Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratios & the Endocannabinoid System
Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Amanda Nighbert, Registered Dietician and Lexington, KY resident, for two episodes of our podcast, Full Spectrum Living with CBD. During our conversations we discovered a fascinating connection between the health of the Endocannabinoid System and the nutritional recommendations Amanda provides her clients. One of her key tips for good health was to maintain a good Omega 3:6 ratio.
In this blog, we will discuss the importance of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, their relation to the Endocannabinoid System, and how we can easily incorporate Omega 3 into our diets.
What are Omega-3 and Omega-6?
Omega-3 and omega-6 are polyunsaturated fatty acids. Historically, diets were rich in seafood and other sources of omega-3 and low in omega-6 oils. However, with the industrial revolution came an increase in omega-6 and a decrease in omega-3. This was due to the rise of the vegetable oil industry and changes to our livestock feed which in turn changed the fatty acid composition of our meat.
The good news is that endocannabinoids are produced from arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. Having enough arachidonic acid is essential for endocannabinoid production. Unfortunately, having too much may lead to downregulation of cannabinoid receptors. Additionally, an excessive omega-6 intake is pro-inflammatory.
What are the Benefits of Omega-3?
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, meaning it cannot be made by the body and must be consumed through the diet. ALA is the ‘parent’ form of omega-3 and is converted into its derivative forms, DHA and EPA. The benefits we experience from omega-3 are from DHA and EPA specifically. They play important roles in our cell membranes and cardiovascular and neurological health.
Omega-3 deficiency has been associated with a long list of health issues, including ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Depression, Weight gain, Heart disease, Allergies, Arthritis, Violent tendencies, Memory problems, Cancer, Eczema, Inflammatory diseases, Diabetes, Dry skin, Dandruff, Postpartum depression, Alcoholism, Crohn’s disease, and Irritable bowel syndrome.
How Can We Incorporate Omega-3 into our Diets?
An ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in the diet is 1:1. The optimal source of omega-3 is wild-caught seafood, specifically cold water fish such as salmon, halibut, cod, herring, mackerel, and sardines. Grass fed meat is another good source. This is an instance in which food quality really does matter. Grass fed meat can have up to five times the amount of omega-3 as conventional, grain fed meat!
Other good sources of Omega-3 include hemp seeds and hemp oil, chia seeds, walnuts, flax seed and flax oil, and eggs (pasture-fed or omega-3 enriched only).
It’s important to remember that increasing omega-3 is ineffective unless you are also decreasing omega-6. We’re looking at an overall ratio- ideally of approximately 1:1- while decreasing omega-6 vegetable oils and increasing omega-3s.
Q: What is the optimal ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6?
A: The optimal ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 is 4:1.
Q: What are the best sources of Omega-3?
A: The best sources of Omega-3 are wild-caught seafood, grass fed meat, hemp seeds and hemp oil, chia seeds, walnuts, flax seed and flax oil, and eggs (pasture-fed or omega-3 enriched only).
Q: Why is it important to reduce Omega-6?
A: It is important to reduce Omega-6 because having too much can lead to downregulation of cannabinoid receptors and excessive intake is pro-inflammatory.
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