What Crohns Disease Sufferers Need to Know About Omega 3 Fatty Acids


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Medical research has shown that Crohn’s disease sufferers can greatly improve their overall health by including more omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients the body requires but cannot produce itself. They are found in fish and certain plant oils. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, particularly those found in fish oil, have anti-inflammatory properties that can have a therapeutic effect on Crohn’s disease.

There are three major types of omega-3 fatty acids:

1. Eicosapentaenoic (EPA)

2. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

3. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

When eaten, ALA is converted into EPA and DHA, the two fatty acids that are primarily used by the body for different process such as improving cardiovascular function, lowering blood pressure and brain function. Moreover, as was previously mentioned, the EPA and DHA have anti-inflammatory properties.

When it comes to treating Crohn’s disease with omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil supplements have been used as an alternative or complimentary treatment in a number of medical studies over the course of several years. The results of these studies have varied.

For instance, some researchers have discovered that while fish oil may help reduce preexisting inflammation, it does not actually help prevent inflammation from occurring. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids only appear to be a beneficial treatment for those who suffer from mild to moderate cases of Crohn’s disease.

In addition, studies have found that due to the positive influence fish oil has on intestinal cell growth, fish oil supplements may eventually increase the intestinal mucosal surface area. This would result in the increase of nutrient absorption, and improve a person’s overall nutrition.

The studies that have been conducted on the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil show a promising future. More research must be done before it can be determined just how effective fish oil is in treating chronic inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease. Before you talk to your doctor about taking fish oil supplements, you should first try the natural method of ingesting food rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Good sources included the following:

  • EPA and DHA - Cold water fish (IE halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon and sardines)

  • ALA – canola oil, flaxseeds and oil, pumpkin seeds and oil, perilla seed oil, purslane, walnuts and oil.

  • Enriched foods – It’s also not a bad idea to eat foods that have had omega-3 included in their ingredients such as omega-3 margarine and omega-3 eggs.

    In order to ensure you are receiving the recommended amount of omega-3 in your diet to help treat your Crohn’s condition, you should eat two-three servings of fish each week (approximately 1,250 mg of EPA and DHA a day). If you find it difficult to eat this amount of fish in a week, talk to your doctor about taking fish oil supplements.

    Finally, although omega-3 fatty acids can help improve many of the symptoms in Crohn’s disease sufferers, remember that medical research is still being conducted to find out how beneficial fish oil supplements are for inflammatory bowel disease. While it has shown many positive side effects, some patients in studies concerning the anti-inflammatory affects of fish oils encountered symptoms of halitosis (bad breath), belching, diarrhea and constipation.

    Sharon Dobson has an interest in Crohn's Disease. For further information on Crohn's Disease please visit Crohn's Disease or Crohn's Disease Symptoms .

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