“Old Flame”, New Meaning (Reducing Inflammation)

By on August 7, 2013

Eating Less PUFAs, Balancing Omega 6s, Can Lead to Improvements

By Jennifer Cote –

In the old days, “old flame” meant something else. I’ve had a few, and I’m glad there’s never been reason to rekindle any of them. Alas, “flame” has now become connected with a few physical woes. After hitting the big five-oh, an inflamed, swollen knee began bothering me on occasion. I eventually realized that this new condition wasn’t likely to disappear easily. I had entered that “new age”, and it didn’t have to do with crystals and palm reading. Could heating pads, Vapo-Rub, and walkers be far behind?!

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So I read up on inflammation, which also was thought to be causing some serious health issues for my mother. I discovered that certain foods can increase inflammation (which is even being implicated in heart problems, cancers, and thyroid conditions). PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) are contributing to it; the very oils touted as “healthy” for years.

We’re the generation that was told margarine was good for us, and that saturated fats would lead to heart attacks. But according to new studies, it’s not the saturated fats that are doing us in. It’s more likely that our ratio of Omega 3s to Omega 6s is completely out of whack, thanks to all those polyunsaturated oils. A ratio closer to 1:1 is now recommended, to decrease inflammation and increase general health. But our modern diet has a ratio closer to 1:10 (even 1:20), thanks to all those PUFAs! Such oils are loaded with Omega 6, and they’re found in almost every prepared, packaged food around. It’s become much harder to get enough Omega 3s to balance that, as it’s mainly found in wild-caught fish, and in lesser amounts in other free-range, grass-fed meat and poultry.

Polyunsaturated oils are also highly unstable, as chemicals, high heat and intense mechanics are used to extract the oil out of cotton, canola, safflowers, soy, corn, and such. They might not taste bad, since they’ve been deodorized, but they are typically oxidized and rancid. Such products do not promote our health!

After my research, I changed my eating habits some. To my surprise, my “old flame” left town! I haven’t had a swollen knee in months, and other minor aches and pains have decreased. I was completely amazed, to see such dramatic results.

To sum it up: Our bodies need both Omega-3 and Omega-6, but they need balanced amounts.

We do need healthy sources of Omega 6 in our diet, to make hormones from. But the hormones we make with omega-6 fatty acids typically increase inflammation. This is fine in small quantities–it helps our immune response, blood clotting, and cell proliferation. On the other hand, Omega-3 fatty acids help us make hormones that decrease those functions. Our bodies function best when the two are in balance.

What’s the bottom line? It all goes back to eating more food the way God designed it. The scientific findings can get technical (and overwhelming), but if we eat more of the natural foods mentioned in the Bible, we’re bound to do well. “PUFAs” probably wasn’t one of them!


Jen offers simple strategies for preparing healthy, homemade meals for family and friends. She runs The New Deli café with husband Tom, working on her 2nd cookbook in her spare time. More can be found at gratefultable.com; email Jennifer at [email protected].

About Jennifer Cote

Jennifer's love of cooking with natural ingredients is inspired by the organic garden she's cultivated for over 25 years. A cutting garden provides flowers for The New Deli Cafe, an herb garden lends herbs for culinary creations, and twenty-some fruit and nut trees are scattered throughout her fairly urban back yard. New Deli compost keeps the garden flourishing, as Jen and her family carry on the family business, established in 1985. A blessed grandmother, mother, and wife, Jen gets much joy from sharing recipes (and perhaps an occasional basket of figs or platter of home-baked goodies).

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“Old Flame”, New Meaning (Reducing Inflammation)