There are two kinds of fat that the body can’t make on its own: omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. They are essential oils necessary for health and we need to ensure an adequate supply of these through our food. Brian Peskin stresses the importance of parent omega-3 (as in flaxseeds) and omega-6 (as in sunflower seeds) over their non-essential derivatives like EPA, DHA, and GLA.
Not only do we need an adequate quantity of both oils, but we also need to get them in the right ratio. The right ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is deemed to be somewhere between 1:1 and 4:1 (Davis & Melina, 2010), while Peskin narrows it down to 1:1 to 2.5:1. However, today the actual intake is often skewed to a 10:1 to 20:1 ratio! This seems to be due to the excessive use of omega-6 rich oils.
So, while we’re drastically decreasing our oil intake, we’re making an effort to include more omega- 3 rich foods into our diet, such as flaxseeds and chia seeds.
Some of the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids and flaxseed:
- Omega 3 fatty acids modulate inflammatory cytokines (Sarris & Wardle, 2011), and thus have a positive anti-inflammatory action. Inflammation is linked with many disease conditions ranging from arthritis to intestinal permeability.
- Omega-3 rich flaxseed oil has been shown to reduce the symptoms of eczema, asthma and allergies.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are indicated for improving circulation and rheumatoid issues .
- Flaxseed has also been used successfully for constipation, diarrhea, acne and cystitis.
Omega-3 fatty acids also aid in weight loss in three major ways:
- Omega-3s serve as building materials for a type of prostaglandin which helps our kidneys get rid of excess water held in tissues. As the excess weight of some overweight people is largely retained water (edema), Omega-3s help excrete this water and thus reduce body volume.
- Omega-3s increase metabolic rate and oxidation rate. As metabolism is increased, more fat and glucose are burned.
- Omega-3s increase energy production which in turn will make us feel more like being active (Erasmus, 1997).
Why flaxseed over fish oil:
- Contrary to past claims, ALA or alpha-Linolenic acid in plant-based oils is converted by the body into the omega-3 derivatives, EPA and DHA .
- Udo Erasmus, PhD, author of ‘Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill’, claims that most fish oils on the market are rancid, partially damaged or contaminated with mercury, PCB’s, dioxin and organo-chlorine pesticides.
- Brian Clement (2010), PhD, of the Hippocrates Institute, states that when a fish dies being pulled out of the water into an oxygenated environment, its unstable oils become almost immediately rancid and thus carcinogenic, therefore unusable for Omega-3 purposes.
- He cites a team from New Zealand who tested many fish oil samples and found that the oil contained oxidative byproducts. This indicates that the oils are continuing to degrade and become increasingly rancid even within the capsules.
- Clement (2010) asserts that ‘about 50 years ago, it was found that a large amount of cod liver oil in dogs’ diets increased their death rate from cancer by 20 times’.
- Check Brian Peskin’s website for more info on why fish oils are not a good choice.
For these reasons, and for issues of sustainability and animal welfare, we consume only plant-based Omega-3’s, specifically freshly ground and/or soaked flax seeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds.
Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia for breakfast!
Judith and Mia (3) love chia seeds that have been soaked over night in some water together with a handful of sultanas. In the morning we mix some squished ripe banana in and add lots of cinnamon powder on top. Mh- mh!! David however can’t quite get over the visual resemblance of soaked chia to fish eggs, so he prefers to hide chia in smoothies ;-).
Davis, B., Melina, V. (2010) Becoming Raw. The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Company
Erasmus, U. (1997) Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill. Burnaby, BC: Alive Books
Clement, B.R. (2010) Supplements Exposed. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books
Sarris, J., Wardle, J. (2010) Clinical Naturopathy- An evidence-based guide to practice. Chatswood, NSW: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier