Omega 6 and Acne: You Are What You Eat

Most of us probably realize by now the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, in order to get rid of acne. However, beyond the usual ‘don’t eat junk food’, and ‘avoid chocolate like the plague’ advice, most of us are oblivious to the reasons why the right diet is important for healthy, acne-free skin.

Today you will learn the important relationship between Omega 6 and acne. In case you are unaware, Omega 6 fatty acids are a crucial part of your body’s internal chemistry. Without any Omega 6 fatty acids in your diet, you would be in a rather unhealthy state to say the least. In fact, Omega 3, 6 and 9 are all vital to a healthy body.

However, just as important as getting a sufficient intake of these fatty acids is getting a balanced intake of them. The ratio of essential fatty acids in your diet is important for good health and good-looking skin. Especially important amongst these ratios is the ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids. Historically, the ratio hovered around a 1:1 level, with humans surviving on paleo ‘hunter gatherer’ diets.

Hazard a guess at the modern, Western ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids. You’ll probably be shocked when you learnt that the modern ratio, as a result of our convenience food diets, is now around 1:20. This means that we are, on average, consuming 20 times more Omega 6 fatty acids than we should be, relative to our consumption of Omega 3 (source)

The relationship between excessive Omega 6 intake and acne is quite clear. In high quantities Omega 6 fatty acids are inflammatory. Acne is an inflammatory condition. When your body is relatively deprived of Omega 3, in relation to Omega 6, you are going to have problems. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, diets excessively high in Omega 6 fatty acids, especially linoleic acid, could be a contributing factor to heart disease, amongst other problems (source)

It is therefore very clear that you need to reduce your consumption of Omega 6, and instead increase your consumption of Omega 3. You want to try and return your ratio towards the historic 1:1 mark.

Here is what you need to do in order to achieve a healthy balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids:

  • Reduce your intake of hydrogenated vegetable oils and processed fats. These are found in high quantities in fast food (especially anything that is deep fried) table spreads/butter substitutes, and prepackaged snack foods that are designed to have a long shelf life. Basically, if your hunter-gatherer ancestors would not have been able to eat it, you should try and avoid it.
  • Reduce your consumption of red meat and poultry. These are very high Omega 6 fatty acids.
  • Increase your consumption of fish, particularly oily fish such as salmon. Not only are oily fish delicious, but they are an excellent source of Omega 3.
  • Walnuts are one of the richest sources of Omega 3, and also make a very tasty snack.
  • You need to eat a lot of green vegetables, especially cabbage and broccoli. These are crucial for maintaining a good ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6.
  • If you are struggling to get the right intake of essential fatty acids then consider taking a high-quality fish oil supplement. There are many of these out there, so shop around and read reviews. One important thing to note is that if you do supplement with fish oil, you should be aiming to reduce your overall dietary fat intake by 20-30%.
  • Flax seed oil is another excellent source of Omega 3, although it is more expensive than fish oil.

By balancing your Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acid intakes you will most likely notice a dramatic improvement in your skin’s health. Acne symptoms will decrease in severity, and you will also feel healthier overall. This method of acne treatment is particularly important for those suffering from cystic acne, as fatty acid imbalances are often a large factor behind cystic acne.

Visit Sam Frost’s blog for more natural and holistic acne treatment advice.

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