It’s Not Just Your Heart – 10 Other Unbelievable Benefits Of Fish Oil
Omega 3 fish oil is an amazing supplement, isn’t it?
Unlike many of the unnecessary supplements on the market, it has the backing of top scientists and health care professionals worldwide.
If you’ve read even one article about this supplement, you probably know its most renowned health benefits: better heart health, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure etc.
But fortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other body parts and aspects of health that are positively affected when you regularly take this amazing supplement.
Brace yourself, because you’re about to realize 10 other unbelievable benefits of fish oil. But first… a disclaimer…
What is said here isn’t FDA approved, or sanctioned by the American Cancer Society or the American Medical Association. Neither is it medical advice.
However, you’d be doing your health a huge disservice by not incorporating an omega-3 fish oil supplement in your daily diet and thus missing out on its MASSIVE anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits.
The human brain is almost 60% fat and so has a voracious appetite for fat especially healthy fats. Omega-3 fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine your brain’s integrity and ability to perform. Clinical observation studies have shown where deficiencies in omega-3s have impaired brain performance and can cause diseases.
Most of the brain’s growth is completed by 5-6 years of age. The docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) part of omega -3s in particular, is important for the brain and for optimum functional maturation of the retina and visual cortex during the fetal and postnatal period.
The docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) part of omega -3s in particular, is important for the brain and for optimum functional maturation of the retina and visual cortex during the fetal and postnatal period.
So if you are about to become a dad, advising your wife or girlfriend to take omega-3 during pregnancy would be great for the baby. Of course, have her consult her physician before she does so.
Memory and emotional conditions including attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD), anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, mood swings and schizophrenia have also reported being improved with a greater intake of omega-3s. Also, degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease have reported being more common in individuals who are lacking in omega 3s.
Ernst J. Schaefer, M.D., of the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and his colleagues, analyzed the blood samples of a group of 899 men who were free of dementia at the beginning of the study. They were able to show that those with higher levels of DHA in their blood had a 47% lower chance of developing dementia and a 39% lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease when compared to patients with lower levels.
b. Protection For The Eyes
Take a mini survey of sorts among my family and friends. Ask them; “If in life you could choose one body part that under no circumstances would you lose the use of, what would it be? Most likely, the answer given would be the “eyes”.
People can more easily accept being unable to walk, talk or hear but being unable to see is an extremely hard condition to accept and live with.
Fish oil is known to reduce the inflammation associated with the number one cause of blindness – age related macular degeneration (AMD). About 9 million Americans aged 40 and older show signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Around 7.3 million more people have an early form of this potentially vision-robbing disease.
There was a study conducted by Australian researchers Brian Chua, BSc, MBBS, MPH, of the University of Sydney’s ophthalmology department. Chua and his colleagues studied nearly 2,900 people aged 49 and older (average age: 63-65 years).
Participants completed dietary questionnaires; five years later, they got special photographs of their retinas to screen for AMD. Participants who reported eating at least one weekly serving of fish were 40% less likely to develop early-stage AMD during the study, compared to those who reported eating fish less than once a month or not at all.
The study also showed that those who ate fish frequently (at least three times weekly) were also less likely to have late-stage AMD.
Now, these studies don’t prove that eating fish (omega-3s) will prevent AMD. But it does show that inflammation (caused by things such as smoking and a poor diet) are serious AMD risk factors.
Fortunately, consuming omega 3 is an awesome way to reduce inflammation.
c. Lose Body Fat
First off a caveat. Don’t expect to take fish oil and just see body fat melt off. Having a good fitness regime such as the one here, consuming a nutritious diet in addition to omega 3 supplementation are ideal requirements for fat loss.
That said, a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition investigated the effect of fish oil supplements on healthy male and female adults. The fish oil supplements contained 1,600 milligrams of EPA and 800 milligrams of DHA.
After six weeks, the fish oil decreased fat and cortisol (a stress hormone) and increased muscle mass. Fish oil caused a slight increase in caloric expenditure and fat burning compared to a placebo. You can read the study here.
