Paleo: Omega-3 and Omega-6 Balance
In yesterday's post we discussed what essential fatty acids were in relation to omega-3 and omega-6 and why they were benefical to the human body.
However it is not just the amount of the omega oils consumed but also the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that is significant. Maintaining the correct balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is vital to human health.
The basis of nutritional medicine is that dietary factors are imperative for good health. Omega-3 directly influences inflammatory hormone production and gene expression in the cell. Because cells are the basic building blocks of the body. If these are not healthy then our tissues and organs can not be healthy.
Our ancestral diet provided a ratio of 1:1 whilst the modern Western diet is between 1:16 omega-3 to omega-6. Studies have shown that excessive amounts of omega-6, or a very high ratio to omega-3 promotes inflammation and can contribute to the development of lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and autoimmune diseases.
I recently had blood test results looking at my omega-6 to omega-3 balance. This is currently 51% to 49% which is almost 1:1. This is due to me following a Paleolithic diet which promotes a better balance between these fatty acids by reducing the intake of omega-6 and increasing the sources of omega-3 with more wild (non-farmed) oily fish, grass-fed meat, free-range eggs and green vegetables.
Studies have also suggested the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 to be between 2:1-1:1 , similar to the profile above.
In terms of dietary choices omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish have been shown to reduce the tendency of blood to clot, lower triglyceride levels and raise HDL (good) cholesterol which mitigate against the risk factors associated with heart disease.
Here's an example of a Paleo Breakfast which provides a significant omega-3 intake.
 Simopoulos et al (2002). The importance of the ratio fo omega-3 to omega-6 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother
 Okuyama et al (1997). Dietary fatty acids: the omega-6 and omega-3 balance and chronic elderly diseases. Lipid Research
 Harris (1989). Fish Oil and plasma lipid and lipoprotein metabolism in humans. Journal of Lipid Research.