As a general rule, we don’t recommend many supplements to our clients. We’ve found that people will benefit from eating real food more than they will from loading up on supplements. But one we do recommend is fish oil.
Why Fish Oil?
Fish oil contains essential fatty acids. Both omega-6 and omega-3 are needed for normal brain function and development. The standard American diet is chock full of omega six fatty acids. Although these are essential, too much can really throw your body off balance. The key is in the ratio of 6s to 3s. Although your body needs both, omega-6s and omega-3's fight for the same enzymes in your body.
Some studies have gone so far as to say it should be a 1:1 ratio, others as lenient as 5:1 (Go ahead and TRY to get it down to 1:1 ratio. It’s difficult!)
But studies done in the US indicate the standard diet is closer to 14:1, even as high as 25:1. If omega-6s are dominant, omega-3s cannot convert to DHA and EPA, which our bodies use to fight inflammation.
Why does inflammation matter?
It’s not just about our joints feeling better, or feeling less “puffy.” Systemic inflammation is at the heart of our diseased western culture. Our top killers in the US are almost all categorized as inflammatory diseases. It’s a long list, but here are a few:
- Heart Disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Metabolic Syndrome
Where should you start?
A number of fatty acids your body needs vary, but ideally, you need 7 grams a day of omega-6s or 2% of your daily calories. If that’s all the omega-6s you’re consuming, you need only eat 8oz of fish per week. If you can reduce your 6s intake to 3% of your calories, 12oz of fish per week. No change in the typical diet and you’re looking at 10oz or more of oily fish each day.
How to decrease your total intake of omega-6's
First, ditch the vegetable oil. (This includes Fabio and his fake butter). This also means avoiding processed and fried foods, and some salad dressings. (even the olive oil dressings usually contain other oils). Eat fish. If you enjoy fish, make sure you’re eating oily fish three or four times a week. Do some simple research by reading labels and asking questions when dining out. Often items are labeled as containing omega-3, but they also contain omega-6, and the ratio is much higher. If you're curious about what your current diet looks like, try this calculator here Nutritiondata.com (grass fed versions of the same meats will be lower in omega-6.)
Fish oil. How much? What kind?
If you don’t like fish, or you don’t like fish very much, supplementing with a quality fish oil is a good idea. Start with three grams a day and make sure you’re looking at the total grams of EPA/DHA content, and not just the total grams in a serving size.
I personally take the liquid fish oil. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s not as gross as it sounds. I’ve also found that I don’t get the "fishy burps” with the liquid.
So do your best to reduce omega-6s, and if you still need help to balance your omega-3s, try a quality fish oil.