Inflammation is one of the body’s natural ways of protecting itself. However like any process in the body, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Too much inflammation in the body has been linked to a number of medical conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Chronic obstructive lung diseases (emphysema and bronchitis)
- Chronic pain
- Type 2 diabetes
- Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Diseases where the immune system attacks the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or scleroderma
Research shows that we can influence how much inflammation we have in our bodies through exercise, stress management and proper nutrition.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids are one of the best ways to curb inflammation naturally. These fatty acids are called essential because our bodies do not made them. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are two principal fatty acids.
DHA can be obtained from marine sources other than fish, such as algae (where the fish get their omega 3s). EPA and DHA are the good fats (polyunsaturated) that are bodies use to reduce inflammation and as building blocks for brain health. The body can only manufacture limited amounts of EPA and DHA from another essential fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – found in flaxseed oil, canola oil, soy oil and walnut oil.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids work best when they are combined with reduction of omega 6 essential fatty acids and trans fats in the diet. Foods rich in omega 6 essential fatty acids and trans fats are red meat (especially grain fed), high fat dairy like ice cream and cheese (milk and low fat yogurt are great), partially hydrogenated oils, corn, cottonseed, grape seed, peanut, safflower, soy and sunflower oils and foods with long shelf life (chips, cracker). Instead use olive oil and fresh whole unprocessed foods whenever possible.