How to Calculate Omega 6 to Omega 3 Ratio

How to calculate Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio
Diet and Nutrition

How to calculate Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio?

For optimal health and wellness we all need to know how to calculate Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratios. Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats are polyunsaturated, essential fatty acids. Polyunsaturated means that their chemical structure has many (poly), unsaturated (double) bonds. The term “essential” refers to the fact that the human body cannot produce these fats, and therefore it is “essential” for them to be consumed in the diet.
The numbers 3 and 6 that are associated with these Omegas relates to the position of the last double bond. In the case of Omega 3, it is three carbon atoms from the tail end (the omega) of the chemical chain, and for Omega 6, it is six carbon atoms from the tail end.
It is essential that we consume both Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. However, it is the ratio that is of vital importance. The correct ratio has unfortunately been lost in Western diets. With our SWD (Standard Western Diet) we have a ratio of 15 Omega 6 to 1 Omega 3. Our bodies need an Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio that is between 4:1 and 1:1.

Omega 6 and the pathogenesis of disease

The Stone Age was approximately 2.5 million years ago, and at this time, the human. diet had a ratio of Omega 6:Omega 3 of between 4:1 and 1:1. This ratio continued during the “Hunter/Gatherer” society, which was around 1.8 million years ago. This healthy ratio of Omega fatty acids happened because humans only consumed freshly hunted meat and seasonal fruits, vegetables and nuts. Around 1,200 years ago, the seeds of agriculture began to spring, and with it, the decline of the human diet began.
The Industrial Revolution, in the 18th Century, brought an even steeper decline in healthy diets with the advent of vegetable oil, which is very high in Omega 6 fatty acids. Before this time, the technology required to process and manufacture this type of oil did not exist. Vegetable oil does have some Omega 3 fatty acids, which are mostly Alpha Lipoic Acids (ALA). ALA’s have little to no benefit because the percentage of ALA that can be converted into useable docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) Omega 3’s is so small.
It is clear that Omega 6 promotes the pathogenesis of many diseases including autoimmune disorders, inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. The increased incidence of these diseases can be directly related to the increase in Omega 6, and the decrease of Omega 3, in our diets.

Grass Fed Meat vs Grain Fed Meat

Factory farming began just after World War 2. The initial aims of this type of farming were to maximise production to meet the growing societal demands, while at the same time reduce manufacturing and processing costs. Sadly, the high expectations became an animal welfare nightmare. The animals are housed in large sheds, crammed in too tight for comfort and fed grains instead of having “free range” of green pastures to graze on. As a result of these torturous conditions, the animals become sick. They are then put on antibiotics to keep them alive long enough to be slaughtered.
One of the issues concerning human health is that grain-fed beef has a ratio of Omega 6:Omega 3 of 10:1, which is detrimental to our health. When the cattle are free and able to graze on grass the ratio changes dramatically to 3:1. To have a healthy diet that has the correct amount of Omega 6 and Omega 3, it is recommended to eat grass-fed meat and to supplement our Omega 3 fats with 1-3 grams of high-quality fish oils.

References
 

  • (2016). An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity. Nutrients, 8(3), 128. doi:10.3390/nu8030128
  • AP, S. (2018). The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 7 November 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18408140

  • Berger, M. E., Smesny, S., Kim, S. W., Davey, C. G., Rice, S., Sarnyai, Z., Schlögelhofer, M., Schäfer, M. R., Berk, M., McGorry, P. D., … Amminger, G. P. (2017). Omega-6 to omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio and subsequent mood disorders in young people with at-risk mental states: a 7-year longitudinal study. Translational psychiatry, 7(8), e1220. doi:10.1038/tp.2017.190
  • AP, S. (2018). The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 14 November 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909

  • Cordain L, Eaton SB, Sebastian A, et al. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81(2):341-54.
  • Yan L, Bai XL, Fang ZF, Che LQ, Xu SY, Wu D. Effect of different dietary omega-3/omega-6 fatty acid ratios on reproduction in male rats. Lipids Health This. 2013;12:33.
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