What do rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and lupus have in common? Inflammation.
Recent findings suggest that generalized inflammatory disorders such as these affect not only our joints, skin and bowels, but most importantly our blood vessels. Chronic inflammation can cause tissue damage and dysfunction.
The theory that inflammation can be modified and controlled with the help of particular fatty acids began more than thirty years ago, when two researchers studied the correlation between an Eskimo diet and heart disease. Surprisingly, they found that despite the Eskimos’ diet, which was high in fat, the instances of heart disease remained quite low.
Due to different chemical structures of fatty acids, there are several different types of fats. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive and canola oils. Polyunsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils. Saturated fats are found in animal protein and dairy products. Finally, trans fats, heat-damage fats, are founds in fried foods, heated vegetable oil, pastries and margarine.
In general, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are “good fats.” Saturated fats are “not-so-good fats,” and trans fats are “bad fats” which can cause inflammatory diseases.
Essential fatty acids needed for the body’s proper growth and function are not naturally produced by the human body, but can be obtained by consuming vegetables or fish. The two types of essential fatty acids are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to regulate the metabolic imbalance associated with inflammation, unlike Omega-6 fatty acids which can stimulate inflammation.
The higher the presence of Omega-6 fatty acids, the lower the anti-inflammatory effect from Omega-3 fatty acids.
A change in eating habits to contain less Omega-6 fatty acids (saturated fats and processed foods) and increasing Omega-3 intake can help decrease inflammation.
The best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, tuna, sardine, trout, mackerel, herring, olive oil, flaxseed, nuts, oatmeal, spinach, soybeans and algae.
The “oilier” the fish, the greater its anti-inflammatory power.
Patients with inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, are prone to develop coronary disease. Experts such as Dr. Yong H. Tsai, recommend that these patients consume 2-3 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids daily, and, of course, less Omega-6 fatty acids.
Source: Dr. Yong H. Tsai
Photo Credit: everydayhealth.com