Arthritis, tendinitis, fibromyalgia, joint swelling, chronic pain, eczema, dry skin, weakness, decreased immunity, headaches, cardiac problems, behavioral disturbance, premenstrual syndrome, neurological damage and the inability to hold chiropractic adjustments, could be caused by the types of fats you consume and the type of diet you maintain.
In our society, it appears that there is a “fat phobia”, but in reality, many fats are essential for the proper function of the human body. As a matter of fact, there are certain fats that are so important they are referred to as essential fatty acids and cannot be produced within the body and require these fats from your foods. There are two basic essential fatty acids, the first is called alpha – linolenic acid (ALA) which is an omega 3 fat and the second, is linoleic acid (LA) which is an omega 6 fat. Most inflammatory problems usually are due to the imbalances of intake between these two fats. According to Lona Sandon RD, a professor and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, notes that most Americans have a ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 of 20:1 and that it really should be 4:1. No wonder why so many people suffer from excessive inflammation!
The October 2002 article in Biomedicine Pharmacotherapy, listed a number of benefits in improving these ratios. The risk of cardiovascular, autoimmune, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic inflammation, and cancer dramatically decreased.
OMEGA 3 (GOOD) VS. OMEGA 6 (BAD)
We can generalize our source of fats as “good” which decrease inflammation and “bad” that increase inflammation. The omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory and omega 6’s often are pro-inflammatory. So what are the “good” sources of fats? Here is the “good” list of foods to decrease inflammation: Salmon, tuna, halibut, herring, flaxseed wheat germ oil, canola oil, hemp seed, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans, kidney beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cantaloupe, spinach, Chinese cabbage, grape leaves, certain algae extracts, arugula, and many more.
Now the next list contains omega 6’s which generally increase inflammation. However, there are some omega 6’s that can decrease inflammation. We will list those that definitely increase inflammation.
Red meats, dairy products, mollusks and shellfish will all increase inflammation. These fats are characterized by a different omega 6 fat called arachidonic acid (AA ). This fatty acid is the main culprit in causing inflammation.
The other omega 6’s are linoleic and gamma linolenic acid (GLA). These are derived from non-processed corn, sunflower, safflower, peanut, borage, black currant, evening primrose and other vegetable oils.
Ultimately, all these fatty acids go through various chemical reactions to form fatty hormones that are referred to as prostaglandins, leukotrienes, thromboxanes, prostacyclin and resolvins. The main categories we will focus in on are the pro-inflammatory hormones prostaglandin 2 and leukotrienes. Both of these are derived from arachidonic acid (AA). This would be your dairy and red meat sources.
There are several things that encourage the production of these inflammatory hormones. They are, smoking, alcohol, low protein diet, heavy metal toxicity, aging, stress, thyroid hormone, increased temperature, saturated fats and hydrogenated /partially hydrogenated oils.
HYDROGENATED OILS/TRANS FATS – WATCH OUT!!
These are artificially created oils produced by a process called hydrogenation., they are also known as trans fats. These fats were created by the food industry to increase shelf life and allow normal fats to become solid rather than liquid at room temperature. These are found in so many of our snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, breads, commercial oils, coffee creamers, ice cream, and margarine products. Look at labels and you will be shocked at how many of these products have trans fats. Even some of the products that tout 0grams of trans fats, contain trans fats.
These fats are shaped totally different from naturally occurring fats and were never designed for our bodies to handle properly. These fats block the anti-inflammatory prostaglandin 1& 3 and block the normal conversion of cholesterol in the liver leading to increased blood cholesterol.
A comprehensive study in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 reported a strong and reliable connection between trans fats and cardiovascular disease. Trans fats also promote blood clotting.
MORE ON TRANS FATS
These fats also stiffen the cell membranes due to their different molecular structure and may effect your overall flexibility. We will list some other effects of trans fats :
- Raises “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lowers “good” cholesterol (HDL).
- Increases artery plaquing.
- Associated with prostate cancer.
- Results in immune system imbalances.
- Some connections with Alzheimers disease
- Associated with diabetes and obesity.
These fats have been banned in many European countries and the State of California has banned the use of these fats in restaurants. It takes about 52 days for about half of the trans fats you ate to be removed from your body and normal fats take 18 days.
ASPIRIN, ADVIL, TYLENOL, NSAIDS
If you find yourself taking any of these medications and find significant relief …. YOU DEFINITELY HAVE AN ESSENTIAL FATTY ACID IMBALANCE. Many of these compounds actually block the production of the proinflammatory prostaglandins that are derived from the “bad” omega 6 fats. However, they also block the anti-inflammatory “good” omega 3 fats and some of the “good” omega 6 fats as well. This is the reason why there are so many side effects to these medications as they do not discriminate against any of the three main classes of prostaglandins. Taking any of these for any length of time could results in gastric ulcers, kidney and liver problems. So, they really should not be treated like “candy” even though they may be available over the counter.
For short term relief, they may be appropriate, but it is much better to eat better fats and a healthier diet. You may find that you do not need to grab that medication like you did before.
LEUKOTRIENES – ANOTHER BAD HOMBRE
Leukotrienes (LT) are another group of fatty hormones derived from arachidonic acid (AA) which comes from red meats and dairy. These hormones are released by some of your white blood cells and often are involved in asthma and allergies. They can lead to constriction of the bronchioles, dilation of blood vessels, swelling, mucous secretion and increased white cell movement to the area of LT production. Usually corticosteroids or medications such as Singulair help with excess LT production.
However, a natural way of correcting some of these imbalances is to avoid the “bad” fats, use fish oils, zinc, glutathione, selenium, quercitin, aloe or high dose of vitamin E.
OTHER DIETARY CONSIDERATIONS AND HELP
To help with reducing the proinflammatory prostaglandins it is important to also consider other nutrients and make dietary changes such as:
- Balance your blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Higher protein diet
- Increase minerals such as calcium, zinc and magnesium.
- Increased levels of vitamin B-6 and B-3
- Increased antioxidant levels.
- Decrease stress levels.
In order to help with balancing your body we can:
- Order blood tests that measure essential fatty acids.
- Utilize applied kinesiology techniques that reveal fatty acid imbalances, indicate the proper fats and other helpful nutrients to decrease inflammation and get healthy.