Four months of omega-3 supplementation decreased one protein in the blood that signals the presence of inflammation by an average of more than 10 per cent, and led to a modest decrease in one other inflammation marker. In comparison, participants taking placebos as a group saw average increases of 36 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, of those same markers.
Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous conditions, including coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the frailty and functional decline that can accompany aging.
Study participants took either 2.5 grams or 1.25 grams of active omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in their supplements. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are considered “good fats” that, when consumed in proper quantities, are associated with a variety of health benefits. Study participants taking a placebo consumed pills containing less than 2 teaspoons per day of a mix of oils representing a typical American’s daily dietary oil intake.
“Omega-3 fatty acids may be both protective so that inflammation does not go up, as well as therapeutic by helping inflammation go down,” said lead author of the study Doctor Jan Kiecolt-Glaser of the Ohio State University.
“This is the first study to show that omega-3 supplementation leads to changes in inflammatory markers in the blood in overweight but otherwise healthy people. In terms of regulating inflammation when people are already healthy, this is an important study, in that it suggests one way to keep them healthy.”
The scientists recruited 138 adults - 45 men and 93 women - who were in good health, but who were either overweight or obese and lived sedentary lives. Their average age was 51 years. Based on body mass index, a measure of weight relative to height, 91 per cent of the participants were overweight and 47 per cent were obese. Inflammation tends to accompany excess body fat, so the researchers recruited participants who were most likely high in pro-inflammatory blood compounds at the beginning of the study.
“We wanted to have enough room to see a downward trend. Most other trials testing the effects of omega-3 supplements on inflammation used people who were seriously diseased or skinny and healthy,” said Kiecolt-Glaser. “You can see results in people with serious diseases, but there is a lot of other noise in that system. We wanted to make sure we were studying results in people who were fairly fit but who were not exercising, because exercise can clearly lower inflammation.”
MEDICA.de; Source: Ohio State University