Did you know that you might not be getting enough omega-3 essential fatty acids in your diet? When was the last time you ate fish, nuts, chia seeds, flaxseed or took a fish oil supplement? If you can’t remember when, then how about omega-6? Peanut butter, salad dressing, vegetable oil, pork, beef or chicken? Did you know that it’s important to eat a balanced ratio of these, yet our western diet is mainly made up of omega-6’s and not enough 3’s?
Essential fatty acids… what are they? And why are they deemed “essential”? Well, it’s because we need them to be healthy — much like certain vitamins and minerals, but we cannot produce them on our own. We must therefore consume these fats through diet or supplementation. Many of our western diets are deficient in omega-3, and have excessive amounts of omega-6. We actually evolved by eating a ratio of 1:1, now, it’s more like 15:1. Excessive amounts of omega-6 promotes many diseases in the body, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, whereas increased levels of omega-3 (a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio) are beneficial and suppress these effects on the body.
Here are five ways omega-3 rich foods and supplements can help boost your fitness and wellbeing:
Eat Fat to Get Slim
Gone are the days of the once popular 1980’s ‘low-fat’ craze that researchers are now dismissing. Repeat after me: “Eating fat does not make me fat!”. In fact, including healthy fat in your diet can actually help you lose weight. One study reported that the addition of a daily fish oil supplement to an aerobic, activity-based weight-loss program, improved fat loss when compared to exercise alone.
The only thing more satisfying than achieving your fitness goals is by smashing them. For increased exercise endurance it is crucial to have good circulation. The circulatory system is responsible for meeting oxygen and nutrient demands, and for removing metabolic waste such as lactic acid. Omega-3s have been shown to support lung function, and to promote blood flow and oxygen delivery to activate muscle by enhancing blood vessel function.
Boost your Post-Workout Recovery
The 1-2 days after completing a great workout can sometimes take its toll and leave you with aching muscles and an energy slump. Recovery is just as essential to a workout routine as the exercise routine itself! Exercise stresses the body, so to ‘de-stress’ the body include some Omega 3’s into your diet. This will help support the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response. This can enhance endurance, protect against free radical damage, and promote joint flexibility, mobility, and comfort.
Is lack of motivation or a bad mood stopping you from kicking off your health and fitness goals? Research shows that fish oil supports brain function, mood, memory, and promotes the health of brain and nerve cells. So for that boost of mental clarity and motivation for hitting the gym, omega 3 could be a great start!
Get your Glow on!
Keeping healthy and feeling good on the inside can make you look great on the outside! Glowing skin is one beneficial ‘side effect’ of taking Omega 3. The skin is the largest organ in the human body and is often the first visual indicator of an essential fatty acid deficiency. A deficiency can lead to dry, rough, problematic skin that is prone to inflammation, premature ageing, and uneven pigmentation. Supplementing these fatty acids can help maintain a beautiful and youthful glow.
Best picks for Omega-3
Fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines, oysters and halibut.
Nuts and seeds such as chia, flaxseed and walnuts.
Greens such as spinach and basil.
Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega is my pick because of its high levels of EPA and DHA – the two main beneficial components of omega-3. Nordic Naturals is third party tested so you know what it states on the label is correct and the oil is fresh and free from contaminants.
All information is backed up by lovely references:
Melanson SF, et al. Measurement of organochlorines in commercial over-the-counter fish oil preparations: implications for dietary and therapeutic recommendations for omega-3 fatty acids and a review of the literature. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2005;129:74–77.
Foran SE, et al. Measurement of mercury levels in concentrated over-the-counter fish oil preparations: is fish oil healthier than fish? Arch Pathol Lab Med 2003;127:1603–1605.
Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, McDowell MA, Tabak CJ, Flegal KM. Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, 1999–2004. JAMA 2006;295(13):1549–55.
Hill AM, Buckley JD, Murphy KJ, Howe PR. Combining fish oil supplements with regular aerobic exercise improves body composition and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85(5):1267–74.
Mickleborough TD, Murray RL, Ionescu AA, Lindley MR. Fish oil supplementation reduces severity of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction in elite athletes. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2003;168(10):1181–9.
Walser B, Giordano RM, Stebbins CL. Supplementation with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids augments brachial artery dilation and blood flow during forearm contraction. Eur J Appl Physiol 2006;97(3):347–54.
Guest Post by Fiona Harrington, Nutritionist
Fiona, a self-confessed foodie, is a walking encyclopedia on all things holistic living, health and wellbeing. With a Degree of Nutritional Medicine under her belt, she’s passionate about sharing her nourishing ideas with the Lorna Jane Sisterhood. Fi, as she likes to be called, is a total brunch-junkie and aims to inspire people to live a more healthy and rewarding life through the Move Nourish Believe philosophy. A typical day of MNB’ing starts with a skipping rope session, coconut oil body moisturiser, a green/berry protein smoothie and ends with a deep meditation for total relaxation.