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Omega-3 fatty acids upregulate adult neurogenesis

It seems that in my practice I spend a lot of time recommending my patients take omega-3 fatty acid fish oil.  I believe there is so much evidence that supports this.  Today’s research article is titled, Omega-3 fatty acids upregulate adult neurogenesis.  This was published in Neuroscience Letters, March 26, 2007; 415(2): 154-158.  Authored by Barbara S. Beltz, Michael F. Tlusty, Jeannie L. Benton and David C. Sandeman.

From Abstract:

Omega-3 fatty acids play crucial roles in the development and function of the central nervous system.  The presence of omega-6 fatty acids mayinterfere with omega-3 fatty acid metabolism.  The omega-e fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are of particular importance in the nervous system.  Omega-3 fatty acids alter membrane fluidity, which is important for neurotransmitter binding, including serotonin.  Omega-3 fatty acids modulate cytokine levels, which in turn regulate immune function. 

Discussion:

Many patients tell me that they eat a lot of fish and therefore they don’t need to take the fish oil supplements.  This article also suggests that farm raised fish are nutritionally poor due to low quality diets fed to these fish.

I would like to clarify the difference between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  Omega-3 and omega-6 are both types of essential fatty acids.  Essential meaning that we cannot make them on our own and have to get them from our diet.  The sources of omega-3 fatty acids are mainly from deep sea (cold water) fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackeral, black cod and bluefish. 

The precursor (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA) from flaxseeds must be converted by the body to EPA and DHA. 

Omega-6 fatty acids are found in seeds and nuts, most notably the oils extracted from these seeds and nuts.  These refined vegetable oils are very abundant in our diet…snack foods, cookies, crackers, sweets as well as fast food.  It is believed that hormones derived from omega-6 fatty acids tend to increase inflammation, blood clotting and cell proliferation.  This dietary imbalance may explain the rise of such diseases as asthma, coronary heart disease, many forms of cancer, autoimmunity and neurodegenerative diseases.

How does this relate to my chiropractic practice and the treatment of patients?  A large portion of my patients have degenerative disorders which include degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis.  As previously mentioned, I am a practitioner of the Cox Decompression Technique which is a wonderful technique for treating many spinal conditions, including these degenerative disorders.  I recommend patients cut down on omega-6 levels by reducing consumption of processed and fast foods and polyunsaturated vegetable oils (corn, sunflower, safflower, and cottenseed).  At home use extra virgin olive oil, eat the cold water fishes (previously mentioned), not farm raised fish and TAKE FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTS!  

Gregg F. Moses, D.C.

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