I have a few very simple questions to ask you. What will it take for you to decide to do something to change your health for the better?

What kind of evidence do you need to see in front of you before you realise that you need to make a change?

In the 1600’s Dr. Thomas Fuller said “Health is not valued till sickness comes.” rather poignant considering nothing seems to have changed in 400 years.  

It seems that ‘we’ humans have a tendency to live life in reaction to events often reluctant to make a change to our lives unless we are forced into it. We learn through personal experience, each experience dictates the choices we make when confronted with a similar situation.

You apply sun cream not only because you know that you should but because you have at some point experienced the lingering and somewhat excruciating pain of sunburn.  You strengthened your home security after you were broken into.

We make changes after the event in the hope of avoiding it reoccurring.  We are, in essence, reactive rather than proactive which, for the most part, we can get away with.

Not when it comes to your health.

I am often surprised by how much the human body can endure, our ability to keep going when by all rights we should be flat on our backs and six feet under is quite remarkable.

We push ourselves long past our breaking point in pursuit of our goals, paying no attention to the toll on our bodies until our bodies give in. When we dare to listen to them, suddenly but perhaps not unexpectedly we once again find ourselves in the reactive position versus the proactive mindset.

In my practice, I deal with the after-effects of life in the fast lane. A life spent pushing our bodies, both mentally and physically to the very limit of what they are capable of. Those limits vary for each and every individual. For some people, their health descent is triggered by too much pressure and stress leading to burnouts and in some cased mental breakdowns or midlife crises.

To others, it’s the result of continuously poor food choices, years of overeating and under-exercising. Some people come and see me suffering from both, some – having pushed their bodies so hard they have fallen into a state of disease; realisation that previous lifestyles has been damaging comes further down the line when the bad results show up.

Some fast lanes are comparatively slow when likened to others but, the result is always the same. Through our ignorance, in pursuit of wealth, we pay with our health. 

So, my question is what do you need to see to realise that your health is the most valuable asset you have.

We are living in uncertain and unprecedented times; the world’s economy has, for the most part, come to a screeching halt. In the space of a few short weeks everything we had come to understand and accept as normal has been turned upside down and while the exact pathophysiology of the current virus has yet to be confirmed one thing is for sure, the healthier you are the better your chances.

Now is the perfect time to do something about the state of your health. You have been ordered to stay at home, you have stopped commuting to work which for most people means that you have gained roughly 3 extra hours in your day. You have time to prepare the delicious meals that you never had time to consider before. You have time to exercise, even if, like me, it’s following a recording in your living room.

You might be sat here reading this feeling motivated thinking, this all makes sense and I am ready to make a change, but you’re not sure exactly how to do it. With so much information continuously hurled at us some of us are suffering from information paralysis resembling deer in the preverbal headlights and that’s ok.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help, nothing wrong with raising your hand and saying “I want to make a change, but I don’t know how to do it”

Nothing wrong with saying “I’ve been trying for years but nothing seems to work.”

Nothing wrong with being scare of making changes either. Help is always just around the corner, all you need do is ask.  

So, if not now, then when?

Let’s talk about how Omega-3 fatty acids affect your brain, that big lump of white matter floating around inside your skull.

I introduced Omega-3 fatty acids in my last article, now I am going to focus on their effects on your brain

Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are fundamental in allowing your brain to function normally, they are also critical in the development of your brain though out every stage of your life from fetial development to the elderly.

In fact, multiple studies have shown that women who ingested fish oils or ate fish regularly throughout their pregnancy go on to have children who, when tested in their early childhood result in higher scores for intelligence and brain function. (1, 2)

Throughout life, these fatty acids play a vital role in normal brain function where they are critical in preserving cell membrane health and can facilitate communication between brain cells. (3

The older we get the more imported maintaining optimal levels of omega-3 becomes. Lower levels of DHA in the blood have been associated with smaller brain sizes which are a sign of accelerated brain ageing. (4)

