What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids? And why are they important for Lupus Warriors?
Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient the body cannot make on its own. Studies have shown that these omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as a significant role in normal growth development for children. On top of that, omega-3 fatty acids contribute to hair and skin health.
Great sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Inflammation
Omega-3 fatty acids have the amazing ability to reduce inflammation in the body—including arthritis, lupus, asthma, and irritable bowel disease. The potent micro-nutrient is apparent in traditional paleo-like diets, such as Scandinavian, Mediterranean, and Japanese diets. A notable common denominator of all these diets is they are packed with fish, fresh produce, and certain types of oils.
There is more than one type of omega-3 fatty acid. Two types of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are:
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid); and
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
Both of these compounds can lower inflammation, resulting in a decrease in swelling and pain. Additional research shows that these acids might also suppress the body’s immune system.
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The right type of fish
As mentioned above, fish—especially oily fish—are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Certain specialty oils also carry omega-3 fatty acids:
- Cod liver oil
- Mustard oil
- Walnut oil
What Are Omega-6 Fatty Acids?
Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential to some bodily functions. Many health experts, though, agree there should be a two-to-one (2:1) balance between omega-3’s and omega-6’s. The more omega 3’s in the diet, the smaller the risk of developing inflammation.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Inflammation
Omega-6 fatty acids are considered pro-inflammatory. They are broken down by the body and converted into prostaglandins and other inflammatory proteins. These proteins cause inflammation.
When omega-6 fatty acids are consumed, inflammatory proteins are quickly created. Because of this speed, the body’s natural process of metabolizing them is overwhelmed. Therefore, inflammation and its symptoms are much more likely to occur.
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in most meats and poultry products. There is even an abundance of these acids in certain whole grains and vegetable oils. There are some omega-6-packed sources—(these sources can be very beneficial for individuals with a deficiency):
- Grapeseed oil
- Sunflower seed oil
- Borage oil
- Evening primrose oil
- Black currant seed oil
A Balanced Diet
The conclusion is to eat a diet that is balanced and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure the maintenance of the two-to-one omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids ratio. If there is a concern of too much omega-6 in the diet, supplements such as fish oils can be a great addition to a treatment strategy for inflammation reduction.
Looking for additional information on diet and nutrition? It may be beneficial to add a dietician or nutritionist to your lupus treatment team.