Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease which means that patient’s immune system acts against itself. It is a common type of arthritis that causes destruction and deformity of joints.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a multiple disorder as it also affects other organs of the body.
What are omega‒3s?
Omega‒3 are polyunsaturated fatty acids. There are three main types of omega‒3 fatty acids which are beneficial for humans. These are α‒linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They are obtained from both animal and plant sources such as fish, flaxseed etc.
Omega‒3 are essential fatty acids as these are not synthesized by the body and thus have to be obtained from the diet.A novel class of bioactive lipid mediators that are synthesized from EPA and DHA enzymatically in the body are: resolvins, protectins and maresins.
They have anti-inflammatory property, enhances cardiovascular health, promotes fetal development and lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Omega-3-Fatty acids for Rheumatoid arthritis – Why and How they are important?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder. Thus it is only possible to manage the symptoms of the disease. However regular medications may cause various side effects and are also not a pleasant experience for most of the patients.
But again certain natural remedies could prove to be effective in combating against the disease symptoms. One of these remedies includes omega-3-fatty acids found in fishes and seafood.
Omega-3-fatty acids are also known as Poly-unsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA). These are extremely important for the body and serve various functions.
Some of the chief activities in which they play a significant role are: muscle activity, digestion, fertility, blood clotting, growth, and cell division. They are extremely important for the health of our brain as they are found in high concentration in the brain cells. They have essential behavioral and cognitive roles in the brain.
The most important function of these fats is in monitoring the inflammatory reactions in humans. Omega-3-fatty acids have been found to inhibit a number of inflammatory reactions in the body like leukocyte chemotaxis, expression of adhesion molecules leading to the adhesive reaction between leukocytes and endothelial cells, production of eicosanoids such as leukotrienes and prostaglandins, T-cell reactivity and production of inflammatory cytokines.
Due to all these interventions, omega-3-fatty acids are considered to be one of the best-known remedies for alleviating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Omega-3-fatty acids can be obtained in three forms from the food. The form used by the body cells are: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and the one obtained from plant sources is Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
DHA is needed for brain development and brain function. EPA gives rise to eicosanoids, signaling molecules. While EPA and DHA are responsible for the production of anti-inflammatory factors like resolvins and protectins in the body. These work at the molecular level to reduce inflammation due to arthritis. This mechanism includes the following steps:
- Alteration of phospholipid composition of the cell membrane of leukocytes;
- Disruption of lipid rafts responsible for the entry and exit of molecules into and out of the cell;
- Inhibition of the activation process of transcription factors responsible for the production of inflammatory molecules;
- Activation of anti-inflammatory transcription factors;
- Binding to G-protein coupled receptors.