Time for another basic information lesson about food – specifically, essential fats. We’ve probably all heard by now about Omega 3’s and 6’s, and even 9’s and 7’s! Today I’ll let you know what they are, what they do in the body, and where you can get them in your diet.
Time to define!
Essential Fatty Acids, or EFAs – these are fats that your body needs, but cannot make. If you remember back to an earlier blog post, I mentioned that essential/good fats are necessary in your body for so many functions: making hormones, providing energy, decreasing inflammation, ensuring proper nerve functioning, memory, keeping skin and hair healthy, and much more. Remember – your brain is 60% fat! We must learn to love good fats and include them in our life 🙂
Now, EFAs can be split into 2 main categories: Omega 3 and Omega 6. The word “omega” is just a fancy chemistry lingo term used to describe the molecule. You might have also heard that you need Omega 9, but your body can make this for you as long as you feed it omega 3 and 6 (yay for body math).
Here is a drawing I have created to help you understand what these omegas do, and where you can get them. As a recommendation, try and consume more omega 3 foods than omega 6 (this will make sense when you see where omega 6s come from – we eat so many of them in our diets without even trying!).
As you can see, Omega 6’s can lead to anti-inflammation OR pro-inflammation! Remember pro-inflammation doesn’t necessarily mean that it is bad. We need inflammation to happen when we have a cut, for example – an ‘inflammatory cascade’ is what makes our tissues work together in order to heal!
Extra cool info:
– GLA found in borage and evening primrose seed oils has been found to be very effective in decreasing PMS symptoms, and also helping with skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, and rashes.
– EPA – the molecule in fish oil that has the most anti-inflammatory research. Usually recommended for arthritis, high cholesterol, digestive health, allergies, mental health …
– DHA – the other molecule in fish (and algae) that has lots of brain research, aka it has an affinity for the brain and nervous system. Usually recommended for growing children, pregnancy, brain development, memory, concentration, mood stability …
– Vegans – you can get omega 3s from flax and chia and algae! You won’t be getting a ton of EPA but I added a little dotted arrow in my picture because technically if you supply your body with DHA from algae, it will make some of it into EPA for you. Aren’t our bodies cool?
– Omega 7 – found in seabuckthorn oil. This is a great antioxidant-rich oil you can use on your skin (or sometimes internally). Helps with scars, wrinkles, acne, dry hands, redness, eczema, rashes, etc.
Now go get fat everyone! 🙂