In days gone by your mother would make you take your daily dose of cod liver oil. Although that is no longer a usual ritual mom knew a thing about staying healthy.
If you follow any of the current health news you know there are good fats and bad fats. The good fats are polyunsaturated fats which contain essential fatty acids, or EFAs. These EFAs are divided into two groups, omega-6 and omega-3.
It was originally observed in the early 1970s that Eskimos in Greenland had low occurrences of heart disease and arthritis. This was in spite of the fact that their diets were high in fat. Research disclosed that the fats they consumed were eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The positive benefits for arthritis pain has led to substantial further research.
It is believed that omega-3 EFAs have significant anti-inflammatory properties and reduce symptoms of auto-immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
There have been twelve double blind studies involving patients with rheumatoid arthritis which tested the impact of omega-3 EFAs in fish oil. These studies varied from 12 to 52 weeks in duration and varied the amount of omega-3 in the form of fish oil from 1 to 7 grams. The results showed improvements in the arthritis pain symptoms such as the number of tender and swollen joints, grip strength and morning joint stiffness. Some of the studies also resulted in arthritis patients reducing the use of anti-inflammatory drug use.
It is important to note that these studies involving people with arthritis were also placebo controlled meaning that some of the participants took fish oil and some received a placebo, such as soy oil. Neither the arthritis patients nor the investigators knew which treatment was received by each patient.
In addition, further research has shown that omega-3 EFAs can stop production of collagen-degrading enzymes that break down joint cartilage which is the primary contributor to osteoarthritis.
It should be noted that there are drawbacks to high intake of fish oils These include:
- Reduced blood clotting ability which could lead to increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke. - Large doses can cause suppression of the immune system - Large doses can increase glucose levels in people with diabetes - Large doses can cause Nausea, diarrhea, belching
As far as cod liver oil, that is extracted from the liver of cod and is a good source of vitamins A and D whereas the essential fatty acids come from the fat of fish. The best fish for omega-3 EFAs are salmon, cod, mackerel, halibut, tuna, and herring.
So improve your arthritis symptoms by including more fish or fish oil supplements in your diet.