Omega-3 fatty acids, or “omega-3s” are widely known for their many health benefits, specifically heart health. But, recent research has shown that they also have amazing benefits for your gut!
So let’s take a step back…what even are omega-3s?
Omega-3s are a type of fatty acid, specifically polyunsaturated fatty acids, sometimes simply referred to as “PUFAs”, that our bodies need. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, found mostly in plants, and EPA and DHA, which are found in algae and animal products. Your body has to do some work to convert ALA from plants, so it is important to eat plenty of EPA and DHA sources. However, all three types are beneficial for your health and well-being!
How exactly do they improve our health?
Omega-3s play a role in fighting inflammation in our bodies. As a result, they help to prevent many chronic diseases like heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, IBD, depression, and even some cancers. They also improve eye health, fight depression and anxiety, support healthy skin, help sustain a healthy, full-term pregnancy, and lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential component of cell membranes so they can help give your skin a natural glow!
What about gut health?
Omega-3s have also been shown to reduce intestinal barrier dysfunction, display antimicrobial activity, and help to increase the amount of “good” bacteria in our guts, which helps to improve digestion and reduce gut permeability.
Many studies have shown that consuming different types of fats like saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats can change the gut microbiome composition across people depending on their consumption habits. Of course, food is one of the strongest predictors of gut microbiome composition and health, so consuming foods that promote gut integrity and diversity is key. In fact, most Americans don’t eat enough! Try choosing foods like salmon and fatty fish, chia seeds, pasture-raised eggs, avocado, broccoli, brussels sprouts, olive oil, and leafy greens. On the other hand, try to limit consumption of foods high in omega-6s, which are compounds that increase the body’s inflammatory response, and are found in foods like sunflower oil and lots of fried/processed foods.
Want to learn how to incorporate more omega-3s into your diet?
Try a dijon-crusted, wild-caught salmon dish with wild rice and broccoli, or an egg bake made with pasture-raised eggs and spinach.
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