The anti inflammatory fatty acid: Omega-3/Omega 6
Omega 3 is the name given to a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids; which the body needs but cannot manufacture itself. Omega 3 fats are used as the building blocks for fat derived hormones such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes. The hormones with an Omega 3 base tend to reduce inflammation, while those that have an Omega 6 base increase inflammation. In the cell membrane the competition between these two essential fats has a direct bearing on the type of local hormone produced and the level of inflammation in the cell.
The omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in the cell membranes is the key to the development of the inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. It is also believed that too much inflammation in the body may affect general physical and mental performance in those who are well. Diets low in oily fish and high in grains will promote inflammation and affect good health. The ratio of Omega 6 to 3 in the West is around 15 to 1; i.e. promoting cellular inflammation.
Having twice as much Omega 6 is considered by most experts to be the optimal amount but a ratio of 2:1 is not easy to produce by diet alone. Many people are aware of the health benefits of Omega 3 but the supplementation to achieve optimal health is erratic. Being able to test for the Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio identifies a person’s current status and is sufficiently specific to allow an accurate supplementation recommendation to be made.