woman about to take omega-3 pill

Reduce Inflammation With This Fatty Acid

You may have been hearing a lot about omega-3 fatty acids lately, and you may be wondering, what exactly are Omega-3 fatty acids? You’ve probably heard they were good for you; are they vitamins? Minerals? Animals? To clear up your confusion, or to add to it, omega -3 fatty acids are, well, fatty acids, which may not sound like something that’s good for you at all, but they are. That’s because they’re essential fatty acids, and we need them for normal metabolism. Now research shows that omega-3s have anti inflammatory properties that can help ward off a number of health concerns. What could this mean to the field of medicine? Take a look at what some experts are finding out about the inflammation- Omega-3 connection.

Omega 3 and Inflammation
Omega-3 fatty acids have long been studied for their extensive health benefits, many of which stem from their powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Since the reduction of inflammation has been associated with the risk for diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, it is suspected that omega-3s may have disease fighting benefits. Here are what investigations of the fatty acid has revealed so far in regard to disease prevention.

Heart Disease
Because omega-3 fatty acids can increase levels of good cholesterol and lower levels of bad cholesterol, it is being investigated as having the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease. Although omega -3s have not been shown to lower rates of heart attacks, directly, they have been associated with maintaining good heart health.

Arthritis
Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and lupus, may all be able to find a little comfort in increased omega-3 intake. Research suggests that the anti-inflammatory power of the fatty acid could reduce swelling, pain, and joint stiffness. A 2012 study showed that patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis were able to decrease the dosage of anti-inflammatory medications they were taking by supplementing with omega-3s.

Cancer
The effects of omega-3 fatty acids on cancer are still under investigation, but preliminary findings indicate that they may help reduce colorectal cancer, in particular, and also may help to increase tolerance to chemotherapy.

Diabetes
Insulin resistance is a condition at the root of diabetes, in which the cells in the body to not respond properly to the effects of insulin. Although further investigation on whether or not Omega-3s can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes is needed, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve sensitivity to insulin in some studies.

Getting Your Omega-3s
After reading all this powerful evidence, you may be wondering how you can get your daily dose of omega-3s. Unfortunately, the body cannot produce its own omega-3s, but they can be gotten in certain foods. Fish is the best source of omega-3. The World Health Organization recommends consuming two servings of fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines per week.

For those concerned about intake of heavy metals, or to whom fish does not appeal, omega-3s can also be found in plant sources, including flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Add these to your cereal or smoothie to up omega-3 intake.

Are you getting your omega-3’s? Let us know what your sources are and how they’re helping you.

Choose Your Pain Relief Carefully

Pain. It can be overwhelming, and relief needs to be immediate. When discomfort gets hard to tolerate, most of us grab the first thing on the shelf of the medicine cabinet without thinking and herein lies the problem. Pain relievers are drugs, and like all other drugs, they need to be considered carefully before we take them. According to experts, many of the pains relievers in our medicine cabinets may be doing more harm than good. Here are what some of them are saying about NSAIDs and why other options should be on hand before pain hits.

Do Pain Relievers Put Us At Risk?
NSAIDS or Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs have been coming under fire lately for having the potential for cardiac risk. These drugs are commonly taken for relief of a variety of pain types, including headaches, muscle, Ibuprofen and joint aches. Examples include over the counter agents, such as Advil, Ibuprofen, alive, and Naproxen, while prescription varieties include Celecoxib and Celebrex. However, while former studies showed increased risk of heart attack, more recent ones reveal that the danger is more commonly associated with people who take the drugs regularly.

Studies reveal a two to fourfold increase in the risk of myocardial infractions for habitual NSAID users. That means that 25 to 50 patients would need to take NSAIDs for a whole year to cause one event of a stroke or heart attacks. However, because the use of the drugs is so popular, and many of the users are seniors who are already at risk for heart disease there is a cause for concern.

Highest Risk
The highest risk seems to come from taking over 750 mg of Naproxen or 1200 mg of Ibuprofen. Does this size is taken regularly carry a risk for GI bleeds, kidney injury, and stomach ulcers, in addition to cardiac risk.

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Thing to Keep In Mind
If you are young and in good health, your chances of cardiovascular complications caused by NSAIDs are small.

If you are currently at risk for heart disease, NSAIDs can increase the risk.

If you need to take NSAIDs on a regular basis, you should discuss the risks and possible alternatives with a health professional.

NSAID Alternatives
Because there is no one size fits all answer to pain relief, it is probably best to create a “Pain Plan” with your doctor or pharmacist. Considering the recent efforts to cut down on the use of opioids and increase the use of NSAIDs for arthritis treatment, careful decision making needs to go into picking the right pain relief.

While Tylenol, which is not a NSAID, is often a good pain relieving option, there are also no medication relief alternatives, such as the use of heat or ice, depending on the conditions. Although it is still safe for many patients to take NSAIDs, it is important to be aware of recommended dosages and the frequency of taking them. Experts recommend that no medication remedies, such as heat, massage, stretching, ice, and other forms of physical therapies be kept in consideration until more information is known.

Are you trading in your NSAIDs for other options? Let us know if you are and what they are.

