Omega-3s are a type of fat ESSENTIAL for our bodies. However, our bodies cannot make these nutrients by itself, we must get them from food sources like flax, green vegetables and cold water fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines. And when our bodies are given the proper amounts of Omega-3s… we get amazing benefits as a result.
Omega-3s Reduce Joint Pain
Research suggests that omega-3s reduce joint pain. Many people have experienced amazing results and a lessening of joint pain from arthritis and other injuries after taking omega-3s for as little as two weeks.
Dr. Joseph Maroon, neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh, spent 20 years biking, swimming, and running in triathlons, and all of this movement eventually took a toll on his joints. This is common with many athletes. While sports and exercise are good for our bodies, it is easy to overuse your joints and end up with pain and disability.
Dr. Maroon had one knee in particular that gave him a lot of trouble. He took so much Advil from the pain he developed an ulcer. It was soon recommended that he get a full knee replacement. After conducting his own research, Dr. Maroon discovered fish oils and wondered if they could hold the answer to his joint pain. Sure enough, soon after starting his fish oil supplements, Dr. Maroon was able to get off all of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine he had been taking.
How Exactly Do Omega-3s Help With Joint Pain?
Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically the DHA and EPA inside them, work to block inflammation pathways in the cell. And, they block not one, but multiple pathways in the cell. Now, when it comes to the most common types of joint pain, the inflammation in those joints is one of the common culprits.
Omega-3s Fight Depression and Memory Loss
The next amazing health benefit you will start to see once you begin taking omega-3s is better memory and cognitive function, and even help against depression. Researchers have found that adding Omega-3s into your diet has a profound benefit to your cognitive health, because the human brain is made up of about 60% fat, and your cerebral cortex is made up of about 15% DHA.
The mechanism in play has to do with keeping your nervous cells supple and soft rather than stiff, and also in preventing inflammation in the brain.
When the nerve cells in your brain become stiff and hardened, it makes the normal transmission of information from cell to cell more susceptible to error. Studies are also finding that the older we get, the more omega-3s are needed in order to keep the brain operating at optimum levels and prevent mental decline.
One study in particular showed that mental decline and memory loss could be prevented, and in some cases reversed, through supplementation with DHA, which is contained within the omega-3s themselves. These DHA nutrients even have a positive effect on mood and emotion. In fact, this is the reason why an Omega-3 deficiency can lead to all kinds of depression-related issues.
Omega-3s Keep Your Heart Healthy
Studies suggest that the EPA and DHA found in fatty acids help reduce the risk factors of heart disease, including high cholesterol. Fish oil has also been shown to lower the risk of stroke and even abnormal heart rhythms in individuals who have already had a heart attack.
Fish oil also helps prevent hardening of the arteries by slowing the development of plaque and blood clots which can clog up the arteries.
Omega-3s Naturally Lower Blood Pressure
Several clinical studies suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. The studies found that taking three or more grams of fish oil daily may reduce blood pressure in people with untreated hypertension.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM), omega 3s may also:
- Improve cholesterol by decreasing triglycerides (the bad cholesterol) and increasing HDL (the good cholesterol) levels. These benefits come primarily from DHA and EPA.
- Improve bone health by positively impacting the body’s calcium levels, thereby reducing the incidence of bone loss, commonly known as osteoporosis.
- Improve skin conditions by helping to alleviate symptoms related to certain disorders like acne and psoriasis.
- Improve bowel health by reducing inflammation of the bowels and helping alleviate symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Improve lung health by reducing inflammation in diseases like asthma.
- Reduce the pain associated with PMS and menstruation.
- Help prevent certain types of cancer. Colon, breast, and prostate cancers have all been linked to low levels of omega-3s.
If your breakfast, lunch and dinner resemble those of the average adult in the United States, you are very likely to be deficient in omega-3s. Your best way to solve this problem is to eat more nuts (peanuts aren’t a great choice – try eating walnuts and Brazil nuts) and seeds (like flaxseeds and chia seeds). You may also want to consider eating cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, and cod two to three times per week. And you can also consider making the switch to eating grass-fed beef and other pasture-raised foods including meats, cheeses, yogurt and eggs.
Alternatively, there are many good supplements on the market that are convenient and work just as well as consuming these foods – but it’s important to pick the right one (something we will definitely help you with in our next few blog posts, so stay tuned!)
If you suffer from joint pain, memory problems, hypertension, mood disorders, skin problems or a whole host of other problems: it’s important to know that fatty acids, like omega-3, can bring tremendous benefits to your health and may just be the answer you’re looking for.