August 5th, 2014

Consuming Fat is Healthy, Sounds Fishy


Does eating fats and oils for optimal health sound strange to you?  It shouldn’t, as your body needs fat to build cells and produce important hormones, hence why fat is defined as a macronutrient.  There are essential fatty acids (EFA’s) that need to be consumed for our body to function optimally.  These come in two categories; omega-3 and omega-6 EFA’s.  Both are needed but their proportion is very important.  Currently, the Standard American Diet is estimated to be at a ratio of 1:16 to 1:30 omega-3 to omega-6.  Ethnographic studies on traditional, healthy hunter-gather societies show that they ate a ratio of somewhere between 1:1 and 1:4 (Paul Chek), and a 1:4 ratio has been identified as the ideal ratio for optimal health. 

As the average ratio is drastically off the ideal range, its best to know what food sources support each of the essential fatty acids.  Good sources of omega-3 come from oily fish, the oils of cold water fish, organ meats and egg yolks.  Sources high in omega-6 are oils such as vegetable, safflower, rapeseed or canola, and sunflower as well as grains, cereals, poultry and nuts.  It is interesting to note that commercially raised eggs and animals that are fed high grain diets as well as commercially raised fish have a significantly higher amount of omega 6 than their natural counterparts. 

 A simple and effective way to balance your ratios is to reduce the oils, grains and foods leading to a high consumption of omega-6 and increase omega-3 rich foods along with consuming fish oils.  There are countless studies showing the benefits of fish oil.  Fish oil, specifically a high quality source from cold water, has a long list of health benefits that include reducing inflammation and thus helping pain management, improving cardiovascular health by lowering triglycerides and blood pressure, improving body composition as it helps turn on lipolytic genes (fat burning) and turn off lipogenic genes (fat storing), and much more. 

Literature from the Poliquin Group suggests that an adequate amount for most individuals is 5-15 grams of fish oil daily.  Now, not all fish oil is the same and only a good quality source can help.  Be wary of inexpensive fish oils as they may be from large fish that swim in suspect waters and contain synthetic materials and fillers.  Again, small fish from cold water such as sardines, anchovy and mackerel are ideal.  As well, the ratio of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is important to know as different ratios yield different results.  For example, if an individual is looking for help with lowering inflammation than a high EPA concentration (6:1) will be more useful while a 3:2 EPA to DHA ratio is ideal for body composition.   Regardless of which ratio and desired result, it is important to ensure that the EPA and DHA serving amount equate to the daily suggested amount. 

A BioSignature Practitioner can help with specific strategies for fish oil and other nutrients.  This is available at CHI Training Studio as a standalone service or part of our personal training service. 


With chi,