Throughout history humankind has ingested approximately equal proportions of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Nearly every biological function is somehow interconnected with this delicate omega-6/omega-3 balance. However, the rapid change in this balance over the past 50-100 years has had absolutely deleterious effects on the human bio-physiology.
The typical North American diet is chock full of omega-6 fatty acids from milk, ice cream, butter, pizza, beef, hamburgers, steaks, fried foods, cookies, chips, processed food, and baked goods. In contrast, we are typically omega-3 starved. This omega-3 shortfall has literally changed the composition of our brains and bodies. Studies have shown that when cells are deprived of vital omega-3s, they attempt to compensate by incorporating saturated fats into cell membranes. The result is a stiff and ineffectual structure that must serve as the cell’s means of commerce and exchange with the rest of the body.
Because omega-6s break down into arachidonic acid in the body, and arachidonic acid is converted into highly inflammatory chemicals, this huge increase in the availability of arachidonic acid translates into a huge increase in the potential for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
On the other hand, omega-3s are intimately involved in the control of inflammation, as well as in cardiovascular health, myelin sheath development, allergic reactivity, immune response, hormone modulation, IQ, and behavior. Omega-3s are converted by the body to series 1 and 3 prosta-glandins, which serve to counterbalance the inflammatory effects of the series 2 prostaglandins derived from arachidonic acid.
Our lack of omega-3s has allowed cellular deterioration along with inflammatory processes and diseases to become the bane of contemporary healthcare.
Cogent Quotes ...
“I am often asked what addition to the diet, outside of increasing the intake of water and fresh green vegetables, I most recommend to fight and prevent disease and live longer. My answer is easy – fish oil, fish oil, fish oil! The lack of omega-3 from fish oil is one of the most serious health issues plaguing contemporary society.”
Dr. Joseph Mercola, MD
“Omega-3 … is one of the biggest and most disastrous nutritional shortages in our civilized world.”
Dr. Keith Scott-Mumby, MD, PhD, Editor “The Alternative-Doctor”
"1000–4000 mg/day omega-3 is required to maintain healthy blood lipid levels and a healthy cardiovascular system."
Kris-Etherton PM et al. “Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease.” Circulation 2002;106:2747-57.
Severe omega-3 deficiency problems began with the food processing industry’s extensive use of vegetable and seed oils. These oils are loaded with omega-6 fatty acids, but almost all of them are completely devoid of omega-3s. The processing of oils derived from corn, soybean, peanut, safflower and sunflower created an extremely concentrated source of omega-6 in the food chain.
Because omega-3 quickly goes rancid when exposed to light or oxygen, food manufacturers soon learned that the presence of omega-3 significantly decreased the shelf-life of their products. Omega-3 was therefore purposely avoided in the production of processed foods. The widespread use of “trans” fats and hydrogenation made matters even worse.
At the same time, methods of animal husbandry were developed to purposely fatten livestock for slaughter. Where a century ago people ate more wild game or animals raised in a “free-range” environment with better omega-3 profiles, now commercial livestock are fed carbohydrate-rich grains teeming with omega-6 but devoid of omega-3. For example, the wild pig has an omega-6/3 ratio of 1:1, compared to corn fed commercial animals whose ratio is around 20:1. Range fed chickens produce eggs with an omega-6/3 ratio near 2:1, while commercially fed chicken eggs can be as high as 19:1.
The wide availability of "farm-raised” fish has also negatively impacted omega-3 intake. While fatty fish are usually a good source of omega-3, farmed fish do not have dietary access to the same phytoplankton that creates omega-3 in the first place, so their tissue omega-3 levels are considerably reduced.
These events have combined to effectively eliminate omega-3 fatty acids from our food chain.
Despite our best efforts, it is difficult to avoid excessive dietary omega-6 intake. The changes that have come about in ranching methods, food processing, dietary choice, the number of restaurant meals consumed, and fast food availability have made it almost impossible to maintain the delicate omega-6/3 balance through diet alone.
The most effective way to consume the quantities of omega-3 needed to ensure cellular integrity is through incorporating a therapeutic omega-3 supplement in addition to dietary alteration.
Omega-3 deficiency has been positively correlated with over 50 diseases and illnesses.
Western degenerative diseases have risen in near perfect linear fashion with the sharp drop in omega-3 and the over-provision of omega-6 in the food chain. Not surprisingly, supplemental ingestion of omega-3 greatly improves all of the 50 known omega-3 deficiency conditions.