Ward Off Inflammation with Fish

Category: Medications & Supplementation Published on Wednesday, 25 June 2008 Written by Yong Tsai, MD

Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, other connective tissue diseases, and even coronary artery disease all have it: the common denominator called inflammation. However, findings now suggest that our inflammatory process can be regulated and kept in balance with the help of natural substances found in “Omega-3 fatty acid.”

The theory began more than thirty years ago, when two researchers named Ban and Dyerberg studied the correlation between an Eskimo diet and heart disease. Surprisingly, they determined that despite the Eskimos’ diet, which was high in fat, the instances of heart disease remained quite low.This finding stirred much interest in the medicinal power of fish and fish oil consumption, now known as excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are part of the polyunsaturated fat family (oils) and consist of EPA and DHA acids. These specific acids, which cannot be produced within the human body, can be found in cold water fish and have the ability to regulate, to a certain degree, the metabolic imbalance associated with the inflammatory process. The highest concentrations of Omega-3’s are present in non-farm-raised, Northern water tuna, sardines, salmon, mackerel, and herring.The “oilier” the fish, the higher EPA and DHA concentration, thus the greater the anti-inflammatory effect.

Recent findings suggest that generalized inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, SLE, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, affect not only our joints and bowels, but also most importantly our bloods vessels. Therefore, the fact that coronary artery disease is to some extent an inflammatory disease has prompted the American Heart Association to recommend a daily intake of 1 gram of Omega-3 fatty acids for those with coronary heart disease and two 500mg servings at least twice a week for those with no known heart disease.

Other sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are flaxseed (the richest), nuts (particularly walnuts), dark green leafy vegetables (spinach), soybeans, and algae.

For patients with long-term rheumatoid arthritis and SLE, it wise to follow the American Heart Association’s recommendations, which may not only benefit your joints, but foremost your heart.

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