Our body needs omega-3 oils as well as omega-6 oils. The former are anti-inflammatory in nature, while the latter are pro-inflammatory or inflammation-promoting. Now, inflammation is not a bad thing—it is needed for functions such as immunity and injury management. However, excessive amounts or chronically high levels of it are risky, leading to many degenerative and inflammatory disorders, such as heart disease, dementia, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and some types of cancers as well as autoimmune conditions.
No one knows the optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 that we should consume. However, our ancestors consumed them in a 1:1 ratio. The scientists broadly agree that the ratio should be less than 4:1. Unfortunately, modern diets have this ratio to be as high as 20:1.
- A ratio of 4:1 was associated with a 70% decrease in total mortality from cardiovascular disease;
- A ratio of 2.5:1 reduced rectal cell proliferation in patients with colorectal cancer, whereas a ratio of 4:1 had no effect;
- A lower omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in women with breast cancer was associated with decreased risk;
- A ratio of 2–3 to 1 suppressed inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis; and
- A ratio of 5:1 had a beneficial effect on patients with asthma, whereas a ratio of 10:1 had adverse consequences.
Since omega-6 has its own benefits for our immunity and healing, it is not advisable to reduce omega-6 consumption. So the only option is to increase our omega-3 intake. Logically, then, we need to increase it by 5 times the current amount, which is difficult to get from foods. High-quality omega-3 supplements, such as fish oil ones, are the best option to reduce the resultant inflammatory and degenerative conditions.
Here is a short video on this:
First published on: 4th December 2021
Image credit: Ewa Urban on Pixabay