Omega 3 Oils and Inflammation

Nearly everyone suffering from joint pain or arthritis has wished for a magic cream or supplement to vanish away their pain. Research is finding more and more ways to aid your pain relief,in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle these supplements and nutritional aids really do work.

So whats the latest?

Omega 3 is one of the most exciting discoveries that really can aid your arthritis. It is a polyunsaturated fat, and is particularly found in oily fish. It is most helpful for inflammatory arthritis. This includes rheumatoid, reactive, psoriatic, gout and ankylosing. It is well known and documented that saturated fats from animals contribute to many diseases. Researchers are beginning to discover that the balance of polyunsaturated fats in the diet is not right in most people, and might be contributing to an increase in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases (such as arthritis). Basically we are consuming too many of the fats that promote inflammation, and not enough that negate.

How does it help pain?

In a healthy immune system, the inflammatory process repairs damage and protects the body from infections. In arthritis, there is an overactive immune response, and it can led to tissue degeneration. There has been research indicating that the pathway thats starts this inflammatory signal, can be turned off. Omega 3’s can convert into powerful compunds which act to stop this process of inflammation. There have been studies showing people who increase their Omega 3 intake, decrease their need for NSAIDS.

Our diets are full of omega 6 fatty acids, which is the type used in cooking oils. This breaks down into an acid which can actually contribute to inflammation. To make this even worse, most people lack omega 3 in the diet. These counter the inflammation process, as mentioned above. We need to get our fats back in balance. Eat more fats which halt the inflammation process and cut down on those that promote it.

Where does it come from?

Omega 3 is found in cold water fish. These fish are best (generally the colder water they live in, the more omega 3 oil in the fish). Farm raised fish will have lower levels of omega 3.

  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Albacore Tuna
  • Salmon

Walnuts, flaxseeds, beans, olive oil and winter squash will also provide you with other sources of omega 3.

How do I increase my Omega 3 intake?

There are no official guidelines for omega 3 fats. The National Institutes of Health recommends that people consume at least 2% of their total daily energy as omega 3 fats. For example, a person consuming 2000 calories per day would have to eat at least 2 grams of omega 3 fats. However quite a few nutritionists think this recommendation is not high enough, and would suggest that people consume at least 4% of their total calories (approximately 4 grams) as omega 3 fats.

Anyway, most importantly ditch the scales and calculator for this one and just increase your general intake, you really can’t go wrong.

Some helpful tips:

  • Stop using cooking oils and salad oils other than those high in beneficial fatty acids such as flaxseed, olive and canola.
  • Add flaxseed and nut products to your diet, oil for salad dressings, add seed and nut combos to baked potato and granola.
  • Incorporate more beans and winter squash into your diet
  • Cut down meat and animal product consumption.
  • Eat cold water fish two or three times a week.
  • Watch your overall fat intake.

Here is a table of foods that contain Omega 3s (from whfoods.org)

Food Serving omega 3 fatty acids % DV Density Quality
Flax seeds 0.25 cups 7.0 g 156.4 17.6 Excellent
Walnuts C 0.25 cup 2.3 g 50.4 6.3 Very good
Chinook salmon, baked/broiled 4.0 oz-wt 2.1 g 46.4 3.6 Very good
Scallops, baked/broiled 4.0 oz-wt 1.1 g 24.4 3.3 Good
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 1.0 g 22.9 1.6 Good
Halibut, baked/broiled 4.0 oz-wt 0.6 g 13.8 1.8 Good
Shrimp, steamed, boiled 4.0 oz-wt 0.4 g 8.2 1.5 Good
Snapper, baked 4.0 oz-wt 0.4 g 8.0 1.1 Good
Tofu, raw 4.0 oz-wt 0.4 g 8.0 1.9 Good
Winter squash 1 cup 0.3 g 7.6 1.9 Good
Tuna, yellowfin 4.0 oz-wt 0.3 g 7.3 0.9
Cod, baked 4.0 oz-wt 0.3 g 7.1 1.2
Kidney beans 1 cup 0.3 g 6.7 0.6

Do I need Supplementation?

Omega 3 also comes in a supplement form, and if you find you have trouble upping your intake naturally (which is almost always the better way) then it is important to supplement your diet. For more information about Omega 3 supplementation and where to find a quality product specifically for joint pain, visit Omega Daily.