Aspirin in woman's hand

This OTC Drug May Increase Your Risk Of Heart Attack

Pain. Barring the occasional UFC fighter, most of us have a very low tolerance for it. In fact, the majority of us want to rid ourselves of it as soon as possible. Luckily, pharmaceutical companies have long recognized the public outcry for quick and effective pain relief, and, as such, there is no shortage of accessible drugs and medications designed to stop every burning, aching, throbbing, and stinging sensation as soon as it hits. However, historically, when a product is in such demand, consumers are often not that particular about the risks involved, and pharmaceutical companies are not likely to highlight them. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the hidden dangers of a common OTC.

NSAIDs
The FDA is set to begin a program of strengthening existing warnings on Drug Facts labels to indicate that NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. Over the counter NSAIDs are generally used to treat aches and pains and reduce fever. Common examples include ibuprofen, like Advil and Motrin, and naproxen.like Aleve. Some combination medications, like multi-symptom cold relievers, may also contain NSAIDs. According to Karen Mahoney, MD, and deputy director of the FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products, “Be careful not to take more than one product that contains an NSAID at a time.” She suggests checking the active ingredients list on the Drug Facts label to determine whether or not the product contains an NSAID.

Woman reading labels on her medicine

New Information
NSAIDs already provide information on stroke and heart attack risk on their labels; the FDA have been adding boxed warnings to prescription drug labels since 2005. However, more recent data has prompted the FDA to require companies to update the labels with more specific information. Among the more recent findings is the knowledge that risk of stroke and heart attacks may occur as early as within the first weeks of NSAID treatment. Judy Racoosin, MD, MPH says, “There is no period of use shown to be without risk.” While those who have cardiovascular disease are at the greatest risk for adverse effects of NSAIDs, Racoosin says, “Everyone may be at risk- even people without an underlying risk for cardiovascular disease.”

Consumer Advice
So, if NSAIDs are out, what should you do for pain relief? Experts say consumers can still take them but need to be aware of the implications, especially at high doses. Mahoney says, “As always, consumers must carefully read the Drug Facts label for all nonprescription drugs. Consumers should carefully consider whether the drug is right for them, and use the medicine only as directed. Take the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time possible.”

If you have a preexisting heart condition or high blood pressure, get a doctor’s opinion before taking an NSAID and weigh the risks and benefits. Also, if you are currently taking aspirin to protect against possible heart attacks and stroke, you should be aware that some NSAIDs, like naproxen a and ibuprofen can interfere with that effect. Mahoney suggests that you do everything possible to reduce risk factors for stroke and heart disease. “Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are significant risk factors for these conditions,” she says, “If you smoke, work on quitting. See your doctor regularly to find out if you have these other strong risk factors, and commit yourself to taking care of them and of your health.”

What are you doing to avoid taking NSAIDs or lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke? let us know how you weigh in! We love to get your thoughts.

Woman drinking milk

Full Fat Dairy Products May Not Be All That Bad

Move over skinny cows! It’s great news for the extra cheese and “no such thing as too much butter” crowd; scientists have found that full fat dairy food does not increase your risk of heart attack. What, you may ask? Does this mean I can stop eating this strange excuse for ice cream I have in my freezer? Depends on your motivation, but one thing’s for sure, this is something that your stomach and heart will both approve of. Recent studies have shown that those who consume full fat dairy may actually be healthier than their low fat dairy eating (cow)nterparts. Read on for more.

The Evidence, Or Lack Thereof
What tastes good can’t possibly be good for you, right? Well, maybe it can. Recently, dairy researchers have found that, contrary to popular beliefs about saturated fats leading to heart attacks, there may be nutrients in dairy products that actually prevent them. According to researcher Stella Aslibekyan of Brown University, “Things like milk and cheese are very complex substances. We looked at heart attacks risk dairy products in their entirety and then looked at separate components of those dairy products, and it turns out that the results are null. Perhaps the evidence is not there.”

Benefits of Dairy
While Aslibekyan’s team is far from suggesting that the presence of saturated fats in dairy products is harmless, she does believe that other nutrients found in dairy, such as vitamin D, calcium, and potassium may offer protection from heart disease. According to a study published in Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases journal a study of 3,630 Costa Rican men found that dairy intake in heart attack sufferers was no different than that of those who did not get heart attacks, even when consumption was as high as 593 grams a day. Researcher, Dr. Anna Baylin says, ” The message is that it is important to look at the net effect of whole foods and dietary patterns and not only isolated nutrients.

Pouring milk

Full Fat Dairy May Be Healthy
Additional research corroborates the Brown University study. There is evidence that full fat dairy key reduce the risk of:

  • Diabetes
    Palmitoeic acid, occurring naturally in meat and full fat dairy food, can protect against diabetes and insulin resistance. One study showed that individuals who consumed a diet including whole fat dairy had higher blood levels of trans-palmitoleate, decreasing their risk of developing type -2 diabetes by two thirds, as compared to those with lower levels.
  • Cancer
    Conjugated linoleum acid, a.k.a. CLA, is a type of fat found naturally in cow’s milk that can significantly lower the risk of cancer. A study found that those who ate a minimum of four serving of high fat dairy per day had a 41 % lower risk of bowel cancer than people who ate less than one.
  • Heart Disease
    A sixteen year study of Australian adults found an indirect relationship between full fat dairy consumption and the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.

Full Fat Dairy and Weight-Loss
Females who indulged in one serving of full fat dairy were found to gain 30% less weight over a nine year span than their low fat eating counterparts.

What do you think of the info? Willing to scrap your 1 and 2% milk for the pure stuff? Let us know!