Do you know your Omega-3 from your Omega-6?

Do you know your Omega-3 from your 6? The answer is most likely to be no. Well, don’t worry about it, because as responsible personal trainers Cheshire Fitness will tell you everything you need to know about the subject. We’ll tell you what each of these supplements does and how much you should be taking. So, here goes.

Fatty acids are beneficial for eyesight, reducing cardiovascular disease and in helping those suffering with skin conditions. Furthermore, they are also vital ingredients that can improve the body’s ability to lose weight. Research has shown that Omega-3 suppresses inflammation within the body, which causes the breakdown of cells responsible for ageing, depression and even cancer.

Studies show that people whose diets are supplemented with fish oil have reduced symptoms of inflammatory disease and a reduction in drugs required to help with ongoing conditions. However, other studies have produced contradictory results, suggesting that Omega-6 oils can do the opposite. Though Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils are polyunsaturated fatty acids, or healthy fats, some studies suggest that they might not be as good for us as we believed. Research suggests that Omega-6 may play a part in the development of inflammation-derived disorders like arthritis, whilst Omega-3 might play a part in the growth of neuro-degenerative diseases.

Fats from both Omega oils are essential. Our bodies cannot make them and, therefore, we must consume them in our diet. They can be found in many differing sources, but our modern diet means we tend to consume far fewer foods like salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, walnuts and flaxseeds which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. However, Omega-6 is abundant in our diets in processed foods, take-outs, the overused corn and sunflower oils and treats like biscuits and confectionery. Unfortunately this only demonstrates what every personal trainer is only well too aware of: it’s the carbohydrate culture that’s the source of the problem.

We’re not suggesting that Omega-6 should be eradicated from our diets entirely, but current research places the ratio of Omega-3 to 6 in our diets at 1:16 when it is believed that a 4:1 ratio is actually much better for optimal health. The problem lies in the fact that Omega-6 can cause Omega-3s to split into critical fatty acids, known commonly as EPAs and DHAs; these are hormone building blocks which regulate our immune systems and cell growth. We’re certainly not saying that Omega-6 is some kind of black-hearted villain, but too much of it can increase inflammation and cause disease.

Historically our diets were more naturally balanced and came closer to this optimal ratio, but diets now tend to revolve around speed and convenience. Consequently Omega-3 intake has dropped, whilst Omega-6 has increased rapidly to levels that now have caused a rise in obesity (and associated health risks), asthma and a variety of other illnesses.

Let’s look at this from a weight-management perspective: eating 100g of saturated, non-essential fats will cause the body to use the fat as energy or for fat storage, whereas, 100g of Omega-3 will help promote nerve coating, which helps to produce healthy skin and is beneficial in many other of the body’s functions. Only what is left after that will be used for energy and fat storage. A focus on an Omega-3-rich diet can help to make you slimmer by controlling your weight, and regulate our metabolism and help control potential insulin resistance.

If we reduce our intake of processed foods and polyunsaturated oils, and replace them with extra virgin olive oil and a portion of oily fish two to three times-a-week, our health will definitely improve. Those who are loath to eat fish can take fish oil supplements of approximately 100mg of DHA and 200mg of EPA per day instead to get the same benefits.

Omega-6 is not in itself bad, but much of it has been processed into hydrogenated fats that the body cannot use. But if you supplement your regular diet with small portions of pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, along with natural seed oils you will be getting much closer to the 4:1 recommended ratio.

Eat well and reap the benefits.

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