How does fish oil control and influence inflammation?
Inflammation has a lot to do with a group of molecules called Eicosanoids. Bear with me – the next few paragraphs are going to be a bit technical.
What’s an Eicosanoid?
Eicosanoids are signaling molecules made from Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats.
- Eicosanoids made from EPA and DHA Omega-3 are mostly anti-inflammatory (the good stuff.)
- Eicosanoids made from Omega-6 can be either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory.
There are dozens of drugs (and billions of dollars) made by pharmaceutical companies that control eicosanoids in your body. Aspirin is a simple example. There are medicines for allergy, blood pressure and even erectile dysfunction that work by controlling eicosanoids.
Vegetable & Seed Oils – why they hurt (literally!)
And you have a lot of control over what kinds of eicosanoids your body makes by simply controlling what you eat or don’t. Your food really IS your medicine.
Let’s say you just ate a super-sized bag of french fries that were fried in corn or soy oil. You may not realize it, but you just got a heaping dose of Omega-6 fats, all that your body needs for weeks.
But the problem is you may have had a week’s supply of Omega-6 for breakfast and another week’s supply the night before at dinner.
This is not an imaginary scenario. The average American eats about 20 times more Omega-6 than he or she needs. And this has a huge impact on the eicosanoids coursing through your body.
So are all Omega-6 oils bad for you?
No. Certainly not. Omega-6 fats are still essential for survival.
The Omega-6 in most vegetable seed oils is Linoleic Acid (LA).
LA gets converted by enzymes to Gamma-Linoleic Acid or GLA. So far so good – because GLA is not bad for you and GLA does not produce (as far as we know) any of the major inflammatory eicosanoids.
Then, another enzyme converts GLA to Dihomo Gamma-Linoleic Acid or DGLA. Again, so far so good.
After DGLA, there is a fork in the road. This is where things get ugly.
DGLA can go one of two ways. One fork in the road turns DGLA into good eicosanoids that control insulin and blood clotting etc. And the other fork goes to Arachidonic Acid or AA. The enzyme that converts DGLA into AA is called delta-5-desaturase. This enzyme sounds like a military rocket, but no, it’s an enzyme that has a lot to do with how miserable you might feel.
A is a scary one. You need it in very small quantities but get a little more than you need and you’ve got problems! This is because AA get converted into at least a dozen ‘bad’ eicosanoids that can cause pain and inflammation, and decreased blood flow, just to name a few.
So eating foods cooked in vegetable seed oils can create a whole bunch of AA in your body. And then discomfort and misery are never too far behind.
There are only two things you can do at that point:
- Cut back drastically on eating anything that’s come near corn oil or soy (vegetable) oils.
- Increase EPA Omega-3 consumption.
Why more EPA Omega-3?
This is the beauty of taking EPA. EPA competes with AA. Both EPA and AA fight for the same enzyme, delta-5-desaturase.
Technically speaking, EPA Omega-3 acts as a feedback inhibitor of delta-5-desaturase. So the more EPA you have in your body, the less delta-5-desaturase enzyme there is to convert DGLA into AA.
More EPA from fish oil = less AA = less inflammation.
But don’t use this as an excuse to eat a whole bottle of fish oil pills! Your first step should be to reduce Omega-6 in your diet. This will make Omega-3 more effective. And keep EPA consumption to less than 3000 or 4000 mg per day.
How Do I get more EPA in My Diet?
Fish are often the first answer; however fish are simply carriers of EPA Omega-3. The EPA is formed in marine algae (phytoplankton). Eating live marine algae is the most efficient way to absorb EPA quickly into your body. Live PhytOriginal has the recommended daily dose of Omega-3 EPA and is completely natural. The species of phytoplankton, Nannochloropsis ocualta, they culture is extremely high in EPA. In addition it has very high levels of proline, and amino acid that is a building block to all tendons, cartilage and muscles.
What about DHA?
Well, DHA is not a feedback inhibitor of delta-5-desaturase, as far as we know. So it does not directly provide that benefit. However, if you only take DHA supplements, say from algae, your body will convert some DHA into EPA.
Will Olive oil have the same negative effect as Corn or Soy oil?
No. Olive oil contains monounsaturated (omega-9) fats, which are neutral. They do not get converted to good or bad eicosanoids. Same goes for healthy saturated fats like Coconut oil.
For what it’s worth, I cook only with Olive or Coconut oil. Olive has 9% Omega-6 while Coconut oil is virtually free of Omega-6 at 2%. If you want to reduce Omega-6 in your diet, look into Coconut oil.
Special Thanks to Vin Kutty