Alternate title: How to Fix Your Omega-6 to Omega-3 Imbalance and Rejuvenate Your Cell Membranes
I currently have two main focuses in my life: Business and health.
Without money, you can’t do what you want.
And without health, you can’t live.
It’s a simple enough proposition, so it boggles my mind that most people go at it half-assed.
I’ve met a lot of people lately who are good at business but are unhealthy. There’s no need for that. Just do what I did, first you get healthy and then you get wealthy.
Now that I fixed my Omega-3 levels, I’m done with part one.
My energy levels are consistently high, my mental focus is good, my body is strong, I don’t get sick, nor do I have stomach aches or headaches.
So I can work hard.
As I’ve said many times, the first part of my plan was to get ripped. That took me 2 year of consistent effort. I prioritized it above of my university studies at the time—which in hindsight turned out to be a good choice.
Then, when I got candida, I had to learn about digestion and other diet-related stuff, which I didn’t know at the time. That was a big learning experience; to realize how fragile the body can be.
To be healthy, here’s what it boils down to–in order of priority:
> Diet & sleep
And in that specific order I have also put my time and energy when it comes to getting enough momentum with my health to put it on “automation”.
—That means I do not count calories, I do not keep track of my diet every day, nor do I plan out my physical exercise. Everything is habitual.
What could be easier?
I just fast 16 hours every day, exercise 4-6 times per week, and eat shortly after working out (while assimilation of nutrients is optimal).
Ludvig the pool guardian. No bad guys allowed on my watch. Time to eat now. Speaking of that, here is a tip: * You always want to do at least a quick workout (15-20 min) before having a meal. This boosts metabolism and heightens your protein intake. If you do this every day it is nearly impossible to get fat, even if you eat junk food
And I do not eat when I’m intoxicated.
I typically fast that entire day, if I’ve had the chance to schedule the event in beforehand.
Here are the most important supplements I use:
- Vitamin D
- Magnesium and zinc
- Multivitamin 1
- High quality Omega-3 (lots of EPA & DHA)
- Olive oil (high polyphenol value)
The first three are no-brainers—and probably everyone who reads this also uses them—but the last two may be less known. Despite this, they may be the most important ones. Especially Omega-3.
So What’s the Deal with Omega-3?
A couple of months ago Mikael Syding told me about his perfect Omega-3 levels. Then he asked me what my levels were.
My Omega-3 levels?
I said I had no idea, but confidently added that I ought to have pretty good ones, since I had taken Omega-3 almost every day for about 8 years.
Mikael suggested that I do a fatty acid analysis blood test, and then referred me to his guy.
Said and done: I ordered the test, picked it up, unpacked it, sat down to do it and then sent it off in the prepacked return envelope.
[Pictured: What the unpacked fatty acid analysis blood test looked like.]
It was easy to do the test. I just followed the instructions (a checklist was included) and finished it within 30 minutes. The funniest part was pricking my finger and filling out the circles with blood. .
“Bleed in the name of science.”
After posting the envelope I waited for about 10 days.
When I Got the Test Results Back I Was Shocked!
And mildly embarrassed. Because my Omega-3 levels where nowhere as high as I had confidently touted to Mikael.
For the majority of people the most important metrics in the blood test are:
- Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio, which is a measure of your total amount of Omega-6 fatty acids divided by your total amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. The optimal result is a ratio of 2:1, which means you have twice as much Omega-6 as you do Omega-3.
- Omega-3 Index, which tells you the total % of Omega-3 fatty acids in your blood cells. The optimal levels are around 8%.
I had a good Omega-3 Index at 9% and an Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio of 4.44*.
This is better than the average man on the street (who doesn’t take care of his body), but it’s still slightly mediocre.
*Note: This seems pretty decent at first glance, but when looking closer at my test results, you see that it’s a bit misleading, as I:
a) did not have enough EPA and
b) had rather excessive levels of many Omega-6 fatty acids:
[Yes, I know the test is in Swedish. Sorry about that. I will give you a comparison summary of key metrics in the end of the article.]
Mikael had mentioned it when we talked before, but now that I was sitting and reviewing my test results, I gained first-hand knowledge that. . .
All Omega-3 Supplements Are Not Created Equal!
