Most people are familiar with the essential fatty acid – Omega 3 and are aware that we are unable to produce this fat in our body and therefor, need to consume foods that contain Omega 3 fat.
That said, few people realise the importance of avoiding ‘anti-Omega 3’ nutrients or foods.
To optimally benefit from this essential, and very important nutrient, Omega 3, we have to avoid foods that will tip the balance – out of balance!
In a nutshell, Omega 3 fats are vital for the structure and function of every cell in our body. The negative effects of insufficient dietary intake of Omega 3 fats are sometimes only evident as we age.
However, young babies and children may present with behaviour and learning disabilities and visual disturbances as a result of insufficient dietary intake of Omega 3 fat and conditions such as psoriasis, allergies and immune system disorders may be triggered as a result of insufficient intake of Omega 3 fats.
Sufficient consumption of Omega 3 fats are vital but of equal importance, is the exclusion of anti-Omega 3 foods.
When we habitually consume ‘anti-omega 3 foods’ , we may not respond and benefit sufficiently from the Omega 3 fats we are ingesting. People with a tendency for mental illness such as depression or immune system disorders, arthritis, joint conditions, auto-immune disorders, insulin resistance and other metabolic disorders such as diabetes and heart disease may be particularly vulnerable.
The most prevalent ‘Anti-Omega 3’ food is ironically, Omega 6 fat. Also an essential fat, Omega 6 influences the body’s ability to ‘convert’ and utilise certain types of Omega 3 fats. Plant sources of Omega 3 such as flax seeds, walnuts and Canola oil can not be utilised optimally when we consume too much Omega 6 fat in relation to our consumption of Omega 3 fat.
Ideally, we should consume Omega 6 fats and Omega 3 fats in a ratio of 1:1.
Simple as it may sound, since Omega 6 fats are more prevalent in our food supply, this is not always easy. Hence, we have to consciously exclude certain foods to shift the balance in our diet so that we consume more Omega 3 rich foods and fewer foods that provide predominantly Omega 6 fats. Only then are we able to prevent the the situation where Omega 3 is blocked and pathway that favours Omega 6 fats in the body becomes dominant. The effect of the latter is of course increased levels of inflammation and associated conditions such as insulin resistance.
Hence, instead of relying on an Omega 3 supplement, we should aim to ‘restore’ our daily intake to provide more Omega 3 fats, and less Omega 6 fats.
HOW TO reduced Omega 6 fats in your diet
Eat fewer foods that are rich in Omega 6 fats such as
Baked and fried foods prepared using sunflower oil
Fatty meat from animal raised in feed lots fed predominantly maize
Eat more foods rich in Omega 3 fats such as
Free Range Karoo Lamb
Free range Beef