Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Can What You Eat Determine How Much Pain You Feel?
It is well documented that what you eat can determine how healthy or unhealthy you are. However, can what you eat determine how much pain you feel when the body is injured? Certain foods will facilitate the healing process and other foods can actually exacerbate a painful condition. One of the foods that, in large doses, eventually will break down into a component known as Prostaglandin E2 is Omega 6 fatty acid.
Omega 6 fatty acids are one of the essential fatty acids. They are necessary for normal hormone production and proper cellular function. Another essential fatty acid is known as Omega 3. The ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids should be 1:1. Even if your consumption of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fax Acids goes as high as 4:1, it can still be considered a safe range. However, the average American has as high as a 40:1 ratio.
When the body has an excess amount of Omega 6 fatty acids it will convert those excess Acids into prostaglandin E2. Prostaglandin E2 causes inflammation, which will irritate nerves and increase pain. Prostaglandin E2 is the biological equivalent of putting gas on fire. The sources of Omega 6 fatty acids may be surprising. Corn Oil, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Cottonseed Oil and even Soybean Oil have a very high Omega 6 fatty acid contents relative to their Omega 3 fatty acid levels. Other sources of Omega 6 fatty acids are meat and dairy products. As you increase your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids they will block the chain of events which cause inflammation and thus cause a decrease in pain. There are enzymes in the body called Cox enzymes. These enzymes facilitate inflammation. Omega 3 fatty acids block the Cox enzymes very much like many pain killing medications. Once the Cox enzymes are blocked, inflammation is greatly limited and thus the pain is greatly reduced or eliminated. Good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are Flaxseed oil, Walnut Oil and Evening Primrose Oil.
Another very good source of Omega 3 fatty acids are fish oils. However, there is a major downside of using fish oil. Most fish oils contain Mercury. Mercury waste byproducts produced by man are oftentimes dumped into the waters near the shore. Small fish will ingest this Mercury. The smaller fish will in turn be eaten by larger fish and these fish by still larger fish. When the oil is extracted from large fish it oftentimes will contain Mercury. Mercury is a highly toxic metal. So by eating fish oil you run the risk of ingesting Mercury. Another possible downside of using fish oil is that fish oil may not contain high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. If the fish is farm raised it will not contain very high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. The reason is that the Omega 3 fatty acids come from plankton. the small fish eat the plankton, which contains the Omega 3 fatty acids, the bigger fish eat them and still bigger fish eat them. This is how fish oils get their high content of Omega 3 fatty acids. Farm raised fish do not eat plankton for smaller plankton eating fish, so they do not contain significant levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids also help to build healthy cells in the body, especially brain cells. The problem in the standard American diet is that we eat way too much of the bad fats and not nearly enough of the good fats. By avoiding foods that are high in Omega 6 fatty acids (this group also includes all hydrogenated oils) and by increasing our intake of Omega 3 fatty acids we will not only be healthier, we may also be able to help reduce or eliminate much of our pain.