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Effects of omega 3 vs 6 on the metabolism and development of diseases - Research Paper Example

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1 June 2015 Effects of Omega-3 versus Omega-6 on Metabolism And their Role in Development of Diseases Introduction In mammals, dietary fat is an important source of energy. Studies have shown that certain fatty acids, namely – alpha-linolenic acid (ALA; omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (LA; omega-6 fatty acid) are extremely vital for the normal physiological functioning, growth and development of mammals…
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Effects of omega 3 vs 6 on the metabolism and development of diseases
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Download file to see previous pages Therefore, the ratio in which both these fatty acids are present in the body dramatically influences its physiology. This paper discusses the effects of omega-6 vs. omega-3 on metabolism and development of diseases in the human body. Metabolism and Physiological Importance of PUFAs As already stated, there are two classes of PUFAs in the human body – omega-3 and omega-6. These two essential fatty acids are derived from the diet. They serve as precursors for various other fatty acids required by the body. LA or omega-6 fatty acid serves as the precursor for the n-6 series while ALA or omega-3 fatty acid serves as the precursor for the n-3 series of fatty acids (Patterson et al., 2012). These regulate various physiological functions ranging from modulation of blood pressure and clotting to the proper functioning and development of the nervous system. Furthermore, omega-6 PUFAs such as arachidonic acid (AA) and omega-3 PUFAs such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are precursors of eicosanoids, which regulate inflammation and immunity. The metabolism of ALA and LA into various other long chain fatty acids occurs through a series elongation and desaturation steps with the help of elongase and desaturase enzymes (Simopoulos, 2010). Ecosanoids derived from omega-6 are proinflammatory while those derived from omega-3 are anti-inflammatory. Figure 1: Diagrammatic representation of the desaturation and elongation of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids into long chain fatty acids. Role of the Ratio between Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids in the Development of Diseases As stated by Simopoulos, “human beings evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA) of ~1 whereas in Western diets the ratio is 15/1–16.7/1” (2008, p. 674). Excessive consumption of omega-6 fatty acids at the expense of omega-3 fatty acids leads to a high omega-6/omega-3 ratio. High omega-6/omega-3 ratio is associated with the pathogenesis of several diseases including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammatory diseases such as NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease), rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, in?ammatory bowel disease (IBD), and Alzheimer’s disease (Patterson et al., 2012; Simopoulos, 2008). Diets having lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio that are higher in omega-3 fatty acids are found to have suppressive effects on these diseases. The Lyon Diet Heart Study has shown that reducing the ratio to 4/1 led to a 70% reduction in the risk of recurrent cardiovascular diseases, leading to decreased mortality in two years (Kris-Etherton et al., 2001). In another study, de Lorgeril et al. (1995) have shown that Mediterranean diet rich in alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid) is “more efficient than presently used diets” for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and associated mortality (p. 1454). Omega-6/omega-3 ratio is found to be significantly associated with NAFLD. Araya et al. (2004) found that the level of omega-3 fatty acids is reduced in hepatic tissue of patients suffering from NAFLD. They have further shown that a higher omega-6/omega-3 ratio occurs in the liver of these patients, due to which, there may be a higher synthesis of lipids rather than oxidation and secretion, resulting in steatosis. Studies ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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