Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wisdom Wednesday: Omega-3s and NLRP3 Inflammasom Signaling in Human Obesity

In a recent study in the Journal of Endocrinology, the relationship between fish oil derived long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) and the suppression of NLRP3 inflammasomes in human obesity through downregulation of inflammasome gene expression in adipocytes and macrophages was investigated. The NRLP3 inflammasome serves as a critical link between adipose inflammation and insulin resistance. This placebo-controlled clinical trial lasted 8 weeks, using 4 grams of EPA/DHA or placebo.

Results showed that “treatment of obese human subjects with fish oil supplements reduced expression of adipose inflammatory genes including inflammasome-associated IL-18 and IL-
1β and circulating IL-18 levels. Both EPA and DHA reduced inflammasome gene expression in obese human adipose and human adipocyte and macrophages.”

This study highlights the importance of N-3 PUFAs in reducing NLRP3 inflammasome in human adipose tissue, and its relevance in helping support healthy inflammatory pathways as they related to obesity.

My Take:
This all sounds pretty technical, but basically fish oil reduces the inflammatory compounds that are produced in fat cells of the human body. These inflammatory compounds are linked to insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes.

When you are overweight, the number of fat cells increases and the amount of fat they store also increases, up to 10 fold. If you subsequently lose weight, the fat stored in the cells decreases but the number of fat cells does not drop. This is the concept behind liposuction – actually removing excess fat cells from the body.

As the number of fat cells and fat content increases, the cells also produce excess inflammasomes (NLRP3). NLRP3 ramps up inflammation systemically as it impairs carbohydrate metabolism. This is why obesity is a major factor in metabolic syndrome.

I have patients that cannot tolerate massage. Their NLRP3 is so high that they hurt to the touch.

In this study both EPA and DHA contained in fish oil were effective in reducing NLRP3. The other common omega-3 fatty acid, ALA was not studied. EPA and DHA are only found in animal oil, while ALA is common in plant based oils like flaxseed and hemp.

Although flaxseed oil and other plant-based oils do not contain EPA or DHA, your body can readily convert ALA into EPA or DHA. If, and only if, your diet is clean enough to support the needed biochemistry. Fortunately, a good plant-based diet should be clean enough to facilitate this process. Being a vegetarian is all about what you eat, not what you don’t eat.

Bottom Line:
Fish oil is an excellent anti-inflammatory supplement, especially if you are overweight or obese. This study used 4 grams of EPA/DHA daily, a hefty dose. Most fish oil supplements contain less than 500 mg of EPA/DHA, requiring at least 8 pearls daily to meet the dosage of this study. However, Biotics Corporation has a new supplement made from anchovies that does contain 1 gram of EPA/DHA per capsule. Typically, 2-4 pearls per day will quickly reduce systemic prostaglandin inflammation.

Source: March 4, 2019 Biotics Corporation

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