One of the most important things that we have easily available to us to make us healthy is our diet.
We hear a lot about omega fatty acids. We know we need them, and they are essential. And we may also have heard that too much omega 6 causes inflammation.
So what is the deal? Why are omega 6 essential if they are inflammatory?
Here’s the thing. We need both omega 3 and omega 6. They are both essential fatty acids that play important roles in our body. We need both for our bodies to work well. Some inflammation is necessary as part of your body’s healing process.
The problem lies in the ratio.
Our bodies are biologically programmed for ratios of omega 3:6 between 1:1 and 1:4. This was what most people had pre-industrial revolution. Or in other words, almost all of human kinds’ existence.
After the industrial revolution, our diets changed substantially in the Western world. We started introducing all these weird foods into our diet that don’t really exist in a natural state. Now the average American has a ratio closer to 1:25! That is crazy! It also explains why so many people are now suffering from chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
I personally suffer from autoimmune disease. I have ulcerative colitis and ankylosing spondylitis. But keeping my omega ratio down has been key to keeping my ulcerative colitis in remission, and my ankylosing spondylitis manageable. I am not on any pharmaceuticals, or pain medicine. My omega ratio is 1:4.5, and my inflammation markers are all low.
So how do we get our omega ratios down to healthy and natural levels?
I can tell you this much, I don’t have time as a working mother of an active 3 year old to spend time worrying about the omega ratio of every food I put into my body. Or have time for spreadsheets, calculators, and omega ratio meal planning.
I got my ideal ratio simply from avoiding the big omega 6 offenders, and by taking a high quality omega 3 supplement. I don’t even eat fish as often as I should! (even though I do love seafood, and live in Portland, OR, so I have no excuse, haha!)
Getting your ideal omega 6:3 ratio doesn’t have to be complicated.
It doesn’t have to taste boring. It probably won’t even change your average meal all that much. The only thing that will change is the quality of the ingredients you use. Just stay away from the top offenders, and use a good omega 3 supplement. It really is that easy and simple.
So what are the top offenders?
1. Vegetable and Seed Oils
Vegetable and seed oils to avoid include:
- Soy oil
- Canola (rapeseed) oil
- Sunflower oil
- Corn oil
- Peanut oil
What to eat instead?
- Grass fed butter
- Grass fed ghee
- Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
Make sure to check the ingredient lists of your foods, such as mayonnaise and baked goods, and avoid any made of the bad fats and oils.
If you stick with the good fats and oils, and avoid the bad fats and oils, you’ll see your omega six levels go down drastically.
2. Commercially raised, mass produced animal products
Another thing that people don’t really think about are meats, dairy, and seafood. Chicken breast and lean beef are good for you, right? Not if they were commercially raised in mass production environments.
Animals are now being raised in ways not intended by nature. It is cruel to raise them in tiny pens, where they can’t move. But it’s not all about the morality of raising animals in this way, it actually directly effects the health profile of the meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
One way we see this to the extreme is in the omega ratio of the meats. Animal products go from healthy, to highly inflammatory. A couple examples:
If the beef is pasture raised, it is quite healthy, and a 1:4 omega ratio. If they are raised in tiny pens, on soy and corn feed, their omega 3:6 ratio changes to an average of 1:32!!!
If the chickens are happy, running around outside, foraging for bugs (a key part of a healthy chicken’s diet), the omega ratio of an egg is close to a perfect 1:1 omega ratio. If you stuff them in a cage, and feed them soy and corn feed, and don’t let them forage, the omega 3:6 ratio of those eggs rises to 1:30!
Replace all your animal products with wild caught (important for seafood!) and pasture raised (important for all meats, eggs, and dairy) animal products and you will see your omega ratio normalize.
While this kind of meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy can cost a little more, just remember that we generally want to be incorporating more vegetables into our diet anyhow. Smaller, yet high quality meat portions, along with larger vegetables portions, not only makes eating these animal products affordable, but makes you healthier.
So that is the second big omega six offender, commercially produced animal products.
3. Deep fried foods
Another one that we already know is unhealthy deep fried foods. I’m not saying you can never have french fries again. I still have french fries from time to time, or fish and chips, or jalepeno poppers. And I still have a good omega ratio. Just don’t eat deep fried foods on a regular basis. Make it a treat, rather than a regular part of your diet.
4. Processed foods
And the last easy big offender to avoid is processed food. Even the “healthy” organic ones.
If you look at the ingredients, they are usually made with the bad fats and oils, mass produced meats, farmed seafood, etc. (not to mention how high in sodium they generally are, but that is a topic for another day).
The vegan meals. The vegetarian meals. The heart healthy meals. They are all generally going to be high in omega six.
After avoiding the big omega 6 offenders, the last key to an optimal omega ratio is to increase your intake of omega 3. The Western diet is typically low in these essential, anti-inflammatory fatty acids.
You can get this through salmon and other cold water, wild caught fish. However, most of us don’t eat enough fish on a daily basis to get our omega 3s strictly from diet alone. It’s great if you do. If you live in a fishing town, and you eat salmon and cod every single day, then you probably don’t need to take an omega supplement. However, that’s not most of us. Most of us could use a helping hand. (That said you should still try to eat cold water wild caught fish at least twice a week.)
You most likely need a high-quality omega-3 supplement.
It’s important that it is high quality, because if it’s not properly made, and properly stored, those healthy omega-3‘s can oxidize and actually turn into bad fats. So you must be careful about your source for omega-3‘s.
Our household uses Doterra‘s xEO Mega supplement.
This particular omega supplement also has the added benefit of astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is an amazing antioxidant, it’s like a magic super supplement. It’s what gives salmon and flamingos their pink color. Studies are showing more and more amazing benefits of astaxanthin.
Follow the advice given here, and you will see your omega ratio return to the healthy range that humans were meant to have. And when you see your omega ratio go down, you will also see your inflammation go down! It’s actually so easy to do, and you won’t regret it. You will see so many health issues improve, or even go away, when the inflammation in your body goes down.