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Omega 3's: You can't live without them

I will now describe an unhealthy cell - perhaps in YOUR body - lacking sufficient Omega 3 fatty acids: It's dry, dessicated and puckered like an old apple doll and because of its rough, acylindrical surface , many of the hundreds of cell receptors living on the surface of the cell are hidden in crannies and crevices making them unavailable to messages from hormone signalling systems. Remember the docking scene in the movie 2001 where the space ship slowly moves towards the docking station and easily and elegantly clicks into place? That's what our hormone messengers are supposed to be doing on our cell surfaces. Well, there isn't any easy or elegant clicking in your docking system, because you lack the proper Omega 3's.

I will now describe a healthy cell - perhaps in YOUR body - fed with plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids: It's plump and round ( Draw a happy face on it now. ) and all of the cell receptors are eagerly awaiting hormone messengers for information exchange. Your cell is totally bling-bling and one fine operating piece of machinery because it is stuffed with Omega 3's.

Omega 3's - alpha linolenic acid - also known as EPA and DHA coming primarily from algae and cold water fish are incredible signalling molecules and have the potential to prevent many devastating diseases including heart disease and cancer. Why are the 3's so valuable? They reduce inflammation in the body, they help to regulate our immune function and are the primary communicators with every cell in our body.

The Omega 3's can actually change our physiology by changing the cell membrane and its ability to accept signalling. The healthy cell as I described above must retain that healthy plump shape in order to perform its job to perfection, which is to accomodate a hormone or a message. All of our receptors will become more sensitive with Omega 3's. For example, we can reduce depression because seratonin will bind better and we can normalize Metabolic Syndrome X and Type II Diabetes because insulin will bind better.

Here is just a partial list of diseases that adquate ingestion of Omega 3's can help:

Osteoporosis: Omega 3's increase membrane fluidity in the villi of the small intestine which is where we absorb all nutrients including our minerals and esp. all the calcium that the M.D.s are demanding that we take to "prevent" osteoporosis. (Can't prevent if we can't absorb. . .) Omega 3's also prohibit a bad hormone called PGE2, which is an inflammatory hormone, from breaking down our bone.

Cancer: Let me give you a few examples of how reducing inflammation through Omega 3's can help you resist cancer. There is a strong relationship between the activity of the COX2 inflammatory enzyme and cancer.

a) Cancer cells need fuel: Inflammation in the form of arachadonic acid is high-octane fuel for cancer cells.

b) Cancer cells need stickiness to stick to a cell: They like to hitch a ride on a sticky platelet surfboard to get to where they want to go and chornic inflammation creates more sticky platelets. Diabolically, once the cancer cell attaches itself to the sticky platelet surfboard, it makes the platelet even stickier thereby attracting more and more cancer cells and you are off to metastasis-land before you know it.

c) Cancer cells need to proliferate through a process called angiogenesis or the growth of new blood vessels through which they travel. If the body is chronically inflamed, angiogenesis will be stimulated and new blood vessel highways will quietly and stealthily create new routes for the cancer cells to travel. d) Inflammation inhibits apoptosis or cell death. Cell death is actually a natural part of the whole scheme of things - we want cell death - and all cells have cell death programmed into them except cancer cells. Since cancer cells tend to be immortal anyway, anapoptosis in this case is deadly.

Longevity: Here is a killer study: Researchers looked at two groups of mice: 1) calorie restricted/fish oil supplemented mice and 2) calorie restricted/corn oil supplemented mice. The calorie restricted/ fish oil mice lived an average life span of 645 days while the calorie restricted/corn oil mice lived for 494 days. They also experimented with what they called ad libidum or eating as much and whenever the mice wanted. The ad libidum/fish oil mice lived for only 345 days and the ad libidum/corn oil mice lived for only 242 days. This supports gerontologist Dr. Roy Walford's CRON (Calorie Restriction Optimal Nutrition) diet and suggests that if we eat healthily and restrict calories and take bunches of fish oil, we may live to be as old as Bob Hope.

Heart Disease: Omega 3's are just amazing for heart disease. The GISSI study in which participants took only 1 gram of fish oil per day, revealed these stats: Overall mortality was reduced by 20%, cardiovascular mortality was reduced by 30% and sudden death was reduced by 45%. Omega 3's are most famous for reducing CRP, a critical inflammatory marker in CVD and they also help ventricular rhythm preventing arrythmias; they thin the blood and are wonderful at lowering triglycerides.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Many studies have shown that the Omega 3's reduce the levels of inflamatory markers as much as 50-75% in synovial fluid. We can use Omega 3's not only for symptomatic relief but to prevent the destruction of joint tissue.

Autoimmune Diseases: Researchers studied mice which were injected with a bug called encephomyelitis which created (in mice) a multiple sclerosis mimic. These studies showed ample evidence that Omega 3's prevented progression of MS.

Alzheimers Disease: Cox2 inflammatory genes are rampant in any senile dementia esp. Alzheimers. The neurofibrillary tangles in the brain which are a hallmark of the disease all show signs of inflammatory debris. ( It has also been shown that patients with arthritis curiously have much lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease, probably due to their daily ingestion of aspirin.)

More: It also reduces inflammation in IBS and Colitis, reduces size and duration of psoriatic lesions, maintains the health of the retina which has more DHA than any other tissue in the body other than synaptoid tissue. At very high doses (4 g) Omega 3's can reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder and, as they are lipolytic, can help you burn fat.

My recommendations: If you are healthy, take 1 gram of combined EPA/DHA which translates to about 2 gel caps or 1t. of liquid. If you are not so healthy and suffer from any of the above-mentioned diseases, take up to 6 grams per day. I currently use Norweigan Naturals brand. Caveat: Some of us have tetchy gall bladders so we need to take a digestive enzyme with every fish oil cap. I take 1 Lipo-Complex containing oxbile, pancreatin and pepsin with every fish oil cap and it seems to calm down my fat phobe gall bladder, ie I don't burp up fish oil. I also suggest taking antioxidants with your fish oil. I take Designs for Health Three a Day and Ultimate Antioxidant formulas, one with each fish oil cap.

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