The capsules I had been taking for 8 years were low-grade and cheap.
And, worse still, I had only been taking the prescribed dosage, which was only one-third of what I was supposed to take! 3
The benefits I got from taking those capsules for 8 long years were negligible.
This is why it’s important to test things. You need the feedback, or you can go years fooling yourself that things are hunky dory. Test your assumptions.
Imagine if I had fixed this at age 16. Maybe I would not have had such brain fog and poor concentration. I guess we’ll never know.
But Even if I Had Taken a Full Dosage of Those Capsules it May Still Not Have Worked
Because even if you consume a sufficient dosage of Omega-3, your body still needs to properly assimilate it. The best way to ensure that you do this is by eating foods with high amounts of antioxidants. Like tomatoes, spinach, blueberries and oregano, for example.
However, the best Omega-3 supplements contain a blend of potent antioxidants mixed with the fish oil.
Why Omega-3 is Important for Your Brain & Body
The cells in your body are made up of fats, and 2/3 of your brain is made up of fat cells. So you need fats–of the right sort.
Most of these fats your body can synthesize on its own, but some of these fats it cannot. These are called essential fatty acids.
You must get them through your diet.
If you don’t have enough essential fatty acids–or if you don’t have the proper ratio of Omega-6/Omega-3–then your brain and body will not function optimally!
This can lead to all sorts of problems. . .
Here are some of the most pressing issues:
- Less motivation & worse concentration due to suboptimal levels of dopamine and lower levels of testosterone.
- Weight problems and/or hunger pangs due to a sluggish insulin response.
- Various other hormonal issues (mood swings, brain fog, dry skin, anxiety, sleeping problems, etc.) which persist despite having gone through “conventional” measures.
- Early onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s (a long-term effect from a life with deficient Omega-3 levels).
If you’ve had these health issues for a longer period of time and you’ve tried to solve them without having been able to improve your situation, then the problem may be related to low levels of Omega-3.
How can these problems be related to (lack of) Omega-3?
Not enough Omega-3 > your cell membranes malfunction > bodily communication gets messed up and hormonal responses get jumbled.
Often the problem is not just low Omega-3 levels but also excessive levels of Omega-6, which makes the body inflamed for no good reason.
We Have Too Much Omega-6 and Not Enough Omega-3!
The increases in world LA4 consumption over the past century may be considered a very large uncontrolled experiment that may have contributed to increased societal burdens of aggression, depression and cardiovascular mortality.
–Joseph Hibbeln, Researcher
As you may suspect, this is largely a diet-related problem.
The majority of “modern” foods contain a bunch of Omega-6 and trans-fatty acids. For example:
- Non grass-fed meats are high in Omega-6 (due to the animals being fed cheap corn concentrate).
- Basically all junk foods, pre-made desserts, and fried foods contain trans-fats.
- Seed- and vegetable oils are naturally high in Omega-6 (see image below).
[Notice how little Omega-3 these common dietary sources of fat contain. And even though the ALA from the flax seeds is very high, the human body doesn’t convert it fully. Sorry vegetarians!]
I know it’s bad.
You know it’s bad.
Everyone who has half a brain knows that most of what’s sold in the average supermarket is unhealthy grub for fatsos. But…
Here’s Something You Might Not Know, That I Personally Find to Be Quite Shocking:
In the last 24 years (since 1992), the amount of children born with autism has increased TWENTY-FIVE FOLD.
The number of children born with ADHD and similar disorders has also increased significantly (although I don’t remember the statistics).
At the same time, the average person’s Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio has gone through the roof. Many researchers believe this is why it’s happening.
Hunter-gatherers had an Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio of 2:1. This means their cells are made up of twice as much Omega-6 as Omega-3.
Today, the average person in the western world has an Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio around 10-20:1.
Indians and Asians often have Omega-6/Omega-3 ratios of 40:1 (!)
The diet in those countries is made up of rice, seed- and vegetable oils, processed foods, snacks all of which are very high in Omega-6. Then add to the problem that many of these countries have a culinary tradition of adding heaps of sugar to everything they eat and drink.
They’re killing their bodies from the inside.
I am in Thailand now, and let me tell you: I can’t even buy me some instant coffee around here. Everything contains sugar and additives! Shit. . . 5
No wonder many guys from these countries are depressed and complain that they can’t build proper physiques. Their hormones are fucked.
