Omega-3s are often heralded as a panacea for all sorts of ills, from heart disease to cognitive decline. So it’s no surprise that their popularity has only grown recently, with more and more people taking supplements or eating foods rich in omega-3s.
But one area where omega-3s have gained traction is in the realm of inflammation. Numerous studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which has led many people to believe that they may be helpful in managing inflammatory and autoimmune disorders .
Continue reading to learn more about the science behind omega-3s and inflammation and whether these fatty acids can truly be considered anti-inflammatory.
What is Omega 3?
Omega-3s are like the good cholesterol of the fatty acid world. These essential nutrients are necessary for human health, but our bodies can’t produce them on their own. That’s why consuming omega-3s through diet or supplements is so important.
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA are found primarily in fish and other seafood, while ALA is found in plant-based foods like flaxseeds and chia seeds.
However you choose to get your daily dose, omega-3s are crucial for maintaining cell membranes, reducing inflammation, and keeping your heart healthy. They’ve also been linked to improved brain function and cognitive health, making them a true powerhouse nutrient.
Supplements containing EPA and DHA are your best bet since they’re convenient and provide the most health benefits. ALA-rich foods like flaxseeds and chia seeds are good vegetarian options if you don’t eat fish or seafood.
However, one thing to note is that ALA needs to be converted to be used by the body. This conversion is notoriously inefficient, so keep an eye out for EPA and DHA supplements if you’re looking for the most bang for your buck.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a usual and necessary response to injury or infection. The inflammatory response is the body’s way of protecting itself from further damage and promoting healing.
Acute inflammation is the short-lived, intense type of inflammation that occurs in response to an injury or infection. This is the kind of inflammation you see when you get a cut or scrape, and it’s characterized by redness, swelling, and pain.
Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a low-grade inflammation that persists over time. You’ll undoubtedly want to avoid this type of inflammation, as it’s been linked to various health problems like heart disease, cancer, and other severe conditions .
So, where does omega-3 come into the equation? You ask.
In the next section, we’ll look closely at the science behind omega-3s and inflammation to see if these fatty acids can truly be considered anti-inflammatory.
Is Omega 3 Anti Inflammatory?
Now for the million-dollar question: Is omega-3 anti inflammatory?
Well, the jury is out on that one.
Current studies suggest that omega-3s may help to reduce inflammation, but the evidence is far from conclusive. Some studies have shown that omega-3s can help to reduce inflammation in people with inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis , while other studies have found no significant effect.
That being said, a 34-week trial conducted by researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (HNRCA) found that omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in regulating the immune system .
This bodes well for the anti-inflammatory potential of omega-3s, but it’s worth noting that the study found that EPA and DHA work differently when it comes to inflammation. EPA only lowered one type of pro-inflammatory protein, while DHA lowered the genetic expression of four types.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that a combination of EPA and DHA is the most effective way to reduce inflammation, with DHA being the more potent of the two fatty acids.
If you’re looking to reduce inflammation, omega-3s are a promising option. Still, it’s worth including other anti-inflammatory foods in your diet – ginger, turmeric, and green leafy vegetables are all excellent choices.
Tips for Reducing Inflammation In The Body
As you’ll now know, omega-3 is a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient that can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body. But increasing your intake of omega-3 is only a piece of the puzzle regarding lowering inflammation.
Here are a few additional tips that can help to reduce inflammation:
Eat a healthy diet
Diets consisting primarily of processed and refined foods significantly contribute to inflammation. So if you’re regularly downing processed meals, it’s time to make a change.
Instead, focus on eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. This type of diet will help to reduce inflammation and promote overall health.
That’s not to mention the mental health benefits that come along with eating a nutritious diet. After all, what you eat directly impacts your mood and how you feel mentally and emotionally.
Get regular exercise
Paying close attention to your diet is important, but it’s not the only way to reduce inflammation. Exercise is also a key player in this process.
When you exercise, your body releases cytokines, which help fight inflammation throughout the body. So if you’re looking to keep inflammation at bay, make sure to get plenty of exercise.
It doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise daily is enough to see the benefits. So you can throw on a pair of sneakers and go for a brisk walk, hit the gym, or even do some yard work.
Stress is a normal part of life, but it can have a negative impact on your health if it’s not managed correctly. Turning a blind eye to it will only make things worse.
There are many different ways to manage stress, so find what works best for you and stick with it. This could involve yoga, meditation, journaling, or even just spending time outside in nature.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to a friend or family member about what’s going on in your life. Sometimes just talking about your problems can help to reduce the stress you’re feeling.
If you’re still struggling to manage your stress, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for help.
Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol use
It doesn’t take a genius to know that smoking is terrible for your health; the same goes for excessive alcohol use. Each of these habits can lead to a whole host of health problems, from heart disease and stroke to cancer.
Tobacco and alcohol use are both also significant risk factors for inflammation. To reduce your risk of inflammation, quitting smoking and drinking in moderation are two of the best things you can do.
Is Omega 3 Anti Inflammatory? – The Bottom Line
Short-term inflammation is the body’s normal and necessary response to protect itself from harm. But when inflammation becomes chronic, that’s when problems start to arise.
Fortunately, omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body. So if you’re looking to keep inflammation at bay, include omega-3-rich foods in your diet or consider supplementing with a high-quality omega-3 supplement like Performance Lab Omega-3.
But if you’re serious about reducing inflammation, you need to do more than increase your intake of omega-3. You must also eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, manage stress, and avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol use. All these steps will help keep inflammation under control and promote overall health.