Eicosanoids, Essential fatty acids and your Health
by © Diana Thurbon
Virtually every disease state in the body begins at the cellular level with an imbalance of a tiny hormone like molecule called an eicosanoid. (Ecose an oids)
In biochemistry, eicosanoids are known as signaling molecules. They exert complex control over many bodily systems, including the central nervous system, immunity and inflammation.
Eicosanoids are involved in these physiological functions turning cells off and on at a second by second basis. They are responsible for numerous opposing actions.
SOME OF THESE ARE:
Anti-inflammatory- Pro inflammatory,
Stimulate immune response- Depress immune response,
Increase pain transmission-. Suppress pain transmission
Promote platelet clumping- Inhibit platelet clumping.
Insulin production- Glucagon production
Eicosanoids are derived from either omega-3 or omega-6 EFAs.
The 6 eicosanoids are generally pro-inflammatory; the 3s turn imflamation off.
The amounts and balance of these fats in a person's diet will affect the body's eicosanoid-controlled functions, with effects on cardiovascular diseas, triglycerides, arthritis, blood pressure and allergies
Although we tend to think of Eicosanoids as good and bad we actually need both in balance.
If you want to read more about Eicosanoids I recommend any of Barry Sears Zone Dietbooks for clear explanations.
The most important thing you should know about Eicosanoids is that they are influenced by the diet you eat.
A diet too high in carbohydrates and without sufficient protein promotes the production of “bad” Eicosanoids.
Good fats are also vital to maintain the right balance of Eicosanoids. Your body makes 20 different fatty acids from two fatty acids: Omega- 3 (linolenic acid) and Omega- 6 (linoleic acid). Even weight loss requires these fatty acids because the right Eicosanoids are needed to stimulate the release of stored fat. ( You need fat to burn fat )
You need to eat equal or more Omega- 3 fatty acids than Omega-6.
Most of us do the opposite.
To increase Omega- 3s
Use flax oil, macadamia, or walnut oil, uncooked on salads and in dips
Eat 150 grams of walnuts, macadamias, almonds or hazelnuts a week.
Use cashew or almond butter spread instead of hydrogenated margarines
Eat 4-6 free-range eggs a week
Add flax seeds to breads and cereals.
Eat oily fish four to six times a week or take at least 4-8 grams of fish oil supplements daily.
You still need some Omega- 6
Eat dark green leafy vegetables daily – half should be raw
Use pumpkin and sunflower seeds in cooking or snacks
Use tahini (sesame paste) as a spread (hummus contains tahini)
Eat oatmeal porridge twice a week.
1 or 2 evening primrose capsules a week can be taken
To increase Omega-9 (a neutral fatty acid)
Use avocado as a spread and in salads
Use olive or peanut oil for cooking (at low temperatures).
Use olive oil on salads or as a dip for bread.
If you prepare your own food it is not too difficult to get the balance right. If you use lots of supermarket/prepared food it is almost impossible.
Bakery goods contain trans fats; these are altered fats which distort body chemistry.
Save the Tim Tam or donut for a very occasional treat. (If the food label says hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil that means it contains these very bad fats).
Use cooking methods that don’t require added fats.
To lose weight 1 tablespoon (35 grams) of good fat should be eaten per day.
If you don’t need to lose weight 60 grams per day should be eaten.
Try to avoid saturated fats (another story) by choosing only lean animal meat and limiting high fat cheese.
The best oil for cooking is Coconut Oil