- Decreased inflammation
Inflammation is the immune system’s way of protecting us from foreign invaders, and the way the body heals damaged tissue. Some inflammation can be expected, such as swelling after an injury. This is good inflammation – the body is doing what it is supposed to do to heal itself. However, chronic inflammation is a different story. It occurs when white blood cells overstay their welcome and release chemicals that begin to destroy surrounding tissue instead of saving it. This makes chronic inflammation a bad thing!
There is evidence that the EPA and DHA in fish oil suppresses inflammatory cytokines, which tells white blood cells to stop production. This makes fish oil a good alternative to medications for pain relief and inflammation.
- Decreased pain
Pain is the alarm that our body uses to make us aware that something is not working correctly so we do not do further harm to ourselves. That’s why after intense exercise you will be sore – your body is trying to tell you that it needs a chance to heal and repair the muscles that were broken down during the exercise period. EPA and DHA have both been shown to decrease pain by blocking pain signaling.
A study of 36 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and swelling who were taking fish oil examined the level of DHA and EPA in the blood and in the joint fluid. What they found was that there was a high correlation of decreased pain in those who had higher amounts of omega-3’s in their blood and synovial fluid. Fish oil supplementation also was shown to provide relief from general musculoskeletal pain, neck, and back pain, and pain from the discs in the back.
- Decreased cartilage breakdown
Cartilage is a connective tissue composed of chondrocytes that produce materials that give cartilage its elastic, flexible, yet durable and rigid structure. Cartilage has no blood vessels or nerves, and gets nutrients by motion, specifically compression and bending. Because of the lack of blood supply, the healing, and repair process is much slower compared to other tissues.
Fish oil can be helpful in reducing the impact of enzymes and chemicals that destroy cartilage. In one study scientists injected EPA into joints with osteoarthritis (OA) and found that it prevented further progression of OA.
- Increased bone health
While bone is largely made up of minerals, protein, and vitamins, essential fatty acids have also been shown to play an important role in our bones’ overall health.
Omega 3s have been shown to alter calcium loss, increase bone building cells, and decrease cells that breakdown bone Fish oil is also being studied for its potential benefits for osteoporosis and bone loss prevention. One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 126 postmenopausal women found that bone turnover decreased with omega 3 supplementation.
The benefits are clear! Always take a high quality fish oil. Look for brands that follow good manufacturing practices (GMP) and maintain rigorous testing to ensure the highest levels of quality. You should not burp and have a fishy taste if your fish oil is of high quality.