But, let us assume that. . .
You’re an Average Person from the Western World
That means you have 10-20 times as much Omega-6 fatty acids as you have Omega-3 fatty acids in your body. What do you think that does to your cells over a longer period of time?
The condition your cells are in is about as “natural” and “healthy” as going through decades of sedentary work inside a neon-lit cubicle is.
I told you that the average person’s Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio is worsening. Well, here’s another statistic you might find interesting:
The increase in Omega-6 stored as body fat over ~50 years in Americans’ bodies:
[Pictured: Linoleic acid (LA) = Common Omega-6 fatty acid.]
Let’s go a little bit deeper on Omega-6.
Omega-6 is Pro-Inflammatory While Omega-3 is Neutral
When you have excessive Omega-6 levels your body gets overly inflamed.
When you have unnecessary inflammation you get sick more often and you don’t recover as quickly as you should.
Omega-6 is not bad per se, but when you start having TEN TIMES as much of it as the human body evolved for, then it gets bad. Your cells become unnatural and imbalanced.
You can get excessive Omega-6 levels in two ways:
- By eating too many bad foods (that I mentioned earlier) or by,
- Not getting enough Omega-3 in your diet.
For the average person, it is typically both.
The Simplest Way to Lower Your Excessive Omega-6 Levels is by Consuming More Omega-3
You see, Omega-6 competes with Omega-3 inside the body, and vice versa (they share the same conversion enzymes).
Like obesity, when you have excessive Omega-6 levels it becomes self-sustaining!
This might be the most important thing in this article, because:
This means that when you finally get down to a balanced ratio of around 2:1, it will act as a protective measure against regaining the previous, excessive levels of Omega-6.
It’s similar to how being muscular and having low body fat gives you a protective moat against obesity.
Hence, you want to get down to a healthy Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio early in life, so that you can put it on autopilot and not have to worry about it later.
You can get enough Omega-3 in your body by eating fish (albeit not the industrially grown sort) every day. But who does that? At least 9/10 people will need a high quality Omega-3 supplement.
The Top 4 Criteria of the Best Omega-3 Supplements:
There are three sorts of commonly occurring Omega-3 supplements:
- Natural fish oil,
- marine Omega-3,
- and concentrates.
Supplement companies are legally required to test their products, after which they are classified as one of these official standards of quality.
Natural fish oil is the best and most demanding standard.
Marine Omega-3 is also good, but it tends to be rare and very expensive.
Concentrates you should just avoid. The body does not deal with them well, and there are many types of concentrates of different qualities. (The Omega-3 I took for 8 years with minimal effect was a low-grade concentrate.)
The best Omega-3 supplements fulfill these 4 criteria:
- It is classified as a natural fish oil.
- It has high levels of DHA and EPA, mixed with some potent antioxidant.
- It is preferably in liquid form, so that you can be 100 % sure of its freshness and high quality. (Unfortunately, only a few companies sell liquid Omega-3, because it’s hard and costly to mass-produce.)
- If you have a supplement that fulfills #1-2, but cannot find a liquid version and have to settle for capsules, make sure the capsule is not made of etylester. It is a material that has been found to melt plastic Styrofoam cups, so you don’t want to put that in your stomach on a regular basis.
Do I have any specific recommendation?
For those who live in Europe, I recommend ArcticMed Premium Omega-3.
It fulfills all the criteria nicely:
- It is a natural fish oil.
- It has high DHA + EPA, mixed with the potent polyphenol olive oil 6 as its antioxidant.
- It is in liquid form.
And it’s also certified by the organization Friend of the Sea for only using fish from environmentally-friendly fishing zones.
I have taken it for about 6 months now and think it’s very good.
The fatty acid blood test I did was also from ArcticMed.
I will tell you more about my experience soon.
Recommendations for U.S and International Readers?
Sorry, can’t recommend what I haven’t tried or experimented with.
But, just look for the 4 criteria listed above when you buy a fish oil. The more criteria it matches, the higher quality. This may be reflected in the price, but not necessarily.
For example, ArcticMed’s fish oil is probably the best in Europe (I don’t know about the rest of the world), but there are many that cost more and are of lower quality.
