Get Omega-3 Daily
The meat we eat today is not the same as what our ancestors ate. Our industrialized food supply has unintended consequences that adversely affects longevity. This is because the human body evolved consuming a diet with approximately equal amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. The modern Western diet now has a ratio of 20-to-30:1, omega-6 to omega-3 compared to 150 or so years ago when the ratio was 1-to-2:1.
This adversely affects longevity because we need to maintain a balance of omega-3 to omega-6. These are essential fatty acids (EFAs). For the most part, our bodies are able to produce the fat that we need. However, the human body lacks an enzyme needed to produce omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid “ALA”) and omega-6 (linoleic acid “LA”). They can only be obtained from our diet. Both are needed to maintain a healthy metabolism because they help regulate things like immune function, skin health, blood-clotting and the body’s inflammatory response. An imbalance can cause serious health problems. Our bodies metabolize omega-6 fats into compounds that promote blood clotting, inflammation and allergic response. Omega-3 fats are used to reduce blood-clotting, inflammation and reduce allergic responses. Current research indicates that a deficit of omega-3 can result in inflammation which is linked to a number of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
A century and a half ago, most people got a variety of fats and oils from wild game meat. These animals ate wild grasses which gave them a healthy level of omega-3 fat. Today’s industrialized livestock are usually fed corn which is much cheaper than grass feeding and causes the animals to gain weight faster. However, research shows that corn-fed cattle, chicken and pigs have much lower levels of omega-3 fat.
To make matters worse, Americans eat processed foods which typically contain refined vegetable oils that are high in omega-6. It’s not as simple as just following the recent government and American Heart Association recommendations to add or switch to vegetable oils because they contain varying amounts of omega-3. For example, corn, safflower, sunflower and sesame oil are high in omega-6 fats and contain little or no omega-3 fats. While canola and soybean oil are relatively high in omega-3 fats and lower in omega-6 fats.
A common recommendation is to consume at least two servings a week of cold water fish such as sardines, salmon, halibut, trout, mackerel and tuna. However, this recommendation is usually followed by the disconcerting statement that pregnant women, lactating women and children should avoid eating fish with potentially high mercury content such as tuna and salmon. Further complicating things is that, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there are significant variations, in the omega-3 content among varieties of the same species. The variations are caused by differences in the fish’s diet, stage of maturity, sex, size, season and water temperature in which it was caught, and whether they are farm-raised or wild. You can simplify your routine by getting your daily supply of omega-3 fatty acids from omega-3 supplements and greatly reduce your risk of ingesting mercury.