Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Omega 3s, To Beat The Heat

 
Omega 3s, To Beat The Heat

These powerful anti-inflammatories are useful for everything from heart disease and cancer prevention to psoriasis and treating depression.
Hundreds of studies now show that consumption of fish in general, and cold-water fish in particular, has many health benefits. These benefits are largely due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found most commonly in salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines.
The primary omega-3 is alpha-linolenic acid, which your body converts to hormone-like substances called eicosanoids. Two eicosanoids – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – reduce inflammation by inhibiting an enzyme called COX-2, which is linked to inflammatory diseases. EPA and DHA also aid normal growth and development and promote cognitive health. Here’s what you should know about these important nutrients.
Key health benefits
Heart: Omega-3 fatty acids regulate blood pressure, prevent arrhythmia (heart rhythm abnormalities) and reduce LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising HDL (‘good’) cholesterol. Most importantly, omega-3s make blood platelets less likely to clump together and form clots that lead to heart attacks. Therapeutic doses of omega-3s prevent a re-blockage of arteries that commonly occurs after angioplasty (where a small balloon is guided through an artery to a blockage and then inflated to improve blood flow).
Inflammatory conditions: Every cell membrane has a double layer of phospholipids containing fatty acids that protect the cell and control cellular nutrient intake. It follows that optimal levels of omega-3s support the health of organs and skin; supplements can alleviate symptoms of eczema, acne and psoriasis, as well as asthma, autoimmune conditions like lupus, allergic reactions, inflammatory bowel problems like Crohn’s disease, and menstrual cramps. Omega-3s, being anti-inflammatory, are also useful for joint problems, like rheumatoid arthritis.
Brain function: Omega-3s play a role in mental health. Experts believe there’s a correlation between the increasing incidence of depression and the declining consumption of omega-3s. A US study suggests that omega-3s may reduce the severity of schizophrenia by up to 25 per cent. They have also been found to help children with learning difficulties.
Cancer prevention: According to a University of California study, omega-3s help fight breast cancer and maintain healthy breast tissue. Animal studies also indicate that fewer breast tumours develop when omega-3s are part of a healthy diet. Omega-3s may help to prevent colon cancer. Study participants who took 4,400 mg of fish oil a day produced much less of one carcinogen associated with colon cancer than those on a placebo.
What to take
Omega-3s are found in cold-water fish and fish oil; vegetable sources include flaxseed oil and meal, walnuts and canola oil. A recommended dosage for liquid or encapsulated supplements is 1-3 grams daily. Fresh oily fish should provide anywhere between 2.5-8 grams per 200 gram serving. I advise my patients to take omega-3s with vitamin C to optimise cellular integrity. Because omega-3s inhibit blood clotting, tell your doctor if you are taking anticoagulant drugs, or are about to have surgery.
High doses of fish oil may cause bruising, nose bleeds, a slightly fishy body odour, or burping; avoid the latter by freezing the capsule an hour before taking it, as this stops it from breaking down until it’s in your small intestine. Concerns have been raised about fish oil possibly being contaminated with toxins like dieldrin and mercury. Check the label of any fish oil product; if in doubt, ask the manufacturer to provide details of their assay testing for contaminants.






Source : Nature and Health


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