Omega-6 and Omega-3 are what's known as essential fatty acids (DHA, EPA). They are “essential” because your body needs them but it can't produce them on its own. For this reason, we have to get these fats into our system via diet (food or supplements).
Although both are necessary, your body needs more omega-3 and less omega-6. The problem is that most people have far too much omega-6 and nowhere near enough omega-3. In the video below, the presenter explains, in non-technical terms, simple ways to optimize your omega intake.
The Dangerous Western Diet
The typical American-style diet is dangerous from a health perspective. It has a ratio of around 20-1. What that means is that there is 20 omega-6's to only one omega-3. The ideal balance should be four parts omega-3s to just one part omega-6. Let's take a look at why this is so dangerous to health in the long-term.
The Health Threats of Too Much Omega-6
This really is a serious problem in western type diets. To start with, too much omega-6 can raise your blood pressure. If that's all this imbalance did it would be bad enough, but there's more. Too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 in the diet can also cause water retention (also known as fluid retention). This is an abnormal buildup of fluid in your circulatory system. People who suffer with water retention often complain of symptoms like some of the following:
- Moody (tetchy and bad tempered).
Fluid retention can result in symptoms like swollen fingers and ankles. A higher intake of omega-6 also prevents your body from digesting omega-3 effectually.
Redressing the Imbalance
Redressing the imbalance of the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is pretty easy once you know what to do. It's usually just a case of adjusting your diet. That means you eat fewer foods that contain high levels of omega-6 and more foods containing omega-3. That's it! One of the best ways to start is by removing heavily processed foods and vegetable (seed) oils from your diet. These are not called “killer oils” without reason. They are heavily processed oils and detrimental to human health in so many ways. Here's a quick list of the ones to cut out from your diet – forever.
- Sunflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Sesame oil
- Safflower oil
- Rice Bran oil
- Rapeseed oil
- Peanut oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Corn oil
- Canola oil
To get more omega-3 into your diet, you can look to foods like oily fish. For vegetable sources you can eat wheat germ, pumpkin seeds and walnuts to name a few. However, the best and most certain way is by taking fish oil or krill oil supplements.