Here we go again, another article that rocks the mainstream ideas about what constitutes health. Cholesterol is bad…out the window. Fat and cholesterol causes heart disease…bye bye. Mercury in your teeth is safe..see you later. Omega 3 is overhyped…wait a minute.
Contrary to popular opinion, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are not the amazing health items you’ve been told. I was just in the grocery store earlier today and found the “top brand” of fish oil on sale for $56! Little do these sad consumers know they are mostly being taken for a ride. How so?
A few months back I wrote a similar article revealing the oxidative free radical damage and pre-mature aging caused by omega 3 fatty acids. Not too many people were happy to hear the painful truth that their favorite fish oil/krill oil supplement are really just potential free radicals in a bottle.
The Painful Truth About Polyunsaturated Omega 3
Polyunsaturated omega 3 and 6 are potentially harmful to the body in 3 primary ways:
- Through very rapid lipid peroxidation and free radical damage
- Through the formation of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins
- By forming trans-isomers and other ultra-unusual fatty acids
Polyunsaturated oils are the most susceptible to the oxidative destruction of lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation is the process of degradation of lipids. Omega 6 and especially omega 3 cause very rapid cellular breakdown to take place. Wonderful news if you would like enormously high amounts of free radicals floating around inside of you. Bad news if you are interested in maintaining your health.
Not only will omega 3 fatty acids cause a rapid and substantial loss of vitamin E in the body, omega 3 will rapidly oxidize, even before entering the blood itself. Omega 3 consumption can result in liver spots on the skin known as Lipofuscin, and this is especially true if vitamin E levels are low.
Omega 3 fatty acids do have anti-inflammatory effects in the body, but these anti-inflammatory effects are short lived. And there may be long term pro-inflammatory effects associated with their consumption. Omega 3 works on what are called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are “messengers molecules” that play very substantial roles in the pro-anti/inflammatory responses in the body.
Essentially omega 3 temporarily blocks the conversion of PG2 prostaglandins. It is this class of prostaglandins which are responsible for so many inflammatory processes that result in pain, arthritis, autoimmune processes, migraine headaches, etc. In fact, omega 3 blocks the same prostaglandin pathway that aspirin blocks, seeming to indicate that omega 3 has more of a drug like effect than a nutritive effect in the body.
The problem though with omega 3 and prostaglandins is that it is the oxidized omega 3 fats in the body that work on the prostaglandins. As we’ve already discussed, oxidation of omega 3 oils in the body is harmful because they will result in high amounts of free radical formation, destruction of cells and loss of vitamin E.
The other damaging aspect of omega 3 occurs when they are heated or oxidized. Omega 3 is a very heat and oxygen sensitive oil. Heated omega 3 oils (such as in cooking fish, meat or nuts & seeds, or any other source of omega 3, or the heat extraction process of fish oil) results in the formation of trans-isomers or other unusual types of fatty acids, which are toxic to the liver and further contribute to free radical formation and lipid peroxidation.
Making Sense of It All
in the body everything functions in balance. Balance between dualism:
- Anti-oxidants/free radicals
The cells of your body are no different. Your cell membranes are made up of both saturated fats as well as polyunsaturated fatty acids. In order for things to work smoothly, there must be a balance. When the cells are too tight, too thick, they become hardened and anaerobic. If the cell can’t be penetrated, oxygen can’t be used efficiently and excess lactic acid gets produced, leading to all sorts of problems. To simplify, Polyunsaturated omega 3 maintains the permeability of cells, with other nutrients such as Vitamins A and D.
When cells become too loose, the cell membranes fall apart causing tremendous free radical formation. This is called dysaerobic metabolic imbalance or catabolism. Saturated fat and cholesterol as well as vitamin E maintains the proper stiffness of cells, preventing lipid peroxidation.
It makes sense to me that the people who will derive the most benefits of omega 3 fatty acids will be those with anaerobic diseases. What are some of the most common? Cancer, arthritis, heart disease. This explains why some of the most brilliant physicians like Emanuel Revici and Johanna Budwig were so successful at treating cancer. Both used omega 3 fatty acids.
But the important point to remember is that dysaerobic diseases/conditions will only be exacerbated by high amounts of omega 3 oils.
Should you take fish oil as a supplement? Personally I don’t use it and don’t recommend it to everyone as a ‘one size fits all’ recommendation. I might recommend omega 3 supplementation to some people in some instances, but this is only if I know they have anaerobic imbalances.
Ray Peat, PhD, www.raypeat.com
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