Your über-healthy diet makes a nutritionist proud: chia-seed pudding for breakfast, kale salads for lunch, and curried wild salmon for dinner. You've checked off omega-3's, fiber, magnesium, antioxidants, phytonutrients, protein and even turmeric!
But look a little closer, and the diet is missing an essential nutrient: omega-6.
Omega-6 is just as important to your wellbeing as omega-3. You can't synthesize these fatty acids, nor can you convert the omega-3s to omega-6s. You must get them from your diet.
If you eat the Standard American Diet (red meat, dairy, processed foods and everything doused in corn and soy oil), you'll be getting a bucket full of omega-6.
If you don't eat the Standard American Diet, then you're probably getting plenty of omega-3s and not enough omega-6.
In fact, if you're eating wild salmon four times a week, tossing flaxseed oil into your smoothie, adding chia seeds to your salads, snacking on walnuts and taking a fish oil or flax oil supplement, then it's quite possible you're omega-3 dominant.
Ten years ago, before everything was omega-3 enhanced, we nutrition students ran our fatty acid profile.
To our surprise (but not our professor's), we were omega-3 dominant. It was a great experiment in the concept "just because something is good for you, doesn't mean that more is better."
While being omega-3 dominant is not harmful, it will change the fluidity of the cell membranes and make the cells less responsive. You may have PMS, allergies, a suppressed immune system and a lowered libido. (And you may be frustrated, too. Aren't omega-3's supposed to help this?)
The good news is, it's an easy fix.
The best dietary source of omega-6 is hemp seed. Hemp seeds contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), the active omega-6 form. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and raw nuts also contain omega-6, but in the inactive, linoleic acid (LA), form.
To convert this to the anti-inflammatory GLA, you'll need a sufficient amount of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, zinc and magnesium. Alcohol, NSAIDS and stress all interfere with this conversion process and will limit the benefit you receive from the raw nuts and seeds.
To optimize your fatty acid balance, simply follow the below advice: