a family of related fatty acids essential for human health. These are amply supplied by Western diets. In fact, their consumption has doubled in the last 50 years. From w6 fatty acids, the body makes series 1 and 2 prostoglandins. Excess of the latter can cause inflammation, water retention, increased blood pressure, sticky platelets, and decreased immune response.
omega 3 (w3)
a second family of related fatty acids essential to human health but lacking from most Western diets. Our intake of these has decreased to 1/6 of their level in 1850. From w3 fatty acids, our body makes series 3 prostaglandins which prevent the negative effects of series 2 prostoglandins by preventing their production.
omega 6:3 balance
the balance of w6 to w3 fatty acids that leads to optimum health. Researchers consider four or five omega 6 to each omega 3 a good balance. Most Western diets are between 10 and 20 to 1 in favour of omega 6, far too high in omega 6, which encourages overproduction of series 2 prostoglandins with negative effects on health. Therapeutic w6:w3 balance for Western diets is about 1 to 2.