Photo: Getty Images
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are beneficial to your health. And it seems that includes your mental health.
Omega-6 fatty acids are necessary for health but they need to be in proper balance with omega-3 essential fatty acids. The average diet provides far more omega-6 fatty acids and far less omega-3 fatty acids than is healthy.
Research from Ohio State University, published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, has found that fish oil containing omega-3 essential fatty acids can not only decrease inflammation, it can also decrease anxiety levels in young participants. Speculation among researchers was that older people and people whose health might be at risk in certain ways, could also benefit by reaping lower inflammation and anxiety levels as well.
Cytokines are proteins that interact with the body's immune system in the immune response. Cytokines in the body may increase levels of inflammation in the body.
Psychological stress also increases cytokine levels. The logical question that arose was, would increasing omega-3 essential fatty acids have a mitigating effect on both inflammation and psychological stress?
Participants in the study who took the omega-3 fatty acids exhibited a reduction in anxiety by 20 percent. Participants who did not take omega-3 fatty acids showed no change in anxiety levels.
Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a cytokine which decreased by 14 percent among participants who took omega-3 fatty acids. Researchers recommended increasing omega-3 levels through dietary means, rather than through supplements, even though some of the researchers personally take the supplements.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, partially funded the study.
A diet that is high in omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3 fatty acids, can raise levels of inflammation in the body, according to a March 31, 2011 article on Psychologytoday.com.
Over time, this imbalance can result in higher risk for autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease and obesity.