By: Dr. Matthew Isner: "Omega Fatty Acids"

Omega Fatty Acids

There are omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids that the body uses, but for the purpose of this article, I am only going to talk about the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Your diet should consist of a ratio of 1:1 for both omega-3 and omega-6. Most of the foods that Americans put into their bodies would probably be closer to a 10:1 up to 25:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3. This, just like anything else that you put into your body in excess, will cause problems.

Just like the old saying: "If you abuse it, you lose it. If you don't use it, you lose it".

When your body has an abundance of omega-6 fatty acids, it initiates either an anti-inflammatory or an inflammatory response in your body. A little bit of this is natural and has many uses when it is only in small amounts temporarily.

Beneficial Inflammatory Response

The inflammatory process really gets a bad rap in this area, because it is really the healing process of an acute injury. Without inflammation tissue healing would not happen. When you sprain your ankle, the inflammatory response kicks in and causes swelling that helps to splint the joint and keep you from doing any more injury to your ankle. It is your body's way of putting a cast on the area.

The more the swelling continues the more tissue damage has occurred, and the injury will just take longer to heal. Weight lifting is another example of temporary and acute inflammatory process. It is this inflammatory process that builds muscle.

We should encourage this acute inflammatory process for it is this that heals the body and makes us stronger. This usually occurs within the first 72 hours.

Chronic Inflammatory Response

What we want to avoid is the chronic inflammatory process, which is the process where there is no stoppage of the inflammation, and tissues and organs will eventually become damaged. The increase in omega-6 fatty acids can make problems with inflammation even worse.

So right now you are probably eating foods that are high in omega-6 fatty acids, and your body is in a constant state of inflammation. Your body is trying to rebuild the muscles and tissues that are being damaged over and over again each time you eat.

Your body will send a substance called fibrin to the area to rebuild and will not stop as long as there is a constant inflammatory process that goes on. It continues to lay down the fibrin until your muscles are not soft and pliable like they are supposed to be.

They end up being stiff and sore. Your body will ache all over, and you will be constantly tired (sounds like Chronic Fatigue and/or Fibromyalgia doesn't it?).

Chronic Inflammatory Response

What we want to avoid is the chronic inflammatory process, which is the process where there is no stoppage of the inflammation, and tissues and organs will eventually become damaged. The increase in omega-6 fatty acids can make problems with inflammation even worse.

So right now you are probably eating foods that are high in omega-6 fatty acids, and your body is in a constant state of inflammation. Your body is trying to rebuild the muscles and tissues that are being damaged over and over again each time you eat.

Your body will send a substance called fibrin to the area to rebuild and will not stop as long as there is a constant inflammatory process that goes on. It continues to lay down the fibrin until your muscles are not soft and pliable like they are supposed to be.

They end up being stiff and sore. Your body will ache all over, and you will be constantly tired (sounds like Chronic Fatigue and/or Fibromyalgia doesn't it?).

Avoid Anti-Inflammatory Medications

You have chronic inflammation and you are looking for any source of relief. You reach for any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that you can find. Aspirins/NSAIDs have analgesic effects, an anti-inflammatory effect, anti-pyretic (lower fever) effect as well as the anti-aggregating effect on platelets (reduces chances for blood clots).

With anything, you are going to have side effects. One of the side effects most commonly seen is an ulcer. In past years it was reported as many as 10,000 to 20,000 deaths occur each year from NSAID induced ulcers. There is always Acetaminophen (Tylenol), but the most common side effect of that is liver damage.

Stopping Chronic Inflammation

So what stops this chronic inflammatory process? Omega-3 Fatty acids! Remember the 1:1 relationship that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are supposed to have? The reason for this is that omega-3 fatty acids shuts off the over-rebuilding of the muscle and tissues via fibrin.

When you reduce the amount of omega-6 fatty acids you can reduce the inflammatory process. Please note: Omega-6 is an essential fatty acid. Trying to take it out of your diet entirely is not something that I would advise, and I am not sure just how you would do that anyway. The easiest thing is just to increase the intake of the other essential fatty acid: Omega 3.

Fish oils contain those omega-3 fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The American Heart Association's dietary guidelines recommend that healthy adults eat at least two servings of fish per week, particularly fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon.


Studies thus far have shown a relationship between the dietary consumption of fish or fish oil supplementation containing EPA/DHA and mortality from cardiovascular disease. Although the mechanisms responsible for omega-3 fatty acids' reduction of cardiovascular disease risk are still being studied, research has suggested the following:


*Decreased risk of sudden death and arrhythmia
*Decreased thrombosis (blood clot)
*Decreased triglyceride levels
*Decreased growth of atherosclerotic plaque
*Improved arterial health
*Lower blood pressure
*Risks Of Fish Oil Consumption


Depending on your stage of life, consumers need to be aware of both the benefits and risks of eating fish. Children as well as pregnant and nursing women may be at increased risk of exposure to excessive mercury from fish, but these groups of people also are generally at a lower risk for cardiovascular disease.

For middle-aged and older men and postmenopausal women, the benefits of fish and fish oil supplements far outweigh the risks.

The only negative thus far from consuming fish or fish oil supplementation is that the FDA has noted that high intakes (above the 1 to 3 grams per day) could cause excessive bleeding in some people.

Current dietary intakes of fish oil in North America are well below those recommended by the American Heart Association for the management of patients with coronary heart disease.

What about increased fish or fish oil consumption and cancer?
Studies in animals have found that fish oil may suppress cancer formation, and may also be a possible benefit in humans. Unfortunately at this time, research has not yet demonstrated possible benefits by taking fish oil supplements and a decrease in the risk of cancer.

How about diabetes?
The American Diabetes Association recommends two to three servings of fish per week, in order to obtain adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which correlates directly with the same recommendations set by the American Heart Association

Conclusion

As always, do as much research as you can about the health topics that concern you, but be careful about what you read on the internet. A safer bet is to just go talk to your health care provider.

There are some conditions that will prohibit you from taking fish oil supplementation. If you are on some blood thinners like Warfarin or Aspirin then you should not start taking fish oils without approval from your physician.

Hopefully, most of you that are reading this article already eat a healthy diet and really don't have any worries if you are taking in more omega-6 fatty acids than you need. In fact, you probably could use a little more to increase the inflammatory process that will help to rebuild muscle.

I am just trying to get to those people who are either starting out or who have a terrible diet and wonder why they are always sore and tired all the time. Start supplementing some omega-3 fatty acids into your diet or take a supplement. You may find out that those aches and pains you have start to go away enough for you to start your exercise routine again.

Now, get up and go workout.

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