Living Magazine Fall 2015 Living Magazine - Page 22

ESSENTIAL The term essential fatty acids (EFA) refers to a group of lipids that are vital for optimum health, but that must be provided through the diet because the body is incapable of synthesizing them. EFAs serve a number of significant functions within the body, including cell growth, brain development, muscle activity, immune function, joint health, and many others. There is also a growing body of research concerning their influence on long-term health. As the science of nutrition continues to evolve, it is becoming clear that EFA intake is one the most important aspects of good nutrition. There are a number of different polyunsaturated fatty acids, but there are two distinct types of long-chain omega-3s that have been shown to confer these amazing health benefits: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are found exclusively in oily fish and marine algae. The short-chain alpha linolenic acid (ALA), found in high concentrations in seeds and nuts, also serves many beneficial functions and actually converts (although not particularly effectively) to EPA and DHA in the body. Numerous clinical observations and longitudinal studies have displayed the cardio-protective effects of diets high in EFA intake, especially the long-chain omega-3s contained in marine life. These studies are so overwhelming that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have been recently amended to include more seafood and the American Heart Association’s newest strategic goals focus on increasing oily fish consumption. RATIO Dr. Damian Rodriguez is a member of the dōTERRA education department. Prior to joining dōTERRA, he worked in public health and as a strength coach and nutritionist for professional and collegiate athletes. He holds both a doctorate in Health Sciences with an emphasis in obesity and an M.S. in Human Movement from A.T. Still University, as well as numerous professional certifications in exercise and nutrition. Dr. Rodriguez is a lifelong athlete who has competed in everything from powerlifting to triathlons and is very passionate about educating the public about healthy lifestyle habits. 22 / FALL 2015 LIVING MAGAZINE One of the most significant aspects of EFA intake is the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. The conventional “Western” diet includes an excess of omega-6s and a deficiency of omega-3s. Present in nearly all processed and restaurant-cooked foods, recent statistics suggest that vegetablederived omega-6s account for up to 20 percent of calories consumed by the average adult.1 Furthermore, corn-fed beef and pork, one of the primary sources of protein in the western diet, is high in arachidonic acid, an omega-6 more pro-inflammatory than vegetable oils. While they do have their own set of benefits, unlike omega-3s, many omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, can block absorption of omega-3s or decrease efficiency of ALA to EPA conversion, and have even been shown to contribute to the progression of several non-communicable health issues.2 Current evidence suggests that a 1:1 (omega-6 to omega-3) ratio is ideal for optimum health, but the average in industrialized nations is 16:1 and is often much higher.3 Also