By: Alonso Chavarriaga
Omega-3 and Omega-6 in Your Diet
The Standard American Diet (with the rather appropriate acronym SAD) mostly involves over-consumption of omega-6 fats, and a low consumption of omega-3 fats. Omega-6 is found in poultry, cereal, whole-grain breads, vegetable oils, and nuts, and your body needs both omega-3 and omega-6 to function properly. Dr. Smith explains that having such an imbalance can lead to inflammation in the body, which is a common denominator in all age-related disorders.
Improving the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is very important, and can be achieved by eating more omega-3s. While the primary dietary source for omega-3s is ultimately fish, supplementation is also important and can be consumed through flax and plant-based supplements. There is always ongoing debate as to whether or not there is a difference in omega-3 acids from fish or supplements, but the longer chains of EPA/DHA found in fish make it far more beneficial to the human body. If you plan on supplementing with omega-3s, fish oil is your best option.
The Telomere: Fountain of Youth?
Published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, this study looked at the effects omega-3 fatty acids had on the preservation of telomere length.
So, what exactly is a telomere, and why does its length matter? Your entire DNA is packed together into chromosomes. The sheer amount of data would take up a whole cell if not kept neatly inside the chromosomes. At the end of each chromosome is a cap, which Dr. Smith likens to the end of a shoelace. On a shoelace, the cap’s purpose is to help make tying easier and keep the lace lasting longer.
The telomere acts in a similar way; it keeps the chromosome strong, and helps it last longer. Every time the chromosome divides and reproduces, the telomere becomes just a little more frayed, and decreases in size. Eventually, the cell realizes it’s become frayed and small enough, and decides to die out. By preserving the telomere length, evidence shows that it can maintain optimal function, not just keep an old cell alive.
Taking omega-3 supplementation can help preserve the telomere cap, as the Brain, Behavior, and Immunity study found that there was a protective effect in middle aged men and women who took between 1.25g to 2.5 grams of EPA/DHA daily.
Not only was there a reduction in cell decay, but also there were also lower levels of oxidative stress. Ultimately, the researchers concluded that omega-3s could help lower inflammation, decrease oxidative stress, and help preserve the telomere.
In the accompanying audio segment, Dr. Mike discusses the study on how omega-3 fatty acids can help turn back the clock.