The Omega-3s – fire fighters, fat burners, slimmers
Last week was a disappointment because it turned out to be far less productive than I would have wished. Why? Because I had my booster vaccine....... My first two were the astrazenika and I had no side effects at all. This third one however was the moderna and oh boy did I react to it! I woke up the following morning with a thumping headache and utter exhaustion, as well as pain in virtually every joint in my body. My right hand in particular, although the jab was in my left arm, was racked with pretty severe shooting pains which would arrive out of nowhere and make me squeal. I had to crawl back into bed for most of the day and it was a good twenty four hours more before I felt even vaguely normal. I am very seldom unwell and this episode really knocked the stuffing out of me.
And today is Sous-Chef's birthday, so the champagne for this evening is chilling in the fridge and we are off to have a slap-up lunch!
Omega-3s are very close to my heart because many years ago, during an extremely stressful period in my life (a worldwide economic recession in fact!), I developed dreadful eczema, mainly on my legs but it eventually spread to my face. I read everything I could find on the condition, and tried everything which was recommended, all to no avail. It was only when I found a mention of essential fatty acids - just two lines in a book on nutrition – that there was a glimmer of hope. I rushed to the health shop and bought several bottles of organic flaxseed oil and then took a good swig every hour or so. The improvement within just a couple of days was phenomenal and within a month, the eczema had cleared up almost completely – and needless to say, flaxseed oil, and other sources of Omega-3s, have become part of my life.
These omegas, which saved my sanity and my skin, are fatty acids and the building blocks of fat. There are several different kinds of fatty acids, essential and non-essential, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. The monounsaturates include Omega-7 and Omega-9 fats, which are found in macadamia nuts and olive oil for example, and are considered non-essential, as our bodies can make them and we therefore do not need to get them from our diet - although it is most definitely beneficial to “eat” them.
The polyunsaturates are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats and, since they are essential because we cannot manufacture them in our body, we need to get them from the food we eat. However, Omega-6s are plentiful in the average western diet, while Omega-3 deficiencies are common – and it is crucial to keep these two omegas in balance as Omega-6s can be pro-inflammatory while Omega-3s are always anti-inflammatory. This is not to say that Omega-6s are unhealthy – they have many of the benefits of the 3s, such as promoting heart health, thinning the blood, supporting the nervous system, balancing hormones and reducing insulin resistance. But the Omega-3s, in my own personal experience, are the cream of the crop – it is pretty much impossible to get too many 3s while the challenge with the 6s is getting far too much. While they are present in healthy, delicious foods like avocadoes and many nuts and seeds, they also feature abundantly in processed and manufactured foods, from cooking oils to cakes and biscuits to bottled sauces, as well as factory-farmed meat. The healthy balance varies between 1:1 and 4:1, but a standard western diet can easily up this to 15:1 or even 22:1.
How can Omega-3s contribute to our health? They are of huge importance to the brain, as they are integral to brain growth and neurotransmitter synthesis. As mentioned above, they are powerfully anti-inflammatory, and beneficial in such diverse conditions as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. They are also precursors for hormone production, they regulate metabolism and stimulate fat burning – that is they help with weight management! They control blood pressure and lower unhealthy cholesterol. They enable the skin to build and repair its cell membranes, and I know from experience that if I do not have at least one tablespoon of flaxseed oil every day, I will be able to see the difference in the mirror the next morning! Furthermore, they are beneficial for mental health and conditions such as depression, ADHD and cognitive decline.
What are the best sources of Omega-3s?
Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and herrings
Flaxseeds and their oil
Chia, pumpkin and hemp seeds
Chlorella and spirulina
Some green leafy vegetables, like spinach and Brussels sprouts
Fish oils are considered the best source of Omega-3s, with the plant-based ones being second best. This is simply because fish oils can be used immediately by the body while oils from plants need to go through a process in the body itself to convert them into the Omega-3 fatty acids so there is an extra step involved. However, the results I have obtained from flaxseed oil for instance have been far from disappointing. Furthermore, oils derived from algae are also immediately bio-available.
If you choose to use fish oils, be sure that they are totally pure. Not all supplements are created equal so buy only the highest quality.
And just a reminder to join my free Facebook group, Let’s Age Dynamically. It is a private, safe environment for all of us, men and women, well into MidLife&Beyond where we can talk about any health challenges which are facing us as we grow older and learn to age dynamically and by design, rather than passively and by default. This is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/403073241466517 and I look forward to seeing you there.