Superfood Spotlight #4: Omega-3 Rich foods!

Omega-3’s are EFA’s which stands for essential fatty acids. And they’re just this- essential! 

Known for their powerful anti-inflammatory properties, I recommend making them a priority in your diet.

Why is reducing inflammation so neccessary? Inflammation is almost always the root cause of any health issue, disease or dis-ease. I mention this a lot because we’re often not tracing back to the root cause, and that’s incredibly important for seeing permanent change and healing from the inside out. 

When we’re experiencing discomfort, acute or chronic- by nature we’re inclined to just treat the symptoms. And sure, this can relieve things temporarily, but you’re not targeting the root of the issue and most likely that discomfort will continue to circle back until you make a change and acknowledge where it’s all stemming from.

I love to give this analogy, “if you had a rock in your shoe, would you take something for the discomfort or would you simply remove the rock?” 

Thinking of it that way really helped me wrap my mind around things- since I used to be someone who always chose treating the symptoms first. I’ve since spent the last few years with the very opposite approach. Sure, things haven’t happened as quickly but I know if I keep going and follow the steps I’ll get to a place where things are truly behind me and I’m seeing and feeling permanent change.

This brings me back to inflammation! Inflammation actually occurs initially as a good thing.

For example, when you cut your finger the area will become red and inflamed. That’s actually a sign that your body is trying to heal the wound. 

Inflammation comes like a red flag- to alert us that somethings wrong. And we want to get that message so that things don’t continue to perpetuate and turn into something much worse.

For example, you could be breaking out because your body is responding to the immense mental stress you’ve been going through at work or you’ve been eating out a lot and exposed to a food sensitivity like dairy without your knowledge because it’s in a sauce of a dish your routinely order. So that breakout on your skin could be a sign that somethings wrong.

Red flag!

It could be a sign that you need to lower your stress (or find more stress-management techniques like breath or walks) or discover that food sensitivity and remove it from your diet for 30 days to calm the inflammatory response. 

See how this could be much more ideal vs. just taking a medication to clear your skin? You’re healing from the root cause so the problem doesn’t persist. 

*I should note that medications can absolutely be neccessary and appropriate for some individuals and this is not medical advice. 

I should also note that inflammation is not always noticeable.

You can’t always feel inflammation, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t happening systemically. Just like when you eat a food that you’re intolerant to, it doesn’t mean that your headaches, skin or depression isn’t affected just because you don’t have digestive issues or gut pain. 

Very unfortunately it isn’t that simple to detect. This is why I recommend my food & mood journal that I provide to my 1:1 clients for easier tracking! 

Learn more about working with me 1:1.

So what are we doing and eating that’s causing inflammation in our bodies? Stress (mental, physical and emotional), sleep deprivation, environmental stress, foods sensitives or intolerances, alcohol, and inflammatory foods like sugar, refined carbohydrates, gluten, conventional dairy, and vegetable oils (canola, corn, grape seed and soybean). 

It’s easy to see why we need foods rich in omega-3’s with powerful anti-inflammatory properties to combat that inflammation that most of us are experience all day, every day.

Here are my favorite omega-3 rich foods!

Wild Caught Fish

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Shellfish

My favorite brand of wild caught canned fish is Wild Planet.

Grass-fed Animal Fats

  • Grass-fed beef
  • Grass-fed butter (my favorite brand is Kerrygold)
  • Grass-fed ghee (my favorite brand is 4th & Heart)
  • Pasture-raised Whole Eggs (my favorite brand is Vital Farms)

Plant Sources

  • Seaweed/Wakame (sea vegetable)
  • Spirulina
  • Chia Seeds*
  • Flaxseed or flaxseed oil*
  • Hemp Seeds*
  • Walnuts*

*It’s important to note that these plant sources of omega-3’s need to be converted from ALA to the ideal and usable forms of omega-3’s- EPA and DHA (which animal foods already contain). I still recommend including the plant sources in your diet (because they’re great!) but also make an effort to include the animal sources as those carry the most nutrient-density and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Another huge reason that we’re as a nation experiencing so much inflammation is the ratio we are getting of omega-6’s to Omega 3’s. The ideal ration is 2:1, or 3:1 omega-6:omega-3. Wildly, most Americans are getting closer to 20:1 or 30:1!! This is because omega-3’s are much more difficult to get than omega-6’s. 

What food has the highest content of omega-6’s? Vegetable oils - canola, corn, grape seed, soybean, cottonseed, safflower, wheat germ oil, margarine, and shortening. 

Spoiler alert, these oils are found in almost everything- chips, crackers, whole wheat bread, cereal, frozen foods, pasta sauces, salad dressing, protein bars, pastries and sweets, pizza, candy, fast food AND are the oils most, if not all restaurants cook with since they’re inexpensive. 

It’s easy to see that we’re over-exposed to Omega-6’s and underexposed to omega-3’s.

What are the consequences to a diet richer in omega-6’s? The sad and short story is inflammatory diseases…including but not limited to: 

  • cardiovascular disease
  • type 2 diabetes
  • obesity
  • metabolic syndrome
  • irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease
  • macular degeneration
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • psychiatric disorders
  • autoimmune diseases (1)

This is super important and I’m very passionate about increasing omega-3’s. 

I’ve seen a HUGE difference in my health and the health of my clients by removing the vegetable oils rich in omega-6’s and including far more omega-3 rich foods. 

And I’m willing to bet you will too. You can see the stakes are quite high. 

Tell me, how do you get in your Omega-3’s?