The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat. Having the right amount and right types of fats directly affects how well your brain is able to heal, function and perform. Fatty acids are the building blocks of your cells. If you need to repair a brick wall - you need bricks. If you need to repair a brain cell - you need omega 3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA. Without DHA and EPA omega 3 fatty acids your brain cells can not heal efficiently and effectively.
Dr. Julian Bailes and Dr. Barry Sears reported in The Journal of Neurosurgery that supplementation in rats with EPA/DHA Omega 3 fatty acids after head injuries reduced the observed symptoms seen with a concussion; “Animals receiving the daily fish oil supplement for 30 days post concussion had a greater than 98 percent reduction in brain damage compared with the animals that did not receive the supplement,” Dr. Sears said. “It is hypothesized that the omega-3 fatty acids in the fish oil reduced the neural inflammation induced by the concussion injury.” Healing post injury requires decreasing inflammation and repairing brain cells. “One implication of the study is that concussions, such as those that occur in football, may be best treated with immediate high-dose fish oil supplementation to reduce brain inflammation. The same may hold true of all brain trauma patients,” Sears said. Clinical studies have suggested a minimum of 3 grams of EPA and DHA with some studies using 10 grams or more.
The highly processed foods that make up the Standard American Diet are virtually devoid of omega 3s (anti-inflammatory) and contain way too many omega 6 fatty acids (pro-inflammatory). When the omega 6 to 3 ratio is close to 1:1, as it was in our ancestors, our body is in an anti-inflammatory state and able to properly regulate inflammation caused by injury. Today, most Americans have omega 6 to 3 ratios ranging upwards of 15:1 - this huge increase in omega 6s relative to omega 3s drives inflammation. If your body is already in a state of inflammation from an unbalanced omega 6 to 3 ratio - and you sustain a head injury - you will be more vulnerable and less able to heal.
It is safe to assume that if you are eating anything that resembles the standard American diet, you could benefit with supplementing with omega 3s. A high omega 6:3 ratio increases your risk of heart disease, cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. (1) An omega 6:3 ratio between 1:1 and 4:1 is optimal. Monitoring your 6:3 ratio, changing your diet and taking a high quality fish oil supplement is the best way to ensure that your ratio is in the health promoting range.
Action Plan to Balance Omega 6:3 ratio
Test your omega 6:3 ratio.
Limit the use of processed vegetable oils that contain high levels of omega 6 fatty acids. These include sunflower, corn, cottonseed, peanut and canola oils.
Avoid packaged and processed foods. You will find that nearly all packaged foods contain one or more of the above mentioned oils to preserve shelf life.
Eat natural sources of omega 3 fatty acids - wild salmon, herring, mackerel and pastured meats.
Supplement with a high quality bioavailable fish oil supplement.
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