So, back to what I was saying in the beginning of the article…
After I quit taking those shitty Omega-3 capsule concentrates I’d been taking for 8 years, I did the blood test by ArcticMed, recommended to me by Mikael Syding.
Then I took ArcticMed Premium Omega-3 every day for little over three months. My daily dosage during that period was 12 ml (about the size of a large table spoon).
[Fast forward to ~100 days later]
I did my second fatty acid blood test to see what had changed.
This time my results were much better.
My Omega-3 Index had increased to 9.91% and my Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio was now finally at a healthy, balanced 2.37.
Hehe! Almost optimal.
[Green, green, green, green, green!]
Not surprisingly, during this period I experienced notable improvements in my health and fitness:
- After just 2 weeks of taking 12ml of ArcticMed Premium Omega-3 I stopped being tired in the morning.
- After a month I noticed significant gains in the gym, faster recovery, and a slight improvement in mood (more stable).
- After 45 days I noticed that my concentration had improved, and that I was able to do an EXTRA 1-1,5 hours of work per day!
It has been observed that people who balance their Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio rarely get sick. However, broccoli and spinach is probably just as important for that, because I haven’t been sick for 4 years.
Comparison of Key Metrics:
I made a quick before-after overview of the most important changes.
Have a look:
[Click the image for improved resolution.]
Keep in mind I had better starting values than the average person.
Yet, my results are pretty normal for a person who takes ArcticMed Omega-3 Premium for 100 days, even if they have had a worse starting point.
#1 Key Takeaway:
To balance your Omega-6 to Omega-3 levels and achieve an optimal ratio around 2:1 is analogous to getting ripped, because. . .
. . . just as getting ripped means you’ll burn fat effortlessly and stay lean automatically, a balanced O-6/O-3 ratio is also self-sustaining. So you want to fix this ASAP.
Health problems are better prevented than they are fought or treated.
Only a numbnuts smokes a pack of cigarettes each day, and then, 15 years later, complains when he gets lung cancer, “I’m so unlucky! What did I do to deserve this!?”
And every intelligent person thinks: “Yeah, right. You brought it on yourself. And my taxpayer money shouldn’t fund your stupid indulgence.”
In 20-30 years people will think the exact same way about the people who are still stupid enough to eat the Standard American Diet (SAD), instead of cutting back on unhealthy fats and fixing their Omega-3 levels.
You should be worried about not having enough Omega-3 in your body. You should first do a fatty acid analysis blood test to get definitive proof. When you have the results, it will be easier for you to diagnose and solve current health problems–or to prevent future ones.
If you–like most people–have a bad Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio (10-20:1) then know that it’s not going to kill in the short-term, but it can lead to a bunch of long-term health issues. If you’ve had a bad ratio for a long time, you may already have some problem because of that. But it will likely clear up quickly if you take a good fish oil for 100 days.
When I started taking the high quality liquid Omega-3 supplement from ArcticMed every day I got more energy (at least 1 extra hour per day) and markedly less “morning tiredness”.
Do the Following:
- Start worrying about how healthy your cell membranes are.
- Buy a fatty acid blood test. If you live in Europe, get the test I did from ArcticMed.
- Buy a high quality fish oil with the four criteria I mentioned. If you live in Europe, buy ArcticMed Omega-3 Premium.
- Take this fish oil every day for about 100 days and you should see a noticeable improvement in productivity and life quality. Especially if you have hormonal issues or concentration problems.
- Do another test to make sure it’s not just a placebo effect.
The links to ArcticMed are affiliate-based. However, I do not make any money upon your purchase. Instead, I get free fish oil and exclusive access to the limited edition olive oil when it is in stock. Which is just as good as money, because I buy those things consistently anyway.
So, when you buy, you are supporting my consumption of these supplements.
(unnecessary the days I eat avocado, broccoli, spinach, etc) ↩
But it is only available sometimes. ↩
I think I took 6 capsules per day. I should have taken around 15. ↩
Lineoloic acid, which is one of the main Omega-6 fatty acids. ↩
Fortunately, I’ve found a way to get top notch paleo food delivered straight to my Fortress every day. ↩
the same one I showed you in the beginning of the post after mentioning my supplements. ↩