The Omega Ratio

Uncontrolled inflammation is necessary to correct when improving our health. So many conditions today are influenced or caused in part by inflammation. While there can be many reasons why a person is inflamed, there is one dietary factor that is necessary to address, the Omega Ratio. 

The Omega Ratio is the ratio between the polyunsaturated fats called Omega-6 and Omega-3. Omega-6 fats lead to inflammatory processes while Omega-3 fats lead to anti-inflammatory processes. These are important to eat in balance with each other because too much of one or the other can push the body into an overly-inflammatory or under-inflammatory state.

 

Yes, too little inflammation can be a bad thing, but more commonly, people are stuck in the over-inflammatory state because their diet provides too many Omega-6 fats and too few Omega-3 fats.

 

The Omega Ratio tells us the balance of Omega-6 fats to Omega-3 fats that we should eat. The dietary ratio for a proper inflammatory response is about 3:1 (omega-6 to omega-3). However, like everything in dietary nutrition, the ratio is somewhat flexible.

 

The typical American diet provides excessive amounts of omega-6 fats. Many people eat a ratio of about 10 to 20 omega-6 for every omega-3. This much omega-6 is just too much inflammation for the body to regulate. At this point, even omega-3 supplementation (fish oil) won’t efficiently rebalance the ratio.

 

From my perspective, excessive levels of inflammation tend to put the body on high alert which is a sensitive state. Many people experience joint pains from excess inflammation, but some will develop allergic reactions or sensitivities to certain foods or topical products because of this sensitive state.

 


How to Rebalance the Omega Ratio?

My strategy is to reduce the major omega-6 sources, increase dietary omega-3 sources, and if the situation calls for it, I utilize omega-3 supplementation in the form of fish oil.

 

Foods that contain higher amounts of omega-3 include flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, cold water fish, and algae.

 

High omega-6 foods include grain-fed animals, eggs from grain fed chickens, and many vegetable oils.

 


Why Supplementation?

Plants typically contain an omega-3 called alpha-Linolenic Acid. Animals and humans will convert alpha-Linolenic Acid into active forms of omega-3 called Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). Unfortunately, some people don’t convert plant-based omega-3 very efficiently into active EPA and DHA.

 

People often do much better on EPA/DHA supplementation, especially if they’re not eating excellent animal sources of omega-3. When I say excellent sources, I mean foods that contain high levels of omega-3 but also low levels of omega-6!

 


 

There are plenty of approaches to reduce excessive and systemic inflammation. Some approaches may only be useful for specific causes of excess inflammation.

 

If you want help determining an appropriate anti-inflammatory plan, contact Matthew for a Health Consult.

 

303-816-3713 or MKoontz@LifestylesinNutrition.com


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By Matthew Koontz
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