When it comes to healthy lifestyles, we have numerous options for what that means to the individual. I’d like to believe that I lead a healthy life, and I am very careful about what foods I consume. It’s important to know the sources and quality of our foods. With that said, this transition into fall season has been a rough time period for my allergies. In the last month or so, I’ve been sneezing a lot and finding myself feel a bit winded at random moments. I just thought my body is still adjusting to Georgia’s pollen and environment. As a child I had terrible seasonal allergies with allergy-induced asthma. I recently bought local honey, hoping that will help build up my immunity, but I wanted to know what else I could do to support my body. It turns out, omega-3 fatty acids could be the answer!
I tend to rotate my supplements, depending on the time of year and what my body needs at the time. Even if I stick with the same supplement, I order a different brand to keep the strains diverse. The most consistent supplement I’ve taken over the years is algae, which I have not taken in a couple of months. In fact, I hardly ever get sick and I haven’t had a cold or the flu in years (I’ve never had a flu shot) and I always credited it to the algae supplements! I keep telling myself that once I finish my Vitamin E, I’ll order more Chlorella or Spirulina. Now, I realize I should order it sooner than later. I’d love to share my findings about omega-3s that led me to this conclusion.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
We hear a lot about foods being rich in omegas, but what exactly does that mean? There are three fatty acids that fall under the category of omega-3s. To simplify this explanation, those three fatty acids are ALA, DHA, and EPA. You may have heard of one or all. I know I’ve seen these specifically important for brain development in children, or cereals being fortified with them.
Our bodies do not produce these omega-3s naturally, so we must turn to food and diet for sources. Foods rich in omega-3s are fish (including fish oils), walnuts, algae, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, leafy greens and soybeans. I would also like to point out that ALA is the most common omega-3 fatty acid found in the foods I just listed – primarily plant-based sources, while the other two are mostly found in fish and algae or microalgae.
I would guess I’m most likely deficient in DHA or EPA, or both. The best way to determine this would be our 5 Strands Nutritional Deficiency test. It’s been almost a year since I had myself tested for deficiencies, and I would have definitive answers by testing my hair sample. The inquisitive part of my brain really wants to test my hair for these deficiencies before and after taking this new batch of algae supplements. If I follow through with this, I will update you all. Our nutritional deficiency test checks for over one-hundred and fifteen nutrients vital for the human body, including omega-3!
Is it possible to be sensitive to omega-3s?
This was one of my first questions when I began researching omega-3s. I’m sure it isn’t impossible for someone’s body to have issues with omega-3s – maybe too much for what their body needs, but I really couldn’t find much information out there about someone being intolerant or sensitive to omega-3s specifically. However, you can absolutely have an issue with a food that contains omega-3s. Fish and nuts are common foods that cause reactions ranging from full blown allergies (often life-threatening) to intolerance symptoms.
If you find that you need to detox because of a food sensitivity related to any source of omega-3, don’t panic about falling into a nutrient deficiency. You may experience some of the symptoms associated with omega-3 deficiency, but as long as it’s a short-term period of time then you have nothing to worry about. Omega-3 deficiency may result in dry skin, dandruff, itchy eyes, fatigue, and irritability among other symptoms. While you may be uncomfortable feeling some of these things, you never want a nutrient deficiency to become a chronic issue. This is the perfect time of year to incorporate more omega-3s into your diet, with cooler and dry weather in the forecast.
Usually, as soon as people find out that I do not eat meat (yes, fish included) I hear the typical questions. Where do you get your protein? Do you get enough vitamins? You don’t even eat fish? Do you miss bacon? It’s been over 12 years and I’ve never had a serious nutrient or protein health issue. It is very easy to have nutritional deficiencies as a vegetarian or vegan, because of processed foods with little nutritional value, but those who primarily eat meat and little vegetables also risk missing out on vital nutrients.
When it comes to omega-3s, the best plant-based sources are leafy greens, algae, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and soybeans. That gives us a lot of options! I think it’s more realistic to conclude that most people are lacking some omega-3s, not just those who don’t eat fish. The reality is that fish don’t naturally produce omegas. Guess where fish get their omegas from – yep, algae! I like to skip the middle-man and go straight to the source.
Omegas help stimulate protein formation from amino acids in the body, which is important for recovery from physical activity. Outside of athletic performance, studies have found that omega-3s also help prevent many health conditions, including stroke and heart attack. They’ve also been shown to reduce blood pressure, and slow the development of plaque in the arteries. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or attention-related issues, omega-3 may be able to help with that! Not to mention benefiting skin hydration levels and in my case, help with itchy eyes and nose, and other symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. Omega-3s are clearly great for your immune system, so I will be making sure I order mine pronto, especially during these cooler months when everyone starts to get sick.
If you think you may be having symptoms associated with food sensitivities or nutrient deficiencies in relation to omega-3s, our hair analysis tests can help determine what may be causing such issues. Luckily, there are options for everyone to find sources of omega-3s, because we all have our own specific needs. At 5 Strands Testing, our results help sculpt your diet and lifestyle choices to your unique requirements.