What is inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s immune system’s response to a stimulus. In short, an inflammatory response means the innate (non-specific) immune system is ‘fighting against something that may turn out to be harmful. It is actually essential in small amounts for immune-surveillance and host defense. However most chronic diseases are thought to be rooted in low-grade inflammation that persists over time. This inflammation may go unnoticed by the host (you!) until symptoms arise. This concept is called ‘The inflammation theory of disease, in which inflammation is the common underlying factor among many chronic diseases.
Causes of chronic inflammation Eating a proinflammatory diet (SAD) Smoking Obesity Poor sleep quality Overexercising Autoimmune diseases and chronic stress Excessive alcohol consumption
Reduce chronic inflammation Eat an anti-inflammatory foods (Mediterranean)Quit Smoking Maintain a healthy weight Practice good sleep hygiene Exercise regularly Practice healthy stress management techniques Limit or Avoid alcohol
How to get started on an anti-inflammatory diet!
1. Scale back on processed foods (Standard American Diet (SAD) which is high in Omega 6 fatty acids)
Sweets: commercial baked goods, pre-packaged desserts, ice cream and candy
Sugary beverages: soda, juice, sports drinks
Snack Foods: chips, microwave popcorn, pretzels, crackers
Fried foods: French fries, chicken fingers, deep fried foods
Processed Meats: bacon, sausage, hot dogs, bologna, salami, pepperoni
Processed cheeses; nacho cheese dip, American cheese, Velveeta
Grain-fed red meat (conventionally raised cow)
Conventionally raised chicken and their eggs (caged or raised indoors)
2. Replace inflammatory foods with anti-inflammatory foods (like the Mediterranean diet which is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids)
Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, tuna, sardines, and herring
shellfish like oysters, clams, and mussels
eggs, meat, and dairy from pasture-raised or grass-fed animals
Nuts, seeds, olives and avocados
Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
Whole or ancient grains (brown or wild rice, oats, millet, amaranth, quinoa, barley, bulgar, rye)
Fresh fruits and Vegetables
Why should we be interested in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids?
When omega 6 fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids are off balance inflammation can occur. The concern with the common Standard American Diet is that we consume much more Omega 6 fatty acids than Omega 3 fatty acids. This has caused an imbalance in our bodies to have a higher ratio of Omega 6:3 commonly ranging between 10:1 – 25:1 vs. the recommended ratio of 2:1 or less to avoid chronic inflammation and other complications. Reducing foods high in omega 6 fatty acid and consuming more foods rich in Omega 3’s can help to restore the ratio. Most people do not consistently consume enough omega 3 fatty acids through foods and will likely have to supplement to assist in reaching this 2:1 or less ratio.
Supplements that can help improve Omega 3’s:
There are both plant- and animal-based omega-3 supplements.
Krill oil, fish oil, algal oil, and cod liver oil are dietary supplements rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Algal oil is perhaps the best source of plant-based omega 3 fats because algal oil contains EPA and DHA, while other plant-based foods contain ALA, which is not efficiently converted into DHA and EPA by the body. When looking for a supplement, it is important to read the back of the label to ensure that you are getting a good amount of omega 3’s so you don’t have to take as many capsules or liquid to get the amount you need which can range from 1,000mg to 3,000mg or more depending on your health status.
This is an example of an Fish Oil supplement NOT rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. In total, there is 460mg in 2 soft gels. This means if you needed 3,000mg of Omega 3 fatty acid, you would have to take 13 soft gels. If you have taken fish oil supplements, you know they are not small; therefore most people aren't going to take the recommended dose.
Here is an example of a better option. This one has 750mg of Total Omega 3 Fatty Acids in 1 soft gel meaning if you needed 3,000mg of Omega 3 fatty acid you would only need 4 soft gels. Much more palatable.
Read your labels. There are alot of brands out there that are not very high in omega 3 fatty acids. Do read the front of the bottle. Just be aware that total fish oil mg is not the total omega 3 fatty acid amount. Below is a link to high quality omega 3 fatty acid supplements that I recommend to my clients. They are palatable and do not require an overwhelming dose.
If you would like to work with one of our nutrition professionals, we are here to help. We have 1:1 consultations available or if you would like for our health coach to evaluate your supplements, we also have this set up as a single service. Feel free to contact us for more information or book a consultation.