This article will help you better understand what is going on inside your body, how Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids affect your body, and how to choose the best fish oil supplements from all the ones on the shelf.
Standard American Diet
The diet that most Americans tend to follow can be lumped into two main areas: something that is fast and terrible for your body; or something that is fast and really terrible for your body.
I am not saying that there are not people out there who eat healthy, and I know that eating healthy is a hard thing to do. Not to mention, it is expensive at times when you compare it to fast foods and how cheap and easy they are.
For the people out there who eat a double cheese burger but add a "diet" coke to the meal, let me break your heart for a minute: that is not eating better. All you are trying to do is either fool the people around you, or you are trying to fool yourself that what you are doing is OK. Well it isn't, and trust me the people around you know it.
Omega Fatty Acids
What can help? Healthy fatty acids can. There are omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids that the body uses, but for the purpose of this article, I am only going to talk about the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Your diet should consist of a ratio of 1:1 for both omega-3 and omega-6. Most of the foods that Americans put into their bodies would probably be closer to a 10:1 up to 25:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3. This, just like anything else that you put into your body in excess, will cause problems.
Just like the old saying: "If you abuse it, you lose it. If you don't use it, you lose it".
When your body has an abundance of omega-6 fatty acids, it initiates either an anti-inflammatory or an inflammatory response in your body. A little bit of this is natural and has many uses when it is only in small amounts temporarily.
Beneficial Inflammatory Response
The inflammatory process really gets a bad rap in this area, because it is really the healing process of an acute injury. Without inflammation tissue healing would not happen. When you sprain your ankle, the inflammatory response kicks in and causes swelling that helps to splint the joint and keep you from doing any more injury to your ankle. It is your body's way of putting a cast on the area.
The more the swelling continues the more tissue damage has occurred, and the injury will just take longer to heal. Weight lifting is another example of temporary and acute inflammatory process. It is this inflammatory process that builds muscle.
We should encourage this acute inflammatory process for it is this that heals the body and makes us stronger. This usually occurs within the first 72 hours.
Chronic Inflammatory Response
What we want to avoid is the chronic inflammatory process, which is the process where there is no stoppage of the inflammation, and tissues and organs will eventually become damaged. The increase in omega-6 fatty acids can make problems with inflammation even worse.
So right now you are probably eating foods that are high in omega-6 fatty acids, and your body is in a constant state of inflammation. Your body is trying to rebuild the muscles and tissues that are being damaged over and over again each time you eat.
Your body will send a substance called fibrin to the area to rebuild and will not stop as long as there is a constant inflammatory process that goes on. It continues to lay down the fibrin until your muscles are not soft and pliable like they are supposed to be.
They end up being stiff and sore. Your body will ache all over, and you will be constantly tired.
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Constantly Eating Foods That Are High In Omega-6
Fatty Acids Can Keep You In A Constant State Of Inflammation.
Why Equal Amounts Of Omega 3 & 6?
Remember the 1:1 relationship that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are supposed to have? The reason for this is that omega-3 fatty acids shuts off the over-rebuilding of the muscle and tissues via fibrin.
[Thus a more normal healing process may be possible by limiting the amount omega-6 fatty acids consumed.] Please note: Omega-6 is an essential fatty acid. Trying to take it out of your diet entirely is not something that I would advise, and I am not sure just how you would do that anyway. The easiest thing is just to increase the intake of the other essential fatty acid: Omega 3.
Fish oils contain those omega-3 fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The American Heart Association's dietary guidelines recommend that healthy adults eat at least two servings of fish per week, particularly fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon.
People who do not wish to follow these guidelines may need 1 to 3 grams of EPA and DHA per day provided as a fish oil supplement.
Benefits Of Fish/Fish Oil Consumption
Studies thus far have [suggested] a relationship between the dietary consumption of fish or fish oil supplementation containing EPA/DHA and [many well known health problems].
Risks Of Fish Oil Consumption
Depending on your stage of life, consumers need to be aware of both the benefits and risks of eating fish. Children as well as pregnant and nursing women may be at increased risk of exposure to excessive mercury from fish, but these groups of people also are generally at a lower risk for [certain health problems].
For middle-aged and older men and postmenopausal women, the benefits of fish and fish oil supplements far outweigh the risks.
The only negative thus far from consuming fish or fish oil supplementation is that the FDA has noted that high intakes (above the 1 to 3 grams per day) could cause excessive bleeding in some people.
Current dietary intakes of fish oil in North America are well below those recommended by the American Heart Association.
How About diabetes? The American Diabetes Association recommends two to three servings of fish per week, in order to obtain adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which correlates directly with the same recommendations set by the American Heart Association.
How To Find The Best Fish Oil Supplement
Most of the product labels that you read are very misleading. So here is the easiest way to figure out what the best fish oil supplements for you are. When looking at all of the different Fish Oil brands on the market today, forget the front of the label. Turn the bottle around and look at the ingredient listing on the back.
Somewhere close to the bottom will be two lines: EPA and DHA. Add those two numbers together and find the bottle with the highest two number total and that is the one you need to choose.
Forget if the front says 1000 mg and the total EPA/DHA only adds up to 650 mg. The 650 mg are all you are getting per serving size. I have seen some as low as 420 so you would have to take quite a few just to get the 1-3 grams you should have during a day.
As always, do as much research as you can about the health topics that concern you, but be careful about what you read on the internet. A safer bet is to just go talk to your health care provider.
There are some conditions that will prohibit you from taking fish oil supplementation. If you are on some blood thinners like Warfarin or Aspirin then you should not start taking fish oils without approval from your physician.
Hopefully, most of you that are reading this article already eat a healthy diet and really don't have any worries if you are taking in more omega-6 fatty acids than you need.
I am just trying to get to those people who are either starting out or who have a terrible diet. Start supplementing some omega-3 fatty acids into your diet or take a supplement.
Now, get up and go workout.