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How an Imbalance in Omega-6 to Omega-3 Fatty Acids Causes Poor Health and Disease

Up until the past several decades, humans have consumed diets balanced in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. A major shift occurred when conventional dietary advice began to support the presumed health benefits of vegetable oils over saturated animal fats.

High Omega-6 Vegetable Oils in Processed Foods Cause a Dietary Imbalance

Industrialized vegetable oils, like grape seed, sunflower, and safflower, are extremely high in omega-6 fatty acids. Vegetables and seeds are processed chemically or expeller pressed, producing products not found in nature.

Vegetable oils are ever-present in processed foods. They are found in microwave meals, potato chips, and breads. Snacks, packaged mixes, and margarines are all rich in these oils. They are also used in recipes as a replacement for butter or lard.

High Omega-3 Seafood Lowers Disease Risk and Supports Fetal Development

Fish contains DHA, which is an omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid. DHA is anti-inflammatory. It supports cognitive brain function, healthy body tissue, and reduces platelet aggregation that leads to blood clots.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is contained in plants as a precursor that converts to DHA. It is found in vegetable oils, flax seeds, soybeans, and other plant foods.

Contrary to popular belief, the transition from ALA to DHA isn’t efficient. For those who consume a diet high in saturated fats, conversion rates of ALA to DHA average 6 percent. That number is cut in half for those with high omega-6 diets.

For this reason, a vegan pregnancy puts a developing fetus at risk for abnormalities. DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain and retina. Infants who are deficient in this omega-3 are at an increased risk of visual impairment and cognitive abnormalities.

High Omega-6 Diets Increase Disease Risk

When you lower your intake of omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 is able to work more efficiently. These fatty acids compete against each other, and the detrimental effects of omega-6 seem to prevail in the fight.

Vegans and fast-food junkies alike consume 15 to 20 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. This imbalance contributes to inflammation and the development of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases and obesity.

A diet that is deficient in Omega-3 results in poor neurotransmitter function, as they are needed for proper neurotransmission. This can lead to many conditions like depression, anxiety, alcoholism, hyperactivity, attention deficit, addiction, insomnia, adrenal disorders, violent behavior, or any type of mental health disorder.

Studies show that a reduction in dietary omega-6 lowers risk of death by 70 percent. It reduces colorectal cell growth and the risk of breast cancer. A 1:1 balance of omega-6 to omega-3 suppresses inflammation in those who have rheumatoid arthritis or asthma.

Diets high in omega-6 contribute to the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). High levels of oxidized LDL, or very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), are linked to cardiovascular disease.

Experts promise health benefits with the use of vegetable oils, but science proves otherwise. Diseases that are most common today were all but unheard of 100 years ago. The return to an evolutionary diet, which includes red meat and fish, balanced in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids leaves out industrialized modern foods and supports good health and proper nutrition.

Resources:

Simopoulos, A.p. “The Importance of the Ratio of Omega-6/omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids.” Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 56.8 (2002): 365-79. Print.

Simopoulos, A.p. “Evolutionary Aspects Of diet, The omega-6/omega-3 ratio And genetic Variation: Nutritional Implications For chronic Diseases.” Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 60.9 (2006): 502-07. Print.

Gerster, H. “Can Adults Adequately Convert Alpha-linolenic Acid (18:3n-3) to Eicosapentaenoic Acid (20:5n-3) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (22:6n-3)?” International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research 68.3 (1998). Print.

Novak, EM. “High Dietary Omega-6 Fatty Acids Contribute to Reduced Docosahexaenoic Acid in the Developing Brain and Inhibit Secondary Neurite Growth.” Brain Research (2008): 136-45. Print.

Hibbeln, Joseph, and Et Al. “Healthy Intakes of N-3 and N-6 Fatty Acids: Estimations considering Worldwide Diversity.” American Society for Nutrition 83.6 (2006). Print.

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