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Omega 3 Info

How Fat Makes me Fit

I’m not talking about any old fat, but the kind of fat that is pulled out of fish and seeds. Particularly a fat called Omega 3.

Amazingly, taking this kind of fat can make you fitter.

Your brain functions at a higher rate, your immune system is boosted, cardiovascular disease is reduced and a lot more, simply by eating oil from a fish.

People much more intelligent than me, the kind who wear white coats and hang out in laboratories, tell me that if I take Omega 3 fatty acids as part of a balanced diet it will make me more healthy and fit than if I did not.

Benefits of Omega 3 fish oil

  • Increased brain function
  • Improved immune system
  • Reduction of cardiovascular disease
  • Controlling cholesterol
  • Increasing metabolism
  • Looking after the skin
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Maintaining water balance

It will even increase brain function. Now that really caught my attention as I’m always interested with increasing my brain function.

Omega 3 oils are extremely fashionable these days Health magazines rave about the benefits of omega 3 or tell you to chug down gallons of this super fat each day.

But what’s the reality? I confess, I knew relatively nothing about fish oils and omega 3’s before writing this article. But as I researched I was shocked. Let me explain.

Well I was shocked. Let me explain.

Omega 3 is an oil, a polyunsaturated fat, or alpha-linolenic acid. The shocking fact is that they are essential for the brain, nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system and even our skin.

When I say essential I mean parts of our body would basically shut down or be function with less capability without omega 3. I don’t know about you, but I like to have my brain operating at full function.

When omega 3 is in the body it is converted into DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Both DHA and EPA perform essential jobs for the body.

Here’s the problem. The body cannot create the essential acids by itself. It needs the omega 3 oils to do that. Actually it’s a little more complex than that, but I’m simplifying what could be a 10,000 word article.

Basically, we need omega 3 fats. Other fats like saturated fat and monounsaturated fat are not needed. You could very easily live a healthy, happy and productive life without those fats. They do offer energy, but unless you are going to burn off those fats they will soon move in and take up home in your gut or thighs. Evicting them will prove a lot harder in the long run.

Omega 3 in it’s simplest form, is a fat which is essential for the correct functioning of our body. If our body cannot create it, then where can we find it?

Most people in the modern world are deficient in Omega 3 oils, which means they are not performing to their potential, unfortunately there has been an explosion in saturated fat consumption. Compounding that, a lot of polyunsaturated fat has had the goodness stripped from them and become what is known as trans fats, or processed fats or perhaps you know them as hydrogenated fats.

These hydrogenated fats started out being full of natures goodness, containing omega 3 oils and other nutrients. But because exposure to heat and oxygen stamps natures goodness out of these oils the end product is nothing we really need apart from the calories.

Huge machines will process healthy oils like sunflower oil into hardened lumps of calories, devoid of anything we really need. Think about that when scoffing your favourite chocolate bar, which is basically chocolate flavoured vegetable fat with all of the good stuff stripped out.

So where can we find natural sources of Omega 3?

In descending order of concentration.

  • Salmon
  • Anchovy
  • Sardine
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Trout
  • Swordfish
  • Tuna

One of the most convenient ways of getting omega 3 is with a supplement in capsule form. Not everyone wishes to eat fish everyday.

I don’t know about you, but I’m about to change my diet to a more omega 3 rich diet. Hopefully it will improve my game of chess.

Lyndon Antcliff

Arthritis fish oil

Arthritis is characterised by a collection of symptoms, which include inflammation, painful joints and stiffness.  Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic auto-immune disease that is extremely painful and can lead to severe disability.  Osteoarthritis can be described as wear and tear of the joints with a resulting loss of cartilage.

Numerous studies have found that fish oil can improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by significantly reducing inflammation and in some cases, even lessen the need for NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Similarly with osteoarthritis, studies have found that fish oil suppresses the action of cartilage destroying enzymes.

Fish oil contains the essential Omega 3 fatty acids (EFAs) that are found in high quantities in oily fish such as Salmon, Tuna, Sardines and Mackerel. They are essential in that the body cannot survive without them, yet cannot produce them itself; we can only source them from the diet. Most of us simply do not get enough of the Omega 3 fatty acids.

Traditionally, man ate a diet that was equally divided between Omega 3 and Omega 6 on an equal ratio of 1:1.  Now, the ratio is more like 25:1 in favour of Omega 6. There is a substantial amount of research indicating that it is this imbalance of Omega 3’s to Omega 6 fats in our diets that are mainly responsible for the higher incidence of inflammatory diseases, cancers and allergies that we see today.

