Fish Oil has become one of the newest “old” remedies around. New research from Ohio State University shows that fish oil decreases anxiety and inflammation, even in young, healthy medical students. For those in the know, it’s thrilling when current research supports ancient cultural practices and diets.
When I first heard about chronic inflammation 5 years ago, I asked, “so what?” Since then, medical research has shown what cultural medicines understand; low-level chronic inflammation, connected to both state of mind and diet, links to almost all pain and disease. Chronic inflammation not only depletes our body’s resources, undermining health, but also inhibits healing chemicals like oxytocin, the same ones responsible for emotional well-being. Low level inflammation increases arthritis, heart disease, cancer, inhibits clear thinking and contributes to headaches and Crohn’s, to name a few.
By ignoring inflammation’s contribution to disease, we rely upon expensive pharmaceuticals with dangerous side effects. Natural for acute injuries, inflammation causes more harm than good when caused by internal stress, poor nutrition and emotional isolation. The body’s version of the Cold War, low-level inflammation represents an unrelenting response to a potential threat. A sustained military buildup that increases physical pressure and stress, depletes resources, promotes anxiety, and creates pain, stiffness and fatigue. We can’t pinpoint what’s wrong; we only know something isn’t right.
This low-level inflammation links to both internal and external stressors. Internally, living in a state of fight or flight (and with deadlines, high or unrealistic expectations and conflicting messages who isn’t?), our body tenses shoulders, abdomens, or old injuries. After awhile, this restricts, irritates, pinches, numbs and leaves us feeling sore and tired. On a systemic level, feeling emotionally stressed and lonely inhibits our healing process while feeling relaxed and connected encourages it.
Externally, our poor choices (also a stress response), make things worse. Processed foods, lack of fiber, nutrients and adequate hydration, alcohol, over or under exercise, pharmaceuticals… all threaten our body’s sense of health and well-being. This physical distress triggers whole body inflammation, contributing to specific diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illness. Ironically, reducing inflammation through fish oil and other healthy measures also reduce the stressors (like emotional eating or physical pain) that create inflammation. One healthy choice impacts the entire wellness cycle.
So, if fish oil reduces anxiety and inflammation in young, healthy college students, we might want to start keeping some next to our pain drugs and wine glasses.
References: Ohio State University (2011, August 1). Omega-3 reduces anxiety and inflammation in healthy students, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 10, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2011/07/110713121313.htm
Dr Bob: Thanks so much Rita for this great article. Professionals working together to strengthen the health knowledge of patients is…priceless!
You can find Rita at inspiremassage.com