[caption id="attachment_318" align="alignright" width="300"] 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. [caption id="attachment_319" align="alignright" width="300"] 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 [caption id="attachment_320" align="alignright" width="300"] 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. http://www.arthritistoday.org/what-you-can-do/eating-well/arthritis-diet/fatty-acids-benefits.php 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 [caption id="attachment_321" align="alignright" width="300"] 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? [caption id="attachment_322" align="alignright" width="300"] 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.
[caption id="attachment_85" align="alignright" width="240"] Eat healthy fats to fight inflammation[/caption] Are fats bad for you, or good for you? Depending on which expert you read, you may be hearing that saturated fats are terrible for your heart and arteries, or that you need more saturated fats. Low fat diets have been promoted for a long time, but new science shows that certain healthy fats are essential for our health. Fats, like other foods you eat, communicate with your genes. They send information to your cells that can turn on or turn off cell receptors in different ways. It’s not a question of a low-fat diet versus a high fat diet, but a question of which fats are good for you. Why all the confusion? Different groups have different interests. Large food manufacturers make great profits from selling cheap, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and advertise these fats that are now considered dangerous to our health. Specific fats turn on your metabolism to help you lose weight, reduce inflammation, slow down aging, and ease pain. Here are the best fats to add to your diet: Omega-3 fatty acids Omega-3s are called the king of fats because the human race evolved while eating these fats, so our bodies are used to them. As recently as 10,000 years ago (a blip in evolutionary time), all the food our ancestors ate was wild. Their fats came from wild fish, grass fed animals, dairy, and wild game. Omega-3s are called essential, because they are critical for our health. Omega-3 fatty acids have a long list of health benefits. They prevent heart disease, protect the immune system, improve metabolism, aid weight loss, keep skin smooth and prevent wrinkles, improve mental health, help prevent cancer, and fight overall inflammation. The best sources come from cold-water fish and include wild salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and rainbow trout. These Omega-3s help prevent inflammation and joint pain. Avoid farmed fish because their Omega-3s are generally depleted. Also limit the amount of large predatory fish such as tuna and swordfish, which accumulate more mercury. You can get your Omega-3s from a supplement. You can also get some from plant sources, but your body doesn’t convert them as well as. For maximum benefit, get most of your Omega-3s from fresh fish. Saturated fats Saturated fats have been given a bad rap. When they come from the right sources, they can be a healthy part of your diet. Did you know that the human brain is made up of 60 percent fat, including a saturated fat called lauric acid? Our brain and nervous system are made of saturated fats, and getting these fats in our diet is important for brain function as we age. Saturated fats also help strengthen the immune system, protect us from infectious diseases, and are important for cell membranes. They help us use calcium to build bone strength, so we can avoid osteoporosis. Healthy sources of saturated fats include grass-fed beef or bison, and raw organic milk, cheese and butter from grass-fed cows. Coconut Oil One of the best anti-aging saturated fats comes from virgin coconut oil. Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a saturated fat found in human breast milk, which boosts immune function. It is antimicrobial, so it helps the body kill viruses and yeast. Coconut products include raw coconut, coconut milk, and coconut oil. Palm fruit oil and macadamia nut oil have similar properties. Mediterranean Diet The Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil, which contains powerful plant antioxidants called phenols. Olive oil has been shown to reduce inflammation, boost immunity, protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, and have anti-aging properties. Look for extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil, and eat olives as well. You can get similar types of healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and avocado. Bad or Toxic Fats Ever wonder how a box of crackers can have an expiration date of years from now? Manufacturers love these products because they never spoil. Increased shelf life means increased profits. These relatively new, manufactured foods have fats that are toxic to your system. The fats were originally created from vegetable oils during a butter shortage. Once food manufacturers realized the high profit margins from cheap vegetable oils, they launched marketing campaigns to tout the benefits of margarine and shortening. Trans-fats are now in nearly all packaged foods, including crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked good, salads and other processed foods, sometimes with sneaky names like “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated.” Why are trans-fats so bad? They seem to block or disrupt our metabolism. The fats we eat speak directly to our DNA, turning on or off genes that regulate our metabolism. This can cause weight gain, which increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Get the right balance Your body needs fats to survive and thrive. That’s why we often crave fat. Natural fats make food taste delicious. They boost your mood because your brain thrives on the right fats. They increase your energy so you feel satisfied, and they can lead to weight loss because you’ll feel satisfied, so you eat less. Good fats reduce inflammation and joint pain, and improve your overall health. The problem is that most Americans have the wrong mix of fats: too many hydrogenated, toxic fats, and not enough of the healthy, essential fats we need. Give your body an “oil change” by choosing more of the healthy fats on this list, and eliminating or reducing as many of the unhealthy, toxic fats and oils as possible. Just be sure not to overload on oils, or you’ll gain weight. And substitute better oils and fats for the ones you use now.