A very brief history lesson

Over the last century (with a handful of exceptions) the global adult population has experienced an unprecedented deficiency in omega-3 EPA and DHA acids. Primary drivers include the reduced consumption of fatty fish and the reduction in omega-3 levels in fish that have been farmed for ‘mass-production’. Alongside the significant increase in the consumption of dietary Omega-6 found predominantly in seed oils and processed foods, which have become abundant in the modern diet.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 compete for the same enzymes and given the disproportionate intake of Omega 6 to Omega-3 it’s no surprise that the majority of the world’s population is deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Memory loss

With Omega-3 fatty acids playing an important role in brain function and development with several studies suggesting that the consumption of fish oils in supplemental form may improve brain function in people with mild types of cognitive impairment (MCI) or age-related cognitive decline. (5, 6)

Researchers found that taking 1.8 grams of omega-3s from fish oil supplements daily for 24 weeks improved brain function in people with MCI. (7)


Reviews of clinical studies have found that taking fish oil supplements improved depression symptoms in people with depression compared to those on anti-depressant medications, with the grates improvements seen when the fish oil supplement contained higher doses of EPA. (8)

EPA has been thought to have effects on serotonin and the serotonin receptors in the brain, it is also thought that EPA improves depressive symptoms though it’s anti-inflammatory effects. Additional evidence suggests that fish oil may improve other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. (9, 10, 11)

The way your body uptakes omega 3 oils is critical and if these pathways are not supported it won’t matter how much oil you take it won’t impact your body in the way that you had intended.

Uptake is more important than intake.

Uptake of omega-3 to your blood cells is critical for increasing your omega-3 index. Conventional research has focused on the intake of EPA and DHA primarily based on the logic that intake determines uptake for the absorption of fat. However, fat digestion needs to be initiated by the release of emulsifying bile salts and pancreatic lipases which occurs effectively only after a high-fat meal rather than a low-fat meal, explaining why the best dietary absorption of omega-3 oils happens after you have eaten. (12, 13, 14)

Having the optimum ratio of omega 6 to 3 fatty acids is essential for optimum brain function. When supplementing it is essential that the oil you use is balanced not only in EPA and DHA but that it includes the correct levels of polyphenols meaning amongst other things that you can still benefit from the positive and protective effects of omega-3 fatty acids without having to consume a high-fat meal.  

To find out more about how you can test your levels of Omega 6:3 send me an email or book a free call.  

What are Omega-3 Oils?

Omega-3s are a specific polyunsaturated fatty acid-containing more than one double bond in their chemical structure. The 3 indicates where the first double bond sits structurally.

While our bodies are capable of making saturated fatty acids we lack the enzyme which allows us to create a double bond in the right place effectively preventing us from creating the omega-3s ourselves. (1)

ALA, EPA, ETA and DHA are the most common dietary omega-3s.

Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA): This is a plant-based omega-3 the best sources are found in leafy vegetables; flaxseed oil, chia seed oil and walnut oil. ALA is a short-chain omega-3 and requires your body to convert it into longer-chained EPA and DHA to make it.  This is an inefficient process with roughly 1% of the ALA you consume converting into the long-chain version your body requires. Interestingly women are slightly more efficient than men.

Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA): A 20-carbon fatty acid found in oily fish, algae oil and Krill oil. Your body is able to synthesize this molecule in its original form. EPA and DHA are required in high quantities in order to be beneficial to the body.  

Eicosatetraenoic Acid (ETA): Just like EPA, ETA contains 20-carbons however, it only has four carbon bonds as opposed to five. Found in roe-oil and green-lipped mussel it has recently been recognised for its potent health benefits. ETA is anti-inflammatory able to limit the amount of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (ARA). ETA is able to redirect the enzyme responsible for ARA production and convert it to EPA instead.

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): 22-carbon molecule again found in oily fish, krill oil and algae oil. DHA molecules can be converted back to EPA in order to keep your levels stable should you consume more DHA.

Omega-6 Oils, are they bad guys or are we simply eating too many of them?

We all know that too much of a good thing eventually becomes a bad thing and even though they are portraited as the bad guys, omega-6s are required at low levels in order for your body to function correctly and prevent disease. Produced from linoleic acid.

