Omega 3 & 6 – Is there a friend and a foe ?
In 1982 Sune K. Bergström, Bengt I. Samuelson and John R. Vane won the Nobel Prize in Physiology “for their discoveries concerning prostaglandins and related biologically active substances”.
This formed the foundation for the science of the Omega 3/6 balance. A subject that has since become one of the most thoroughly studied subjects on nutrition and physiology.
Basically the omega 3/6 balance science says that Omega 3 produces anti inflammatory eicosanoids and Omega 6 produces pro inflammatory eicosanoids. If we have to many pro inflammatory eicosanoids, then we build chronic sub clinical inflammation which creates lifestyle diseases.
Just for the record, eicosanoids are hormone like substances that performs many vital metabolic processes at the cardiovascular, immune and nervous system. The main classes of eicosanoids are prostaglandins, prostacyclins, thromboxanes, and leukotriens.
So does that mean that omega 3 is the good boy in the class and Omega 6 is the cruel bully ?
NO! We would not be able to survive without any of them. I will in this article give you 6 examples of how Omega 3 and Omega 6 work closely hand in hand to keep us alive.
1). Omega 3 produce eicosanoids that promote blood fluidity, and Omega 6 produce eicosanoids that promote platelet aggretion and blood clotting.
This should be spot on – blood clotting can trigger a heart attack so Omega 6 is the bad guy, right ? No because if we didn’t have the blood clotting ability to close off the wound, then we would bleed to death from just a small cut. We need our blood to have a high fluidity but we also need it to be able to clot.
2). Omega 3 produce eicosanoids that cause vasodilation (expansion of blood vessels) and Omega 6 causes vasoconstriction (contraction of blood vessels).
If we have extreme vasoconstriction then our blood pressure goes up to the point where we could possibly die. On the other hand in the case of extreme vasodilation we would experience a drop in blood pressure, that would cause us to faint and could also be potentially lethal.
3). Omega 3 produce eicosanoids that cause immunosuppretion, where as Omega 6 produce eicosanoids that promotes immunity.
No, immunosuppretion does not cause Omega 3 to be todays bad boy. Because if our immune cells wasn’t kept in a strict leach then it would potentially cause the immune system to go rouge and cause auto immune diseases where the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body.
4). Omega 3 produce anti inflammatory eicosanoids, Omega 6 produce pro inflammatory eicosanoids.
The anti inflammatory eicosanoids help slow down the aging process and inflammatory degradation that is leading to a number of lifestyle diseases.
On the other hand – the pro inflammatory response is exactly what we need to fight invasion from foreign pathogens or damage to our cells – so even here, one would not work without the other.
5). Omega 3 produce pain inhibiting eicosanoids. One of many reasons why people with chronic pain often reports relief when taking fish oil in the right dosage.
Now none of us want to live in pain. So as I tell you that Omega 6 produce pain transmitting eicosanoids you’d probably say that you only want the Omega 3’s. Right ? Well wrong again, without the eicosanoids that comes from Omega 6 you would not be able to feel the pain that alert you when you place your hand on a hot stow or when you get an injury that demands immediate attention.
6). Omega 6 produce eicosanoids that promotes cell proliferation, the process that makes it possible for our cells to renew themselves. On the other hand if we did not have the cell proliferation inhibiting eicosanoids from Omega 3 then huge threats like tumors would be able to grow uncontrolled and rapidly.
So you see we need both Omega 3 and Omega 6’s. The logic question to ask now is, in that case – why does science keep telling us to eat more Omega 3 and not Omega 6 ?
The answer to this is simply that we generally get way to much Omega 6 from our modern diet. After Ancel Keys managed to get his falsified theory that fats are dangerous published, has the food industry replaced the saturated fats with vegetable oils, which means that today we find Omega 6’s in almost every processed food source we eat such as: cooking oils, margarine, salad dressings & mayonnaise, nuts & seeds, chips, all fried fast foods, cookies, candies, meat (because live stock today is rapidly fed on corn), poultry etc.
The problem has actually become so severe that more then 95% of the population is out of balance. Now given what we just learned about the functions of Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s, balance is extremely important – and should be as close to 1:1 as possible, so they can balance each other out, and let our bodies work as the perfect machine that it is.
Reality is extremely different though. On average the europeans have a balance of 15:1 and in the USA we see an average balance of 25:1.
This means that when we produce more inflammatory eicosanoids then anti inflammatory our bodies build up chronic inflammation which results in arthritis,atherosclerosis ( leading to heart attack) obesity and a number of other lifestyle related diseases.
It means that when we produce more pain transmitting eicosanoids we get prone to chronic pain.
At this point you might want to know if you need to take an Omega 3 supplement. Especially if you have a chronic condition that is bothering you. There’s really just one way to know – take a test.
There’s a few tests out there to choose from, and they vary in price. I offer a test as well, it’s not cheap but it’s one of the most comprehensive and in-depth tests on the market. the test can be done from the comfort of your own home, and takes about 20 days to get your results. What you get is a 14 page analysis on your entire fatty acid profile including dietary advice based on your test results.
Aditional information on the test can be found here.