list goes on and on…. This could easily explain why some vegetarian / vegans still suffer from inflammatory conditions and overall poor health. Not all plant-based foods benefit the human body, especially when consumed in excess.

It is no wonder most Americans live with a staggering ratio of 20:1!!! Talk about INFLAMMATION STATION!

So what do we do about it?…

DECREASE your Omega-6 intake. This must happen first. Increasing Omega-3 is important but will reap no benefits if a decrease doesn’t happen on the Omega-6 side. We must STOP EATING OMEGA-6 FOODS in order for our Omega-3 intake to even work properly in our body! HOW? Too much Omega-6 blocks the body’s ability to convert ALA Omega-3 into EPA and DHA Omega-3. Furthermore, Omega-6 imbalance is due widely to processed foods with hydrogenated oils which double our risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation-related conditions.  One way to quickly improve the 6-to-3 ratio is to REPLACE common 6-sources with 3-sources instead…

Examples: 

  • Vegetable Oils…. Sub Flax or Hemp Oil
  • Cashews or Peanuts…. Sub Walnuts
  • Potato Chips…. Sub Beet Chips
  • Rice…. Sub Cauliflower Rice (Grated Cauliflower)
  • Pasta…. Replace with Spinach or Collard Green ribbons

Don’t complicate solutions. Simplify them for better results. Aim to Subtract and Substitute before you add!

INCREASE your Omega-3 intake from a variety of sources to receive the full spectrum of benefits Omega-3 fatty acids have to offer. The 3 kinds of of Omega-3 fatty acids are DHA, EPA, and ALA. Each one plays an important role in the body, AND each one can be sourced from plants! Check it out:

  • Marine Phytoplankton
  • Chlorella
  • Algal Oil
  • Spirulina
  • Wakame
  • ALA Conversion (higher conversion rate in women than men)
  • Flax
  • Chia
  • Kiwi seeds
  • Raspberry seeds
  • Hemp
  • Walnuts
  • Spinach
  • Winter Squashes
  • Purslane
  • Beets

Before you rush to the health food store and spend half of your grocery budget on supplements, remember… the better our guts are working, the more efficient our bodies become at utilizing the Omega-3 that enters our body. Filling your grocery cart with nature’s goodness from the produce department, and avoiding the middle isles of processed foods alone will exponentially lower inflammation and improve Omega-3 ratio before you even start any supplementation regimen (if you do).

A wonderful supplement that I use and recommend is the Juice Plus Omega-Blend, which features a unique variety of Omega-3, 5, 7, and 9 through less commonly purchased sources, such as pure algal oil and fruit seed oils.  I also enjoy Hawaiian Spirulina powder for another DHA boost. Try these tasty Crazy Cocoa Bites for an all-in-one chocolate fix and Omega-3 booster from the walnuts! There is no doubt that improving your Omega-3 : Omega-6 ratio can reap huge benefits on your overall health. Your ratio of disease risk will decrease as you improve this ratio; don’t hesitate to make these simple changes that can make a big difference in the long haul of your physical health!

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