What’s all the fuss about eating oily fish twice a week?
You've heard about it, getting salmon in twice a week is great for you and we should all be doing it, but why? Our Resident Nutritionist, Liz Sergeant, gives us the lowdown and we also hear the parents-eye view from Bare Biology Founder, Melanie Lawson who is passionate about essential fatty acids. The glamour!
Essential Fatty Acids
Liz Sergeant, &Breathe's Resident Nutrtionist and Founder of The Wellnourished Club spells out the facts for us: "Omega 3 and Omega 6 are known as essential fatty acids. These are essential because your body can’t make them, we need to get them from food. Ideally these should be consumed in a ratio of around 1:1 but in the typical western diet (high in processed foods and sugar) that ratio is more like 20:1. Coupled with other environmental factors, this results naturally higher levels of the pro-inflamatory omega-6."
She continues: "The ratios have been demonstrated to play a critical role in our risk of certain diseases, and in particularly in the increased risk of obesity and associated chronic diseases including Type 2 Diabetes. This makes it all the more important to ensure you’re eating enough anti-inflammatory Omega-3."
So Omega 3 fats play multiple roles in the body, and that means they are associated with many health outcomes. Don't worry about all of them, but some of the roles they play in the body include:
- Omega 3 fats are one of the most important fats in brain cell membranes as well as being critical to cells in the retina and sperm;
- Omega 3 fats are also a factor in the health of gut microbiota, the and the overall health of our gut;
- Omega 3 fats help to reduce inflammation in our body – reducing oxidative stress and inhibiting inflammation.
So as with all of the 'good for you' food groups and nutrients, it's great to get as much as we can in our diets
The Parents-eye View
Founder of Bare Biology, Melanie Lawson, became interested in fish oils after the birth of her first child, and the properties of Omega 3 really helped her to get back on track. She tells us: "Omega 3 is something most people have heard of, but the majority don’t really know what it is (including a lot of doctors and health professionals). It’s a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid and there are several types of Omega 3, of which the most important are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). They’re found in their highest concentrations in fish and seafood which is why most supplements are fish oil based."
She continues: "Seeds and nuts contain ALA (such as Flaxseed or Chia) which our bodies have to convert into EPA and DHA (the fish have already done this for us) but our bodies are not good at this and studies show that only about 4% is converted."
Melanie agrees with Liz: "You’ll also hear it referred to at an ‘essential fatty acid’, this is because we have to consume it – our bodies can’t produce it. For example, we can produce Vitamin D from sunlight but we can’t produce EPA or DHA from anything unless we directly eat it.
So it sounds like fish is going to be on the menu this week!