Advice / 7 months ago
Advice / 6 months ago
Omega Fatty Acids
When thinking about what I could write for some nutritional advice, my mind was going alongthe body composition route. Primarily because I received about 20,000 calories worth ofchocolate for my birthday. I’m weak! We have heard this plenty of times though, lose weightcalories deficit, increase weight, calories surplus. If you participate in the CrossFitmethodology and our approach to functional fitness, nutrition forms the base of the CrossFitpyramid. So I thought I would go down the route of the once popular Omega fatty acids. It isimportant to get this into your diet, and a correct balance of the 3, 6 & 9 fatty acids has anumber of health benefits for your body.
Your body can’t naturally make Omega-3 fatty acids, so they are referred to as essential fats, so It is important we get it in our diet. The three main types (there are bloody load ofthem) are:
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): This 20-carbon fatty acid’s main function is to producechemicals called eicosanoids, which help reduce inflammation. EPA also helpsreduce symptoms of depression
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): A 22-carbon fatty acid, DHA makes up about 8% of brain weight and is extremely important for normal brain development and function.
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): This 18-carbon fatty acid can be converted into EPA and DHA, although the process is not very efficient. ALA is mainly used by the body forenergy.
Omega 3 fatty acids are vital for the health of the cell membranes in your body and havesome important functions from improving heart and mental health. Decreasing liver fat andoverall body fat. It promotes bone, brain and can stave off Dementia. Why are we not eatingthis for breakfast? The Scandinavians take it by the spoonful! I don’t know, could be that theliquid form literally tastes like a fish’s liver, but we probably should be 🙂
Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential, so you need to obtain them from your diet. Thesefats are primarily used for energy. The most common omega-6 fat is linoleic acid, which canbe converted into omega-6 fats such as arachidonic acid (ARA). Like EPA, ARA is used toproduce eicosanoids. However, the eicosanoids produced by ARA are morepro-inflammatory. Pro-inflammatory eicosanoids are important chemicals in the immunesystem. However, when too many of them are produced, they can increase inflammationand inflammatory disease.. Although omega-6 fats are essential, the modern Western dietcontains far more omega-6 fatty acids than necessary. The recommended ratio of omega-6to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is 4:1 or less. However, the Western diet has a ratiobetween 10:1 and 50:1. Therefore, although omega-6 fats are essential in the rightquantities, most people in the developed world should aim to reduce their omega-6 intake.
Nevertheless, some omega-6 fatty acids have shown benefits in treating symptoms ofchronic disease. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid found in certain oils,such as evening primrose oil and borage oil. When consumed, much of it is converted toanother fatty acid called dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA). The University ofMassachusetts showed that taking a high dose of GLA supplements significantly reduced anumber of symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is another formof omega-6 fat that has some health benefits. For example, the University of Wisconsinfound that taking 3.2 grams of CLA supplements per day effectively reduced body fat massin humans. Jolly good.
Omega-9 fatty acids aren’t strictly “essential,” meaning they can be produced by the body. Infact, omega-9 fats are the most abundant fats in most cells in the body. However, consumingfoods rich in omega-9 fatty acids instead of other types of fat may have a number ofbeneficial health effects. The University of Texas found that high-monounsaturated fat dietscould reduce certain types of fat by 19% and “bad” VLDL cholesterol by 22% in patients withdiabetes. The same study found that humans who ate high-monounsaturated fat diets hadless inflammation and better insulin sensitivity than those who ate diets high in saturated fat
So in conclusion, this stuff does you good, but only when in a fine balance. If we eatnaturally we find we don’t need to worry about getting the balance. You are what your foodeats. Grain fed beef tends to be out of balance with Omega-6 fatty acids, whereas grass fedbeef holds the perfect balance. Soybeans are super popular nowadays, but they are loadedwith Omega-6, so you have to be careful you don’t go overboard. So, as a simple rule, foryour Omega-3 fatty acids, go for oily fish, like mackerel and salmon, whereas omega-6s andomega-9s are found in plant oils, nuts and seeds. In terms of supplementation, you can getOmega 3, 6 & 9 capsules, but we’re eating enough 6 as it is, and 9 we produce naturallyanyway, so go for a simple Omega-3 supplement if you want to. Bulk Powders have alwaysgot some sort of discount on. Remember, CrossFit, Functional fitness, stress, all of this canincrease chronic inflammation within our body. Nutrition is the foundation of the CrossFitpyramid. So get some of this into your diet, even if it’s just for the great taste.