By various methods, fish oil assists your body to lose fat. It encourages fat cells to make more leptin (the I’m full hormone) and adiponectin (anti-diabetic, anti-clogged artery hormone).
The result is that (a) your body becomes more sensitive to leptin and you’re less likely to over eat and (b) the number of blood vessels that feed fat cells are reduced, causing the death of the fat cells.
Omega-3s increase the number of mitochondria in the fat cells and thus significantly improves the body’s efficiency in burning fat and oxygen to make energy. Hence, metabolism is improved.
Here’s the kicker – omega-3s help to shield the mitochondria from free radical damage (the aging of cells) while the mitochondria make more energy. This is a win-win because when you exercise, you actually release more free radicals in the body – but omega 3s help to buffer the damage.
d. Fights Stress & Builds Muscle
Stress and muscle are interconnected. Smoking, a diet consisting of junk food and chronic lack of sleep will cause an excess of cortisol, the stress hormone in the body. This hormone has a catabolic effect; it breaks down protein and hence muscle and causes fat to accumulate.
In effect, if you have a sustained excess of cortisol in your body, you’re likely to end up looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy. You’ll also become more susceptible to metabolic syndrome – that is, obesity and the catastrophic chain of events that are likely to follow; such as diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and hypertension.
You’ll also become more susceptible to metabolic syndrome – that is, obesity and the catastrophic chain of events that are likely to follow; such as diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and hypertension.
However, the anti-inflammatory effects of omega 3 decreases cortisol thus enabling growth hormone to do its job by shifting over to the conservation and laying down of protein in the muscle and tissue.
Some experts believe omega 3 has an anabolic effect. In a study, middle-aged adults that consumed 4 grams of fish oil a day were found to have increased protein synthesis, producing a muscle building effect.
The mTOR pathway that produces muscle growth was enhanced by 30%.
e. Increases Insulin Sensitivity
Studies have shown that people on omega-3s are less likely to get type 2 diabetes.
The adiponectin hormone, which is beneficial to glucose regulation and inflammation control, is increased by fish oil consumption. An increase in the adiponectin hormone is also highly beneficial to cardiac health.
f. Better Sleep
Adequate omega-3 consumption can lead to better sleep. Many adults battle with insomnia. Even those that go to bed early in an attempt to get that proverbial 8 hours of sleep find themselves tossing and turning and getting probably only 4 hours of sleep or none at all.
Sleep Like A Baby
Omega-3 has a beneficial effect on an area of the brain called the pineal gland, which produces the serotonin derivative melatonin, a hormone that affects the sleep and awake cycles.
As we age, melatonin levels decrease, which is why older people tend to sleep less or experience more fragmented sleep.
With melatonin decreasing, our ability to get deep restful sleep throughout the night also decreases.
Less time spent in that restful slow wave sleep cycle means that our bodies produce less growth hormone. Less human growth hormone or HGH means more fat and less muscle which is exactly what you see on people as they age.
Fish oil consumption by virtue of its effects on the pineal gland helps to increase melatonin secretion which in turn leads to deeper, more restful sleep. This chain of events, in turn, improves levels of HGH.
g. Better Sex
Increased levels of HGH, in turn, leads to other hormonal improvements such as improved levels of sex hormones and a reduction in the breaking down of testosterone into harmful sex hormone products.
Fish oil inhibits the enzyme that breaks down testosterone (good) into dihydrotestosterone, aka DHT (bad).
DHT is an unhealthy metabolite of testosterone.
This results in better hormone balance in males, which is especially vital as they age. If this “breaking down” were to continue unabated, it would be harmful to sexual performance.
When your testosterone levels are improved, athletic performance, sex drive and your ability to “get wood” are improved. Besides this, studies have shown that an increased ratio of testosterone to DHT helps prevents and battles prostate, breast and colon cancer.
h. Oral Health
Around 54% of men over age 30 in the United States experience gingival bleeding, the earliest sign of gum disease (aka periodontal disease). Brushing your teeth and flossing daily are the primary requirements for preventing gum disease.
