Today we are going to get just a little “scientific” on you mama…don’t worry, there is no pop quiz!
It never fails, whenever I teach my clean eating program at the clinic I get push back on buying organic- too expensive, does it really matter, why, etc. The answer is YES it matters!
With articles to come we can go more in depth on the issues with hormones and anti-biotics in non-organic foods and the incredible trashing of our planet and our health that GMOs are, but for today I want to focus on something that for most people is a lesser-known part of the eat organic equation: Omega-3 balance.
What my typical client knows:
- you should take a fish oil supplement
- something along the lines of “salmon is good for you”
What my typical client doesn’t know:
- where to find a good quality fish oil supplement
Without writing a textbook, let me address these points.
WHY take a fish oil supplement?
We need some anthropology here…I’m so excited this may be the first time in my life I’ve directly used my college Anthro degree for something! Back in the hunter gatherer days, our ancestors ate a diet pretty much balanced in Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils (roughly 1:1 ratio). They were also completely free of diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes- top killers in todays world.
Dating back to the industrial revolution, the ratio in the average consumption of Omega-6 vs Omega-3 began to drastically favor Omega-6 mostly due to the invention of vegetable oils and mass livestock production with grain feeds.
Check out this chart of typical oils and see how much Omega-6 they have compared to fish oil.
Now, when you feed animals cereal grains (corn, wheat, etc.) instead of them being “grass fed”, this literally changes the meat we as humans end up consuming. Yep, you guessed it, the industrialized meat production process raises the Omega-6 content in the final product.
And it’s not just the food the animals eat…imagine your cage raised chicken like a “couch potato” chicken- never gets exercise because he is forced to lie around in overcrowded conditions on top of his poor couch potato chicken neighbors. Now imagine an “athlete” chicken- this is your free-range guy who can move around, stretch his legs, maybe even run. The muscles are different in the two birds which means the meat we consume is very different. And yes, once again, the athlete meat is higher in Omega-3 than the couch potato meat.
When you buy organic, grass-fed, and free range meat products, you are getting meat that contains more protein ounce for ounce, is typically leaner, and also much higher in healthy Omega-3s.
The average American is now estimated to consume at least a 10:1 up to 25:1 ratio of Omega-6 vs Omega-3! WOW! And the imbalance has been accelerated especially in the past 15-20 years. If you’re not a label reader, next time you’re at the store just do a 5 minute exercise and try to find a loaf of bread or hummus that does not contain soybean oil or another high Omega-6 oil on the chart above. This stuff is being added to everything and things you would not expect it in. Even if you are already buying organic/grass-fed meats and eating salmon it’s still important to supplement Omega-3 to continually tip the scales in favor of Omega-3 and away from high Omega-6 levels.
The bottom line on WHY buy organic and supplement with fish oil? Because there is a scientifically established link between high Omega-6 consumption and all inflammatory diseases, including the following:
- cardiovascular disease
- type 2 diabetes
- metabolic syndrome
- irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease
- macular degeneration
- rheumatoid arthritis
- psychiatric disorders
- autoimmune diseases
The body uses the same enzymes to break down both kinds of Omegas. So if your Omega-3 levels are higher relative to Omega-6 this is what gets used and absorbed around the body. This lowers inflammation in the tissues and lowers risk for disease. If Omega-6 is more prevalent, it gets broken down and has an inflammatory effect on the body, making the likelihood of any/all inflammatory disease higher or if disease is already present, makes it worse.
So there you have it, even if you already knew that taking fish oil had something to do with being heart healthy, now you actually understand it and the bigger picture behind getting as much Omega-3 as possible in the diet. As a bonus, your body is more willing to let go of stored fat when you provide it with enough healthy fats in your diet. Win-win! Counteract disease and lean out too!
[Here is a link to a fantastic article that will give you all sorts of data and studies and charts if you're the kind of person who wants "proof" of everything I've written here. I encourage research!! ]
How to Find a Good Quality Fish Oil Supplement
Sorry to say, but many of your grocery store fish oil capsules are low quality or have a “fishy” aftertaste or cause “fish burps”- yuck! Consuming daily doses of a poor quality fish oil can actually worsen inflammation- yes, a bad fish oil can be worse than no fish oil! If you break open a capsule and it has a fishy smell or you’re using a liquid supplement, do not consume it if it smells rancid or fishy!
A good quality fish oil should have EPA and DHA specified on the label. DHA is very important- look for somewhere around 200-300 mg per capsule/serving. You want a supplement that has been molecularly distilled to remove toxins. Look for fish sources like salmon, cod liver, sardines, and anchovies. Krill oil is another excellent source, and preliminary research shows it may be better absorbed than other sources.
I use the 28 Days to Health brand Lemon Ultra Body Omega. This is also what we carry at Rejuvenate Chiropractic Spa and it can be purchased online here. This meets the requirements for quality and tastes like lemon candy! No pills to take. My kids eat it off a spoon and ask for it every day!