Jena here. I’m super careful with my diet, I know what works for me, my body, and my mind and what doesn’t but I’m always open to making changes to what I eat when I understand what the foods I’m ingesting are doing to my body.
Recently, I started to learn a lot more about how vegetable oils and conventional chicken might contribute to poor health across the globe and to my own health battles.
This is due to the excessive amounts of oxidized omega-6 linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated fat) that these vegetable oils and store-bought chickens contain.
What put this even further into perspective for me was when I learned that some doctors think these high levels of omega-6 fatty acids are even more damaging than refined sugar and corn syrup. Dr. Chris Knobbe even goes as far as to say that all chronic metabolic and degenerative diseases come from these vegetable oils in the diet. So when I started to understand this, I knew I needed to make a change, so I now have fully cut chicken (and vegetable oils) from my diet.
Keep reading to find out why.
So, why chicken?
Me stopping eating chicken might seem counterintuitive to some people because I see tons of people worldwide thinking chicken is the ‘healthier meat’ because it is easier on our digestive systems than other types of meat (like red meat). One of the biggest problems with chickens farmed today though is that they are packed full of different compounds because of the corn they are fed.
For the vast majority of chickens in the United States, being fed corn actually means being fed GMO-produce and corn that is sprayed with toxic chemicals like glyphosate (a pesticide / herbicide that is used to kill weeds that compete with crops like corn). Many studies show that glyphosate exposure to humans can cause serious chronic health problems that build up over time and really impact our biological systems - but this isn’t even the main problem.
Studies are now actually showing that high levels of chicken consumption are impacting human health because of the high levels of oxidized omega-6s that they bring into the body thanks to the corn they consume.
The damaging connection between corn and chicken
When chickens are fed corn (a critical part of their diet), the meat becomes high in omega-6 linoleic acid because the corn the chickens are eating is really high in this type of fat.
So, when we are eating a lot of chicken, we are actually eating a lot of omega-6s (and so high chicken consumption actually adds to your vegetable oil consumption). These polyunsaturated fats are stored in our fat cells (rather than being used for fuel), and they’re thought to have a half-life of something crazy like 600 to 680 days which is a seriously long time for something to stick around in the body.
I’m not totally hating on Omega-6. Omega-6 in itself isn’t bad - and we all need some omega-6 in our diets (it’s good for heart health, circulation and inflammation management, among other things) but what I’m saying is that Omega-6 fatty acids are not good for the body in the high amounts that American diets have today (thanks to the high levels of processed food).
What’s wrong with high levels of omega-6 fatty acids?
When you take in too much omega-6 it skews your essential fatty acid ratios (i.e. the ratio between your omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids). In an ideal world, the omega-3 omega-6 ratio would be 1:1 but for many people today it is way off - and high levels of chicken consumption can help to skew these ratios further.
Unbalanced omega-3 and omega-6 ratios (as well as high levels of omega-6) are now being directly tied to increased inflammation in the body, poor metabolic health and functioning, and increased severity and frequency of mental health conditions. A recent study, linked here, of over 3000 adults found that a higher intake of these omega-6 fatty acids may be linked to higher odds of depression and psychological distress (particularly in older adults). This supports existing research that an unbalanced omega-6 and omega-3 ratio is thought to contribute to inflammation which in turn is thought to drive inflammation within the brain and worsen psychiatric symptoms.
The takeaways? An out of balance omega-3 and omega-6 balance is not conducive to good health - and neither are omega-6 levels that are too high either.
What does this mean?
It means we gotta keep an eye on the omega-6 foods that we are ingesting (think highly processed foods, soybeans. corn, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. etc) and work to keep these levels down. It’s also important that we understand the importance of optimizing our high quality omega-3 intake - but, research is showing that it is really hard to correct an imbalance in the omega-3 omega-6 ratios by just taking ‘more’ omega-3 - so we shouldn't be trying to rectify this by incorporating more omega-3s into our diet (this can actually cause further imbalances in health). What we should be doing is focusing on ingesting and creating stable level of omega-3s in the body (from good sources of high quality omega-3s come from salmon, chia seeds, fish, flaxseeds and more) while actively focusing on reducing your omega-6 intake (reducing your vegetable oils where possible, reducing your chicken consumption and replacing your vegetable oils with organic coconut oil, ghee, grass fed butter, lard, tallow, black seed oil, avocados, raw and unpasteurized dairy products, organic pastured eggs and raw nuts).
Understanding the fine balance between omega-6 and omega-3 within the body is really important to understanding how to work with it to provide your body a healthier, more conducive environment to health, homeostasis and optimal function.
The key takeaway from this article? Omega-6 in high ratios, and a lopsided omega-3 and omega-6 balance in the body is terrible. And this? This is one of the main reasons that I've removed chicken from my diet. Maybe I can inspire you to look at your chicken intake too.
To awesome health.
Love Jena x
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST****