Omega 3 / Omega 6: A question of balance

Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic acid) and Omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid) are essential, in other words, our bodies do not know how to make them. Omega 6 is found in some vegetable oils (grape seeds, sunflower, safflower, sesame, wheat germ), meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese. Omega 3 is found in some vegetable oils in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (camelie, rapeseed, flax, hemp, nuts, wheat germ), in some fish in the form EPA/DHA (mackerel, herring, sardines, salmon), but also in seeds Of chia, flax seeds, and purslane. What are these essential fatty acids used for? The membrane of our cells consists of a “double phospholipid layer” consisting of two fatty acids: one saturated, the other unsaturated (Omega 3). The quality of this cell membrane is fundamental to ensure cellular exchange by facilitating the flexibility of the cells, and of course their nutrition. Omega 3 ensures the integrity of brain functions and their role in cognitive functioning and concentration is demonstrated. In fact, the Omega 3 allows the good transmission of the nerve impulses. During pregnancy, Omega 3 plays a role in the development of the fetus that cannot produce its DHA. Omega 3 also have a role in the skin and dander. Some studies show their favorable role in the prevention of obesity. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are the precursors of prostaglandins, thromboxanes and leukotrienes, molecules whose function brings them closer to hormones. In this function, omega 6 and Omega 3 are in competition. Depending on their origin, these eicosanoids (molecules quoted above) will have a very different action. Omega-6 promotes vasoconstriction, platelet aggregation, and blood clotting as well as inflammatory reactions. Omega 3 is on the contrary vasodilators, antithrombosants and anti-inflammatory. They protect the cardiovascular system. Prostaglandins have a very short lifespan, which is why these unsaturated fatty acids must be brought regularly by the diet. This is also why it is of paramount importance to establish an omega 3/Omega 6 balance. The right balance between these two fatty acids is to consume 5 to 6 times more linoleic acid (omega 6) than alpha-linolenic acid (Omega 3). It is estimated that in our Western diet, this omega 6/Omega 3 ratio is between 10/1 and 30/1… Very far from the physiological equilibrium. This excess omega 6 does not allow the organism to use the few Omega 3 that reach it. Diet or supplementation? Health, for naturopaths worthy of the name, comes first and foremost through the plate. Indeed, advising an omega 3 supplementation can be a one-time rebalancing tool or may be useful in some specific cases (last trimester of pregnancy in particular), but in no case a durable solution. So, in concrete terms, how do you go about everyday life to consume essential fatty acids? As noted above, the overabundance of Omega-6 leads to malabsorption of omega-3. We therefore have a vested interest in reducing the intake of omega 6, particularly those from low-nutrient nutrition qualitatively: Fatty meat must be limited, as is milk-based fats, pastries and other Cookies, pizzas, pies and industrial pastries. Secondly, it is vital to bring omega-3 to the organization on a daily basis. To ensure this daily intake, a good habit would be to consume:

  • 2 tablespoons per day of a virgin oil of 1st pressure rich in Omega 3 raw and unheated (Périlla, Walnut, Flax, camelie),
  • A small handful per day of oilseed fruits (almonds, nuts, hazelnuts)
  • 2-3 times per week fresh or canned fatty fish (mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies)
  • Ground flax seeds
  • Purslane when it’s the season

Delphine L., naturopath

Sources:ALIM S., nutrition courses, School of Naturopathy Aesculape, PSN2, 2013 Dr LE GOFF, organic food and nutritional Balance, ed Roger Jollois, 1997 Http://

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