The Benefits of Omega-3’s for Stress and Aging

April 22, 2021  The science of epigenetics explains how our lifestyle and our environment can effect our health for better or for worse.  For example, scientists have studied populations that generally maintain a healthy weight and diet, exercise, have a less stressful lifestyle and avoid toxins (4 Pillars) can live significantly longer than than those that don’t. These populations, known as the blue zones, were discovered and first reported on in 2004. For the last 16 years scientists have performed thousands of research studies to discover the body’s complex mechanism that explain the epigenetic pathways associated with these lifestyle choices, and how they can be modified to improve human health and longevity.   They are also studying lifestyles that shorten lifespan and the epigenetic pathways that lead to increased disease and early death.

One of the most difficult to study is stress and how excessive stress can lead to worsening mental and physical health.  We now know the major stress pathways function by increasing certain hormones that can altered organ function, including the blood vessels, the heart and brain. Stress can cause blood vessels to constrict and the heart to be more reactive causing rapid heart rates that can be dangerous. And in the brain stress can alter brain pathways that can lead to depression, anxiety and altered behaviors like excessive eating and even drug use.

Study Using Omega-3s Lowers Stress Hormones

Recently scientists at Ohio State , published one of the most unique studies done on the adverse effects of stress and how increased stress can directly be linked to aging.  Additionally they demonstrated why increasing your omega-3 levels can offer significant protection from the types of stress that they studied.  The study, entitled – Omega-3 supplementation and stress reactivity of cellular aging biomarkers: an ancillary substudy of a randomized, controlled trial in midlife adults, is complex but explainable.  They evaluated, 138 sedentary, overweight, middle-aged people and gave 2/3s of them either 1.25 or 2.5 grams of omega-3 supplement per day, another 1/3 received a placebo for 4 months. Next they literately stressed them out. They had to give a speech and perform arithmetic in front of an audience. Before and after they drew blood tests and at the end of 4 months they did the same thing.  Typically when we think of the negative health effects of stress most believe it requires a long time or chronic stress to have an adverse effect on the body.  This is mostly true but certain hormones, like cortisol and inflammatory markers increase rapidly and can be tested before and after a stress event.  (Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a noted exception and even one extremely stressful event can cause a lifetime of both mental and physical aliments.)

Study Also Shows Omega -3 Benefits for Longevity

In addition, to these blood makers they evaluated a enzyme in the blood call telomerase.  On the strains of DNA that make up our 23 chromosome pairs in each cell that divides is a little cap called a telomere.  It is like the plastic cap on the end of a shoelace (An aglet), and as cells divide it tends to get shorter and weaker and eventually it can not hold the DNA in place and the cell stops dividing and is no longer functioning.  Many human studies have linked the length of telomeres to human lifespan.   Shorter telomeres are associated with early death and more disease. Because telomerase is associated with building telomeres and making them stronger, lower levels of telomerase are also used as a prediction of less longevity.

Study Results

Both doses omega-3 supplementation significantly protected telomerase (drop) and inflammation (increase) after stress compared to the placebo group.  Omega-3 also significantly reduced cortisol increase compared to the placebo group.

Study Conclusion

By lowering overall inflammation and cortisol levels during stress and boosting repair mechanisms (telomerase) during recovery, omega-3 may slow accelerated aging and reduce depression risk.

Benefits of Omega-3 Supplementation (READ MY LATEST FISH OIL BOOK – FREE HERE)

The omega-3 molecules are a critical structural component of every cell in our body. They are used as building blocks and are only found in the food we eat or the dietary supplements we take. If you are not consuming enough omega-3 in your diet your body won’t function effectively. This is especially important for the brain where over 40% of brain cells are made of omega-3 molecules. It is critical for every human cell to obtain enough omega-3 from your diet. Some foods are fortified with O3 fatty acids as well, but it is difficult to obtain adequate amounts of O3’s through your diet. I began to take O3 as a supplement and found similar joint pain relief as the NSAIDs. I now recommend to my patients to increase their dietary intake of O3’s and consider using fish oil dietary supplements. In addition to reducing inflammation and arthritic-like joint pain they have benefits to the heart and vascular system, including improving lipid levels. With this results of this recently study, benefits for longevity may also be another reason to start taking omega-3 Fish oils.