Many health issues depend on a proper balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. While omega 6 fatty acids are necessary for normal immune function and clotting, too much omega 6 fatty acid may promote abnormal clotting and an overactive immune system. It is believed that our ancestors evolved on a diet where these two omega fatty acids were approximately equal. However, modern diets usually have up to 20 times more omega 6 fatty acids than omega 3 fatty acids. Many of the chronic degenerative diseases we experience today are believed to have their origins in an imbalance of omega 3 fish oil and omega 6 fatty acids in our diet. This necessitates that n−3 and n−6 be consumed in a balanced proportion; healthy ratios of n−6: n−3 range from 1:1 to 4:1. (Renaud 2002; Mattson and Grundy 1985).
Heart disease is the one of the most common diseases nowadays due to current life style and eating habits. Certain population studies have shown that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA found in Omega 3 fish oil or metabolized product of ALA (perilla oil) can help to prevent heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acid (ALA), through the body’s metabolic pathway, can be converted into EPA and DHA at a rate of roughly 7–10%. The research proved that when using omega 3 rich perilla oil instead of soybean oil, the subjects increased omega-3 levels in their blood, which may lead to prevention of coronary heart disease and decrease blood clotting (Lewis 2008; Calder 2004; Schacky and Dyerberg 2001).
In different cells of the body, the cellular machinery makes different things. In platelets, the cell products in the blood which aid in clotting, omega 6 fatty acids are converted to thromboxane A2 (TXA2). This makes the platelets more likely to burst (degranulate), releasing their clotting substances and cell messengers. These cell messengers constrict blood vessels and tell other platelets to burst—causing a clotting cascade. On the other hand, when omega 3 fatty acids are used in the same machinery in platelets, thromboxane A3 (TXA3) is made, which is inactive. If you have been cut or injured, you want the bleeding to stop with the help of platelets. However, if you have not been cut or injured, clotting is abnormal and may block flow to areas which need it—causing a heart attack or stroke. In white blood cells (WBC’s), the infection fighting cells of the body, omega 6 fatty acids make more inflammatory substances. These substances include leukotriene B4, (LTB4), which is a cell messenger responsible for inflammation throughout the body. It is a “call to arms” for other WBC’s. LTB4 even tells certain WBC’s to get into the wall of the blood vessel. LTB4 actually causes these WBC’s to absorb oxidized LDL cholesterol (cholesterol plaque is formed). In contrast, when omega 3 fatty acids are used in the same cellular machinery, leukotriene B5 (LTB5) is made. LTB5 is anti-inflammatory. Health demands normal functioning of both systems (Bemelmans et al. 2002; de Lorgeril et al. 1999; Thompson et al. 1997; Lee et al. 1994).
Anti-inflammatory and rheumatoid arthritis benefits
Perilla omega 3 fish oil is rich in the omega 3 fatty acids, on metabolism gives eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which can displace arachidonic acid (AA) from cell membranes. These omega-3 fatty acids are also released with AA by phospholipases and act as substrate inhibitors of conversion of AA by cyclo-oxygenases (COX) and the terminal synthases to the pro-inflammatory oxygenated inflammatory mediators known as eicosanoids. EPA is structurally identical to AA with the exception of its additional n−3 double bond and can be converted to eicosanoids that resemble eicosanoids. In addition to these effects on inflammatory eicosanoid synthesis, perilla oils have been shown to reduce the production of the inflammatory cytokines IL-1β and TNFα by monocytes stimulated in vitro. These cytokines are important effector molecules in inflammatory responses and TNFα blocking agents are now used widely to treat rheumatoid disease that has proven refractory to less expensive therapies. In vitro studies have also shown inhibition of release of the metalloproteinases that are implicated in the tissue damage that is the hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases (Osakabe et al. 2005, 2004; Banno et al. 2004; James et al. 2000).
It has been reported that conversion of ALA to EPA and further to DHA in humans is limited, but varies with individuals. Women have higher ALA conversion efficiency than men, probably due to the lower rate of utilization of dietary ALA for beta-oxidation.
Perilla oil reduces recourse to NSAIDs for analgesia in rheumatoid arthritis and thereby reduces risk for upper GI haemorrhage. Perilla oil contrasts with the highly selective COX-2 inhibitor rofecoxib, which has been associated with increased serious cardiovascular events, by reducing risk for these events. The result is fewer AA derived eicosanoids with production of homologous metabolites products such as PGE1 (one less double bond than AA derived PGE2). ALA rich oils appear to reduce symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis but available evidence is far less than that for omega 3 fish oil in rheumatoid arthritis (Osakabe et al. 2005; Banno et al. 2004; Calder 2004; James et al. 2000; Borchers et al. 1997).
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