Omega-3 Fatty Acids are Essential in the Fibromyalgia Diet
Recently, my doctor wrote me a prescription for a fish oil supplement, which would supply the Omega-3 fatty acids to my diet. Though I was happy that he was up on the latest research, including nuttrition, I explored the internet to find out why Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to our diet.
According to the most recent study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health) on the effects of Omega-3 supplementation, “Omega-3 fatty acids promote effective immune system response and have ameliorating effects on chronic inflammation (a condition caused by an imbalanced immune system that can lead to multiple serious illnesses over time), It is for this reason that omega-3’s, in addition to playing a crucial role in human growth and brain development, may be highly useful in the prevention and treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers, psoriasis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and migraine.”
Omeg-3 Fatty Acids Need To Be Included In Our Diet
Since the human body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, we have to get them from our diet. Lack of dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids and too much intake of omega-6 fatty acids is believed to be a significant contributing factor in many disease states. A casualty of the American way of eating.
The polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, cannot be synthesized by the body and must therefore be taken in as nutrition. Paradoxically, however, an excess of omega 6 may actually result in greater inflammation. This is why a healthy diet needs to achieve a proper balance between omega-3 and omega-6. Such is not currently the case in most American diets, which typically provide 14 to 25 times more omega 6 fatty acids than omega-3.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed are known to reduce inflammation and help curb heart diseases. However, their soreness-reducing qualities may also help pain patients. A 2007 study found that after only 3 months of integrating omega-3 fatty acid foods into the diet, symptoms such as morning stiffness and pain and sore joints were reduced considerably.
Fish Oils or Plant Oils, which is better?
The different types of omega-3 fatty acids can be confusing. There are the fish oils, which contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA.) Then there are the plant sources with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is converted into omega-3 fatty acids in the body.
Studies have generally used fish oils as the source for omega-3 fatty acids. While plant sources with ALA may have the same benefits, less is known about them. For now, fish oils with DHA and EPA have the more established benefit.
The health effects of omega-3 fatty acids come mostly from EPA and DHA. ALA from flax and other vegetarian sources needs to be converted in the body to EPA and DHA and people do not make these conversions very effectively, This remains an ongoing debate in the nutrition community; fish and sea vegetable sources of EPA and DHA versus vegetarian sources of ALA. Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include sea life such as krill and algae.
The Mediterranean Diet May Be The Better Choice
Most if not all major scientific organizations encourage healthy adults to adapt a style of eating like that of the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet has a healthier balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Studies have shown that people who follow this diet are less likely to develop heart disease and other chronic diseases. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil, garlic, as well as moderate wine consumption.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:
- Getting plenty of exercise
- Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
- Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
- Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
- Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
- Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
- Drinking red wine— in moderation, of course. (optional)
The diet also recognizes the importance of enjoying meals with family and friends. http://ow.ly/jVIu7
Toxicity of Fish
Remember, though, some fish may contain potentially harmful contaminants, such as heavy metals (including mercury), dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
For sport caught fish, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that pregnant or nursing women eat no more than a single 6 ounce meal per week, and young children less than 2 ounces per week.
For farm raised, imported, or marine fish, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that pregnant or nursing women and young children avoid eating types with higher levels of mercury (such as mackerel, shark, swordfish, or tilefish), and eat up to 12 ounces per week of other fish types.
If you are really concerned about toxins and unsafe preservatives and coloring agents in our food, click here to read how AFA Blue-Green Algae assists your body in ridding itself of poisons.
How Much Omega-3 Fatty Acids Should You Supplement With?
There are no standard doses for omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends 1 gram per day of EPA+DHA for people with heart disease. Higher doses — between 2 to 4 grams per day — are used to lower triglycerides. If you need to take omega-3 fatty acid supplements, ask your doctor what dosage you should use. ***Children shouldn’t use fish oil supplements unless a doctor suggests it!
Dosing for fish oil supplements should be based on the amount of EPA and DHA, not on the total amount of fish oil. Supplements vary in the amounts and ratios of EPA and DHA. A common amount of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil capsules is 0.18 grams (180 mg) of EPA and 0.12 grams (120 mg) of DHA.
Different types of fish contain variable amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, and different types of nuts or oil contain variable amounts of ALA. Fish oils contain approximately 9 calories per gram of oil.
