When it comes to diet, fat can get a bad rap. But certain types of fat provide important health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), help fight joint pain, reduce inflammation, prevent heart attacks, and lower blood pressure. In fact, studies have shown that omega-3 supplements significantly improve joint pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Joint pain: more common than you think
About 1.5 million adults in the United States suffer from RA. Additionally, 1 in 5 adults suffers from some form of arthritis, making it the most common form of disability in the United States. When someone has RA, their immune system mistakenly attacks joints instead of attacking bacteria and viruses. This attack causes inflammation that can make joints painful, stiff, and damaged.
The supplement that can replace pain medication
Multiple research studies have shown that omega-3s can help people with RA reduce or eliminate their intake of pain medications. The EPA and DHA found in omega-3s block inflammatory molecules and are converted by the body into anti-inflammatory chemicals. It is no surprise then, that when people with RA take omega-3 supplements, they experience a significant reduction in joint stiffness and swelling.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in some food sources, such as anchovies, salmon, sardines, trout, or tuna. The Arthritis Foundation recommends that people with RA eat a serving of one of these fish 2-4 times a week. However, not everyone is able to incorporate an adequate amount of these omega-3 fatty acids into their typical diet.
Something smells fishy: side effects of traditional supplements
In many cases, it is helpful for people with RA to add an omega-3 supplement to their daily routine. But traditional fish oil capsules can have uncomfortable side effects, such as burping, bad breath, heartburn, and nausea. There are many supplements available that offers a fresher, more pure fish oil supplement that has been flavored to combat these common side effects. Many supplements have been-formulated to contain a higher amount of EPA and DHA per pill, making it easier to get the recommended amount.
The benefits don’t stop there: more shocking ways omega-3s can help
Chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease, cancer, and other chronic health conditions. Not only does omega-3 supplementation reduce joint pain, but it can also reduce risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and aid in treatment for depression. A healthcare professional can advise on the benefits of an omega-3 supplement for each individual person.