Study Finds Link Between Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acid Consumption in Women with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Healthy eating can make a big difference in managing your lupus symptoms and overall health. New research looks at the association between omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid consumption levels in women who self-report a diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). A diet containing omega-3 fatty acids may contribute to the prevention of SLE, as they decrease inflammation by inhibiting the production of inflammatory mediators derived from omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have opposing functions in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables) elicit an anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effect by reducing the level of C reactive protein (CRP, a protein made by the liver that indicates inflammation in the body) and other inflammatory biomarkers. Omega-6 fatty acids (found in vegetable oils, eggs, poultry, as well as processed snacks/fast food) can increase inflammation.
The data of a large population group was examined. Of the group, 358 women reported they had been diagnosed with SLE and among them, 220 said they had been treated for SLE during the last year. Study participants filled out a questionnaire about how frequently they ate a variety of foods, which included all food groups and nutrient categories. Information about the individual’s omega-3 and omega-6 consumption was recorded. Participants were also asked about what supplements they took, including fish oil and cod liver oil, which are both sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
The researchers observed a significant positive association between the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid consumption and SLE prevalence. The findings show that those diagnosed and treated for SLE have higher consumption levels of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as higher levels of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids ratios. Additionally, participants that consumed omega-3 fatty acids around the time of their SLE diagnosis experienced favorable fatty acid levels, which suggests a reverse causation. This could be an example of the positive effect of accessibility to public health information.
Consult your physician before making any changes to your nutrition and diet. Learn more about diet and nutrition with lupus.
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