Close-Up View Of Seeds

Omega-6 and Inflammation

We’ve all heard about the benefits of consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. We know these are helpful for several conditions, including reducing your risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer, reducing your inflammation, and boosting your immune system. While omega-3s garnered much of the limelight, omega-6 fatty acid levels are important to keep in mind as well.

Omega-6 is somewhat antithetical to omega-3. Instead of reducing inflammation and boosting your immune system, omega-6 tends to do the opposite. Omega-6 metabolism leads to the production of a pro-inflammatory acid in our bodies. This increase in inflammation can cause symptoms like joint pain, fatigue, and skin rashes.

Omega-6 is found in a wide variety of foods. Most nuts, seeds, legumes, and animal products have a combination of both omega-3 and omega-6. However, some foods have a more favorable profile of the two fatty acids. Salmon, wild or farmed, are great sources of omega-3. Certain nuts, such as flax, chia, and hemp have a favorable profile of the two omegas as well. Omega-6 foods to avoid include seed oils such as canola, vegetable, and sesame seed oil. Also, steer clear of processed and refined foods.

Is it possible to determine your body’s balance of omega-3 vs. omega-6? Absolutely. Many laboratories are now offering a test to determine your omega fatty acid profile. This can be incredibly helpful when it comes to implementing dietary modifications to optimize your health.

Historically, human diets contained a much higher percentage of omega-3 compared to omega-6. Nowadays, the ratio has flopped and can be as much as 100:1 in favor of omega-6. What’s an ideal ratio? A ratio of less than 20:1 is preferred.

In my practice, I’ve seen a wide range when it comes to this ratio. Surprisingly, even my healthiest of patients who eat a whole food diet rich in organic foods and exercise every day, can still have a profile >100:1. That’s why it’s important to check your levels so that you can be empowered in your health decisions and dietary choices. 

To improve your omega profile, try to consume more foods with a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, avocado, olive oil, and almonds. Try to limit foods that are high in Omega-6 fatty acids as stated above. You can also add a fish oil supplement to your daily routine, such as ProOmega by Nordic Naturals.

Would you like to know your omega fatty acid profile? Schedule a consult with Dr. Kate or purchase your own micronutrient analysis kit online to have your results in no time. Let’s optimize your health together! 

The Empowered Patient

Dr. Kate

Bonus Nutrition Tip:

Overnight Oats—Easy, rich in omega-3, and packed with gut-healthy probiotics. Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and place in the refrigerator overnight. Enjoy the next morning.
Ingredients: Hemp, Chia, Flax, Rolled Oats, Yogurt, local raw Honey. 

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