Catherine Burns

Omega 3 is food for your brain

  • Omega 3 is found in oily fish such as wild salmon. If you don’t like these or consume them three times a week, then you can supplement with a quality brand

It’s been a crazy week over at Natural HQ. First we had Beat the Couch race day, then I began the Ignite Bermuda entrepreneurial accelerator programme and we’ve just launched the third round of Nutrifit for this year.

You could say that there are a few balls up in the air! If you’re a bit behind and would like to join Nutrifit (our six-week nutrition programme) then call me today and we’ll get you sorted. Otherwise, you’ll need to wait until September and there’s no time like the present!

Ignite are consistently telling us to “go do” — basically, stop procrastinating and just get it done. The whole process has been amazing so far and it’s great to have a [supportive] kick up the bum!

If only we’d all adopt the “go-do” attitude a bit more when it comes to our health. So many of us promise ourselves that we will exercise tomorrow, eat better tomorrow ... tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow! But we have to realise that when it comes to our health, ultimately “the buck stops with you”.

In the majority of cases, we’re in charge of our longevity and crucially, our quality of life. If we’re tired of feeling like crap and not fitting into our clothes then we have to do something about it. And that means now.

The thing is, going from significantly unhealthy to significantly healthy can be a little overwhelming. We try and change everything at once, feel great about ourselves for a couple of days and then it all comes crashing down. If we took it one step at a time, things might be a little more sustainable.

So over the next few weeks I’m going to give you some ideas for new things you can gradually add in to your diet. The beauty of the new things is that they replace the existing rubbish. So you get the benefit of consuming the good thing and the benefit of not consuming the bad one. Win-win!

This week, we’ll take a look at why increasing your intake of omega 3 is a good idea. Here are some major reasons for including it and some practical suggestions for how to add to it. Any questions, please let me know on social media.

Five reasons you need omega 3

Omega 3 refers to essential fatty acids that provide polyunsaturated “good” fats. They are, in essence, pro-health and anti-inflammatory. Omega 3s include a-Linolenic acid (ALA, mainly found in plant oils) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) both mainly found in marine oils.

1, Omega 3 is good for your brain at every stage of your life. In utero, omega 3 (especially EPA) helps babies’ brains to properly develop. In old age, omega 3 (especially DHA) helps to prevent degenerative illnesses like Alzheimer’s.

2, Omega 3 is also good for eye health, which often starts to fail rapidly as we age. DHA deficiency has been linked in multiple studies to macular degeneration.

3, Omega 3 is great for your heart health, helping to thin the blood and reduce blood pressure. In many instances (especially for those with a certain genotype), omega 3 helps to raise HDL “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.

4, Omega 3 improves mid-range weight gain. It helps to regulate the production of insulin which improves the reduction of belly fat (visceral fat) in conjunction with a healthy diet.

5, Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory so can have a significant impact on joint pain. However, it’s also helpful for reducing inflammation relating to migraine, endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma and eczema.

How to fit it into your diet

1, Yes you can supplement, but don’t rely on supplements to compensate for a bad diet. Swallowing fish oils and eating fried chicken at the same time won’t get you good results.

Bad fats block the uptake of good fats, so they disarm your best intentions. Also note that omega 3 supplements are contraindicated in people with epilepsy and in those taking some blood thinners. If you are on medication or have a health condition, always check with your doctor before taking any supplement.

2, Omega 3 is found in oily fish (wild salmon, mackerel and sardines). You should aim to consume them three times a week.

If you don’t like these, then you can supplement with a quality brand (noting the limitations above). I like Innate Choice’s Omega Sufficiency (Inside Out Wellness Centre), Nordic Naturals (People’s), LifeExtension (Rock On) and Solgar (Down to Earth). All of these have been screened for the presence of heavy metals.

3, Omega 3 is also found in grass-fed animal products. Grass is rich in omega 3 and that passes on to you through the food chain. Factory-farmed cattle are usually fed soy/corn, both of which have a fairly high omega 6 content. So if you are buying beef or dairy products, please go grass-fed.

4, Omega 3 is also found in chia, hemp, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and flax seed. So, try adding the Linwoods ground seed mix to things you bake (works especially well in muffins and banana bread). Snack on fresh fruit with pumpkin seeds or walnuts. Add chia, hemp or flax to your smoothie. And that’s it! Tons of good reasons to include it and it’s easy!

Catherine Burns is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. For details: www.natural.bm, 236-7511 or, on Facebook, Natural Nutrition Bermuda