Nutritionists refer to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as “essential” fats because the body cannot produce them. The human body needs such omega fats to build healthy cells and maintain proper brain and nerve function. The only way the body can obtain these essential fats is from proper food sources. It’s widely known that consuming an adequate ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids is essential to overall health, especially for Los Angeles residents suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
What’s more, high ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids can increase a person’s risk of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cancer and cardiovascular disease in addition to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). According to a report released by the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at the Biosciences Institute, omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in the signaling of compounds known as eicosanoids which participate in the regulation of inflammation within the body.
Specifically, the report revealed that eicosanoids derived from omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory while those from omega-3s are anti-inflammatory. These findings led researchers to believe that diets containing a high ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s indicate a tendency to induce inflammation that may lead to several chronic inflammatory diseases. Currently amongst the American population, the ratio for omega-6s to omega-3s is shockingly greater than 15. Researchers suggest an increase in the ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids in the American diet may lead to a reduction in the incidence of chronic diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease.
Consider the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet to balance your omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
If you suffer from a chronic inflammatory disease such as IBD or IBS, cut back on your omega-6 intake. You can easily reduce your intake of omega-6 fatty acids by making several healthy adjustments to your daily diet.
- Change out your cooking oil for healthier alternatives. Vegetable oils such as grape seed, corn and sunflower oil all contain excessive amounts of omega-6s and very few omega-3s. Switch out these cooking oils for those rich with omega-3s including avocado, olive and macadamia oil.
- Limit your intake of mayonnaise, spreads and certain dressings or carefully read over the labels before you indulge. Many of these soybean or vegetable oil derived toppings are loaded with omega-6 fatty acids. When you need to add flavor to your food, look for options that contain a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids instead.
- Reduce your consumption of highly processed foods. Unfortunately, the majority of processed food manufacturers use cheap vegetable oils to mass produce unhealthy products. Opt for whole or fresh foods instead of such omega-6 laden choices and you might be able to cut your intake by a third or more.
As you work towards cutting down on your consumption of omega-6 fatty acids you should focus your efforts on increasing your consumption of omega-3s at the same time. Enhance your anti-inflammatory diet by boosting your intake of healthy omega-3s appropriately.
- Try to consume healthy fish twice a week. You don’t have to eat fish on a regular basis to enjoy its omega-3 boosting benefits—consuming one to two healthy portions a week should suffice. This also helps limit your exposure to fish-borne mercury and other dioxins. Choose safer choices for fish such as sardines, anchovies or wild salmon.
- Eat more foods containing alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). A common omega-3 fatty acid, ALA can be found in many plant sources including dark leafy green vegetables, flaxseeds, hemp seeds and walnuts. This chain of fatty acid is considered an essential nutrient because the body cannot produce it on its own. What’s more, the majority of foods containing healthy doses of ALA are also rich in essential minerals, vitamins and antioxidants for added health benefits.
- Opt for grass-fed or free-range proteins. In contrast to animals that are primarily grain fed, grass-fed and free-range meats tend to contain higher amounts of omega-3s including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Though their levels of omega-3s aren’t as high as most fish, they’re still viable sources when you need to increase your levels.
Sufferers of inflammatory bowel disease among other chronic inflammatory diseases can learn to be more mindful about the foods they eat. By adjusting your diet accordingly to limit your intake of omega-6s and increase your consumptions of omega-3s you may be able to help fight against inflammation.