The Key To Lower Inflammation Levels
By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES
Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial to your overall health.
In fact, it has been shown that omega-3 fatty acids may provide benefits to your heart, eye, brain, and joint health.
However, most American diets, researchers suggest, have the wrong ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
Western diets may contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids (obtained through the diet by increased vegetable oil intake, among other things), which has been linked to increased inflammation levels in your body.
Low-grade, chronic inflammation is different than the inflammation you experience from an acute injury, due to chronic inflammation's inability to shut down after its job is completed.
This may lead to increased damage to cells, specifically the DNA, which could alter the health of the cells in your body.
This low-grade inflammation has also been linked to the development of many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.
However, it has been shown that altering the ratio by including more omega-3 fatty acids (as opposed to omega-6 fatty acids) may reduce inflammation levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids, besides providing benefits for inflammation, has also been associated with improvements in depression symptoms in people with depression.
A new study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, could provide evidence that supports the beneficial relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and inflammation levels.
Let me explain…
Chronic Inflammation and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
As previously mentioned, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to provide many positive benefits to health.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to improvements in depression symptoms and a reduction in inflammation.
This study wanted to evaluate whether supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids would decrease serum cytokine production and depression symptoms in adults.
They performed a three-part, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, 4-month trial involving 138 healthy, middle-aged or older, sedentary, and overweight adults.
They administered either 2.5g/day or 1.5g/day of omega-3 fatty acids, or a placebo (similar to the proportion of fats commonly found in Western diets) daily for four months.
Their data showed that serum interleukin-6 (pro-inflammatory cytokine) levels decreased by 10 percent to 12 percent in the low- or high-dose omega-3 fatty acid supplement group compared to the placebo group that showed increased interleukin-6 levels by 36 percent.
They also noted that the high- and low-dose group decreased TNF-alpha levels by -2.3 percent and 0.2 percent respectively, compared to the placebo group which showed an increase in TNF-alpha by 12 percent.
They noted that baseline measurements for depressions was low, so their data showed no significant change from baseline to the end of the trial in any of the groups.
The researchers' data suggests that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may reduce inflammation levels in overweight, sedentary, middle-aged and older adults.
Although this research is new and exciting, it may further strengthen the relationship between omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and its potential to reduce inflammation levels, therefore providing you with broad health benefits.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and the Health of Your Cells
Research shows omega-3 fatty acids may provide many different benefits to your health.
It has been shown to improve brain function, eye health, hearing, and heart health.
Current research shows omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial at reducing inflammation in your body, by competing with omega-6 fatty acids for prostaglandins, which could produce less pro-inflammatory cytokines, and more anti-inflammatory molecules.
The results of this study may further strengthen the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and a decrease in inflammation in your body.
Bottom line: adding fish, flaxseed and/or flaxseed oil, or a high quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement to your daily nutrition plan could potentially lower your inflammation levels and provide you with broad health benefits.
Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Belury MA, Andridge R, Malarkey WB, Hwang BS, Glaser R. Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation in healthy middle-aged and older adults: A randomized controlled trial. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2012 Aug;26(6):988-995.