Coconut Oil, Ketones and Alzheimer's

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More on Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

Another related subject I have been reading much about these past months addresses the inflammation piece related to our American diet of the past fifty plus years. It has to do with the "yin" and "yang" relationship of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 is inflammatory (having to do with our natural immune response)and relatively vasoconstrictive and omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and produce vasodilation. Ideally these effects would be balanced if consumed in anywhere from a 4:1 or 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, depending on what scientific papers you read. The infant formula manufacturers are shooting for about a 4:1 ratio and they just started really paying attention to this about 6 years ago. They began to add DHA (one of the omega-3s) to improve visual acuity and IQ and added ARA (an omega-6) to balance it. Our typical American diet is so out of whack that the ratio is more like 20:1 or even 40:1, mostly related to relatively high consumption of 100% vegetable oil which is usually soybean oil +/- some canola oil, and low consumption of fish, say, compared with Japan where the average consumption per person is 140 pounds of fish per year!! Here Americans tend to eat a lot of soybean oil which is about 50% omega-6 and has has about a 7:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 if non-hydrogenated and 17:1 if it is hydrogenated. Non-hydrogenated cannola oil actually isn't bad, with 19% omega-6 and 9% omega-3 (about a 2:1 ratio) and 7% long chain saturated fats. Olive oil is about 10% omega-6 and has a 13:1 ratio,and by the way, olive oil is not all mono-unsaturated fat and has about 14% long chain saturated fats. My favorite, coconut oil, is about 4% omega-6 and has no omega-3. In those parts of the world where coconut oil is used, fish consumption is also very common. In our world, adding some salmon to our diet and/or fish oil would be a good idea. I think most of us as caregivers are already doing that, but figuring out how much to use is another problem. If you are trying to get a 4:1 ratio and you are mostly using 100% non-hydrogenated soybean oil, you would need to take an additional 1.5 to 2 grams of omega-3 for every tablespoon. Considering how much soybean oil (the favorite of the fast food and packaged food industries) many folks eat in a day, you can see that the "inflammatory/vasoconstrictive properties" of omega-6 could be a factor in the diseases that plague Americans - high BP, cardiovascular disease (inflamed blood vessel walls,) autoimmune diseases, to name a few. To get a 4:1 ratio, for olive oil, it would be about 1 gram omega-3 for every 3 tablespoons. For coconut oil, 1 gram omega-3 for every 6.5 tablespoons. Also, I have been learning that the omega-3 fatty acid called DHA is a more permanent part of the cell membrane and EPA more transient and we may need relatively more EPA than DHA as a result. I have been communicating with a neurolipid biochemist/researcher, who I hope to learn a lot from in the coming weeks. I plan pass whatever information I can gleen from her on to the caregiver groups.

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