“Doctor, Why is My Lab Test Abnormal?”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a blood test to check your omega-3/Omega-6 status. The beauty of this test is that it allows me to counsel my patients concerning dietary changes required to balance their omega fat intake. Overwhelming data now show that we, as a nation, are omega-3 deficient while consuming massive quantities of omega-6 fat in the Western diet.
The FDA recommends that we consume 12-20 grams of omega-6 fat; at the same time, they do not have any recommendations concerning the consumption of omega-3 fats. Numerous studies reveal that without a balance of these two fats, we are in a chronic state of inflammation due to the excess omega-6 fats. I wrote a book, 42 Days to a New Life, several years ago discussing the diseases that have developed in America due to this imbalance. Investigations demonstrate that for every gram of omega-6 fat we ingest, we need 1-2 grams of omega-3 fat to counterbalance this inflammatory essential fat. You see, omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory oils that keep the effects of inflammatory omega-6 fats in balance. Both are essential fats; that means that our body must consume them daily in order to remain healthy as we cannot make them ourselves. Just as we need to take in vitamins daily, we must also consume omega’s daily; but in a balanced way. As an aside, these studies show that we need about 1-2 grams of omega-6 fat and about 2-4 grams of omega-3 fat for balanced health; not the 12-20 grams of omega-6 and no omega-3 as advised by the FDA.
Hence, you can see the value of the omega check blood test. I can now monitor a patient to see if they are omega balanced. So, I had a patient who recently got this blood test done for me. He is a “clean food” consumer; he eats no fast foods; he does not consume vegetable oils (omega-6 fats) and enriches his diet with omega-3 rich foods and takes an omega-3 supplement. Well, his lab test came back revealing excess omega-6 fat levels. He asked me, “Doctor, why is my lab test abnormal?”
There are subtle reasons and some not so subtle reasons for this to occur. We are exposed to dairy, beef, pork and poultry that are fed omega-6 rich foods and that translates to consumption of omega-6 rich foods. The animal becomes what they eat; they are fed corn silage and soy bean meal. These are loaded with omega-6 fats. Additionally, nearly all processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 vegetable oil. Condiments, such as mayonnaise, contain omega-6 fats. Soy, corn, peanuts and many other nuts contain omega-6 fats. The list seems endless. If you want to read an entire book about this, see the above reference. What is important is that we need a balance of these omega’s. When we get an abnormal lab result, it allows us to take a hard look at our diet and make adjustments accordingly. It is not that we cannot eat omega-6 foods, we just need to balance them with omega-3 foods to keep a proper balance in our diet.
So the next time you see your family physician, you can get an omega check to see how you are doing. Have a great and balanced day.
M. Frank Lyons, MD