Dr. Noe's 10 Steps to Optimal Health
Step 6: Consume Omega 3 Oils Daily (fish, fish oil, flax oil)
Omega 3 oils are essential nutrients that are important to many bodily processes, particularly the regulation of inflammation. As an essential nutrient, they are like vitamins in that the body cannot produce them on its own, and hence they must come from the diet. The best source of omega 3 oils is from fish, fish oil, and flax oil.
Unfortunately, the modern American diet has very little of this essential nutrient. In Paleolithic times, humans ate wild game that was feeding on grasses and leaves which are relatively high in omega 3 oils. As a result, the meat of these animals was also high in omega 3 oils. Our human ancestors are estimated to have consumed over 40 times the amount of omega 3 oils present in the typical western diet (as well as 4-6 times the fiber, 2-4 times the vitamins, and 69 kg less of refined sugars per year).The human genome consequently evolved with dietary omega 3’s. In modern America, most beef and other meats come from animals that are fed on corn, which is low in omega 3 fats.
Omega 3 oils influence the production of cytokines, which are compounds produced by the immune system that control inflammation. Many saturated fats are precursors to cytokines that promote inflammation. Omega 3 oils, however, are precursors to different cytokines that reduce inflammation. Omega 6 oils, which are another kind of essential fat, can be precursors to either the anti-inflammatory or pro-inflammatory cytokines. Omega 3 oils can only be turned into the anti-inflammatory cytokines. Because of this fact, and the fact that American diets are already high in omega 6 fats from nuts, grains, and vegetable oils, I do not recommend supplementing with omega 6 oils such as evening primrose, borage, and black currant seed oils in most circumstances.
Regulating inflammation is key to good health. We are beginning to understand how inflammation promotes many chronic diseases including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, auto-immune disease, and cancer to name a few. Inflammation is promoted by our modern lifestyles that are high stress, high toxic load, and lacking in adequate physical activity; and our diets that are high in sugar, white flour, and food allergens and lacking in fruits and vegetables.
There is evidence that omega 3 oils can help to prevent all of the diseases listed above. This is especially true of heart disease. Numerous studies have now shown that about 1500 mg of daily omega 3 oils can reduce heart attack risk by about 30%. In addition, omega 3’s have been found to help depression, immune function, and brain development. They can also be useful in the treatment of eczema and dry skin.
To get adequate omega 3’s you can do any combination of the following:
- Take a fish oil supplement
- Use flax oil or flax seeds (these contain a different type of omega 3 fat that is not as potent as the kind found in fish oil, but still offer benefit)
- Eat fish that is high in omega 3 oils such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and cod
- Eat grass fed meats and dairy, which are naturally higher in omega 3’s than when conventionally farmed
Naturopathic doctors are physician experts in treating the underlying cause of disease and using natural medicines to help people get and stay well. To see a naturopathic doctor for help in determining whether your health problems are related to diet, and for comprehensive help and guidance in how to make changes in your dietary habits, please make a selection below.
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