Omega 3 - Gimmick or Gimme Some?
We’ve all heard about how we need good fats and that Omega 3’s are great and blah blah blah.
This article will focus on why we need them and how to get them!
Why Do We Need Omega 3’s?
In the past (100’s of years ago) when we hunter gatherers our omega 3 fatty acid intake (mostly from animal sources) was at a ratio of about 1:1 when compared to omega 6 fatty acid intake (mostly from plant sources). At this point in time humans did not really suffer from many of the diseases which are related to inflammation like cancer, heart disease and diabetes which are so prevelant today.
Today the estimated average ratio in western society of omega 3 vs omega 6 intake of 1:16.
Too many omega 6 fatty acids when compared to omega 3’s causes a problem because they use the same enzyme to be converted into a form that the body can use. So in other words too many omega 6 means the omega 3 doesn’t get used.
The omega 3’s are required to build healthy cell walls so that the hormone insulin can bind to the cell and take glucose from the blood stream and store it as glycogen (the storage form of glucose) for use by our muscles later.
Without healthy cell walls our insulin receptors don’t work very well and therefore our cells can’t bind with it and we end up with elevated levels of insulin in the blood stream and blood sugar (if this happens for long enough you get type 2 diabetes).
This drastic change in the ratio has come about through things like urbanisation and modernisation of farming. Now even many of our meats contain more omega 6 because we feed the animals more grains. We eat a whole lot more grains and less meat in comparison. The other factor is the many vegetable oils we now consume as part of our western diet.
Long story short we need to increase our omega 3 intake and in most cases decrease our omega 6. For most people this means supplement with fish oil, eat more fish and eat less grains.
Other Benefits of Omega 3
- Lose weight. The more sensitive to insulin you are the better your body can stabilise blood sugar levels and burn fat.
- Be less stressed. When blood insulin levels remain elevated, the stress hormone cortisol is produced. This causes muscle degredation, fat gain and a general feeling of being stressed out all the time.
- Build muscle. By keeping cortisol down your body will build muscle more easily.
- Reduce inflammation in the body. We spoke of how this reduces our risk of many diseases but it will also help you recover faster from exercise and even illness.
Supplement or Food?
Both. Fish like tuna and Salmon are best but it’s often hard to get enough in our diet. I recommend you try and eat fish once a day – if not as close as possible as well as supplementing with fish oil.
I hope that helps clear a few things up for you
Dedicated to your fitness success,
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