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A recent study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that four months of omega-3 fish oil supplementation—either 2.5 grams or 1.25 grams daily of omega-3s from fish oil—was found to help preserve telomeres in white blood cells of the immune system. Telomeres are tiny segments of DNA that shorten over time as a result of aging. The shorter the telomere, the more you age.
In the study, those people who improved their ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids were most likely to also experience a lengthening of their telomeres as well as an average 15 percent reduction in oxidative stress. “The telomere finding is provocative in that it suggests the possibility that a nutritional supplement might actually make a difference in aging,” stated Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State and lead author of the study.
A previous article about this same study investigated the effects of the omega-3 supplementation on markers of inflammation, and found that omega-3 supplementation reduced inflammation. “Inflammation in particular is at the heart of so many health problems. Anything that reduces inflammation has a lot of potentially good spinoffs among older adults,” explained Glaser, “This finding strongly suggests that inflammation is what’s driving the changes in telomeres.”
Participants in both the high and low-dose groups experienced similar results, with the resulting improvement in omega-6 to omega-3 ratio the deciding factor of benefit. The Standard American Diet (SAD) contains an average omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 10:1 to 25:1 (much more omega-6 than omega-3) whereas experts recommend consumption of 1:1 to 2:1 (almost equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3) for maximum benefit.
If you want to know your omega-3 ratio, you can get it checked. The Omega-3 Index measures the level of omega-3, omega-6, and other fatty acids in your red blood cell membranes, and only requires a finger prick that you can do at home. Increasing your intake of omega-3 fats with fish oil supplements is a great way to optimize your Omega-3 Index.
As parents, when it comes to teaching our children healthy eating habits, it’s important to look at our own eating habits first. The old adage, “Do as I say not as I do,” doesn’t quite add up when we’re teaching our children what to eat. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition backs this up. The lead researcher, Sharon Hoerr, MSU professor of food science and human nutrition, stated that restricting certain foods from children, and then eating those same foods in front of the children, can lead to unhealthy eating habits.
“Mothers should stop forcing or restricting their kids’ eating. They’d be better off providing a healthy food environment, adopting balanced eating habits themselves, and covertly controlling their children’s diet quality by not bringing less healthy foods into the house.”
To help encourage healthy eating habits, take your children grocery shopping and ask them to help you find healthy foods. Plant a vegetable garden with them if you can. Let them help you cook healthy meals as a way to connect them to the foods they eat. Talk about what nutrients are found in the foods and how those nutrients help our body’s function well. Plant these seeds early in the hopes that they will develop strong roots as your children grow up to make choices on their own.