Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) include omega-6 and omega -3 fatty acids (FA’s). These are essential fatty acids because we are unable to create them in our body, which means we must get them from our diet. Both omega-3 and omega-6 FA’s have important critical functions like maintaining a healthy brain, growth, memory, and even retinal health; however, too many omega-6’s in our diets can promote an inflammatory state in the body. Many of the common foods we eat contain added seed and vegetable oils (peanut, soybean, sunflower, canola, etc.). Vegetable and seed oils contain a high amount of PUFA’s, with a large amount of them being omega-6 ‘s, these omega 6’s get incorporated into our cell membranes making them more vulnerable to oxidation by free radicals leading to systemic inflammation. Even products that say “with olive oil” still contain added seed and or vegetable oils, just read the labels!
Omega -3 fatty acids include both DHA and EPA which have been shown to reduce inflammation as well as decrease the risk of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. There are many ways to increase your consumption of omega-3 FA’s including grass-fed beef, wild salmon, fish oils, walnut, chia, hemp, and flax oil (note that walnut, chia, hemp, and flax oil contain omega-3’s in the form of ALA which does not have the same benefits of DHA and EPA. Our body is able to convert a trivial amount ALA to DHA or EPA but not nearly the amount to get the anti-inflammatory effects). Studies have shown that consuming 1-2 grams of omega-3 FA’s in the form of EPA and DHA on a daily basis is recommended for the anti-inflammatory effects. It is difficult to consume that amount through our diets alone so we suggest a supplement. It is also important to note that all omega-3 supplements are not created equal. Many contain low quality, poorly purified, highly processed oils that will actually limit the effectiveness of omega-3’s and may even contain levels of mercury or other toxins. We recommend Nordic Naturals ProOmega because they utilize independent 3rd party testing to assure no heavy metal, PCBs, or dioxins and guarantee that the omega-3’s are of the highest quality and freshness.
Next week we will continue our discussion on systemic inflammation and how we can change our eating habits to combat it. If you have any questions about this or any other topic please visit or call us at 843-654-9330. Also, if you are interested in exploring further how you can decrease systemic inflammation and feel better, check out http://whole9life.com/itstartswithfood/ and order this book!