Monday, June 8, 2009

More on omega-3 fatty acids...

It seems as though there is a new study touting the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (h/t Futurepundit). This is report trying to mimic the diet of early humans with a lower ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids (ω is the greek letter omega). Based on anthropological evidence, it's surmised that the diet of early humans maintained a lower ω-3:ω-6 ratio (1:2). Changes in dietary habits have produced a currently estimated ratio of 1:10. Coincident with those changes in dietary habits are increases in autoimmune diseases, increased systemic inflammation, and diabetes leading these groups, from Wake Forest and Harvard, to think there is a relationship between the immune system and the ratio of ω-3:ω-6 consumed.

In order to test this hypothesis, they took a group of individuals (27) and had them eat a controlled diet with a lowered ω-3-ω6 ratio for one week. After that first week, they continued on fish oil and borage oil supplements for an additional four weeks. They then compared blood tests taken at the beginning and at the end of the study. They looked the gene levels of many immune signals and cytokines and found that many of the genes that promote inflammation responses had markedly lower levels after the 5 weeks of supplementation. One of the genes involved is phophatidyl-inositol-3 kinase (PI3K), a gene involved in the "critical early steps in autoimmune and allergic inflammation responses."

While this study is one of the first of its kind it appears that lowering the ratio of ω-3-ω6 can help in reducing inflammation. Look for good, solid supplements like this one and consume more fish.

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