In addition to causing severe pain, in many cases, systemic inflammation is a primary factor in the development and progression of many chronic conditions ranging from heart disease and stroke to diabetes, dementia and cancer. Most people have no idea that their risk of these conditions is dramatically increased, as a firestorm of chemical messengers is continually being released throughout the body as a result of this low-burning flame within. These messengers or cytokines can be life-saving in the case of a cut or burn, but when released as a result of poor diet and lifestyle activities, cause increased body temperature, hormone disruption and disease.
Scientists have been aware of the health-promoting benefits of omega-3 fatty acids since the 1950’s, as they were well known to help clear skin eruptions such as psoriasis and eczema. For the past three decades, the long chain omega-3 fats EPA and DHA were believed to be effective in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack. For the first time, researchers from the University of California in San Diego have published conclusive evidence in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to explain the precise mechanism exerted by omega-3 fats to lower inflammation and disease risk at the cellular level.
Omega-3 Fats Lower Systemic Inflammation to Prevent Many Chronic Diseases
The lead study author, Dr. Edward Dennis noted, “There have been tons of epidemiological studies linking health benefits to omega-3 oils, but not a lot of deep science… this is the first comprehensive study of what fish oils actually do inside a cell.” His team set out to determine if they could manipulate the precise mechanism exerted by fish oil to limit inflammation at the cellular level, and disrupt the detrimental process before it begins, leading to a multitude of deadly chronic illnesses.
Researchers fed white blood cell macrophages (immune cells) with three types of fatty acids, long-chain omega-3 fats, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the omega-6 fat, arachidonic acid (AA). At high levels of circulation, fatty acids are toxic, and cells sequester them into their membranes where they are used to provide structure and provide a permeable barrier for the flow of oxygen and nutrients. When stimulated under circumstances simulating a typical stress response, the fatty acids are released, provoking inflammation.
Fish Oils Inhibit the COX Enzyme to Reduce Risk of Inflammatory Disease
Short term inflammation is essential for survival as it protects from bacterial and viral invasions, but threatens our health and life when it persists at a low level for months and years. The scientists found that omega-3 fats inhibit an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX), which produces the prostaglandin hormones that spark inflammation. Researchers also noted that the long-chain fats stimulate the production of lipoxygenases (LOX) that have an anti-inflammatory effect on cellular function to help prevent disease.
Dr. Dennis concluded “We’ve been able to look inside a cell, see what fish oils do and determine that the process of inflammation at this level may be manipulatable.” Nutrition experts recommend eating fatty fish at least twice per week or supplementing with a distilled fish oil supplement (1200 to 2400 mg EPA/DHA per day) to combat the deadly diseases of inflammation and extend natural lifespan.
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John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and diet, health and nutrition researcher and author with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives.
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