Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Seafood help heal the Inflammation that comes with Arthritis
Food as Medicine
Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Seafood help heal the Inflammation that comes with Arthritis
Arthritis causes debilitating, life-changing pain in many ways, but low-level, persistent inflammation and tissue damage are the main reasons. Eating more foods containing Omega-3 Fatty Acids, like seafood, might help calm this inflammation.
By Mark Zuleger-Thyss
Seafood is an essential component in the diets of the people of Japan. As a centuries-old fishing nation, Japan’s inhabitants consume between 52 to 93 lbs. of seafood per person..Who better to consider the metaphysics of food and how it relates to the sea and fishing, than the Japanese people?
Food considered through the lens of nutrition, desire, and culture leads to interesting questions within the traditional and modern Japanese viewpoints encompassing nourishment.
Sustaining oneself with food fundamentally involves the actions of cooking, eating with others, and using it as comfort – all reflective of how food ties together so many aspects of being human.
Fish, the sea, and Nature are deservedly revered in Japanese culture for their fluid, dispersed nature. They are of enormous importance, and the Japanese relate them to shape-shifting deities they celebrate with food offerings to the Shinsen, 神饌, literally “god.”
“How and what we eat reflects ourselves.”
~ Haruki Murakami, Japanese novelist who offered insightful observations on food metaphysics by weaving in its sensory, emotional, and symbolic aspects.
The Sea and Japanese Identity
Another view of Japanese food metaphysics comes through Shintoism, born from a sense of awe and respect toward the power and beauty of nature and gratitude for its bounty. This view is: Nature is divinity itself.
And the sea arousing worship as much as fear, is honored and prayed for during Shinto rites. Each fishing village organizes festivals dedicated to the divinity of Nature to ask for abundant fishing yields and safety.
Seafood is significant in Japanese culture because meat eating is prohibited in Shintoism and is considered “unclean.” Although this religious law against meat consumption is not as prominent today, it has influenced what Japanese cooking is like today.
The main reason why fish is so important in Japanese cuisine is because of its health benefits. It is extremely healthy to eat raw fish, as avoiding cooking preserves the healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
In Shintoism, food is a spiritual symbol that generally represents a profound reverence for Nature
Within this devotion, we discover that fish are symbols of rebirth, fertility, the unconscious self, luck, change, health, and feelings.
Fish are thought to act as a guiding force in important, difficult decisions. So, if you find yourself surrounded by difficulty, defer to the higher, more knowledgeable power of Nature.
What does Enjoyment of Life look like to You?
If you ask people what they want out of life, some will say freedom, and another might say heaps of money or the perfect relationship. It pays to reflect on how you can increase your enjoyment of life, but first, you must know what that enjoyment looks like.
What is more central to our enjoyment of life as the ability to move around—pain-free?
The concept of “healthy” only exists in opposition to its absence. Healthy is the default position, somewhat akin to your natural tendency or reaction to something or someone. Healthy can also be viewed through the lens of homeostasis, your capacity to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are best for your survival.
If homeostasis is successful, life continues; if it’s unsuccessful, it results in a disaster (disease) or death of the organism – you.
We’re not “supposed” to get diabetes, cancer, or arthritis. The most significant predictor of arthritis is nutrition, not wear-and-tear, so, arthritis is avoidable – it is not your destiny.
You do not need to suffer the indignities and disability of arthritis. You can live a long life full of activity and physical engagement. Furthermore, you do not have to accept broken-down articular cartilage.
To gain a greater understanding of arthritis, begin asking questions about your resentments and feelings of being unloved. Feeling the stiffness in your body and giving space to these feelings will improve your symptoms.
Emotional & Spiritual Causes of Arthritis
Degenerative arthritis means your joints have been under too much pressure for too long. Some cartilage or other protective barrier has worn away, causing the bones to rub together, which hurts.
- Considering the spiritual meaning of arthritis, it's your body's way of saying, “stop or slow down.”
Arthritis is about mobility, or lack of it, in a particular part of your body. It causes swelling and stiffness, and your joints cannot move. This lack of movement of the joints can be related to the expression of feelings.
- You might ask yourself if there is a part of you wanting to slow down or stop doing a particular thing you've been doing. Ask: Is there something I feel that I am unable or unwilling to express?
According to the metaphysical teacher Louise Hay, there can be feelings of being unloved, together with an underlying criticism and resentment. Giving space to these feelings can help bring the spiritual or energetic message out of the body and into the brain.
When The Root Cause is Inflammation
Inflammation is associated with many challenging diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, major depressive disorder, PCOS, and neurodegenerative diseases. For those who suffer from the pain of arthritis, the underlying cause is low-level, continuing inflammation. Eating more foods with anti-inflammatory properties can help to reduce or even prevent chronic inflammation.
