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What are Essential Fatty Acids (EFAS) and what do they do?

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are polyunsaturated fats that our bodies need but cannot produce. Therefore, they must be consumed through food or supplements. There are two families of EFAs: omega-3 and omega-6, which need to be consumed in a balanced ratio.

Our body must receive a balanced supply of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs to ensure proper eicosanoids production. Eicosanoids are hormone-like compounds that affect virtually every system in the body—they regulate pain and inflammation, help maintain proper blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and promote fluid nerve transmission.

The problem is that, in our modern industrialized food system, omega-3s have become largely absent from the food chain while omega-6s have become overabundant.

Even the healthiest diets contain too many omega-6s and not enough omega-3s. Decades of scientific evidence indicates that this EFA imbalance can contribute to chronic inflammation and a variety of chronic health issues. The most beneficial omega-3s that we’re missing are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Purified fish oil is the best direct source of EPA and DHA.

Over the past 100 years, changes in the food supply in Western nations have altered the type of dietary fatty acids we consume, leading to a dramatic increase in the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. This increased omega-6: omega-3 ratio is known to influence inflammatory responses, contributing to higher incidences of many chronic diseases.

To address this imbalance, current recommendations suggest increasing the consumption of pre-formed omega-3s EPA and DHA in fish and/or fish oils, increasing intake of ALA (an omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid found in vegetables, flax, and fruits) and decreasing intake of LA (the omega-6 linoleic acid in meat, dairy, eggs, vegetable oils).

Reflex provides several pharmaceutical-grade supplements of fish oil and EPAs. Our clinic carefully selects the right supplement for your age, gender, lifestyle, and athletic goals to help you achieve top performance in all of your activities.

The Reflex team can customize a supplement program to protect your joints and aid in pain relief. Call our office at (503) 719-6783 to schedule an appointment.