10 Mar Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Can They Suppress Inflammation And Autoimmunity?
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids and an integral part of cell membranes. The value of omega-3 fatty acids was recognized in the 1940s and their lack was associated with the development of diseases such as atherosclerosis and other diseases.
The three most important omega-3 fatty acids are Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA).
EPA and DHA have been identified by many researchers as extremely beneficial to the human body. The human body does not have the ability to synthesize these fatty acids, so they must be taken in through the diet. They play an important role in various body processes and they have the ability to deal with various health problems that afflict us.
It has been argued that omega-3 fatty acids contribute to good heart health and ensure the proper function of the brain and immune system.
Ω-3 Fatty Acids and Anti-Inflammatory Action
Inflammation is the main cause of various diseases. Initially, it is the natural reaction of our body, when it is attacked by various pathogens. However, when inflammation is prolonged may manifest various diseases.
Omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to reduce the production of substances in the body that cause inflammation (cytokines) and promote the synthesis of substances that have anti-inflammatory and healing effects. In addition, they regulate inflammation, as they are responsible for modulating the expression of genes that are associated with it.
More specifically, the main function of EPA is to form molecules, known as eicosanoids, which inhibit inflammation. DHA Ω-3 fatty acids can dissolve lipid deposits in membranes. Thus, it becomes quite difficult to cause inflammation.
In fact, according to several studies, the intake of Ω-3 fatty acids has been associated with a reduction in symptoms in inflammatory conditions, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce pain in people with inflammatory bowel disease (Chrohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis). The importance of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of inflammation and autoimmunity was first reported in an epidemiological study of Eskimo Greenlanders which was conducted in the 1980s. In this study, participants presented extremely low rates of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, such as type I diabetes, bronchial asthma, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.
Omega-3 fatty acids and prevention of Autoimmune diseases
Ω-3 fatty acids can be particularly beneficial in both the prevention and treatment of Autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis and Lupus.
Several studies have been conducted to highlight the effects of omega-3 fatty acid intake on Rheumatoid Arthritis and clinical benefits have been observed in those who receive a minimum dose of 3 g / day EPA + DHA.
Patients with Crohn’s disease who used an EPA + DHA supplement of 2.7 grams per day noticed that their health improved.
New research suggests that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can inhibit the development of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
What are the ideal proportions of Fatty Acids for our body?
Ω-3 fatty acids, as it was mentioned above, are characterized by beneficial properties and enhance the proper function of our body. In contrast, omega-6 fatty acids are another type of fat that can be harmful to our body.
The ideal ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 fats in our diet should be 1: 1. However, the ratio which is recorded in the modern diet is 1:16. Today’s industrialized diet, which is based mainly on vegetable oils, is deficient in Ω-3, while it is rich in Ω-6. This causes disturbances in their balance, resulting in deregulation of the body, as Ω-3 are unable to exert their beneficial properties. This, however, can be a precursor to various diseases.
When the ratio of fatty acids changes, the function of cell membranes in all cells of our body can be altered.
The mentality that was established in the ’60s, according to which it was considered beneficial to avoid eating animal fats and oily fish proved to be destructive. As a result, people consume processed cereals, carbohydrates and sugar, resulting in a rapid increase in Chronic Diseases. Health problems, such as diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases, increased significantly during the time it was suggested to avoid fat in the diet.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be a powerful ally against inflammation and autoimmunity. The intake of fatty acids through supplements needs to be personalized. Scientific and technological progress has made specialized diagnostic tests available that reveal the real needs of the body and determine the dosage of Ω3 fatty acids for each person. Only through such a personalized approach, the human body benefits to the maximum and can achieve the optimal levels of health and well-being.
Dr. Nikoleta Koini, M.D.
Doctor of Functional, Preventive, Anti-ageing and Restorative Medicine.
Diplomate and Board Certified in Anti-aging, Preventive, Functional and Regenerative Medicine from A4M (American Academy in Antiaging Medicine).
- Ballantyne CM. Reducing atherothrombotic events in high-risk patients: Recent data on therapy with statins and fatty acids. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 1999;1:6–8. doi: 10.1007/s11883-999-0043-5.
- Bouwens M, van de Rest O, Dellschaft N, et al. Fish-oil supplementation induces antiinflammatory gene expression profiles in human blood mononuclear cells. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;90:415–24. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27680.
- Burdge GC, Calder PC. Dietary alpha-linolenic acid and health-related outcomes: A metabolic perspective. Nutr Res Rev. 2006;19:26–52. doi: 10.1079/NRR2005113.
- Capanni M, Calella F, Biagini MR, et al. Prolonged n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation ameliorates hepatic steatosis in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A pilot study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2006;23:1143–51. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2006.02885.x.
- Shahidi F, Miraliakbari H. Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids in health and disease: part 1—cardiovascular disease and cancer. J Med Food. 2004;7:387–401.
- Valentine RC, Valentine DL. Omega-3 fatty acids in cellular membranes: a unified concept. Prog Lipid Res. 2004;43:383–402.
- [EAS] European Atherosclerosis Society. Strategies for the prevention of coronary heart disease: A policy statement of the European Atherosclerosis Society. Eur Heart J. 1987;8:77–88.
- Fassett RG, Gobe GC, Peake JM, Coombes JS. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the treatment of kidney disease. Am J Kidney Dis. 2010;56:728–42. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2010.03.009.