How Can Omega-3 Fats Possibly Prevent Disease?
There have been reports that the Omega-3 fats in fish oil/krill oil are beneficial by having anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombogenic and anti-arrhythmic properties in humans. What we haven’t really been able to learn, though, is just how this happens in our body. Well, we may now have our answer as to how.
University of Michigan Biochemists report that fish oil/krill oil significantly lowers the production of various prostaglandins as well as its effectiveness. Prostaglandins are a naturally occurring hormone-like substance that can increase internal body inflammation and thrombosis. Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood through the circulatory system. Yes, that is a bad thing.
There are three different mechanisms in which fish oil/krill oil causes the lowering of prostaglandins. The first one is that there are far fewer prostaglandins produced from Omega-3 fatty acids compared to Omega-6 fatty acids. This makes sense because there is plenty of evidence showing that our current intake of Omega-6 fatty acids is producing increased inflammation in the body. Scientists are also seeing that this increased inflammation is potentially leading to many of the diseases we are seeing today.
Omega-6 fatty acids (Linoleic acid: LA) after converted to pro-inflammatory products, such as prostaglandins, thromboxanes and leukotrienes, contribute to plaque formation on arteries, allergic responses, increased blood pressure, and tumor growth.
The second mechanism is that Omega-3 fatty acids compete with Omega-6 fatty acids for the same binding site which is the COX1 enzyme. This COX1 enzyme is what converts Omega-6 fatty acids to prostaglandins, which then increases inflammation. You may have seen the names COX1 and COX2 before, and this is because anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and celebrex target these enzymes to reduce inflammation in your body.
The more Omega-3 fatty acids present to block these binding sites, means that there are less Omega-6 fatty acids that are able to be converted to prostaglandins. Since our current ratio of Omega-6:Omega-3 fats is around 20:1, we could afford to consume plenty more Omega-3 fatty acids such as EFA Icon to lower that ratio and get it to a suggested 3:1 ratio.
As you can see from the table above, we easily consume too many Omega-6 fatty acids. Just look at the first column and see all the oils, which I bet are in most of the foods you eat on a daily basis.
The third mechanism in why Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory benefits is because even though they are converted to prostaglandins, they are generally 2-50 times less active than those that are formed from Omega-6 fatty acids.
Understanding the different pathways in which Omega-3 fatty acids convert to prostaglandins helps explain to us why Omega-6 fatty acids do not provide the same benefits as Omega-3s, and why we should really work on lowering our ratio to a more acceptable 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats for our own health benefit and prevention of not just inflammation, but also disease.
For example, researchers have discovered that DHA, which is an Omega-3 fatty acid, converts to a chemical called Resolvin D2, and this chemical reduces the inflammation that leads to a variety of diseases. Unlike other anti-inflammatory drugs, this chemical does not seem to suppress the immune system.
Mauro Perretti, Professor of Immunopharmacology at Queen Mary, University of London, who led the UK team, states researchers have known for some time that the nutrients from fish oil/krill oil can help with conditions like arthritis, which is linked to inflammation. What they have found, though, is how the body processes DHA in fish and krill oil and how it can help relieve inflammation. He states that it seems to be a very powerful chemical and a small amount can have a large effect.
Summary: Scientists have proven internal body inflammation can lead to many different diseases such as arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and various heart diseases. They have also proven that Omega-6 fatty acids actually increase internal body inflammation, while Omega-3 fatty acids can lower this internal inflammation while preventing the risk of disease.
We also know that our current ratio of Omega-6 fatty acids to Omega-3 fatty acids is around 20:1. That means we eat 20 times more inflammation-causing Omega-6 fats than we do Omega-3 fats. We need to increase our Omega-3 intake immediately if we want our body to be disease-free in the years to come.
Do your part and get started on a daily Omega-3 supplement such as EFA Icon and start lowering your ratio to a healthier level with a lower risk of future diseases.
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (2006, April 4). Anti-inflammatory Effects Of Omega 3 Fatty Acid In Fish Oil Linked To Lowering Of Prostaglandin.
Queen Mary, University of London (2009, October 28). Why Fish Oils Help With Conditions Like Rheumatoid Arthritis How They Could Help Even More. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 26, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/10/091028142227.htm
** Notice: WARNING: If you are allergic to shellfish, have a blood coagulation disorder, or are taking anticoagulants such as Warfarin (Coumadin), do not use Krill Oil.
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