What's the Hype about Omega-3 and Omega-6?

As I have focused on transitioning out of general internal medicine and treating diseases, into a health and wellness practice helping people prevent diseases, my scope of reading has also changed. My family and I are focusing on being more healthy. Some of the changes we've made include removing artificial sweeteners from our diet, supplementing our diets with iodine, eating less junk food (at least as much as we can with teenagers), increasing the Omega-3s in our diets, and exercising more. Last night I was reading Holistic Primary Care and came across a couple articles about Omega-3/Omega-6 fats. I've summarized some of the key points below.

Healthier people consume about equal amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats. In industrialized countries, like the U.S., Omega-3s with smooth and repair, tend to be low in our diets whereas the Omega-6s, which activate inflammation are high.  Americans consume 50-100 times more Omega-6 than Omega-3.  High intake of vegetable oils like safflower, soy, sunflower, corn and sesame seed combined with a low intake of Omega 3s which are found in fish, flax, and algae throws our balance off. Omega-6 excess combined with Omega-3 deficiency is strongly associated  with many common chronic inflammatory disease including cardiovascular disease and autoimmune diseases.

We are the product of our choices: what we eat, drink, think and do! Diets that I particularly like (if you're one who needs to follow a diet) are the Greek Mediterranean and Paleo. If you like seafood and sea vegetables, the Japanese, Okinawan (The Okinawan Plan by Makato Suzuki and Bradley Wilcox) is also quite good. Even small changes in diet can have have a huge beneficial effect on your health. Switching from soy, corn and other vegetable oils  to better oils like extra virgin olive oil, grape seed and organic peanut oil is easy to do. Cut down on sodas, especially diet ones. Exercise! My husband and I are both half marathon and marathoners runners, but you don't have to go to those extremes. Just walk or get in a pool or a stationary bike or a recumbent bike. The important first step is to quit using your illnesses, fatigue, joint pain, etc. as excuses NOT to exercise. Everyone can do something!! Start slow!

What about Omega-3 capsules? Dr. Jorn Dyerburg is a Danish investigator who has extensively studied Omega-3s. Lovaza is a prescription fish oil in what's called an ethyl ester form. Lipomar is a not yet available formulation of  fish oil in the triglyceride form. He did a study comparing these two to a placebo (olive oil). While both Lovaza and Lipomar raised what's called the Omega-3 Index, the triglyceride form (Lipomar) performed better. So when choosing supplements look to see what form your Omega-3 capsules are in. The Omega-3 Index, included in our Berkeley Advanced Lipid and Genetic testing, shows a strong inverse correlation with cardiovascular risk (heart attack and stroke). There is a 90% reduction if you get the Omega-3 Index up to 8.2%. Unfortunately, most Americans are well under 4%. If this seems confusing, no worries. I review and explain all you labs and genetic testing to you at your Berkeley Heart Program consult. In addition you will have access to a live nutrition educator to help with your food choices. Call today for more information...501-228-6237

Anne R Trussell MD