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Paleo Primal Fatty Acids Omega 3 Omega 6 Ratio fish-min

Omega 3 and Omega 6 – How’s Your Ratio?

Omega 3 and 6 (Sometimes referred to as N3 and N6) are spoken about a lot with reference to the Paleo diet – but just what are they – and how can you make sure you are getting the right ratio?

Omega 3 is a fatty acid which is essential in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce the risk of suffering from any chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular and mental disease. There has been overwhelming research which has concluded that Omega 3 can help to reduce blood pressure, inflammation and can be beneficial in preventing mental illnesses such as depression. Omega 3 may not only prevent these illnesses but can also help to reduce the chances of these developing and becoming more serious.

Whilst Omega 6 has health benefits too, this fatty acid is required in far lower quantities, or it becomes detrimental.

The introduction of these fatty acids can be beneficial for people who suffer from illnesses such as arthritis as they are thought to act as an anti-inflammatory. These two fatty acids should be combined at the right ratio within the diet in order to improve health and well-being.

As the Paleo diet encourages the consumption of plenty of fish and seafood, it can really help those who follow the diet to eat a high amount of Omega 3. It is highly important within the diet to get the ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 right, as a good balance is an essential way to ensure these are providing the best possible benefits. It appears that by getting the ratios wrong and eating too much of the Omega 6 and too little Omega 3 can actually result in a negative effect on health.

Paleo Primal Fatty Acids Omega 3 Omega 6 Ratio fish-min

The ratio should be around 2:1 for Omega 3: Omega 6 but many people consume far too much of Omega 6, which can be detrimental to the body. Omega 6 is found in abundance with sugar and processed foods, but is also found in nuts and butters but in much lower quantities. Clearly when following a SAD diet, laden with these processed foods, it is very easy for the N3:N6 ratio to skew heavily in favour of Omega 6. Not good. Whilst a Paleo diet is naturally going to promote a healthier ratio of these fatty acids, it is no “guaranteed”, so it is important to monitor the fats you are eating to ensure the ratio remains healthy.

There are ways to improve the ratio of both of these fatty acids, by eating foods which have a good balance between the two. Free range eggs and grass-fed meat offer a balance between both, which means they are very beneficial in improving overall health. Mono-unsaturated and saturated fats such as olive oil and coconut oil which are keenly consumed within the Paleo diet also provide a good source for both of these fatty acids and will help to keep the ratio at the proper level. You can also buy free range (often organic) eggs, which are high in Omega 3 (as the hens are fed a diet rich in these fatty acids)

We have been encouraged for some time to increase our consumption of fresh fish and seafood as they offer a wealth of benefits to the body and the main reason for this is the fact that these are rich in Omega-3. As a powerful antioxidant, Omega-3 is essential to have as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Do you monitor your Omega 3/ Omega 6 ratio? What do you do to ensure the ratios remain at a good level?

Low Protein High Protein paleo macronutrient ratios-min

Low Protein? High Protein?

In case you didn’t already know, dietary protein is essential for human health. Protein is used in the body to build and maintain new tissue such as muscle, hair, nails, skin, bone and blood cells. It is also required to create the enzymes for the body to carry out certain processes, such as the digestion of food; and neurotransmitters, which control your ability to carry out basic tasks (like thought and movement). US dietary guidelines recommend a daily intake of 45g per day for females, and 55g per day for males. In reality, you need much more to maintain optimum health, especially if you’re active. But just how much should you be taking in? And is it possible to consume too much?

Put simply, the amount of protein you need is unique to each individual. For a sedentary person, Many sources recommend around 1g of protein per kilo of bodyweight as a realistic amount needed to maintain lean mass. If you’re more active, you’ll be looking at around 1.5g – and if you’re lifting (and looking to increase lean muscle mass), between 1.8g and 2.0g per kilo of bodyweight is optimal. For example, a 70kg man training three times per week and looking to increase his muscle mass should be targeting between 130g and 140g of protein per day. That’s the equivalent of around 3 eggs, one chicken breast, a handful of almonds and one sirloin steak – so is by no means reaching into the realms of ‘forced’ protein.

Low Protein High Protein paleo macronutrient ratios-min

Indeed, if protein forms the majority of your caloric intake, then you’re probably consuming too much. Fat should be your main source of energy, with between 15 and 25% coming from protein. Too much protein can create excess toxins in the body, and put a significant strain on the liver and heart. Not ideal.

Chances are, your Paleo diet already features a respectable amount of protein and you’ll probably be achieving your protein ‘target’ without even knowing it. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds are all good sources of this macro-nutrient. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are found in plants as well – albeit in various quantities. If a food contains all of the ‘essential’ amino acids, then this food is considered a ‘complete’ protein. As plant protein sources are normally lacking in at least one of the essential amino acids, they are usually considered as ‘incomplete’ protein. This is one of the reasons it is hard for vegans to consume adequate protein, and leads to them having to selectively combine foods to achieve a complete amino acid profile.

To conclude, it is probably much better you focus on the quality of the protein you are taking in rather than the quantity. Don’t worry too much about hitting a ‘target amount’ – simply build each meal around a high quality protein source like red meat, poultry, fish or eggs. Consume extra if you’re active, especially on training days. But don’t stress yourself out about it; you’re much more likely to be getting a solid amount of protein each day simply by eating real foods.