Critical Women’s Health Update: Omega 3s Could Alleviate Symptoms
By Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES
Endometriosis is one of the most common gynecological problems that affects women of childbearing age.
Women, between the ages of 13 and 50, commonly experience a thickening and a shedding of their endometrial cells, every month.
Referred to as their "period" or "PMS," this time of the month is associated with bleeding, pain, and cramping.
This often affects the tissues lining the uterus.
However, endometriosis is characterized by the endometrial cells forming in other areas of the body.
Tissue growth in other areas of the body is commonly referred to as “implants."
Common areas for growth are:
• The ovaries
• The fallopian tubes
• The pelvic region
• The lower abdominal region
• And in between the rectum and the uterus (called the pouch of Douglas)
These implants are mostly benign and very rarely do they grow into cancerous cells.
The implants, like all endothelial tissue, are stimulated by the female sex hormone, estrogen.
Stimulating the implants cause the cells to thicken and shed, similar to normal endometrial cells.
The shedding is then stored in the woman’s body.
In some cases, the implants can grow together (adhesion) causing severe pain, inflammation, and the growth of cysts on other tissue and organs.
Endometriosis can lead to infertility, especially if tissue growth is around the ovaries or the fallopian tubes.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Endometriosis
Omega-3 fatty acids can improve the omega-3:omega-6 ratio.
Increased omega-6 levels could lead to increased inflammation in your body.
In the majority of Western diets, there is an overabundance of omega-6 fatty acids and generally, lower levels of omega-3s.
Omega-3 fatty acids compete for the same enzyme as omega-6 fatty acids.
If the omega-6 fats win, the body increases the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and leukotrines.
However if the omega-3s win, they produce less inflammatory cells potentially lowering inflammation in your body.
This could benefit many women who suffer from endometriosis.
In fact, researchers wanted to see if omega-3 fatty acids altered the fatty acid content of “implants,” and if it led to reduced symptoms associated with endometriosis.
In endometriosis, the interstitium is a common area for inflammation.
This can be an area where omega-3 fatty acids concentration could play a large role in alleviating endometriosis symptoms.
The researchers fed rats a diet rich in EPA, one component of the omega-3 fatty acids family, or linoleic acid.
They found that the rats fed the EPA diet, showed higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in the interstitium.
They also noticed decreased levels of pro-inflammatory cells when the omega-3 concentration was higher.
They concluded that the omega-3 fatty acid, EPA, could be a good strategy for dealing with endometriosis symptoms.
More research is needed, but this could be a good starting point for omega-3 fatty acids and endometriosis.
The power of Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are powerful inflammation fighters.
These powerful fatty acids according to certain clinical research could reduce inflammation, and could alleviate common symptoms associated with endometriosis.
Including more fish into your daily nutrition plan, or including a Krill oil supplement, could increase your concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids; and, based on current research could possibly lead to an improvement in the quality of life for women who suffer from endometriosis.
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Netsu, S. Konno, R. Odagiri, K. Soma, M. Fujiwara, H. Suzuki, M. Oral eicosapentaenoic acid supplementation as possible therapy for endometriosis. Fertility and Sterility. 2008. Vol. 90(4):pp. 1496-1502.
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