Fight inflammation with fish oil (plus tips for reducing inflammation)
04/09/2021 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
Fight inflammation with fish oil (plus tips for reducing inflammation)

Fish oil supplements are known to reduce inflammation. But how these supplements are able to do so remains unclear.

To find out how, a team of researchers from the Queen Mary University of London recruited 22 volunteers aged 19-37 years old for a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Participants were given either a placebo or one of three doses of an enriched fish oil supplement.

The researchers collected five blood samples from each participant: one at baseline and then two, four, six and 24 hours after taking either the placebo or the fish oil supplement.

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The researchers found that those who took a dose of the enriched fish oil supplement had higher levels of anti-inflammatory molecules called specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) in their blood. They also reported that those who took a higher dose of the supplement had higher blood levels of SPMs.

In addition, fish oil supplementation stimulated the participants’ immune cells to attack harmful bacteria. The full findings of the study were published in the journal Circulation Research.

Your body makes SPMs by breaking down essential fatty acids, such as the omega-3s found in fish oil. The results of the study confirmed that taking supplements rich in those fatty acids helps raise SPM levels. SPMs stop inflammation once it has done its job of eliminating infection-causing microbes like bacteria.

It’s important to stop inflammation because although it sets the stage for the healing process in the event of an injury, it can also damage tissues if left unchecked. In fact, inflammation has been linked to several serious health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, diabetes and cancer.

Other foods that fight inflammation

Fish and fish oil supplements aren’t the only foods and supplements capable of reducing inflammation and lowering your risk of developing inflammatory diseases.

Keep inflammation under control and prevent inflammatory diseases by adding these foods to your diet:

  • Almonds – Almonds contain monounsaturated fats, the same heart-healthy fats found in olive oil. They are also an excellent source of vitamin E, manganese and magnesium. These nutrients help lower inflammation. Almonds are also known to aid in weight loss and lower heart disease risk.
  • Avocado – If you’re allergic to almonds, avocados have got you covered. Smooth, creamy avocados have lots of anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats as well. Avocados also give you other essential nutrients, such as fiber, magnesium, potassium and vitamins C, A and E.
  • Broccoli – Broccoli contains powerful compounds called glucosinolates. As antioxidants, glucosinolates help protect your cells from inflammation and cellular damage, which could lead to cancer. Broccoli contains nutrients that double as antioxidants, such as vitamins A and C.
  • Carrots – Swap unhealthy chips for carrot sticks. Beta-carotene, the red-orange pigment found in carrots, boasts antioxidant properties. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is a powerful antioxidant in its own right.
  • Berries – Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are naturally rich in compounds called polyphenols that have antioxidant properties. They also help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals.
  • Kale – Add some curly kale to your salad and grain bowls. Kale is brimming with vitamins A, C and K. It is also an excellent source of calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. Plus, like broccoli, kale boasts high amounts of glucosinolates.
  • Spinach – Not a fan of spinach? You’re missing out. This leafy green vegetable is naturally rich in lutein, which is related to vitamin A and beta-carotene. Eating more spinach is a good way of boosting your daily intake of iron, folate and vitamin K.
  • Olive oil – Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, arguably the healthiest diet in the world. Olive oil gives you plenty of monounsaturated fats, which help combat inflammation. Drizzle some olive oil over your vegetable side dishes or use it to make your salad dressings, marinades or pasta sauces.
  • Walnuts – These brain-shaped nuts give you lots of anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E.
  • Legumes – Navy beans, kidney beans, black beans and the like are rich in B vitamins. They also contain polyphenols that work as antioxidants.

Tips for reducing inflammation

Keeping inflammation under control entails more than just following a diet full of inflammation-busting foods. You should also adapt certain habits that deter inflammation. These include:

  • Exercise – Obesity is inextricably linked to inflammation. If you’ve been putting on weight lately, try to amp up your exercise routine. You don’t even have to go to the gym. Simple activities like walking, climbing the stairs, doing chores and gardening can make you sweat and burn off extra calories.
  • Manage stress – Given the right “dose,” stress can be a great motivator. But if your mind is always in a state of heightened stress, your body can take a hit as well. In fact, research shows that prolonged stress can lead to inflammation. Take breaks, meditate and do things that you like to manage stress naturally.
  • Get enough sleep – Lack of sleep can make you more sensitive to stress. It also makes you more likely to do things that lead to more stress or inflammation, such as squabbling or snacking on junk foods. Try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

Fish, fish oil supplements and several other anti-inflammatory foods can reduce inflammation, as well as your risk of developing inflammatory diseases. Incorporate them into your diet to keep inflammation at bay. However, beware of unregulated supplements and consult a holistic nutritionist to get the dosage right.

Sources:

MedicalNewsToday.com

AHAJournals.org

VeryWellHealth.com

EatingWell.com

RN.com

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