Experts believe that a major shift in the omega 6 omega 3 ratio in the Western diet has contributed to a dramatic increase in whole body inflammation.
In his first book, Inflammation Nation, Dr. Chilton pioneered America's awareness of the connection between chronic or whole body inflammation, and our nation's deteriorating health. In this groundbreaking book, he discusses the unprecedented changes in the omega 6 omega 3 ratio over the past few generations. Whole body inflammation has been associated with many of America's largest and fastest growing health conditions including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, allergies, asthma, cancer, autoimmune disorders and many others.
Anthropological evidence suggests that our hunter-gatherer ancestors maintained an omega 6 omega 3 ratio of about 2:1, which is very different than today's Western diet where omega 6 omega 3 ratios of 15:1 are more typical. This major shift is the result of changes to both our food supply and our food choices. Our consumption of omega 3 rich fish and grass fed beef has declined; while our consumption of foods made with ingredients containing high levels of omega 6 has increased.
Foods high in omega 6s include fried and other processed foods made with large amounts of vegetable oil, especially soybean oil, corn oil and cottonseed oil; as well as salad oils and margarines. Soybean oil is the #1 source of omega 6s in the American diet. It is a popular ingredient for processed foods because it is very inexpensive and stable making it easy to formulate into long-shelf life foods; however, its high prevalence in so many of our foods in our modern diet has contributed to a dramatic shift in our omega 6 omega 3 ratio.
The good news is that changes in your diet can reduce your omega 6 omega 3 ratio and improve health. Dr. Chilton's recent research in nutrient/gene interactions, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (June 5, 2009), demonstrated that shifting the omega 6 omega 3 ratio from greater than 15:1 to less than 5:1 in humans can positively influence genes that provide protection against allergies and other inflammatory diseases.
A variety of studies have demonstrated benefits of a lower omega 6 omega 3 ratio. In the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, an omega 6 omega 3 ratio of 4:1 was associated with a 70% decrease in total mortality. An omega 6 omega 3 ratio of 2.5:1 reduced rectal cell proliferation in patients with colorectal cancer, whereas an omega 6 omega 3 ratio of 4:1 with the same amount of omega-3 PUFA had no effect. The lower omega 6 omega 3 ratio was associated with a decreased risk for other diseases, including breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma.
The Gene Smart program is designed to provide an omega 6 omega 3 ratio of 5:1 or less, and a ratio closer to the 2:1 ratio of our ancestors is likely ideal.
How do you know whether your omega 6 omega 3 ratio is too high? It's simple - you measure it. You can check your omega 6 omega 3 ratio with the Omega-3 Index Home Blood Test. Knowing your omega levels provides information to help you proactively make important changes to your diet to reduce your risk of heart disease, premature aging and other conditions associated with whole body inflammation.
There are two ways to reduce your omega 6 omega 3 ratio. The first is to reduce consumption of foods high in omega 6s. Our guide to high omega 6 foods can help you make smart choices at the grocery store and when dining out. The second way to reduce your omega 6 omega 3 ratio is to increase your omega 3 consumption each day. Check out our Guide to Omega 3 Levels of Fish. Our Gene Smart Omega 3 fish oil is also designed to increase your Omega 3 Index with just a couple of soft gels a day while also reducing your omega 6 omega 3 ratio.
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