If you follow a Mediterranean diet to lose weight and stay healthy, you are already well on the way to having healthy eyes. Believe it or not, essential fatty acids are a must for your eyesight. Want to know why?
The human body cannot make essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are called essential because our bodies need them. Brain function and growth and development are all dependent on these EFAs. The right balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is crucial for obtaining any health benefits from them.
North American diets tend to have too much omega-6 in relation to omega-3. An imbalance leads to heart disease, cancer, asthma and arthritis. A healthy diet should consist of one omega-3 to four omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are polyunsaturated and are necessary for skin and hair growth, maintaining bone health, regulating metabolism and reproductive functions. It is rare in our country to have a deficiency in EFAs.
You have probably heard that a Mediterranean diet is very healthy for you. That's because it has a more appropriate balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It includes whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil and very little meat which is high in omega-6.
Omega-6 fatty acids are useful for helping to prevent certain conditions as suggested by clinicians. Anorexia Nervosa, a metabolic complication that is sometimes treated by having patients consume organ meats and fish. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which scientists believe can be helped with the right balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Diabetics can benefit from supplements of omega-6 to assist nerve function and prevent peripheral neuropathy (numbness, tingling, pain, burning orlack of sensation in the extremities). Sjogren's syndrome (dry eyes, dry mouth) may benefit from plant based oils, including evening primrose oil, borage oil and black currant seed oil.
Osteoporosis is severe bone loss. Supplements of essential fatty acids can help maintain or increase bone mass. It also enhances calcium absorption and increasing calcium deposits in bones, which increases bone strength.
EFAs have not been proven to prevent hot flashes but, it may be worth asking your doctor about, as some women have claimed that it helped them with menopausal symptoms.
Depression, irritability, swelling and bloating, and breast tenderness are symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Studies on this have been mixed but some women claim to find relief with EFA supplements.
There are many more we haven't listed, but suffice it to say; omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the right balance benefit the whole body.
Our diet provides more than 10 times the needed amount of omega-6 oils in the form of linoleic acid (LA). It is the primary oil ingredient added to most processed foods. It is commonly found in plant seed oils, such as flax seed oil, grapeseed oil, pumpkin oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, borage oil, walnut oil, and most nuts and seeds.
Arachidonic acid (AA) of the omega-6 series can be found in egg yolks, organ meats, other meats and animal-based foods.
Omega-6 fatty acids are available in supplemental form, oils that contain LA and GLA. Infants get the amount they need through breast milk if the mother's diet is adequate. Older children should get what they need through proper diet. Adults should check with their health care provider for the correct dosage of supplement, particularly if using it for some of the conditions mentioned above. Studies have suggested that up to 2,800 mg. of GLA per day may be well tolerated.
There is a potential for side effects and drug interactions with these supplements. Some of the drugs are Ceftazidime, Chemotherapy for cancer, Cyclosporine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), and Phenothiazines for schizophrenia.
Obviously, the best source of omega-6 fatty acids is food. A healthy diet should provide us with the optimum levels of omega-6 in proper balance with omega-3 fatty acids.
Proper balance works in other ways too. The balance between eye exercises for strengthening your eye muscles and proper nutrition is a part of the Pure Vision Method program.
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