Precautions When Supplementing With Fish Oil
Getting your Omega-3’s from fish oils should be used cautiously by people who bruise easily, have a bleeding disorder, or take blood thinning medications including warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin.
High doses of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil supplements may increase the risk of bleeding, even in people without a history of bleeding disorders — and even in those who are not taking other medications.
Fish oil supplements may cause gas, bloating, belching, and diarrhea.
People with either diabetes or schizophrenia may lack the ability to convert alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the forms more readily used in the body. People with these conditions should be sure to get enough EPA and DHA from their diets, if possible.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Medications
If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use fish oil supplements, without first talking to your health care provider.
- Blood thinning medications –Fish oil supplements may increase the effects of blood thinning medications, including aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and clopedigrel (Plavix). Taking aspirin and omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful in some circumstances (such as in heart disease), but they should only be taken together under the supervision of a health care provider.
- Diabetes medications — Taking fish oil supplements may increase fasting blood sugar levels. Use with caution if taking medications to lower blood sugar, such as glipizide (Glucotrol and Glucotrol XL), glyburide (Micronase or Diabeta), glucophage (Metformin), or insulin. Your doctor may need to increase your medication dose. These drugs include: Glipizide (Glucotrol and Glucotrol XL; ) Glyburide (Micronase or Diabeta); Metformin (Glucophage); and Insulin.
***If you have type 2 diabetes, use fish oil only under the supervision of a health care provider.
Why AFA Blue-Green Algae May Be A Safer Alternative
I choose to supplement with Algae, a whole-food that does not contain mercury or pesticide residues. Because it is a food, it is a safer choice to get my important Omega-3 fatty acids— with no negative side effects! It’s easier for me to eat the Algae that the fish and krill eat, than to try to eat fish regularly.
“My experience with Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) began five years ago in an attempt to help my wife with a debilitating illness. Her success prompted selected use of AFA with patients of mine who had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. My clinical observations in those with Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus, Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, Candidiasis and Fibromyalgia include the following: greatly improved energy – physical and mental, improved memory and concentration, fewer and milder cold-like symptoms and headaches, improved quality of sleep, reduced musculoskeletal discomfort and an overall sense of well being and renewed vitality. The degree of improvement was variable, it often took many months to see the full benefits and cleansing/detoxification was significant necessitating slowly increasing the amount of AFA ingested. No single treatment I have tried over the last twelve years for these conditions has had a more profound positive effect than AFA.” – Dr. Jeffrey D. Millman, MD
The AFA Blue-Green Algae is loaded with chlorophyll, which is one of the most important chelates in nature. It’s ability to bind to and remove toxic heavy metals such as mercury makes it an extremely powerful healer.
Meanwhile, the other attributes of AFA, such as its antioxidants and phytonutrients, support the overall health of the body. Recent research has shown that these other attributes might be more numerous than had been previously thought.
According to a patent submitted in 2004, “consumption of blue-green algae, or extracts thereof, enhances trafficking or homing of stem cells in animals by inducing a transient increase in the population of stem cells present in the animal’s circulatory system.”
This rather startling news shows the potential of AFA in assisting your body to regenerate and heal itself. Other studies have shown that the algae has prospective psychological effects as well. A molecule named phenyl ethylamine (PEA) that is present in AFA has become known as the “molecule of love”, and has been shown to have anti-depressant, mood elevating properties as well as positive effects on concentration and attention.
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) algae, the ultimate photosynthesizer, contains both LA* and ALA• in an ideal balance (more ALA).
The researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital who studied its fat content concluded that AFA was a good source of the most valuable fatty acids and “should be a valuable nutritional resource” (Kushak et al. Favorable effects of blue-green algaeAphanizomenon flos-aquae on rat plasma lipids. JANA 2(3):59-65).
Interestingly, they found that it raises the blood levels of the good fatty acids far more than would be expected based on its ALA content alone. They concluded that something about the algae – probably its range of micronutrients – was helping the animals to utilize the fatty acids they were getting from other sources as well as those in the algae. The balancing effect was impressive: not only did the levels of “good” fatty acids (ALA, EPA, DHA) go up, but also the levels of the troublemaker, arachidonic acid, went down!
Photo credit: www.healthable.org/ (2) WhyAlgae.com
I am spreading the word about this amazing super-food!
Today, besides being an active grandmother, I am a volunteer with several community organizations and love spreading the word of this amazing super food – afa blue green algae!
To read more about my journey living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia – click here.