Omega-3 fatty acids increase molecules called specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) that help inflammation get under control. This is critical in reducing the painful effects of arthritis.
There are two compounds found in fish oil that may help fight inflammation. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are found in many kinds of seafood we all love.
A Quick Overview of Inflammation
When an insult happens – a cut, infection by harmful bacteria, or injury like broken bones – our immune system is ready to react. And a cascade of inflammatory events begins. White blood cells, also called leukocytes, are immune cells that protect the body against invaders.
White blood cells start in the bone marrow and include neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, lymphocytes, and monocytes (which become macrophages). They all have a role in inflammation and protecting your body from infection.
Inflammation is a type of pain, swelling, redness, and warmth. These signs of inflammation are caused by increased blood flow, capillary dilation, leukocyte (WBC) infiltration, and the production of inflammatory cytokines.
What happens when the body recognizes a foreign object and bacteria are found?
Neutrophils rush in. Inflammatory cytokines are released, causing vasodilation and fluid pouring into the area; more inflammatory cytokines are recruited; mast cells release their mediators; macrophages engulf the bacteria; ROS (reactive oxygen species) is produced to kill the bacteria, and then, you are back to normal.
Researchers in the past were unaware that the resolution of inflammation was more than cytokines slipping away and immune system cells retreating. The immune system makes pro-resolving mediators, which bring healing back to normal. This all occurs at the same time as the inflammatory process.
What makes Omega-3 Fats so Unique?
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods, such as fish and flaxseed, and in dietary supplements, such as fish oil. Omega-3 fats are a family of polyunsaturated fats, of which three main types exist. These types of Omega-3 fatty acids are Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
DHA and EPA are found mainly in fish, sometimes called marine Omega-3s.
The human body can make most of its fats from other fats or raw materials. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for Omega-3 fatty acids. Your body generally uses ALA for energy, but it can also convert some ALA into EPA and then to DHA, but only in minimal amounts. ALA is found in leafy green vegetables and animal fat, especially grass-fed animals.
Omega-3s are an integral part of cell membranes surrounding each cell in your body and affect the function of the cell receptors in these membranes. DHA levels are exceptionally high in the retina (eye), brain, and sperm cells. Omega-3s also provide calories to give your body energy and have many functions in your heart, blood vessels, lungs, immune system, and endocrine system.
Omega-3s provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation.
Due to these effects, Omega-3 fats have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.
Diving into the symbolism of fish will take you as deep as the oceans these creatures inhabit. There are over 33,000 species living in all different kinds of aquatic environments, and they have lived for over 500 million years.
Food as Medicine | How Do Omega-3 Fats fight Inflammation?
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your body's health because they may decrease inflammation. And fish oil is preferred for reducing arthritic inflammation. You must consume enough Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil to combat arthritis. Cod liver oil capsules make it easy to take adequate amounts each day.
Cod liver oil contains high amounts of vitamins A and D, and taking too much can be toxic. As a treatment for arthritis, fish oil is the safer choice.
Omega-3 fats are healthy and natural. They are essential for restoring joint tissue and providing joint lubrication. However, the use of Omega-3s in managing rheumatoid arthritis has been widely studied. People who take fish oil supplements or eat plenty of fatty fish have reported less morning stiffness, joint stiffness, pain, swelling, and tenderness throughout joints and less need for medication.
Consuming Omega-3s in fish oil can also help increase your body's blood flow during exercise to minimize pain and swelling. Look for EPA and DHA if you prefer taking a supplement. These essential elements of fish oil provide the health benefits your joints require.
A diet high in Omega-6s was found to be a risk factor for inflammatory pain from arthritis and neuropathic pain from conditions like diabetes. Lowering Omega-6s and increasing Omega-3s might be the best strategy.
Seafood, The Supreme Anti-inflammatory Food
Unfortunately, many of us consume less fish and shellfish than we’d like. Seafood has many anti-inflammatory properties, and research continues to explore how to harness these properties for medicinal use.
The best fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce inflammation, are:
- Bluefin tuna
The FDA recommends eating 2–3 servings of fish each week. You can steam, grill, or bake fish. Avoid frying or adding cream sauce since saturated fats from cooking oils and dairy products may increase inflammation.
Fish and Shellfish Consumption in Japan
Japan has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, and this is because of its seafood-rich, protein diet.
Japanese people have relied on seafood for centuries.
Once a significant fishing nation, Japan, with 123 million inhabitants, is seeing a major transformation in its culinary culture as meat eating has gained ground.
According to a 2021 survey, the largest share of respondents, almost 43 percent, consumed marine products like fish and shellfish two to three times per week.
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