Our bodies are complex and interesting machines. There are hormones, electrical impulses, muscles, nutrients and all sorts of things that must be working properly so that we can function at our best. Some of these things our bodies make on their own, and some of them we need to get from our diets.
That’s why I’m talking about Omegas! Omegas are fatty acids that are found in our foods. There are three kinds, Omega 3, Omega 6, and Omega 9. All of them have benefits for our health, but if the amount of them in our body is imbalanced it may contribute to some chronic illnesses.
We’re going to go into a little more detail about all three of these Omegas, so you can not just have a little more information, but so you can work to balance them if you’re worried that the levels are not as even as they should be.
Omega 3’s are polysaturated fats that our body is NOT able to make on its own. We gain it exclusively from our diets or supplements. Omega 3’s are also referred to as “essential fats“.
There are three types of Omega 3’s:
- Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA): The function of this fatty acid is to produce chemicals that reduce inflammation.
- Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): This fatty acid makes up 8% of our brains weight and contributes to brain development and function.
- Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA): This fatty acid is mainly used for energy, though it can be converted into EPA or DHA. However, the process for this conversion isn’t efficient.
Omega 3’s are extremely important for our cell membranes and have a variety of other important functions such as:
- Improving heart health and memory
- Supporting mental wellbeing, infant brain development, and bone health
- Reducing weight/waist size and liver fat.
Western diets unfortunately don’t contain nearly as much Omega 3’s as we need. It is recommended that people have 2 portions of oily fish per week (such as Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines and Anchovies). Other foods you can find high levels of Omega 3’s in are Chia seeds, Walnuts, Flaxseed and Algae.
Omega 6’s are also polysaturated fats that are essential fats we gain from our diets.
The most common Omega 6 fats are
- Linoleic Acid (ALA): This fatty acid is used for energy, but can also be converted into the second most common Omega 6 acid.
- Arachidonic Acid (ARA): This fatty acid is similar to EPA but is more pro-inflammatory. They are mostly used by our immune system.
ARA has been noted to be helpful with many types of chronic inflammation related illnesses.
While these acids are mostly pro inflammatory, if there are too many of them in our system, they can cause the inflammation they are designed to stop.
Western diets tend to be too high in Omega-6’s as they are found in soy and corn oils, which means they can be found in many fried and fast foods. High amounts of Omega 6’s can also be found in Mayonnaise, Sunflower seeds, Cashews and Almonds.
The ideal ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3’s is 4:1 or less. However, because of our diets if may look more like 10:1 or even 50:1. Many people may benefit MORE from reducing the amount of Omega 6’s put into their bodies.
Omega 9’s are monosaturated fats that are actually “non essential” fats, meaning our bodies are able to make them by themselves. Omega 9’s are actually the most abundant fats in most cells of our bodies.
The most common form of Omega 9 in the body is Oleic acid.
While our bodies can make Omega 9’s without dietary help, it has been noted that taking in extra Omega 9’s may help with metabolic health and inflammation.
Foods that are high in Omega 9’s include Olive, Cashew, Almond, Avocado and Peanut oil, Almonds, Cashews and Walnuts.
Because our diets and bodies take care of our need for Omega’s 6 and 9, it is important to supplement our Omega 3’s to maintain that balance that keeps our bodies functioning at their best. Once you’ve got all those Omega’s in balance there’s nothing stopping you from living your best life!
Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only, it is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any illness or disease. Please consult a professional for your healthcare needs.