Good nutrition is something which always takes a bit of effort and is ultimately quite time-consuming. With the fast-pace which modern-day life is lived at, many people don’t take the time to eat they way they really should i.e. cooking meals using real ingredients and socialising with food. Let’s be honest, it’s much easier to throw a boxed meal in the microwave or eat a sugary snack on the way to the gym.
However, this approach is a Thai boxer’s downfall.
Nutrition is of paramount importance to muay Thai athletes, not only for optimal performance, but for optimal health and disease prevention too. Literally, all the work that we do in the gym is undermined if careful attention isn’t paid to our nutritional needs.
And remember, no health means no muay Thai! Health is everything, which is why it’s important to address potential chinks in our armour which come in the form of poor nutrition. Namely, in this article – the ratios of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.
Diet Through Evolution
As humans, our diets have changed dramatically over the past 10,000 years since the start of the agricultural revolution, but our genes have not. We are actually very genetically similar to our paleolithic ancestors who lived 40,000 years ago (1).
To put this into perspective, the spontaneous mutation rate for nuclear DNA has been estimated at 0.5% per one million years (2), and so the last 10,000 years will have made very little difference to our genes.
One of the main changes that has occurred in our diet is the amount and type of essential fatty acids (3).
Essential fatty acids are the fats that our cells require but cannot make themselves. Based on estimates of studies which examined paleolithic nutrition, human beings have evolved eating these fatty acids at a ratio of roughly 1:1, whereas the modern western diet’s ratio is skewed as high as 25:1 omega 6 to omega 3 (5).
As a whole, we are consuming far too many omega 6 fatty acids.
Our ancestors got their omega 6 intake from foods like plants and seeds, but they also ate a lot of wild animals that foraged for grasses, other greens, and wild fish to provide them with omega 3’s. It was this 1:1 balance of fatty acids which put them at a much lower risk of neurological and cardiovascular disease.
Today, animals are fed grain rather than grass which actually reduces the omega 3 content in their meat, which in turn causes the humans that eat it to consume higher amounts of omega 6 fatty acids too. One of the other reasons our fatty acid ratios are skewed in the modern day is the introduction of seed oils such as corn oil, soy bean oil, and canola oil, which were considered waste products up until world war two.
The result of this sudden shift towards omega 6 fatty acids is the development of excessive inflammation in our blood vessels which leads to chronic illnesses like heart disease, autoimmune problems and mental health problems (2).
Reversing The Omega 6:3 Shift
The key to correcting these warped ratios of fatty acids is quite simple (in theory); eat more grass-fed meat and wild fish, while eliminating vegetable oils and processed foods.
Grass-fed meat can be bought from a local farmer or from a trusted online source, as can wild fish. Fish containing high levels of omega 3 fatty acids include chinook salmon, herring, scallops and halibut.
Replace the inflammatory oils with coconut oil in your cooking. Use extra virgin olive oil and almond oil for drizzling onto foods (without heating them).
The above advice comes under the same umbrella – make time for good nutrition.Follow MuayThaiScholar