This year, I’ve felt pretty inspired to get outside. I’m STILL riding the wave of the majesty of the Winter Olympics; it’s had a huge effect on me. In terms of motivation, Olympic aspirations are an excellent reason to get out and enjoy the elements, but really, any reason is good enough. When you do get outside, here is why it’s good to stay covered on the inside with adequate omega-3 nutrition.
It’s hard to imagine a better nutrient to help promote activity throughout life than omega-3s. The benefits of these essential fatty acids touch virtually every cell in the body, and that’s true no matter what your age or stage of life.
The crux of why Omega-3s are so beneficial has to do with the composition of our cells, and how that cellular make up gets used to facilitate vital functions like cognition, circulation, vision, exercise recovery, and the all-important immune response. Without getting too deep into the science, imagine a spherical cell with a covering, kind of like the peel of an orange. That covering is the cell membrane, and it’s comprised of dietary fats—including omegas 3 and 6—that the cell draws on to activate signaling functions as different physiological needs arise.
These microscopic repositories of fat might seem pretty insignificant until you consider just how many cells there are in the human body—about 60 trillion.
Consuming enough omega-3s means that your cells will have the ability to address some of the major demands of physical activity, including the need for a healthy heart, arguably the most well-known benefit of omega-3s. Specific benefits for the heart include good circulation and blood vessel function, healthy triglyceride levels, and normal blood pressure. It’s no wonder that Dietitians of Canada and the World Health Organization recognize and advocate for the need to consume enough heart-healthy omega-3s.
Physical activity also puts additional demands on cognition, focus, and vision. Think of just about any sport you saw during these past winter games—ski racing, bobsled, hockey, snowboarding, curling—you did watch the curling, right? You’ll likely recall split-second decisions that took your breath away. Omega-3s play crucial roles in these functions too. Just one fat, omega-3 DHA, comprises nearly 20% of all the essential fats in the cerebral cortex, the brain’s centre for thought and action, where it promotes cell-to-cell communication. Even higher percentages of DHA are found within the retina of the eye.
Finally, omega-3s help with one of the most overlooked aspects of any physical activity—recovery from exercise-induced inflammation. Within cells, omega-3s and omega-6 are each utilized to help the body respond to injury and stressors as part of a normal immune response. While exercise is a certainly good thing, adequate omega-3s intake can help the body recover quicker from the challenges you put it though.
For all these active-lifestyle benefits and so many others for growing kids, new moms, seniors, and anyone who wants to be healthy, staying covered with daily omega-3s is a very smart move.