The Omega 6 fatty acids are also essential, but are easy to obtain, they can be found in cooking oils, such as corn oil and sunflower oil, and in processed foods and convenience foods. They promote inflammation in the body and help the blood to clot.  The Omega 3’s do exactly the opposite; they have anti-inflammatory properties and help to thin the blood.

Clinical trials have reported that after taking fish oil for 12 weeks, patients found that their symptoms of arthritis improved, with less inflammation, pain and stiffness.  Furthermore, those taking fish oil for longer than 12 weeks found they had an increase in grip strength.

As there is some evidence that Rheumatoid Arthritis is the result of oxidative stress on the body, and fish oil is very prone to oxidation, it is particularly important to choose a high quality fish oil containing a powerful antioxidant such as vitamin E.

Fish Oil and Arthritis Studies

David A Hughes and Andrew C Pinder were the principal researchers in the study titled n-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids inhibit the antigen-presenting function of human monocytes. They conducted their research at the Institute of Food Research, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich, and Norfolk. This research was published in December of 2004.

Researchers evaluated that diets rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are associated with suppression of cell-mediated immune responses, but the mechanisms are unclear. They hypothesized that n-3 PUFAs can inhibit the function of human antigen-presenting cells. A prerequisite for this role of blood monocytes is the cell surface expression of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules [human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DR, -DP, and -DQ], aided by the presence of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) and leukocyte function associated antigens 1 and 3.

It was shown previously that the n-3 PUFA eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) inhibits the expression of HLA-DR on unstimulated human monocytes in vitro, but that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) enhances its expression. However, both n-3 PUFAs suppress the expression of HLA-DR, HLA-DP, and ICAM-1 on interferon- -activated monocytes. They also established that dietary fishoil supplementation can inhibit the expression of these surface molecules on circulating human monocytes.

We subsequently showed that when EPA and DHA were combined in the same ratio as is commonly found in fishoil-supplement capsules (3:2), there was no significant effect in vitro on the expression of HLA-DR on unstimulated monocytes, but the expression on activated monocytes remained significantly inhibited. In the same in vitro system, the ability of activated monocytes to present antigen to autologous lymphocytes was significantly reduced after culture with the combined n-3 PUFAs.

These findings provide one potential mechanism for the beneficial effect of fish oil in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, a disorder associated with elevated _expression of MHC class II and adhesion molecules on monocytes present within affected joints.

ADHD fish oil

ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a term used to describe a set of behaviour problems that include hyperactivity, acting impulsively and an inability to concentrate for any length of time.  It affects many more boys than girls and because of the difficulty a person with ADHD has in focusing on or carrying out specific tasks; it can interfere with their progress at school.

Fish oil contains the essential Omega 3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) both of which are required for healthy brain development and function.  These are essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce itself so it has to source them from diet. Omega 3’s can be found in high quantities in oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna.  Most of us are not getting enough of the Omega 3’s in our diet, and instead, we are consuming far too much of Omega 6 fatty acids, which can be found in plentiful supply in vegetable oils such as corn oil and sunflower oil, meat products and processed foods.

EPA helps the brain to function and increases the blood flow around the body, including blood flow to the brain. The brain is constructed mostly of DHA, which is vital for healthy brain development in the early years.  Both EPA and DHA are equally important but we can produce DHA if we are getting enough EPA.

If there is a lack of the right kind of fatty acids that the brain needs to develop and function properly, such as EPA, it will try to build replacement fatty acids with what it has to work with.  This is obviously not ideal if we are not getting the right kind of fats through diet. Some studies have shown high levels of these replacement fatty acids in children with ADHD and this would appear to be linked to a diet rich in Omega 6 fatty acids and deficient in Omega 3’s. Males also need more essential fatty acids than females, which could explain why ADHD is more common in boys.

The health benefits of taking fish oil supplements are now well documented and the UK government is currently considering giving fish oil to schoolchildren as part of a general initiative to improve nutrition. Several studies conducted in the UK showed that children taking high EPA fish oil had increased concentration levels, improved their exam results and demonstrated less hyperactive behaviour in the classroom. Research continues but there is a growing awareness of how high EPA fish oil can help to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD and other brain related disorders. One Australian study even suggested that fish oil could be just as effective as Ritalin in treating ADHD, and perhaps even more so.

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