Arthritis and inflammation cause daily pain and difficulties moving. It can also create joints that swell, meaning sometimes clothes don’t fit properly or jewellery can’t be put on. Sometimes it means missing out on crafts with children, knitting, or digging in the garden. There’s a myriad of things that can go wrong.
The best way to reduce swelling outside of careful exercise is with food. While avoiding inflammatory ingredients are necessary, it is important to add in certain foods, particularly those high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3s are divided into three categories – APAs, EPAs, and DHAs. APAs are the most important of these three. These are acids that our bodies cannot produce. The body can produce EPAs and DHAs in limited supply from consuming APAs, but it is not enough to be a healthy amount.
What’s the Right Amount?
It is necessary for women to consume 1.1 grams of APAs, and pregnant women 1.4 grams. There’s no upper limit, but the much-touted salmon only contains .22 grams, leaving you shy .98 grams. In fact, the only food which gives you enough omega-3s in a ¼ of English or Persian Walnuts or a tablespoon of Chia Seeds. Flaxseed Oil and Fish Oils providing the most in supplementary form.
Why Do Omega-3s Work?
Omega-3s have been shown scientifically to reduce swelling in joints. Omega-3s have also been shown to demonstrate a decrease in the amount of NSAIDS, (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) prescribed by a doctor, that need to be taken.
The reason they’re so effective is because, according to a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, once your body consumes them, it converts them into something 10, 000 times more powerful than fatty acids. These are called resolvins, which bring the inflammatory response in the body to an end.
So How Do You Get Them?
There are a few options, and you can find certain foods on this list if you’re interested in knowing more about the foods you should be eating. But I’m going to focus this time of supplements.
A word of caution, plant based omega-3s are harder for your body to digest, and so you may not be absorbing nearly as many omega-3s as you think you are. They’re easier to digest from animal sources.
1. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds contain 7 grams of omega-3s and about 1.9 grams of APAs that are necessary for the body to transform into other compounds. These can be give in two tablespoons in a morning smoothie, or you can use them in place of sesame seeds if you find you enjoy the taste.
2. Flax Seeds
Flaxseeds come in oil supplements but can also be added to a morning smoothie similar to Chia seeds. In this case, I actually recommend the seeds over the supplement. Only because adding the seeds to your diet will add more fiber, something that benefits cholesterol. Flaxseed oil contains 12 grams of omega-3s and 2.58 grams of APAs.
3. Fish Oils
Fish oils are the most common supplements to be taken, and for good reason. They are easy to get your hands on. There are several different kinds of fish oil. But concerns have been raised over purity, particularly involving salmon oil. I did extensive research and have found that krill oil is safer, more ethical and are actually easier for your body to digest than any of the other options available. As an added bonus, you stop experiencing the nasty after-burbs of fish oil. (If you’re looking for a good krill oil, you can find the one I use here).
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