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Dieting for Knee Pain: Omega 3 Fatty Acids

It is easy to remember the “what” when it comes to dieting; vitamins, minerals, proteins and sugars.  These terms go hand-in-hand with healthy eating. It’s not as easy to remember the “why.”  Why do we need to eat dark leafy greens? Why should I pick whole grain wheat bread over white? For the informed eater, simply saying “because it is healthy” is not good enough.

Eating Smart

Preventing daily knee pain and slowing the progression of osteoarthritis (OA) starts in the fridge and on your plate.  While weight loss will help lighten the daily joint strain, a well-balanced diet can help alleviate knee pain even further.  Today’s post focuses on the Omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Omega 3 fatty acids are commonly found in fish and fish oils (EPA and DHA), but alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) can also be found in flax seeds and walnuts.  EPA and DHA are terms frequently used in relation to knee pain, but how do these fatty acids prevent knee pain and why should they be a staple in your diet?

Smooth Moves

Omega 3 fatty acids provide a very important function as it relates to knee pain; they aid in the body’s ability to stop an inflammatory response by providing more of the raw materials necessary to produce the anti-inflammatory chemicals.

Inflammation is your body’s repair process, flooding the area with blood to bring as many platelets as possible to promote healing.  The actual inflammation occurs when the body is unable to provide the adequate anti-inflammatory chemicals.  While inflammation is a very natural and necessary part of the healing process, chronic inflammation (found in OA patients) is detrimental.

Thinking Ahead

Did you know The World Health Organization recommends a daily EPA and DHA intake of 0.3-0.5 grams and a daily ALA intake of 0.8-1.1 grams?  That equates to eating fish twice a week.

Your body uses Omega 3 fatty acids to maintain the health of the cartilage matrix in your knees and other joints. Cartilage is the smooth tissue between bones and healthy cartilage is essential for proper joint health and function. A consistent Omega 3 intake ensures the materials needed for natural repair are always present.  Omega 3s may also slow the progression of OA by decreasing certain cartilage-degrading enzymes.

Not All Supplements Are Created Equal

Supplementing our diets with additional Omega 3s is an inexpensive way to promote cartilage health and keep us active for years to come. Although interactions with other medications is rare, you should check with your doctor to make sure Omega 3 fatty acids will be a safe addition to your daily regimen.

Reflex provides fish oil that meets the highest standards established by the US Pharmacopeia (USP).  We use a well-established and highly-trusted brand that must be prescribed by a healthcare practitioner. Check out our previous blog to help you determine how to choose a good fish oil supplement.

Our providers can customize a supplement program to protect your joints and aid in pain relief. Call our office at (503) 719-6783 to schedule an appointment.