The omega myth

I’ve been reading a lot of articles from the website of the Harvard school of public health recently. I have become more and more convinced that a lot of the information being promulgated in the optimal health and peak performance blogosphere is inaccurate. it keeps coming back to the same thing people. People without proper training in the assessment of scientific research are cherry picking data from one or more of the five pillars of clinical evidence that were defined by Valter Longo. They often make judgments based on speculation about evolution and history and laboratory research on cell cultures and animals or even basic chemical interactions outside of a living organism.

One of the areas where this information has been most distorted is in the so-called optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. As Harvard reports, there’s no evidence at all in actual humans of this supposed risk factor.

Most Americans take in far more of another essential fat—omega-6 fats—than they do omega-3 fats. Some experts have raised the hypothesis that this higher intake of omega-6 fats could pose problems, cardiovascular and otherwise, but this has not been supported by evidence in humans. (4) In the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, for example, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats wasn’t linked with risk of heart disease because both of these were beneficial. (5) Many other studies and trials in humans also support cardiovascular benefits of omega-6 fats. Although there is no question that many Americans could benefit from increasing their intake of omega-3 fats, there is evidence that omega-6 fats also positively influence cardiovascular risk factors and reduce heart disease.
— Read on

In fact, the evidence strongly suggests that consumption of all kinds of omega fatty acids are healthy and the ratios between them are irrelevant. Furthermore, that substituting any form of omega fatty acid for existing saturated fat in the diet will lead to beneficial health outcomes. Finally, even the oft-stated concern about the heating of unsaturated cooking oils also appears to have no evidence to support it.

Why do I think it’s important to point this out? Because, the overwhelming evidence indicates that people do not have to twist themselves into pretzels to live a long and healthy life. The more emphasis that is put on controlling certain variables in the diet, the more difficult it becomes to maintain. The end result is that people often give up altogether. For example, if they decide that the main reason for their health issues is lectins in foods they consume regularly, the vast majority of people will not be able to adhere to a lectin-free diet for very long. This may result in such a person deciding that there is no possible way to actually avoid the foods that are causing their health problems, so they might as well just eat as they please.

Again, as I will repeatedly emphasize when revisiting this subject, the dietary advice from all of the sophisticated, pre-modern healing systems that I am familiar with seems to align well with what we know about blue zone and centenarian diets and does not align at all with what we are hearing from advocates of high consumption of animal fat

Do you want to know what your ideal diet is? I recently developed a tool to help people identify the ideal diet by electronically tracking certain food categories in relation to certain subjective wellness parameters. Check out the SuperOrganism™ Tracker.