Life Enhancing Omega-3s
by Dr. Jay LaGuardia
With eighteen years’ experience as a chiropractor and wellness coach, one of my core recommendations to all my patients is a daily supplementation with omega-3 fish oil for overall wellness. Recent research continues to prove that living congruently with your genetic requirements not only ensures the highest level of health and wellness, it can also help you reach and maintain your ideal body weight.
People with the highest intake of omega-3 fish oil weigh less and lose weight more easily than those deficient in omega-3s. A recent study at the University of South Australia proves that taking fish oil, combined with moderate, aerobic exercise, over 12 weeks boosted weight loss. The research determines that the fish oil activates enzymes that are responsible for burning fat. Another research study shows that a diet high in poly-unsaturated fatty acids, specifically those found in fish oil, can be protective against obesity and metabolic syndrome in children. More research reveals that ingesting fish oil helps stop the conversion of pre-fat cells to fat cells by killing pre-fat cells.
Omega-3 fats are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer and many other diseases; however, not all omega-3 fats are the same. The type and the source will make a difference in the health benefits provided. There are three types if omega-3 fats:
DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
EPA (Eicosadentaenoic Acid)
ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid)
Most of your health benefits associated with omega-3 fats are linked to animal-based omega-3 fats like DHA and EPA, not plant-based omega-3 fats like ALA. ALA is converted into EPA and DHA in your body, but only at a very low ratio. Even if you eat large amounts of ALA, your body can only convert very small amounts into DHA and EPA – and only when a sufficient enzyme is present.
So hands down, DHA and EPA are the most desirable omega-3s to add to your diet, and they’re found primarily in fish. This does not mean that plant-based omega-3 fats are harmful or should be avoided. We all need them and they should be consumed as part of a well-balanced and healthy diet. My favorite way of getting them is from freshly-ground, organic flax seed, which is also a healthy water-soluble fiber. However, avoiding any animal-based fats and exclusively using plant-based omega-3s can harm you in the long run.
For Your Health
Several recent studies extol the virtues of supplementing regularly with omega-3s. Harvard University found that supplementing with omega-3s may reduce arrhythmias (which can be fatal). George Washington School of Medicine found that omega-3s decrease protein production of inflammatory proteins called cytokines. “Cytokines play a role in stripping cartilage and eroding bone.” says PatienceWhite, M.D., M.A., Professor of Medicine in Pediatrics at the school. The researchers also found that those who consume EPA and DHA have fewer joints problems and decreased stiffness.
Studies in which scientists have compared fish intake across ten countries have concluded that rates of clinical depression, bi-polar disorder and postpartum depression are nearly 30 to 50 times greater in countries with low fish consumption. Omega-3s may offer good enhancing effects, even in those who are not diagnosed with mental illness. The research has observed that people with higher levels of DHA and EPA were less likely to report feeling blue, even when measured against normative range of depression symptoms. “That suggests that higher blood levels of EPA and DHA are protective against depression.” says Sarah Conglin, PhD and lead study author and Profession of Psychology at Allegany College in Pennsylvania. Conglin also states that because brain cell walls are made up of DHA and EPA, consuming more of these fats may improve brain-cell composition in neurotransmission function, which is dysfunctional in people who are clinically depressed.
Studies have made promising associations, calculating that people who eat fish two to three times a week are about half as likely to experience age-related cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Food for Thought
Some wonder if omega-3-fortified foods are a good way to get the essential oils. Many food companies now realizing that consumers are interested in bettering their health with omega-3 fats are trying to jump on the omega-3 band wagon. You can now find omega-3 fortified cereal, eggs, crackers, yogurt and even mayonnaise. C.S.P.I. is the Center for Science in Public Interest warns consumers that the vast majority of these products contain ALA which has not been linked with the same health benefits as EPA and DHA.
Long-chained fats like DHA and EPA are nearly exclusively found in marine sources like fish and fish oil. In the perfect world, fish would be a near per-fect food: high in protein, full of essential nutrients and fats. However, because of pollution, contamination, and toxicity concerns, increasing your fish intake is often discouraged. Instead, opt for a high-quality omega-3 supplement like Innate Choice. It contains the ideal ratio of omega-3s to omega-3 fats (roughly 1:1). High quality fish oils are great, but keep in mind that they’re highly perishable and can easily become rancid inside your body. Those found at retail stores can also quickly become rancid as they’ve often sat on store shelves too long. So make sure the supplement you take is high-quality, and store it in your fridge.
Well, Well, Well
Another important tip: decrease your consumption of omega-6s. Omega 6 fatty acids are a family of polysaturated fats that are found in most, if not all, of processed foods these days. Some medical research suggests that excessive levels of omega-6 fatty acids, relative to omega-3 fatty acids, may increase the probability of a number of diseases and depression.
Our ancestors lived for generations on a ration of 1:1 omega-3 fats. Today, largely as a result of consuming far too many omega-6 fats and not enough omega-3 fats, our ratio of omega-3s to -6s averages 20:1 to 50:1. This is genetically incongruent to what we need to become pure and sufficient.
When you are sufficient in what the body needs and avoid those things that are toxic, you will naturally gravitate towards health. Integrating an omega-3 supplementation into your diet is one easy, natural way to increase your overall health and wellness.
Dr. Jay LaGuardia has been practicing chiropractic for 18 years, has been the director of Stucky Chiropractic Clinic for the past 12 years, is a lecturer across the country and is one of the developers of the Living Well Series, a mind-body-spirit wellness program.