Essential Fatty Acids, Omega Oils & Your Hormones
Tired of being on a hormonal roller coaster? Want to get your hormones on fleek? Lola Ross uncovers the special essential fats that help keep our hormones in good health.
At Moody we know that hormones are cool. These busy chemical messengers have an influence on everything from our immune systems, appetite, monthly cycle’s, sleep/wake, behaviour to our mood. Our hormones talk to each other and operate within a very intricate and impressive system that helps them to function effectively.
When your hormones are in balance you can look and feel radiant, but when imbalance happens you can experience any number of unwanted symptoms from weight gain, anxiety, insomnia, low energy and low mood to oestrogen dominant conditions such as PMS, PCOS and endometriosis. So how do we keep our hormones healthy?
The health of our hormones in part depends on healthy cell membranes. Imagine your hormone cells as a bubble with similarly thin membranes holding their shape. Your cells have similar outer ‘skins’ that act like a checkpoint allowing nutrients to pass into the cells, waste products/toxins to leave the cells and allow cells to relay messages to each other. You may remember from biology class that these membranes are made up of phospholipids – an essential fatty acid (EFAs), phosphate and glycerol combo and it is these fatty acids that help hormone cells to communicate with each other and get the checkpoint working at its best. But getting these EFAs to our cells totally depends on how much we get from our diet - in the form of omega oils.
Omega 3, 6 & 9
While omega 3, 6 and 9 have uses in our bodies, omega 3 is the EFAs queen b and we need to be getting high amount of this in our diets, but western diets often mean that we are eating more omegas 6 foods (chicken/eggs) than the hormone loving omega 3 foods (oily fish). So, it’s all about stocking up on oily fish, nuts and seeds, seaweed, chia seeds, avocados and omega rich oils like flax or avocado oil if we want our hormones to be popping. We should be getting around 9-18g of EFAs daily. So, if you are not eating omega 3-rich foods regularly or taking an omega 3 supplement, you are not feeding your hormones right.
EPA and DHA are the most absorbable forms of omega 3 fatty acids and marine sources are where they are found most abundantly. Second best sources of omega 3 are GLA and linoleic fatty acids, which are found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and evening primrose oil. There are small amounts of EPA/DHA found in organic dairy and grass fed beef – so if you eat these foods, choose organic whenever possible.
How to use your EFAs
EFAs are very sensitive to light, oxygen and heat. Store omega 3 rich oils like avocado, flax and hemp oil away from direct light and only buy oils that are in tightly capped dark glass bottles. Heat can be a real enemy of essential fats, changing their structure to a trans-fat (bad fat), so use your nutritious oils cold, in salad dressings, smoothies or simply drizzled over soups and stews before serving.
Top 6 EFA Packed Foods
- Oily fish (e.g. tuna, mackerel, salmon, prawns, trout, sardines, halibut, pilchards)
- Avocado oil
- Chia seeds
- Seaweed (e.g. kelp, nori, wakame)
- Hemp seeds
If you think you might be deficient, speak with your health practitioner about EFA testing or try supplementing with a good quality omega oil containing EPA/DHA such as