Why You Should Balance Your Essential Fatty Acids – Nutrition Now for Healthy Living

Why You Should Balance Your Essential Fatty Acids

Many cancer specialists agree that cancer and disease cannot thrive in an oxygen-rich environment.

Low oxygen levels in cells are due to inadequate levels of undamaged ‘parent’ essential fatty acids (PEFAs) in the tissue cells’ membranes.

PEFAs act as ‘oxygen magnets’, which attract the oxygen in the bloodstream and pull it through the membrane into the cell.

Without a correct ratio of undamaged PEFAs, diets of organic produce, vitamins or fiber will be ineffective in the fight against cancer.

Balancing essential fatty acids is also is critical in maintaining the body’s ability to temper the inflammatory response.

In general, the hormones synthesized from omega-6 fatty acids, which are abundant in our SAD (Standard American Diet) increase inflammatory reaction, while the hormones we create from omega-3 fatty acids have the dampening effect on this response.

Parental EFAs

There are two forms of essential fatty acids: a parent forms (PEFA – the original forms) and derivative forms (DEFAs – derived by the bodies of humans and other animals from parent forms to meet their needs).

The parent form of omega-6 is linoleic acid (LA). The parent form of omega-3 is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

The four most commonly consumed DEFAs are

  • gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)
  • conjugated linolenic acid (CLA)
  • eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and
  • docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Most of the PEFAs consumed by the human body remain in their original state in the cell membranes and tissue, performing their own essential functions. This is why it is best to consume PEFAs in foods rather than DEFAs as found in fish oils and in many omega-3/omega-6 supplements.

PEFAs are easily damaged by heat. To be of most use to the body, they must come from a very limited range of raw or, at least, very lightly heated, unprocessed foods.

They are also damaged by chemicals like pesticides, so must come from organic foods wherever possible.

When damaged by heat or chemicals during processing, beneficial PEFAs can be transformed into harmful fats, like the trans-fatty acids in hydrogenated fats which are linked to heart disease and cancer.

PEFAs cannot be extracted by the body from fruit, vegetables, or grains. They can be obtained from seeds, nuts, fish, eggs, and raw meat.

The best (healthiest) sources of PEFAs, from organic, unprocessed nuts and seeds, cold-pressed oils made from those nuts and seeds, soft boiled or over easy eggs (which have by not over cooking retained enzymes found in the yolk) and whole, unpasteurized, unhomogenized dairy products.

Omega 3-6 Ratios Are Important!

Different organs in the body require different amounts and different ratios of PEFA omega-6 to PEFA omega-3 to function properly.

Most organs require a 4:1 ratio, but the brain and nervous system, for instance, run happily on a 1:1 ratio whereas the muscles need a 5.5:1 – 7.5:1 ratio (depending on their physical condition) and, although not needing vast amounts overall, the skin needs a 1,000:1 ratio.

Nearly all organs need more omega-6 than omega-3.

When the supply of PEFAs is less than required, the body prioritizes delivery to organs it considers most important first: the brain, heart, lungs and kidneys. This results in other organs receiving inadequate supplies, leading to various illnesses.

Much of the PEFA omega-6 and omega-3 in the average diet in more industrially developed countries has been damaged by processing.

Because the body needs much less PEFA omega-3 than PEFA omega-6 overall, and because less of the PEFA omega-3 we eat is damaged, the key to better health is to find good sources of undamaged PEFA omega-6.

If the body uses damaged PEFAs or DEFAs and other essential fatty acids such as omega-9 (as in olive oil), even though none of these three permit proper oxygenation of the cells.

This is why one needs to replace the damaged PEFAs and excess levels of DEFAs in the diet with high levels of undamaged PEFAs.

The current media message to eat more omega-3 or more oily fish is over simplified.

Many omega-3 sources such as flax seed, fish oil, seafood, etc. are overly abundant in both PEFA and DEFA omega-3. Fish, especially farm raised fish, contains almost entirely DEFA omega-3.

Excess levels of omega-3 block the beneficial ‘oxygen magnet’ process described above.  People now consuming fish oils and supplements with high omega-3 ratios are almost certainly overdosing on omega-3.

Consuming even average levels of fish oil supplements, in particular, can significantly suppress the immune system, increasing your risk of contracting cancer.

Omega 6 is a Good Fat Too!

Omega-6 is not a ‘bad’ but a good fat. The body needs the right balance of undamaged PEFA omega-6 and undamaged PEFA omega-3 (anywhere between the ratios 1:1 and 2.5:1) to function properly.

What dietitians should be telling us to do is to replace the damaged, polluted, processed omega-6 we eat (e.g. trans fatty acids in hydrogenated fats) with undamaged, organic, unprocessed, raw sources such as the “first cold-pressed” oils, organic nuts and seeds mentioned above.

What to Do?

So what levels of PEFAs do we need? Comparing the body’s needs for undamaged PEFA omega-6 and PEFA omega-3 with the levels currently present in the US diet, the average American needs at least three grams for every 35 lbs. of body weight of a high quality supplement containing cold-pressed, organic PEFAs with an omega-6 and omega-3 ratio of between 1:1 and 2.5:1.

This includes a little extra undamaged PEFA omega-6 to ‘overcome’ and replace the large amounts of damaged omega-6 in the diets of most people living in the more industrially developed countries.

pumpkinseedsIf you want to get your PEFAs from food, (liquids) five grams of organic, cold-pressed, high linoleic sesame oil plus two grams of organic, cold-pressed flaxseed oil a day, or (solids) 10gm of raw, organic pumpkin seeds a day should do the job.

Using food sources which, combined, deliver PEFAs in the omega-6 to omega-3 1:1 – 2.5:1 ratio is very important. Ratios beyond either end of this range do not appear to help tissue cell oxygenation.

And it pays to understand that you do not need to necessarily overspend on fish-oil, but pay attention to a balance of what you are getting.

As it stands your skin will be the notable difference, but your cardiovascular and cellular system will thank you for your attention to your essential fatty acids!

After much research, this is the EFA supplement I take (note that this is my Amazon affiliate link, thanks in advance for your support!) on a daily basis, and have for years.  I have noticed smoother skin (no more itchy dry spots in the winters!) and better energy levels since beginning this supplement in my late 30s.