If you’re doctor is telling you to take fish oil, you’d do well to hide your “yuck” face and follow her advice. Fish oil contains fatty acids that have been shown to reduce inflammation -- a factor in many of the ailments facing the vastly overweight American public. Inflammation plays a role in both heart disease and obesity. If you want to improve your chances of avoiding a heart attack or stroke, hold your nose and take your fish oil.
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Inflammation sounds like a bad thing, but it’s actually a natural process used by your immune system to fight infection and heal injury. When pathogens or trauma inflict damage to your body, your immune system responds by releasing histamine, which directs fluids to the affected area. This fluid contains white blood cells, your body’s microscopic warriors, that fight to keep you healthy. Inflammation also brings with it swelling, pain and heat; if it becomes prolonged or chronic, it can cause health problems.
Omega Fatty Acids
Two polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-6 and omega-3, play a role in inflammation. Omega-6 increases it. Omega-3 reduces it. The problem is that Americans eat far more foods that contain omega-6 fatty acid -- between 10 and 30 times more, according to Sabrina Candelaria of the University of Miami Health System. By decreasing your consumption of omega-6 rich foods and increasing your omega-3 intake, you can decrease inflammation in your body. That’s where fish oil comes in -- it’s a rich source of omega-3.
Effects of Fish Oil
Fish oil supplements have demonstrated the ability to decrease joint pain in cases of rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory disease. This effect even decreases the need for anti-inflammatory drugs in some patients, according to the Linus Pauling Foundation. The anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease the risk of heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Be cautious about fish oil dosing. Too much of this good thing can increase bleeding, due to fish oil’s effect on blood platelets -- it prevents them from clumping to form a blood clot. If you take more than 3 grams of fish oil daily it can increase your risk of bleeding. High doses of fish oil are contraindicated for those with bleeding disorders, or who are already taking blood-thinning medications. The adequate intake of fish oil for male adults is 1.6 grams per day, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. For women the adequate intake is 1.1 grams per day. Do not take larger dosages without consulting your doctor.