OH-mega

Omega-3 fatty acids & brain health



Omega-3 fatty acids and human brain health, with special focus on children.
Fats: oh-no-MEGA? When spoken or in text it almost sounds like a swearword and we have been conditioned over many years to associate fats with various aspects of ill health. When we talk about fats we usually tend to think of unhealthy, overweight people sitting around on couches maybe in front of a television set or being inactive somewhere else. What we know about fats is mostly, like for most other topics, driven by popular media, which is often clouded.

Fats as a group of macromolecules and in their correct form are very important to the optimal functioning of the human body and should form part of our daily diets. Fats are required for:
  • Insulation, which is important for the regulation of body temperature
  • ​Cellular energy generation for optimal cell function 
  • ​Production of various immune factors
  • ​Healthy skin and hair
  • ​Reducing physical damage to bones and organs
  • ​Proper absorption of essential nutrients like vitamins A, D, E and K
  • ​Production of hormones
This article aims to shed light on omega 3 fatty acids, which resort under a class of fat referred to as polyunsaturated fatty acids that are divided into omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids and are required by the body in differing amounts. The omega-3 and 6 fatty acids are known as essential fatty acids. They each have varying numbers of double bonds between carbons in their chain and are liquid at room temperature. Healthy fats are crucial in our bodies for the maintenance of the integrity of cellular membranes, through which nutrient and waste product exchange happens, which is the basis of life.

Omega-3 fatty acids are required in larger quantities than the other types, like omega-6, because of our daily diets, which naturally include more vegetable oils like sunflower seed, canola and other oils. These oils are rich in omega-6 fatty acids and we have ample supply of these in our bodies. The correct current dietary ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is roughly 3:1, and this ratio drives a balanced interplay between these fatty molecules to ensure an optimal balance of inflammatory processes in the body.

What then about their role in brain health? Apart from directly providing essential nutrition to the delicate brain tissue and improving cognition and memory, omega-3 fatty acids positively influence the gut-brain axis through interaction with the microbiota to improve overall brain communication. These fatty molecules are involved in the maintenance of a healthy gut microbiota that further help to curb inflammation in inflammatory bowel diseases through maintenance of the intestinal wall integrity and directly interacts with host immune cells. These brain-boosting effects of omega-3 fatty acids are especially pronounced in the developing brains of children where they also function to regulate microglia (neuronal cells that function as immune cells) and provide anti-inflammatory effects. The microglia regulate inflammation in the developing brain and are part of the innate and adaptive immunity of this delicate tissue.

Omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained in our daily diet from different types of fish like mackerel, salmon and cod and seeds like flax, chia and walnuts. Besides their role in curbing systemic inflammation in the body omega 3 fatty acids lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, mental disorders, protect the eyes, help prevent various autoimmune diseases and improves skin health. Unfortunately, the modern world we live in is fraught with many perils, not least of which is the pollution of the earth’s air and water. As such, many types of marine fish oils are tainted with some of these pollutants, heavy metals being the most noteworthy. Therefore, it has become increasingly important for us to include supplementary intake of these essential oils from sustainable sources into our daily dietary regimes.

Genesis Nutritional Products can come to the rescue in this regard! All products in the Genenis range  provides omega-3 fatty acids in their correct form and is responsibly obtained from sustainable sources.

Article by Schalk van Rooyen, natural scientist and technical consultant for Laeveld Agrochem in the field of botanical extractions. Follow Schalk van Rooyen on LinkedIn.

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BIO-MOS® is derived from a select strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae by a proprietary process. BIO-MOS® benefits humans by improving gut health & immunity. BIO-MOS® is a functional prebiotic that works on improving the function of the gut. Scientifically proven mode of action in the digestive tract:.
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Michelle Bristow
BSC. Diet (Hons)

"After 18 years of international (UK) experience, I've developed a keen interest in the clinical business environment and the opportunity to present new quality products to the market. My focus is to find nutritional product solutions suitable for the unique African continent and the challenges it presents. I've dedicated my life to understand the vital role of gut health, absorption of nutrients and how it supports the immune system. "

Michelle Bristow on DStv (VIA)

Michelle is the founder and CEO of Genesis® Nutritional Products, that was aired on DStv channel 147 as part of the "Stories wat saakmaak" programme.

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