Anthropological research indicates that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were consuming a 1:1 omega 6:3 ratio. This research also indicates that ancient and more modern hunter gather’s where free from inflammatory disease such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes which are today’s primary causes of death and morbidity today. (2, 3)

The change in ratios happened at the onset of the industrial revolution (roughly 140 years ago) when there was a dietary increase in the consumption of modern vegetable oils and an increased use of cereal grains as feed for both humans and domestic livestock altering the fatty acid profile of the meat humans consumed. (4)

The dramatic rise in vegetable oil consumption at the beginning and end of the 20th century lead to a rise in the omega 6:3 ratio between 1935 and 1939 ratios were reported to be 8.4:1 climbing to 10.3:1 from 1935 to 1985 today these ratios are estimated to be as high as 25:1 (5,6)

Competition in the ranks

Both omega 3 and omega 6 compete for the same conversion enzyme meaning that the quality of omega-6 in your diet directly affects the conversion of omega-3 ALA, found in plant foods to long-chain omega-3 EPA and DHA that protect us from disease.  The high your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids the less omega-6 will be available to the tissues to produce inflammation. (7)

Omega 6 is pro-inflammatory whereas omega 3 is neutral thus a diet rich in omega-6 will increase inflammation and a diet high in omega-3 with low levels of omega-6 will reduce inflammation.

How will a high omega 6 to 3 ratio affect you?

Elevated omega-6 is associated with an increase in inflammatory disease – pretty much all diseases here are a few

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Asthma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Psychiatric disorders – depression, anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Macular degeneration.
  • Digestive disorder
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • ADHD
  • Neurodegenerative and neurological disorders including cognitive decline in older adults, dementia and memory loss.

Symptoms of Omega-3 Deficiency

(8, 9 ,10)

  • Changes in the appearance of skin, hair and nails. Skin may become inflamed, dry, flaky sensitive or red. Hair can become brittle and thinner. Nails may break easily and be very weak.
  • Impairments in learning and attention span. Attention deficits, anxiety, restlessness, poor concentration, poor memory.
  • Mood related changes, irritability, depression, anxiety and mood swings
  • Dry eyes
  • Signs of dehydration, including increased thirst and dry mouth/throat.
  • Frequent urination
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Symptoms of allergies, such as eczema, asthma, hey fever hives etc.  

How do you raise your omega-3 levels?

Well by now you know me and you know that I am all about eating your way out of trouble.

Add cold water fatty fish to your diet. Rich in omega-3 eating a variety of seafood at least twice a week ideally more often is beneficial in obtaining the correct ratio of Omega 6:3

The best Seafood choices are Wild-caught sockeyes Atlantic salmon, sardines, anchovies, Atlantic mackerel, herring, white fish, anchovies and halibut.  Do your best to buy wild-caught fish over farm-raised fish as farm-raised fish is inferior in both its nutrient density and omega 3 content, it also tends to be fed antibiotics which lead to other issues within our bodies.

Eat Other omega-3 foods

Walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, egg yolks, mustard oil, walnut oil, hemp oil, butternuts, brazil nuts, cashews, hemp seeds, hazelnuts are all great ways to obtain omega-3s and healthy fats.

Remove ultra-processed omega-6 rich foods from your diet. These often contain processed vegetable oils, Canola, sunflower, safflower are found in highly processed foods tipping the ratio in the wrong direction.

Supplementing with Omega 3 oils.

In the ideal world you eat all your nutrients however in this day and age this is not always possible and so it’s worth considering supplementing. However, please be aware that this is not as easy as just going to the health food store and purchasing the first fish oil you find. Not all oils are created equal, many contain mercury and other harmful contaminants which is why you should always research the oil you plan on using before you buy it. If you have a bleeding disorder, bruise easily, take blood-thinning medications please consult your doctor before supplementing.

If you’re not sure which oils to purchase simply drop me a mail or book a 15 min free call and I will happily advise you.