Research of the Day – Nov 22, 2012 – Fish versus Anxiety… Who wins???

Hey Folks!

Research of the Day!

Today’s Article:

Omega-3 Supplementation Lowers Inflammation and Anxiety in Medical Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial

What they did:

  • Split a group of medical school students up into groups that received either ~2.3g of EPA + DHA per day, or some capsules containing ~2.3g of a mixture of palm, olive, soy, canola and cocoa butter oils (to mimic the average fatty acid intake in western diets).
  • They then took their blood 6 times throughout the 12 week intervention, once during a non stressful time and right before an exam (high stress time) without any supplementation and then twice again AFTER supplementation (or fake supplementation) right before a major exam, or during a less stressful time (beginning of a new semester, with many weeks until an exam, etc.)
  • They performed physicals at the beginning and end of the study that also included measurements of central adiposity (fat around the waistline), a food frequency questionnaire, a measure of sleep quality, a measure of physical activity, and a health review (to ask if the person had been sick at all, etc. over the last 12 weeks)
  • They performed two other tests to screen for depressive symptoms as well as symptoms of anxiety (as they are not the same) at each of the 6 visits
  • THey collected blood from the subjects at each visit to test them for their fatty acid profiles
  • They also checked for inflammatory biomarkers (IL-6 and TNF-alpha)

What happened:

  • EPA and DHA in plasma and in peripheral blood mononuclear cells increased significantly in the supplemented group
  • IL-6 and TNF-alpha were lower in the treatment group versus control after supplementation, but not to a significant degree
  • Anxiety, but not depression was reduced in the treatment group over the control group relatively by 20% (We are reminded that all subjects are healthy, young volunteers, that had low anxiety scores to begin with… although there was still a reduction in the treatment group)
  • They took ALL the blood samples and checked their omega 6: omega 3 ratio to check for correlations with inflammatory markers and anxiety scores and found an inverse relationship

So what’s going on?

  • Supplementing with ~2.3g of EPA + DHA was associated with increases in their concentrations in plasma and in percipheral blood cells
  • This increase correlated with improved omega 6: omega 3 ratios
  • improvements in that ratio meant less inflammation at rest as well as less inflammation when inflammation was stimulated
  • Improvements in that ratio ALSO correlated well with less symptoms of anxiety at rest and during high stress environments (medical exams, in this case)

And thennnn:

  • I’m really glad they checked the Omega 6: omega 3 ratio… it was a smart move
  • It shows that you can’t cover up a crap diet with fish oil (the ratio probably wouldn’t have changed in this case), and that when you create sufficiency where deficiency exists AKA Improve that ratio, good things happen
  • The students weren’t overly concerned with ameliorating symptoms, other than maybe hoping to feel a little less stressed during exams and the fish oil has the potential to lower inflammation and reduce anxiety levels

Take away, Fish oil isn’t something you take to fix this problem, or cure that illness; You take it to create balance in your body and to provide the proper building blocks for health. No one is going to disagree that less baseline inflammation and less inflammation during stressful environments is a bad thing.

If you need some fish oil, and you all do (unless you already are taking some), ask me in the clinic OR at the gym – I have some of the best quality you can find available for a great price $42 for approximately 100 servings. That’s less than 50 cents a day to make a difference in your inflammatory pathways as well as to reduce any resting anxiety. If I can help you out let me know!

Stay Healthy Friends!

Dr. Adam Ball

p.s. As usual, if you’d like to book an appointment for Chiropractic Wellness & Lifestyle care, book an appointment here, or call me at (705) 586-7873