Do we Really Need Omega-3 Essential Fats?
Zero omega-3 in the diet will eventually result in very ill health and eventually death – so they’re called “essential fats” for a reason...your body can’t make them so you need to get them in the diet! Now you’d have to try pretty hard to completely eliminate these fats from your diet but let’s look at why so many people aren’t getting enough of these fats...
Over the course of human history (for 99.9...% of the last 300,000 years), when we ate wild animals and when they grazed on grass and vegetation instead being jammed full of grain like modern livestock, our bodies used to get plenty of EFAs. You see, early homo sapiens got well over 50% of their calories from animal sources (I’m pretty sure most vegetarians don’t know this!) and when the animals that these early humans ate fed on their natural diet, they made and stored plenty of EFAs in their bodies. So when we humans ate their meat, we got plenty of omega-3!
Unfortunately, nowadays, due to what they eat, animals have much lower levels of EFAs and we eat much more processed carbohydrate garbage and less meat and fish and therefore, our levels of EFAs have gone down the crapper also! What makes the problem worse is that this whole change in our fat intake has occurred over a few short generations, so our bodies still require the correct ratio of omega-6 (which we still eat a lot of) to omega-3 fats. The ratio should be about 1:1 or 2:1 but studies show that we’re actually getting about 15:1 or 20:1 !!! Of course this affects the body’s metabolism in several unwanted ways.
Studies have suggested that adding omega-3 fats to our diets, can increase muscle, decrease fat and decrease inflammation. It is probably this effect on inflammation that is the reason that they may help prevent a variety of serious diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Inflammation can also slow down the recovery and repair process from heavy exercise that is necessary to build muscle and improve performance!! So that’s why we need omega-3s / EFAs in our diets!
These days, with intensive farming, you can’t even trust salmon to have high EFA levels, as farmed salmon doesn’t eat its natural omega-3-rich diet of seaweed - so stick to wild salmon. If you don’t like fish, you can also get “grass-fed” beef, which is much higher in EFAs than normal beef (but is also more expensive and often difficult to obtain). Otherwise, you can just use a fish oil supplement – look for one with high levels of EPA and DHA (the most useful forms of omega-3), you want about 200 to 300mg of EPA and 150 to 200mg of DHA per day if you don’t eat high-EFA food like fish often.
For an update on omega-3s, see: http://fitnessinventor.com/articles/2836-best-evidence-yet-that-fish-oil-is-anabolic
Nutritionist and Supplement Specialist
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