(NaturalNews) As early as the 1950s, physicians have been advertising the many benefits that omega-3 fatty acids add to one's health, but details of the exact mechanism by which it benefits the human body have largely been guesswork. The cause and effect relationship between levels of consumed omega-3s and conditions like arthritis, eczema, and coronary heart disease is clearly visible, but at a cellular level, understanding of how these processes defend against inflammation has been poorly understood. Researchers are now looking at the cellular processes associated with the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.
Tested and true
The main method of staunching these problems lies in the anti-inflammatory powers of omega-3s. The oils are abundant in certain types of oily fish, like cod and sardines, hence the long-standing folk remedy of cod liver oil, used both as a treatment for almost any illness, and as a daily preventative maintenance, much to the displeasure of children.
Studies from the 1980s started taking a hard look at culture-specific illnesses, and examining what other cultures were doing differently that prevented them from having the same illnesses. The study of the dietary practices of Alaskan Inuit indicated that their diet, which was uniquely free of what the western diet considers "health foods," and largely consisted of animal products, which were consumed in their raw form.
More than one way to get it right
More contemporary research shows that a shift away from the traditional Inuit diet and adoption of more processed, prepackaged western foods corresponded to an increase in disease morbidity, despite the fact that the traditional diet is already high in animal fats. Where the traditional diet relies on fish oils for fat content, the new replacement uses sources such as beef or pork, which has repeatedly been shown to increase inflammation instead of reducing it.
Previous studies purported that the fish portion of the Inuit diet protected them from cardiovascular disease, but the gradual integration of western foods shows otherwise. Their superior heart health was due to what they were excluding from their diets as much as what they were including. The gradual shift included an increase in triglycerides, blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol.
The chemistry of the domino effect
The new study, which examines the impact at a cellular level, has found that omega-3 fatty acids behave in much the same way as over-the-counter painkillers, stopping the cyclooxygenase enzyme from triggering the release of prostaglandin hormones, some of which are known for irritating inflammatory conditions. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in large amounts in both meats and vegetable derived cooking oils. By contrast, plants like hemp and flax are exceptionally high in omega-3s.
About the author: Raw Michelle is a natural health blogger and researcher, sharing her passions with others, using the Internet as her medium. She discusses topics in a straight forward way in hopes to help people from all walks of life achieve optimal health and well-being. She has authored and published hundreds of articles on topics such as the raw food diet and green living in general.