Fish Oil Fights Inflammation
High blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids—such as those found in fish oil– may help with mental health and improve outlooks on physical health, a new study shows.
The study, by researchers in New Zealand, analyzed a number of fats in people’s blood and then matched them with questionnaires and interviews that assessed people’s physical and mental well-being.
They found that people with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids also had the highest self-reported physical well-being. One reason for this is the anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3s, which may lessen symptoms in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, researchers say.
The mechanisms for mental well-being were a little different. Feeling good was not linked to higher blood levels of omega-3 fats by themselves, but was seen in people who had a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats in their blood. It’s known that omega-6s compete with omega-3s for similar metabolic pathways, but that omega-6s don’t have the same anti-inflammatory power that omega-3s do. It’s possible that the brain effects of fish oil are particularly sensitive to this ratio. (Crowe, F et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86:1278-85.)
Some experts believe the ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s should be 1:1. However, the typical American diet provides far more omega-6s, from polyunsaturated oils such as corn, soy, canola, safflower, and sunflower, and in corn and soy-fed animals. You can cut back on omega-6s by limiting your intake of these oils and products made with them and by eating mostly grass-fed beef. And you can increase your intake of omega-3s with fish oil capsules or fatty fish such as wild salmon, sardines or mackerel.
The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: Research has linked chronic inflammation to a wide range of health problems including arthritis, allergies, cancer, diabetes and heart disease among others – all of which dramatically affect the quality of your life as you age. This study confirms that taking fish oil can significantly impact your quality of life, not only by curbing inflammation, but also by improving mental well-being.
QUICK TIP: Beware rancid fish oil. Jean Carper recommends that you test your fish oil capsules for freshness by biting into one. It should have a mildly fishy, ocean-fresh taste. If it tastes strongly of fish, do not use them. Learn More
Written exclusively for Stop Aging Now, the authority on anti-aging research, anti-aging nutrition, and anti-aging supplements.