Omega-3 fatty acids are your body’s natural anti-inflammatory, helping to get rid of inflammation and thereby pain and a higher risk of inflammatory diseases
Are you and your patients getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids? You should be, as evidence shows that they are necessary for everything from good heart health to brain health, preventing depression and supporting a healthy immune system.
Omega-3 fatty acid sources
Acquiring enough Omega-3 fatty acids is easier than you think. First, look at your diet. Omega-3s are present in wild fatty fish such as salmon, orange roughy, tuna, anchovies, sardines, lake trout, mackerel, blue fish, herring, sturgeon, and bluefish.
According to Len Lopez, DC, CCN, CSCS, CCSP, author of “To Burn or Not to Burn — Fat is the Question,” nuts and seeds contain a lot of omega-3s. Some examples of good seeds to try are flax, hemp, chia, and sunflower, and nuts like pecans and almonds are beneficial as well.
“Cage-free eggs and grass-fed beef also have lots more omega-3 fats than their counterparts that are raised in conventional feed lots and fed grain, which is not their natural diet,” says Lopez.
People can also get omega-3 fatty acids via fish oil supplements and flax seed oil.
Omega-3s and a healthy body
According to the National Institutes of Health, studies assessing how omega-3s help the body have indicated that they are connected with a lower risk of heart failure, fatal coronary heart disease, and coronary disease. But that’s not all they do.
“Unsaturated fats — your omega-3s — are your body’s natural anti-inflammatory,” says Lopez. “Inflammation triggers pain. If you get rid of inflammation, you get rid of pain.”
Omega-3 fatty acids can also reduce LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, arrhythmias, thrombosis, and growth rates of arterial plaque. They may even help lower your blood pressure a little.
These fatty acids can also help with the pain and stiffness that comes with rheumatoid arthritis. If you take supplements to get your omega-3 fatty acids, they could increase the effects of anti-inflammatory medications — if you need to take them.
Because omega-3s reduce inflammation, they’ve been associated with helping improve cardiovascular health, arthritis, periodontal disease, auto-immune diseases, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
As inflammation also plays an integral part in asthma, reducing it may help. But according to WebMD.com, more studies are needed before people stop taking their medication for this illness.
Some studies have shown that omega-3s can help with depression. Places where people eat a lot of fish have tended to have less issues with depression. Omega-3s may help with depression because they reduce inflammation.
Omega-3 fatty acid can even help kids. “Omega-3s have shown great promise for kids with ADD/ADHA,” says Lopez. “But it all comes back to diet…better diet and fish oils can help.”
Healthline reports that Omega-3s promote brain health especially during early life, can fight autoimmune diseases, and may improve sleep. A study published in the Journal of Leukoctye Biology suggested that omega-3 fatty acids can boost the immune system by reducing inflammation and enhancing the function of immune B cells.
Lopez explains that getting enough omega-3s is important for all age groups, but especially for adults.