Add Omega 3s to Your Plant-Based Diet to Help Fight Anxiety and Inflammation
Irritable, depressed, or anxious? Well, it is Week 9 of the current "shelter-in-place" restrictions during this health crisis, and for some of us, there could be a little too much time "Stuck with U", as Ariana Grande and Beiber put it.
Or, if you are plant-based and not eating animal products such as fish, you could be suffering from a shortage of Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. Not getting enough Omega 3 can worsen symptoms of depression, anxiety, nervousness, and lack of focus, according to studies that show that these compounds are essential for regulating brain functions and our moods.
Omega 3s fatty acids also deliver a host of other benefits to our bodies, including lowering inflammation, which can affect mood, reducing the risk of heart disease, allowing us to focus, and other essential health functions that are important right now, during the coronavirus crisis, which is why health pros say it's essential to make sure we are getting enough Omega 3s.
Plant-Based Sources of Omega 3s Include Seeds, Nuts and Algae Oil
There are 3 types of Omega 3s: ALA, EPA, and DHA. The bad news is that most of these are easily gotten through fish and fish oil, so if you are purely vegan you may need to add to your diet Omega 3 oil supplements (always consult your doctor first), or you can get what you need from:
- Chia Seeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Algal Oil
- Brussel Sprouts
- Perilla Oil
It's Important to get your Omega 3s During the COVID-19 Crisis
The known benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids (despite the gross name) can help us stay healthy during the COVID-19 health crisis. These include: Fighting anxiety and depression, lower inflammation and more. Of the different types of Omega 3s, EPA is the most potent at fighting depression and it's also a compound your body can't make on its own easily. A recent study found that EPA is as effective as taking an antidepressant in treating patients who suffer from diagnosed depression and anxiety.
The best way for vegans to get Omega 3 is through seeds such as hemp, chia, and flaxseed as well as Algal oil, which is derived from algae. Omega 3s are also found in soybeans and canola oils. While most non-plant-based eaters get their daily requirements from fish, plant-based eaters need to consume more seeds and oils that deliver what they need on a daily basis.
They're Called Essential Omega 3 Fatty Acids Because the Body Can't Make Them
It turns out that the human body can not create the essential carbon bonds needed to build these long-chain molecules by itself without the addition of two Omega 3 fatty acids: ALA and linoleic acid, which is why they are considered essential fatty acids. ALA can be converted into EPA and then to DHA, but the conversion (which occurs primarily in the liver) is very limited, with reported rates of less than 15%. Therefore, doctors recommend that we get our EPA and DHA directly from foods; Realistically, dietary supplements are the only practical way to increase levels of these fatty acids in the body.
ALA is present in plant oils, such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. While DHA and EPA are present in fish, fish oils, and krill oils, they are originally synthesized by microalgae, not by the fish. That means when fish consume phytoplankton that consumed microalgae, they accumulate the omega-3s in their tissues.
So even though the body can convert ALA into DHA and EPA it is not efficient, so the best way to get those two is from supplements, according to a report in Current Diabetes Reviews. If you need to get omega-3s from microalgae oils you will get the DHA and EPA you need. Seek out vegan sources that are grown in controlled environments to avoid potential mercury poisoning or ocean-borne contamination. Two good sources if you are considering a supplement are Noocor Noomega and the Digestive Health supplement by Nouri which includes Omega 3s, 6s, and 9s.