So our omega-6:omega-3 ratios are out of balance. Modern Western diets typically have ratios of omega−6 to omega−3 in excess of 10 to 1, some as high as 30 to 1. The optimal ratio is thought to be 4 to 1 or lower.
The reason appears to be that we’re eating far too much omega-6. I would think that this can’t be good for our bodies…
Actually this rise in omega imbalance has been accompanied by increased rates of many diseases – the so-called diseases of civilization – that involve inflammatory processes. There is now very strong evidence that several of these diseases are improved by increasing dietary omega-3, and good evidence for many others. There is also more preliminary evidence showing that dietary omega-3 can ease symptoms in several psychiatric disorders.
In summary they are essential fatty acids which our bodies can’t produce, so we need to obtain them through the food we eat. Omega-6 is inflammatory and omega-3 is anti-inflammatory, so:
too much omega-6 can result in increased tendency to form blood clots, inflammation (the possible cause of heart disease), high blood pressure, irritation of the digestive tract, depressed immune function, sterility, cell proliferation, cancer and weight gain.
Too little omega-3 has been associated with asthma, heart disease and learning deficiencies including ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactive disorder).
In a study by Israeli scientist Dr Shapira, she confirms the risks of omega-imbalanced diets and detected signs that women may be much more vulnerable to the negative health effects of such diets.
Dr. Shapira noted that Israeli Arabs consume a more traditional Mediterranean diet, with more monounsaturated fatty acids (mostly olive oil), and less omega-6 fatty acids. Their cancer rates are lower than those of Israeli Jews, but are increasing as their diets shift to a more “Israeli” mode with increased intake of omega-6 fats.
Compared with Israeli-Jewish men, she found that Israeli-Jewish women die from cancer at much higher rates, and have much higher cancer rates than Israeli-Arab women. Hence, not only do omega-6:omega-3 ratios influence health, but gender and sex hormones may also influence how women’s bodies metabolize omega-6 fats, in ways that promote cancer.
Is the answer to take Omega-3 supplements? You’ll see lots of people trying to sell you fish oil or flax (linseed) oil as the answer to this problem! But I would think it’s better to get the balance right by also reducing our intake of omega-6…
In summary, as mentioned previously (but worth stating again) it’s all about eating the right fats and oils (animal fats and olive oil) and foods from the right origins (for example grass fed cows for meat, milk, butter, cheese).
The right food with the right provenance with the right balance…