Fish oil to help ease the pain

Can fish oil re­ally help with arthritic aches? And is turmeric more than just a curry spice? Find out from Dr Libby.

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Ques­tion: I have rheuma­toid arthri­tis and last year, a friend sug­gested I change my diet some­what and take high-dose fish oil sup­ple­ments. Although my fin­gers are still dis­fig­ured, I am now pain free but don’t un­der­stand how the fish oil has helped. Can you ex­plain this? Thanks, Dorothy. Hi Dorothy, fish oil con­tains an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory fatty acids. There are two types of these fatty acids in fish oil; EPA and DHA. These fatty acids work by in­hibit­ing the sig­nal to in­flame a joint, which can help pre­vent swelling and the sub­se­quent red­ness and pain that is felt.

Re­search shows that a dose of 3 grams per day of omega-3 fish oil (con­tain­ing DHA and EPA) is needed to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion. If you are do­ing this via sup­ple­men­ta­tion, look for a high qual­ity brand that has been tested for heavy met­als. The cap­sules need to be rel­a­tively fresh smelling; if they smell very fishy this could mean that the fish oil has gone ran­cid and it will no longer pro­vide any ben­e­fit to you.

Fish oil sup­ple­ments with ad­di­tional vi­ta­min E can help to keep the fats fresh.

Foods con­tain­ing omega-3 fatty acids in­clude; oily fish like salmon and sar­dines, flax seeds, chia seeds and wal­nuts. Try in­clud­ing these foods in your diet regularly for a whole food source of omega-3 fatty acids. Ques­tion: I read an ar­ti­cle re­cently about how healthy turmeric is but have no idea how to use it. Do you have some sug­ges­tions? Thanks, Meg. Hi Meg, turmeric has a long history of use in Chi­nese and In­dian medicine; it is most of­ten used as an anti-in­flam­ma­tory and an­tiox­i­dant agent. While the turmeric root con­tains a range of nu­tri­ents, it is the or­ange pig­ment, cur­cumin, which is the ac­tive agent.

In­flam­ma­tory pro­cesses in­duce what is known as ox­ida­tive stress. This in­duces the over-pro­duc­tion of free rad­i­cals, which re­act with cell mem­brane fatty acids and pro­teins im­pair­ing their func­tion, at times per­ma­nently.

Stud­ies sug­gest that chronic in­flam­ma­tion could play a role in a wide va­ri­ety of de­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases in­clud­ing type 2 di­a­betes, can- cer, car­dio­vas­cu­lar and au­toim­mune dis­eases.

Cur­cumin works as a pow­er­ful an­tiox­i­dant in­side the body, and helps to pre­vent ox­ida­tive dam­age by neu­tral­is­ing the free rad­i­cals present. Cur­cumin also works by in­hibit­ing en­zymes and im­mune cells that fa­cil­i­tate tis­sue dam­age and sub­se­quent in­flam­ma­tion in the body.

You can buy turmeric as a whole root or as dried pow­der. The whole root is per­fect for juic­ing – try us­ing a 4-5cm piece in a juice with car­rots and le­mons; al­ter­na­tively the root can be grated and added to cur­ries and dals.

The dried pow­der tends to be eas­ier to come by, and is very ver­sa­tile.

It is com­monly added to cur­ries, dals and soups, or used as part of a rub for meat or fish. You can also add a tea­spoon to a smoothie, or home­made nut-milk chai.

The fresher your fish-oil cap­sules, the more likely they are to de­liver the ben­e­fits ex­pected of them.

Email your ques­tions for Dr Libby to ask.dr­libby@fair­fax media.co.nz. Please note, only a se­lec­tion of ques­tions can be an­swered. Dr Libby is a a nu­tri­tional bio­chemist, best-selling au­thor and speaker. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect, per­son­alised ad­vice from a health pro­fes­sional.

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