How OMEGA-3 Can Prevent Inflammation
Inflammation is the most underrated health problem in the United States. Today, more Americans are suffering from inflammation than ever before.
Inflammation has become the underlying cause of the majority of health conditions we are seeing in the modern day. Research has shown that chronic, prolonged inflammation is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and chronic pain.
A 2015 report from Indiana University stated over 100 million American adults live in chronic pain. As a chiropractor, I see patients with chronic pain every day. We know that opiate drugs for pain relief are not the solution.
That’s why it’s extremely important for us to know how to manage inflammation to provide a better solution for pain syndromes. But first, let’s understand what causes inflammation…
What is inflammation and what causes it?
Inflammation is a process where your body’s white blood cells protect you from getting infected by threats like bacteria and viruses. When cells are damaged, our immune system responds with a cascade of events which results in inflammation. The most common contributing factor to inflammation is the food we eat.
The modern day American diet is high in sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, as well as processed and pre-packaged foods. Soy and corn products are also culprits in this cascade.
Research has shown that too much sugar and refined carbohydrates in your diet can cause inflammation.
Eventually, inflammation developed from an unbalanced diet can lead to serious health problems like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
At the end of the day, it is all about balancing between Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. Although Omega-6 is an essential fatty acid that our body requires, its proinflammatory properties can be destructive when we consume too much.
The optimal ratio between Omega-6 to Omega-3 should be 4:1. Most Americans average at 16:1. Some studies have even shown the ratio to be as high as 20:1.
Related: Diet and Joint Inflammation: Are They Connected?
What are Omega-6 fatty acids?
Omega-6 fatty acids are also polyunsaturated fatty acids. They provide energy to the body.
Linoleic acid, a type of Omega-6 fat, can be converted to other Omega-6 fats like arachidonic acid (AA). AA creates pro-inflammatory eicosanoids, which are important for the immune system. However, too many eicosanoids can increase the risk of inflammation.
The role of Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats. Our bodies are unable to naturally produce these fats, so the only way to get them is to add them to your diet through food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids or supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids are proven to fight inflammation, help people manage their weight, improve heart function and manage blood pressure levels, and decrease fat in the liver.
How does this cause chronic pain?
Every pain syndrome, whether it is acute (short-lived) or chronic (long-lasting), consists of an inflammatory profile as an underlying issue.
Although there are many factors that contribute to pain, the major signaling chemical is Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). PGE2 is an end product of the Omega-6 fatty acid Arachidonic Acid (AA), which is also responsible for inflammation. Consuming too much food with high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acid can contribute to inflammation.
Related: Why Do I Have Chronic Pain?
What can you do?
The first step to a balanced diet is to identify the foods that are “trouble-makers” and avoid consumption of proinflammatory products.
Substitute sunflower oil, corn, and soy products with organic, grass-fed butter, coconut, and olive oil. Eat raw, whole foods instead of pre-packaged foods.
Here is a list of foods that are high Omega-3 fatty acids:
- Omega-3 fatty acid fortified eggs and milk
- Fish oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Olive oil
- Ground flax
- Pumpkin seeds
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to our overall health. But since our bodies are unable to naturally produce them, supplementation is a great way to increase your Omega-3 intake. Fish oils are a great alternative as they contain an abundance of EPA and DHA, which have been shown to reduce risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and of course, fight inflammation.
Can we absorb all these nutrients?
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that our body is unable to produce naturally, meaning we can only source them from our diet.
However, nutritional consumption is only half the battle. The ability to absorb and utilize these fatty acids is the latter half. It is possible that you are ingesting a good amount of nutrients, but because your body is unable to absorb them, they are being excreted and wasted.
Co-factors such as coenzyme Q10 can supplement your body’s ability to absorb and utilize Omega-3 fatty acids in addition to other potential health benefits such as supporting cardiovascular health.
Related: 7 Foods that Naturally Fight Headaches
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are both essential dietary fats for our overall health. A healthy balance of Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 can help us maintain not just a holistically-healthy lifestyle, but it can help us minimize the likelihood of any spinal health problems as well.
At Intero Chiropractic, we make sure that your body heals naturally on its own without the need to perform surgery or take medication to treat the symptoms. Through our funneled diagnosis as part of the FREED Methodology that we pioneer in, we have helped over 3,000 patients overcome chronic back pain and live life on their own terms.
Curious to see what our modern chiropractic techniques and approaches can do for you? Call us at (925) 255 5805 or leave us a message through our contact us form for more information.