OMEGA 6 : OMEGA 3 RATIO AND INFLAMMATION
OMEGA 6 : OMEGA 3 RATIO AND INFLAMMATION
We talk a lot about fats - eating fat to burn fat, increasing good fats, eliminating bad fats, ketogenesis - it's a popular topic. As it should be- damaged, inflammatory fats are one of the leading contributors to disease (especially heart disease the #1 killer!) and top threats to our health today while on the other hand, healthy fats are one of the biggest missing nutrients. All fats are not created equal though, and improper fatty acid ratios can lead to inflammation, toxicity, and cell membrane permeability issues!
Led by industry and financial ties, good fat became the enemy decades ago. This caused an increase in our intake of GMO vegetable and seed oils, like Canola, Cottonseed, Corn and Soybean oils along with a large decrease in healthy fat consumption from animals. Here are two charts showing the decrease in healthy fats and the increase in oils during the “war on fat” period. Take note of where our obesity crisis began!
As you can see, we had a shift away from natural animal products and towards rancid GMO vegetable oils.
Many people purposely avoid vegetable oils, eat things like avocados, nuts, seeds, and try to eat fish regularly, but my question to you is this:
Could you be eating too many "healthy" foods that are too high in pro-inflammatory Omega 6's without knowing it?
This is what the current scientific literature suggests regarding omega 6: omega 3 ratios and their importance in disease prevention:
"Several sources of information suggest that human beings evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA) of approximately 1 whereas in Western diets the ratio is 15/1-16.7/1. Western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids compared with the diet on which human beings evolved and their genetic patterns were established. Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today's Western diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, whereas increased levels of omega-3 PUFA (a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio) exert suppressive effects. In the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, a ratio of 4/1 was associated with a 70% decrease in total mortality. A ratio of 2.5/1 reduced rectal cell proliferation in patients with colorectal cancer, whereas a ratio of 4/1 with the same amount of omega-3 PUFA had no effect. The lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio in women with breast cancer was associated with decreased risk. A ratio of 2-3/1 suppressed inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and a ratio of 5/1 had a beneficial effect on patients with asthma, whereas a ratio of 10/1 had adverse consequences......A lower ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids is more desirable in reducing the risk of many of the chronic diseases of high prevalence in Western societies, as well as in the developing countries, that are being exported to the rest of the world." (Emphasis mine)
As stated, the literature suggests that 1:1 is the ideal ratio, and while various studies have tested different ratios and their effects, he summarizes by saying that a lower ratio is more desirable in reducing the risk of disease. So what's your ratio? The only way to know is to measure it in the blood, typically as an AA:EPA ratio. I actually just picked a dozen random lab results from our office and averaged them - our patients averaged 20 : 1! I can tell you I would have never expected mine to be 30 : 1 a few years back, but after seeing these charts I’ve compiled below, I can understand how they got that way - avocados and nuts. My trans fats were low, my omega 3s weren't too low, I was just really really high in omega 6s.
Here are some of the foods that might commonly be found in a "healthy" diet and their Omega 6 : 3 ratios:
Vegetable and Seed Oils
Palm Oil: 45.5 : 1
Corn Oil: 46.1 : 1
Cottonseed Oil: 258 : 1
Grapeseed Oil: 696 : 1
Surprisingly Bad Ratios
Almonds: omega 6’s only
Cashew: 48.3 : 1
Avocado: 15 : 1
Pistachios: 55.3 : 1
Pumpkin Seeds: 107.8 : 1
Sesame Seeds: 137.7 : 1
Olive Oil: 11.7 : 1
Differences in Meat
Grass-Fed Beef: 2.67 : 1
Grain-Fed Beef: 17.19 : 1
Good Omega 3 Ratios
Chia Seeds: 1 : 3.03
Flax Seeds: 1 : 3.86
Caviar: 1 : 83.8
Mackeral: 1 : 12.19
Salmon: 1 : 15.03
You can see why vegetable and seed oils have to be avoided at all costs, but what about a healthy "paleo" diet that is high in nuts, seeds, and avocados? Think about someone who may be having trouble losing weight, low energy, always in pain, maybe a friend (or yourself) with an autoimmune disease that is making attempts to eat a healthy diet and not getting the results they are expecting? Someone could easily eat an avocado a day and snack on cashews and almonds and be massively disrupting their Omega 6: Omega 3 ratios and fueling inflammation!
This is one of the most important lab tests someone could ever have. We have tested dozens of patients, and nobody is ever perfect and it's usually a surprise which levels are higher than others. The testing is quick and easy, you can prick your own finger in the comfort of your own home. We measure omega 3s, 6s, trans fats, and important ratios - 12 metrics in total. Contact Align today to order your test.
Article By: Dr. Taylor Krick