Mega, inflammation fighting omegas
So, as I’ve said previously, inflammation is a good thing. It is the body’s way of dealing with injuries, infections and other attacks on the body. The problem is, too much of a good thing, becomes a bad thing. In North American society, also quickly spreading around the world, our diets are so high in foods that promote inflammation that our bodies balloon up and don’t come back down. Highly processed foods are low in the nutrients that prevent inflammation and high in the ones that promote it. When we have too many dietary triggers for inflammation and not enough levelers, we suffer from chronic inflammation.
When we think of going on a diet to lose weight or to get healthy, the first thing we think of is cutting fat. That is why we’re ‘fat’, right? Wrong. It is over-consumption of fats and of the wrong kinds of fats that have that negative effect on our bodies. Our bodies need fats, but in the right ratios. There are many different types of fats, some healthy ones that reduce inflammation and some unhealthy that promote inflammation.
Trans fatty acids – We’ve heard of this one before, it’s been getting a lot of deserved, bad press lately. Sometimes, they are hidden in products using the term ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oils‘. Sounds relatively harmless, especially with the word vegetable in there. Trans fats are bad enough on their own, but when they are ‘partially hydrogenated”, they take on the characteristics of saturated fats. There’s a whole whack of science to understand this part of it, but I think the basic points here are that they promote inflammation in the body, raise your LDL (the bad cholesterol) and lower your HDL (good cholesterol).
Sometimes Pro-Inflammatory fats:
Omega 6 family – Omega 6 fatty acids supply the building blocks for many inflammation causing substances including prostaglandin E2 and leukotrin B4, but also supplies is with blocks to build gamma-linolenic acid which is anti-inflammatory. The catch with this fat is that the ‘parent molecule’ for Omega 6s is linoleic acid, which is essential for our health. Remember that “too much of a good thing” statement I made earlier? This is exactly what I was talking about. Think of it like a family with some fantastic people as parents, but they just keep having kids. Some kids are helpful and caring, like our little gammas but many are destructive and violent. They may be able to control one or two of them, but they keep having more and more. Eventually they destroy the entire community. Now think of that community as your body. You wanna keep those fantastic people, but make sure they don’t have too many kids in your community. The local ‘inflammatory’ law enforcement can only handle so many peter prostaglandin E2s and lucy leukotrin B4s.
Wow, that was like an ‘after school special’ explanation, but I love it!
Omega 3 family – Much like our parents that have a mix of rotten egg and angel children in the Omega 6 family, the Omega 3 family provides the building blocks for a whole family of powerful, anti-inflammatory substances. The difference is, their children are all little angels, as far as our body is concerned. The most potent omega 3s are found in coldwater fish, so if you are not a big fan of sea food, it is time to start taking an omega 3 supplement derived from the fishies. Along with all of their angelic offspring, omega 3s also remind our body to turn off the inflammation process when it is no longer needed.
GLA or gamma-linolenic acid – As mentioned before, GLA is technically an omega 6 fatty acid, but even the worst family has a few good eggs. GLA behaves more like its omega 3 cousins, suppressing inflammation
Omega 9 family – This family is found mostly in olive oil, avocados and macadamia nuts. The omega 9s are always working with the omega 3 family to create anti-inflammatory substances to help your body.
Now that you have a better idea of what the fats do, you may be wondering why it is now becoming such a rampant problem. We never had to worry about this before, simply because we ate better. Omega 6s are not bad for us if they are balanced with omega 3s. The issues is that they are not balanced in the average person’s diet. Whereas people used to consume roughly equal amounts of omega 3s and 6s, they now consume twenty to thirty times more omega 6s. That is an astronomical number! On top of that, the quality of the omega 6s are often low. No wonder we are so inflamed! All the people walking around with a condition that ends in ‘-itis’, take note. You could be perpetuating that condition every time you eat a meal if you’re not careful.
Do you have an inflammatory condition? Have you tried the use of omega 3 supplements?
- Vitamin C, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids may help asthma (foodconsumer.org)
- Value of Omega-3s: Not Up for Debate (health.usnews.com)
- 5 Secrets To Omega 6:Omega 3 Balance (valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com)
- Omega-3 fatty acids help advanced lung cancer patients (foodconsumer.org)
Posted on September 23, 2012, in Information and tagged diet, Digestion, forming new habits, Inflammation, jennifer walker, nutrition, Omega 3, Omega 6, year of the detox. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.