omega 3

The alpha and the omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids have so many health benefits for fitness-lovers it’s hard to know which is the most important.

Is it treating joint pain or heart disease? Protecting your mental health, your eye health or your brain performance?

Or is it the way it accelerates the effect of exercise on fat loss? In one 6-week study, those people who took four grams of fish oil every day lost half a kilo more fat than the participants taking the same amount of vegetable oil.

Best of all, a large study conducted that Harvard University and the University of Washington conducted in 2013 showed that one of the benefits of omega-3s is a significantly reduced risk of death.

Even though most of us have heard of omega-3s’ health benefits, 90% of Australians don’t get enough of this vital nutrient. Chances are, this means you. Because they are “essential” fatty acids it means our bodies can’t just make them so we have to eat them.

How to get them

The best sources of omega-3 are oil fish:

  • tuna
  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • perch
  • sardines

Other healthy sources, especially for vegetarians, include:

  • omega-3 fortified eggs
  • flax seeds
  • walnuts
  • chia seeds

Seeds and nuts with omega-3 fatty acids are undoubtedly nutritious, but be aware that your body has a harder time using this type of omega-3, called alpha linoeic acid.

Fish oil tablets can also be helpful but try to get your omegas from healthy, whole food sources first.

acupuncture

Acupuncture for everyday exercisers

Not just for alternative health fanatics, fitness-lovers are embracing evidence-based acupuncture too.

What’s the point of acupuncture?

Acupuncture, the practising of sticking very fine needles into specific points on the skin, is believed to help energy flow around your body through invisible channels, “meridians”.

It’s a 3000-year-old healing technique practised in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture is not just for “hippies” but can genuinely help you achieve your health and fitness goals.

Does it really work?

Some people think this talk of invisible energy sounds like hocus pocus. But scientists have shown the benefits of acupuncture are real, even if they don’t understand how it works.

The Victorian Government says: “Scientific trials around the world have found that when acupuncture is performed by a skilled practitioner, it is a safe and useful treatment for many different disorders.”

Could it help me?

If you suffer from tummy troubles, emotional upsets, painful periods, back pain, headache, asthma, blood pressure or tiredness (or one of many other conditions that acupuncture can assist with), then yes, acupuncture might be able to help you.

For regular exercisers, one of acupuncture’s most relevant benefits is its ability to treat musculoskeletal problems, like chronic spinal pain, knee pain, tennis elbow and arthritis.

It can also boost your energy levels and help you recover from tough workouts.

But does it hurt?

No. The needles are so fine – 0.2mm wide – that you shouldn’t feel any pain.

If you have nagging health problems that have been bugging you for some time, perhaps acupuncture is worth a try.

Find out more about Why all athletes should use acupuncture, or contact the Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association