Omega-3’s are long-chain polyunsaturated essential fatty acids (lipids) that are vital to human health. They are a family of three fats (EPA, DHA, and ALA) that perform an important role in the body by increasing the proper function of:
- • Brain activity
- • Heart and circulatory system
- • Visual capacities
- • Nervous system
- • Immune system
- • Cell communication
Within the brain are neurons (cells which transmit messages throughout the brain and to other parts of the body). The membrane (or wall) around these neurons is made up of “good” fat. These membranes need to be flexible to allow vital molecules to pass through so the neurons can communicate properly. Several factors, including age and diets high in cholesterol and saturated fats, can cause these membranes to stiffen and be less pliable. This stiffness does not allow the needed molecules to pass through the neurons correctly and can result in mood imbalances, difficulties in learning, difficulties in recalling information, and other decreases in brain function.
By supplementing your diet with Omega-3, you can restore the flexible and pliable nature of the cell membranes, thus allowing the free-flow of vital molecules within your brain. This results in increased cell communication and brain function.
In addition, Omega-3 benefits the body by acting as a blood cleanser and making the blood less sticky and more fluid. This allows more oxygen to reach the brain and, in essence, “feeds” the brain. It also improves overall circulation and heart health, helps manage inflammation, and improves function of just about every cell in the body.
Although scientists have known about the benefits of Omega-3 since ancient Persian times, Omega-3 has just recently started to gain world-wide attention again. Ongoing research is expanding our understanding of the benefits and positive effects of Omega-3. In addition, numerous studies conducted in the last several years have called urgent attention to the deficiencies of Omega-3 in our diets.
Researchers are rediscovering that not getting enough Omega-3’s in the diet isn’t the only problem we have. When we eat too many other fats, such as saturated fats and Omega-6 fatty acids, it is harder for the body to utilize the Omega-3’s that we do eat. With the over consumption of Omega-6’s in the average modern diet, the tendency is for Omega-3’s to be broken down and discarded. In order to have the best Omega-3 health possible, it is important to reduce Omega-6 consumption at the same time we increase Omega-3 consumption.
A healthy ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 for adults is 2:1. Today, most people have a ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 as high as 20:1. An imbalance of this ratio can cause several health problems. Many chronic diseases (for example, diabetes, heart disease, Arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome) and diseases of mental health (for example, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and depression) have been linked to a dietary imbalance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids.