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Omega-3s are some of the most studied nutrients today.[/caption]
For millions of years, our ancestors relied on seafood as one of their main food sources. Fish provided protein, and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Today, Omega-3s are some of the most studied nutrients, and most researchers agree that they are excellent for our hearts, brains, moods, and joints, especially for anyone suffering from arthritis.
Read on to find out why you need Omega-3s, and how to select the best ones for yourself.
What are Omega-3s?
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered “essential fatty acids” because they are essential for human health.
Your body can’t make Omega-3s, so you have to get them through food. The main sources are fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, and other seafood including algae and krill. Some plants and nut oils also contain Omega-3s.
Research shows that Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
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It’s vital to have the proper ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils.[/caption]
Death by vegetable oil
With the industrial revolution, our dietary habits changed. Vegetable oils became widely available and became the staple for cooking in most households.
Vegetable oils such as corn, safflower and sunflower, and meat from grain-fed animals, contain Omega-6, another essential fatty acid that we need in small amounts.
With inexpensive vegetable oils in fast foods and packaged goods, most people eat far too much Omega-6 every day. At the same time, we dramatically reduced our intake of Omega-3s compared to what our ancestors ate.
It’s vital to have the proper ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6, because Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and most Omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation.
Unlocking the secrets of Omega-3s and arthritis
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Fish oil supplements can reduce stiffness and pain.[/caption]
In a healthy immune system, inflammation protects us from infections and repairs damage to our bodies.
But in arthritis and inflammatory diseases, the body has an overactive immune response. It mistakenly attacks its own tissues, usually the joints, as though they were foreign invaders. This leads to the swollen, stiff and achy joints that plague arthritis sufferers.
Researchers have discovered that Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation throughout the body, providing some relief for people who have inflammatory arthritis.
An Arthritistoday.org article reports on a study by Charles Serhan, PhD, director, Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury at Harvard Medical School, Boston:
A study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston revealed that Omega-3s actually convert into compounds that are 10,000 times more potent than the original fatty acids themselves. These compounds include resolvins, which help bring inflammatory responses in the body to an end.
A few studies have found that taking fish oil supplements every day can reduce morning stiffness, and the number of swollen joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Some patients who took Omega-3 fatty acids were able to reduce, or even stop, - some arthritis medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids. In the studies, participants needed to take omega-3 fatty acids for three months to see an improvement; the benefits increased the longer people took them
Source: American Family Physician.
How to get Omega-3s from food
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Cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel are good sources of Omega-3s.[/caption]
Good sources of Omega-3s are cold water fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, halibut and cod.
However, some of the larger fish accumulate potentially dangerous levels of mercury, so if you are pregnant or hoping to conceive, avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, and don’t eat more than 8 ounces of albacore tuna each month.
Smaller fish such as sardines and anchovies have much less mercury, which is why they are often used for fish oil supplements.
Some nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which your body converts to DHA and EPA.
What kind of supplements are best?
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If you don't eat seafood every day, supplement are a good way to get Omega-3s.[/caption]
If you don’t want to eat seafood every day, you can take supplements such as fish oil capsules or liquids, or krill oil.
The two types of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). EPA and DHA can reduce inflammation, which causes swelling and pain, making fish oil a potential weapon against arthritis.
In Magnificent Mind at any Age
, Dr. Daniel Amen says:
Daily use of at least 3 grams of EPA and DHA mixtures for a period of twelve weeks or longer has been found to reduce the number of tender joints and amount of morning stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis, to the extent that they were reported to have lowered or discontinued use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or other anti-rheumatic drugs. The supplements appeared to be well tolerated in individuals and no serious side effects were reported.
For Omega-3 fatty acids to work against arthritis and joint pain, you need to consume a fairly large quantity of it every day.
Talk with your doctor about which types and amounts are best for you, especially if you’re already taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that suppress the immune system, blood thinning, or blood pressure drugs.