Posts tagged ‘omega-3’

Tackling Inflammation with Supplements

178574086By Jennifer Morganti, ND

You can’t feel it and you can’t see it, but inflammation has an insidious and damaging effect that can cause some serious health issues. Inflammation is at the root cause of joint pain and arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, autoimmune diseases, intestinal conditions, and a long list of other problems. The typical American diet, lacking omega-3 fatty acids and chockfull of sugar and bad fats, fans the fire for inflammation, along with food allergies and toxic burdens. Addressing these concerns by eliminating junk foods, identifying food allergies, and detoxing are all important steps to start dampening inflammation. There are also some key supplements you can incorporate to see a big boost in your health.

Curcumin, derived from the Indian spice turmeric, is one of the top-selling anti-inflammatory supplements, and with good reason. A variety of research has shown that it reduces key inflammatory substances, such as COX-2 and certain cytokines that cause pain, in a method similar to anti-inflammatory medications without the side effects. It crosses the blood-brain-barrier and has been shown in animal studies to aid in digestion of amyloid plaques, the offender implicated in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). As possible proof, in India, where curry consumption is significant, there are much lower rates of AD than in the U.S.

Magnesium is another key nutrient for lowering chronic inflammation, supported by the fact that it lowers C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a marker for systemic inflammation, and is an important predictor for cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis. In a large study, people who had low magnesium intake (from food and supplements) were found to be 40% more likely to have elevated CRP levels. It is not clear how magnesium minimizes inflammation; however, scientists do know that magnesium is a co-factor critical to many biochemical pathways, so it may be that optimal functioning of metabolic pathways keeps inflammation in check.

One last, but possibly most important recommendation is omega-3 oil. The American diet is typically severely deficient in this type of fat, and overloaded with omega 6, 9, and bad fats such as saturated and trans fats. This resulting imbalance has an exponentially-damaging effect by constantly pushing a pro-inflammatory system. The only way to rebalance the system is reduce the dominant fats, and increase omega-3 intake. Fish oil is the most common source of omega-3, but there are other sources such as flax seed oil and krill. People with omega-3 deficiencies commonly experience dry skin, dry scalp, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, or heart disease.

By addressing inflammation through diet, lifestyle, and supplementation, you could potentially be aiding in the prevention of dozens of health ailments.

November 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm Leave a comment

Ask the Wellness Educator – Questioning Joint Pain

Questioning Joint Pain 
This spring I have vowed to exercise more and get in shape for summer activities with my family. But I realize that pain in my knee has been holding me back and making me reluctant to even go for a walk. What supplements are the most effective for alleviating pain and possibly preventing more joint degeneration as I get older?
~C.P., New York 

Dr. Jen’s Answer: 
Arthritis and chronic joint symptoms are some of the most common complaints in the US, affecting about one of every three adults. There are two forms of arthritis: Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is the more common of the two forms and may be caused by overuse of the joint, or by other predisposing factors such as trauma, congenital abnormalities, crystal deposition (such as in gout), or other inflammatory diseases. 

Fortunately, there is a long list of effective supplements to choose from in the category of joint health. Omega-3 fatty acids are the foundation for decreasing inflammation associated with joint pain, and are therefore at the top of my list. Fish, krill, sardines, algae, flax, and hemp oil are good choices that offer omega-3 fatty acids; be sure to take in adequate dosages, which vary by the type of oil. 

Glucosamine is another foundation for joint health, as it helps in the regeneration of cartilage. Numerous studies using 500 mg of glucosamine sulfate three times a day have shown significant improvement in relieving symptoms of OA, most, even better than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and with fewer side effects. Glucosamine should be used for at least two months to truly determine if this supplement will be beneficial.

Boswellia is an Ayurvedic herb that has been studied for its anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to block some key inflammatory compounds produced by the body, to help improve joint pain, respiratory conditions, gastrointestinal inflammation, and other conditions related to inflammation. In arthritis-related research, it is recommended to take at least 450 mg daily, and up to 1,200 mg can be taken quite safely.

There are many other options for joint pain that aren’t covered in this response, but I generally recommend to give most joint products a few weeks to a month to determine if they are effective for you. Add in one new product at a time to measure its effectiveness, and if it isn’t the right one for you after the first bottle, then try something else. For more personalized recommendations, call a NEEDS wellness educator at 800-634-1380.

May 30, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

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