You Are What You Eat
Have you heard the saying: “You are what you eat”?
The diet we eat today may be one of the leading drivers and causes of most of today’s serious diseases and the Western World’s health issues, including cardio-vascular problems, heart disease, strokes, many types of cancer etc.
Did you realize that we are more active today than 50 years ago but we are having more health issues than ever before?
About 1 ½ years ago I was made aware of these facts. As a dive center owner in Marbella/ Spain I had a pretty active life and physical days for the past more than 20 years. I wasn’t conscious that I could have any health issues related to the food I was eating. But as it goes sometimes in life things crawl into your life and you are not aware of the small changes that happen in your body and with your health over time.
I got my Omega 6 to 3 ratio tested and was shocked how unbalanced I was and what this bad test result could possibly mean to my overall health status. Based on the test result I was given recommendations of what to change in my diet and what foods I should reduce or skip.
Only a couple of months later I could feel the first things improving in my body. I felt a lot more energetic, more switched on and more focused on the daily tasks and obviously my immune system got boosted as well since I didn’t have as many colds as before. In addition my hair started growing much quicker as ever before and it began to come back on places where I was completely bald before.
The most important thing that happened; I could avoid a pending cataract operation. As I found out in my own research about cataract – also this is related to the diet you eat and your personal Omega 6 to 3 ratio!
You are what you eat
During the past six decades our life habits have changed dramatically and with them also our food habits. Until about the 1960s jobs were quite physical while today most jobs are office based and we don’t have enough physical effort anymore. In addition to that, we always seem to be in a rush. We hardly take the time to sit down and eat a proper meal like in the old days. Today our diets consist mainly of convenience foods and a big part of them is processed food.
Many people take a large interest in their health with fitness, their diet and are aware of anti-aging. We seem to know more about health than ever before, but our health challenges and issues are increasing. Why are some people healthier than others?
One explanation for why we are not as healthy as we could be, can be found if we are looking on what we are putting into our bodies. The saying “You are what you eat” is literally true. Every cell in our body is replaced in about seven years, and the food we eat is what those new cells are made of. That’s why you should take a good look at what you have got on your plate. It will be part of you.
Do you really have to eat all these chocolate cakes, the many burgers and french fries, pizzas and so on? If you want your body to perform at a peak level, make sure you are giving it good quality material to work with.
Our bodies contain the nutrients of the food we eat. Depending on what kind of food we are consuming and its contents, are affecting directly our overall health.
Science shows that the food we eat goes directly to our cells. Our cell membranes are made up of essential fatty acids.
Of the many fatty acids, the only essential two are Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats. They are needed for survival and good health. “Essential” means that our body cannot generate them and our diet must supply them in sufficient quantity for you to maintain healthy.
The two main groups are the Omega 6s and the Omega 3s. Omega 6s are coming mainly from plants, like vegetable, salads, also from meat and all the other land based foods. Omegas 3s are mainly from small fatty fish. It’s important to eat a balanced diet to keep the Omega 6 to 3 ratio appropriate and in balance.
The importance of the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio
The essential fatty acids Omega-6 and Omega-3 are different than most of the other fats in our body. Most fats are used for energy or being stored, but Omega 6s and Omega 3s are biologically active and play important roles in processes like blood clotting and inflammation.
The human DNA is genetically programmed to have an Omega 6 to 3 ratio which is in balance (Omega 6 to Omega 3 = 1: 1). From extensive Omega Ratio testing in recent years it’s know that the average European has a 15 : 1 un-balance (varies by country) while the average American has an un-balance of up to 25 : 1!
Omega Balance means a ratio between Omega 6 and Omega 3 of 3 : 1 or less and as close to 1 : 1 as possible.
The Western Diet causes chronic inflammation
Omega 6s and Omega 3s have different functions in our body. Omega 6s are Pro-Inflammatory and Omega 3s are Anti-Inflammatory.
Generally inflammation is important for our life and survival. It helps protect our bodies from infections, but if inflammations are inappropriate or excessive it can cause severe damage and contribute to diseases and chronic inflammations.
There is scientific evidence that excess inflammation may be one of the leading drivers and cause of most of today’s serious diseases and the Western World’s health issues, including cardio-vascular problems and heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, many types of cancer, lots of food intolerances and many allergies etc.
All this said in simple words means that a diet that is high in Omega-6 but low in Omega-3 increases inflammation, while a diet that includes balanced amounts of each reduces inflammation.
The main problem today, is that people who eat a typical Western diet are eating way too much Omega-6s and far too little Omega 3s.
What can you do to get into Omega 6 to 3 balance?
As described above the main problem is that Omega 6s are often consumed at excessive levels in relation to Omega 3s, hence the need to re-balance these proportions with an increased Omega 3 intake. This can be achieved by prioritizing certain Omega 3-rich foods. In addition, you should consider taking Omega 3 supplements to help the process.
Fatty fish, such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel and some types of tuna and wild caught salmon are the richest sources of DHA and EPA, the Omega-3 fats linked with mental health. Important with fish is knowing exactly what you are buying.
Swap your oils
To limit Omega 6 fats, use olive oil whenever possible. Olive oil is naturally low in Omega 6s. Avoid vegetable oils like soy, corn, cottonseed and sunflower oils. These are packed with Omega 6 fats.
Read the ingredients lists carefully
Most salad dressings sold in supermarkets as well as mayonnaise contain the Omega-6-rich oils listed above. The same is true for many crackers, breads and pasta sauces.
Eat grass-fed meats
Cows, pigs and chickens raised on industrial farms are mainly fed with corn and soy, which are high in Omega 6s and low in Omega 3s.
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