Fish oil benefits? Most people interested in living a healthy life have heard of it, yet surprisingly few know how it will benefit them. Throughout our lives, we may have heard that we should eat “x” amount of servings of fish a week or even find a fish oil supplement. At Function 5 Fitness we too will tell you that you need more fish oil in your diet, but let us go a step further and tell you why as well.

First off, what is fish oil? Well, simply put, its oil from fish, but let’s dig a little deeper here. Fish oil is made up of several essential fatty acids of the Omega 3 variety, the two most important being EPA and DHA. As I hope most of you understand by now, fats are not bad for our body and in fact aid in several important functions such as muscle recovery and insulin sensitivity. When we digest fats, they are stored in our cell’s membranes from which our body pulls them as needed. Unfortunately, our bodies cannot distinguish between what type of fats are in the membrane and will grab whatever is readily available, aka the ones we have consumed most.

As before mentioned there are Omega 3 fatty acids, but there are also Omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids are both very important to the proper function of the human body. Ideally, we should have a somewhere closer to a 3:1 ratio, some even say 1:1 ratio between the two and in fact for thousands of years our ancestors had just that. They ate fish and grass fed meats along with nuts and seeds giving them a wide variety and equal ration of fatty acids. Unfortunately, in modern society, this ratio has shifted from 1:1 (Omega 6: On one handOmega 3) to roughly 22:1. Without even knowing the effects of either Omega you can see something is incredibly wrong with this ratio. Things have become out of balance.

Now, let’s look at the effects of each Omega sOn the one hand, Omega 6 fatty acids, derived from nuts and seeds (mostly seen in modern vegetable oils and flesh from grain fed animals) are considered primarily inflammatory. Some inflammation is beneficial to the body and begins the process of rebuilding our system and making us stronger and healthier individuals. Unfortunately, when our diet consists of mostly Omega 6 acids and few Omega 3s, we are in a constant state of inflammation and therefore have difficulties with recovery. Furthermore, constant inflammation places a great strain on the heart and leads to several types of cancers. On the other hand, Omega 3 fatty acids, found in fish and flesh from grass fed animals, are anti-inflammatory and heal the body from the damage caused by intense training and Omega 6 acids. Elevated levels of Omega 3 acids have been linked to increased recovery from intense activity, regulating insulin sensitivity, decreased the risk of several cancers, and healthy heart function.

So we clearly see that raising our Omega 3 levels is extremely beneficial to our overall health. It doesn’t matter if you want to perform better in the gym or live a longer life (ideally both), higher Omega 3 levels are the way to go. Now the question is, how does one raise these levels? Ideally, you would want to eat a diet consisting of only grass-fed meat, fish, veggies, fruit, and no modern vegetable oils or low-quality meats. But for even our most health conscience client that is unrealistic in a busy modern life. So we recommend even those with “good” diets supplement with fish oil.

Now there are several options available to the general consumer, but is there one that is best? Generally speaking, the liquid form is considered more effective due to higher absorption rates but usually, produces a fishy aftertaste that is quite unpleasant thus many individuals opt for pill form. You also want to look at the EPA/DHA content, the higher the content, the better. Lastly, you want to choose a reputable company that has well-reviewed evidence and products that you can trust. Personal I find that The Stronger Faster Healthier Brand Fish Oil  (SFH) meets all the points above as it is a liquid with a high EPA/DHA content from a reputable company. Furthermore, the natural flavoring they use pretty many masks any fishy aftertaste. Also, they have recently added Vitamin D3 which is a huge plus and adds more bang for the oil’s buck.

In the modern world, maintaining balance is difficult, especially in our diets. We are constantly bombarded with cheap, grain fed meat and vegetable oils. Eating an all grass fed meat and fish diet is difficult, not to mention incredibly expensive and even then our ratios may still be out of whack. Therefore, if you care about your performance in the gym and more importantly your long term health, I strongly suggest picking up and beginning a fish oil regiment today!

-Tyler Schaeffer, CSCS, SFG, USAW Sports Performance Coach

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