This segment explains how Omega-3s can help prevent disease. Some of it is targeted toward women’s issues but most of the information applies to men as well.
To your health!
Balancing Your Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Essential for Health and Long Life
by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
How omega-3’s prevent disease
The beauty of omega 3’s is that they make such a profound difference in your health and are also quite affordable and easily accessible. They are so good for us because of the anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3′s have long been associated with prevention and treatment of many illnesses, including:
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
• Breast, colon, and prostate cancers
• Depression/bipolar disorders
• Heart disease
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Skin disorders
It is no surprise that omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most researched topics in the scientific community. They are also one of the most celebrated dietary essentials among people who live a health conscious lifestyle and incorporate whole health into their daily life. The question that remains that is quite baffling is why does the intake of omega-3 fatty acids continue to decline?
Women and omega-3’s
I strongly urge you to begin to supplement your diet so it includes omega-3 fatty acids. I’ve recommended the use of omega-3 at the clinic for close to 30 years and many women have had great improvement in their health. Taking omega-3 fatty acids can help is some many areas such as decreasing menstrual cramps, menopausal symptoms, and even breast cancer.
Research has actually found a link between increased menstrual pain and low omega-3 blood concentrations. Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea) happen when your cell membranes release omega-6 fatty acids, which produce pro-inflammatory eicosanoids. As a result, cramps, headache, nausea, or other symptoms may be present.
Research continues at a rapid rate when it comes to omega-3’s and their connection to infertility and premature births. In one study there was an increase in fertility rates with supplements of omega-3. Scientists found that omega-3 supplementation reduced clotting in the endometrial cells that line the uterus, and this improved the implantation rates of fertilized eggs. Alternatively, an imbalance of the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio has been connected to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which can contribute to infertility.
Research has also shown that if a pregnant woman increases her omega-3 intake, her premature birth risk drops by up to 50 percent. In addition, fetal brain development benefits from omega-3 supplementation, and this continues after the birth. A pregnant woman who adds omega-3′s to her diet for her infant’s development and health will also decrease the likelihood of postpartum depression. The benefits just keep getting better.
Furthermore, if you have a history of cancer, there is research being conducted about the effect of various types and quantities of fats on tumor growth. Fatty acids have been found to be protective or harmful, depending on the situation. However, an excess of the pro-inflammatory eicosanoids from omega-6 fatty acids can have a negative effect on your immune system, and this could be the reason for increased growth of certain cancers.
The omega-3 metabolites counterbalance those of omega-6′s, and researchers are studying ways to use omega-3′s to block tumor growth. Studies in animals have shown that a diet that is high in omega-3 can slow tumor growth. People who follow a Mediterranean diet (rich in omega-3 and other phytonutrients) are 56 percent less likely to develop cancer and are 61 percent less likely to die from it. Wow!
Omega-3 fatty acids and menopause.
There is even more to the story as it pertains to menopausal symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help many of the menopausal symptoms that some women experience. Low blood levels of omega-3′s are connected to inflammation, which causes many health issues in menopause, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, vaginal dryness, thinning skin and hair, joint pain, and dry eyes. Omega-3′s can soothe the inflammation. Let’s take a look at some specific symptoms that omega-3′s can help with:
Two studies, done in 2005 by Italian scientists, reported a “progressive and highly significant reduction” in hot flashes with the introduction of omega-3′s, possibly because of the omega-3 influence on nerve cell membranes or possibly by modulating neurotransmitter function. A diet high in omega-3′s is thought to be why Japanese women (whose diets are rich in fish, seaweed, and soy) have fewer adverse symptoms of menopause than American women do.
Your bones are always being broken down (resorption) and rebuilt. When resorption exceeds the rebuilding, then the bone mass deteriorates and can cause osteoporosis. There are some omega-6 derivatives that stimulate bone resorption. You can always start to rebuild good bones by having the omega-3 fatty acids counteract the omega-6 fatty acids to prevent and treat osteoporosis. It really is never too late, as I often see with my patients – even in their 70’s.
Mood, affect and memory
Mood, affect, and memory are often times challenging areas, especially as people age. There is research showing the possibility that omega-3′s may prevent, and perhaps treat, depression. They may also help people who are struggling with personality and behavioral problems, such as aggression. Scientists have found that people with high omega-3 levels in their blood had more grey matter in the brain sectors that are linked to positive emotions and moods. However, people with mild to moderate depression symptoms showed decreased grey matter in those same areas. There is additional research needed to find out if omega-3′s actually cause this phenomenon – however, healthy omega-3 levels can give you a more positive outlook on life and lower your rate of memory loss. Thus far the research is positive when it comes to mood and depression.
There are women, especially those over 40, whose lipid profiles show a high ratio of triglycerides to “good” (HDL) cholesterol. They are more at risk for cardiovascular disease. Fish oil supplements are high in omega-3 and offer increased protection for your heart and blood vessels by decreasing your triglyceride levels and increasing your HDL. Taking omega-3 supplementation is a good idea if you’re on conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT), because HRT can increase triglyceride levels to harmful levels.
Lower heart rate equals longer life?
Perhaps living longer is the best result of taking omega-3′s. Researcher Jørn Dyerberg, who is known for his groundbreaking work on omega-3′s, was first to notice the absence of heart disease among Greenland’s indigenous people. Dyerberg believes that this was directly related to the high dietary omega-3 content of the diet. And the effect of decreasing the number of heartbeats during a lifetime is that the heart beats longer ( that is also why so many recommend meditation to help with cardiovascular issues). These people have a longer lifespan. Initial studies show that DHA is the primary omega-3 fatty acid that lowers heart rate and improves the resilience of heart rate variability. Together these lower the risk of sudden cardiac events that cause death.
To be continued…
Now you know why omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to good health. Let’s take a look to discover what kind of omega-3 is best and how much omega-3 should you take?
Let me know what you learned from the article and share anything that you can add to help others.