As I am currently working with Autistic/ADHD students, I thought I’d share some promising findings on increasing Omega 3s.
Sixty percent of the dry weight of the brain is made up of fats, and the largest concentration of long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids in the body is found in the retina, brain, and nervous system. In the 1980s, researchers observed signs of fatty acid deficiency in hyperactive children. Since, more and more studies found lower Omega-3 levels in children with ADHD and Autism compared with controls.
The Standard American Diet consists of high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids and not enough Omega-3 fatty acids, thus it is important to increase the ratio of Omega 3/Omega 6 in your child’s diet. Omega 3 fatty acids promote proper cellular function and growth of neurons in the brain, help maintain energy levels, normalize blood sugar, reduce inflammation, increase focus, etc.
This picture depicts some of the health benefits of Omega 3s
Two large studies have recently been conducted in this area, both showing promising results. After 3 months of Omega 3 (EPA & DHA) supplementation, students with ADHD showed significant improvements in core ADHD symptoms, such as improved reading, spelling, and overall focus.
Omega 3 fatty acids from foods are better absorbed than supplements. Foods highest in Omega 3s include flax seeds, chia seeds, salmon, walnuts, dark leafy greens, sardines, soybeans, and tuna. Flax seeds and Chia seeds are an excellent way to increase your Omega 3 consumption. I love adding flax and chia seeds to green smoothies or homemade trail mixes! Omega 3 supplements are still a great way to ensure optimal intake on a daily basis.
While Omega 3s have shown promising results for Autistic/ADHD children, increasing the Omega 3 to omega 6 ratio will work wonders for ANYONE’s health. Increasing omega 3s have been proven to fight inflammation, thus reducing risks for heart disease and other chronic disease! As you can see in the picture above, Omega 3s have a variety of health benefits.
It is essential that you significantly reduce your omega 6 consumption, otherwise you will not reap the benefits of the Omega 3s as they compete against each other within your body.
Here are some tips for reducing your omega 6 consumption:
–Change your cooking oil. Try using olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado instead of the highest offenders (corn, sunflower, grapeseed, soybean, etc)
–Limit processed foods. The food industry uses cheap oils to mass produce their products which are loaded with omega 6 fatty acids. Choosing whole, natural foods over processed ones will drastically reduce your omega 6 intake.
-Read food labels. Steer clear of the typical oils listed above which are found in the majority of foods on grocery store shelves.
-Avoid fried foods and animal products.
-Limit dressings, mayonnaise, margarines,and spreads.
So try increasing your omega 3s, while significantly reducing your omega 6s and see how you and your family’s health improve!