But according to new research, taking even moderate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids may help ward off gum disease. In one study, researchers divided 9,182 adults into three groups based on their omega-3 consumption. Dental exams showed that those with higher omega-3 consumption were 23-30% less likely to have gum disease.
This makes sense since inflammation is at the root of gum disease. And as you know, omega-3 fish oil is the best anti-inflammatory supplement there is.
i. Joint Health
There is research to show that daily intake of omega 3 can help to relieve arthritis. Supplementation in this way can help reduce: joint tenderness, morning stiffness, the number of painkillers needed for joint pain, and the enzymes that destroy cartilage.
When you consider that in Latin, the word “arthritis” means “inflammation”, it’s no surprise that the anti-inflammatory properties fish oil really shines here.
A recent double blind clinical trial in Australia, with several hundred participants between the ages of 40 and 60, found that there was a clinically important improvement in the pain levels and disability of the participants, after 3 months of taking fish oil.
Currently, the vast majority of degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) sufferers rely heavily on NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) such as Aleve, Advil, Motrin, etc., to reduce their suffering. The downside of this is that prolonged use of NSAIDs can harm the lining of the stomach. Long term use of omega-3 can reduce the need for NSAIDs.
Long term use of omega-3 can reduce the need for NSAIDs.
j. Cancer Protection
Cancer is one of the scariest diseases around. It is mostly a disease of aging in people. In many cases, it is related to inflammation and of course to gene expression and the changes thereof.
That said, there are a handful of lifestyle factors that play into whether cancer strikes. Indeed, whether you take fish oil appears to be one of the more important ones.
Fish oil is part of the signaling mechanism that removes sick, dead and dying cells and cells that have gone rogue, like cancer cells. There have been quite a number of studies that seemingly support the supplement’s preventive and curative cancer properties.
For instance, take a look at this clinical study put out in the British Journal of Cancer in 2006. The study revealed that while omega-6 fats (the kind found in most vegetable oils and processed foods ) increased the spread of prostatic tumor cells into bone marrow, the spread of cancer cells was blocked by omega-3 fats.
This suggests that a diet rich in omega-3 fats could potentially inhibit the disease in men with early stage prostate cancer. There was also a case study of fish oil “curing” someone of cancer…
The study was released by Dr. Pardini, a biochemistry professor of Nevada Agricultural Experimental Station and reported in the Journal of Nutrition and Cancer. Using high doses of omega 3’s, he “cured” a 78-year-old man with terminal lung cancer. The patient was told he only had a few months to live. That was more than 7 years ago.
The National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has published research on the cancer preventative properties of fish oil. One such research found that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in
One such research found that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in omega 3 fatty acids inhibit angiogenesis, tumor growth, and metastasis. Angiogenesis is a fundamental step in the transition of tumors from a benign state to a malignant state. Therefore, inhibiting it is a good thing.
Another study, this time from North Shore University Health System Research Institute in Illinois, demonstrated in a lab study that omega 3s have anti-oncogenic and chemopreventive effects against breast cancer. The study was reported in the March 2010 issue of Carcinogenesis.
Now, even though breast cancer mostly affects women, the researchers found that omega -3 fatty acids had a positive effect on the polycomb group protein, which is over expressed in several human cancers.
No other dietary supplement comes close in providing as wide a range of health benefits as that of fish oil, provided it is taken consistently. The benefits of this supplement have been well documented in the scientific literature for decades. This is good news.
The bad news is that the quality of fish oil capsules varies widely across manufacturers. Choose the wrong brand and you could end getting very little omega 3 in your system and as well as fishy breath.
Not taking enough fish oil is also an issue. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating fish, particularly fatty fish, at least two times (two servings) a week. However, if you consume a typical Western diet (of processed foods), you will probably need to consume more than the AHA recommends. Various health experts recommend consuming 4-6 grams a day of omega 3 daily.
The easiest and safest way to get that amount of omega 3 on a daily basis is to take a high-quality brand. To show you what to look for in a top brand, here is a buyer’s guide that I’ve put together.