They are good for the heart and brain. But not only. Newer research highlights the crucial role of Omega 3 (the good fats found especially in fish) in extinguishing the silent inflammation that undermines our health, paving the way for the development of many diseases.
Doctors, nutritionists and scientists talked about it during a recent conference in Milan, including the American biochemist Barry Sears (the creator of the Zone Diet, one of the most followed in the country). «If taken in the right quantities, every day and for a lifetime, Omega 3s can prevent the onset of obesity, diabetes, cancer, dementia, heart attack, arthritis and other serious pathologies ”, assures the American biochemist.
"Our body in fact uses these essential fats (so defined because they must be introduced with food or with specific supplements) to build resolvins, very powerful molecules, also known as" pro-resolution hormones ", which are able to turn off the fire in the bud and of repair damaged tissues».
A fire that is not always friendly
"Inflammation it is a defense mechanism of our immune system: it protects us from microbial invasions and promotes wound healing », continues Barry Sears.
«But if the“ pyromaniac ”agents remain active even after the end of the emergency, there is a risk that they will damage healthy cells and tissues. And to favor the maintaining low but potentially dangerous inflammatory levels, it is often just the wrong diet. When we eat too many simple and refined carbohydrates, the blood sugar rises and the pancreas produces insulin: this hormone returns the sweetness of the blood to normal by transforming excess sugars into fat.
The increase in adipose tissue, however, in turn involves the release of substances that stoke the fire, with the consequences we have seen. Omega 3, on the other hand, perform their anti-inflammatory action without raising your blood sugar, because they are found in foods containing zero or very little sugars ».
The secret of the long-lived peoples
In addition to extinguishing inflammation, they heal damage. “It is no coincidence that they are strongly present in the diet of the longest-lived populations, see the Japanese », points out Giovanni Scapagnini, associate professor of clinical biochemistry at the Department of Medicine of the University of Molise in Campobasso.
«These fats behave like personal trainers: they 'teach' our cells a reduce oxidative stress (primary cause of cell aging), to keep inflammatory levels under control and to improve the metabolism of resolvins, allowing us to live well and for a long time ».
To attest the anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effect is a study conducted by Australian biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2009, published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.
“Research has shown how the use of Omega3 supplements in elderly subjects (1,25 grams or 2,5 grams taken for 4 months) slows down the shortening speed of the telomeres, the ends of the chromosomes, due to the passage of years which indicate the biological age ", explains Professor Scapagnini.
Another research, published in Science Translational Medicine, by the Santa Lucia Irccs Foundation with the Campus bio-medico University of Rome, has instead demonstrated the ability of resolvins (for the moment only in vitro) both to block an inflammatory process and to correct those defective immune mechanisms that lead the body to attack its own tissues, as for example in the case of multiple sclerosis.
What to eat to fill up on it
3 different fats belong to the Omega 3 family. «The first is alpha-linolenic acid (Ala), present in foods of plant origin, in particular in nights (less in almonds and other nuts), in the oily seeds of flax, chia, hemp, soy, algae and green leafy vegetables (especially in spinach) », explains Professor Giovanni Scapagnini.
"The other two are Epa (eicosapentaenoic acid) and Dha (docosahexaenoic acid), the most capable of rapidly activating resolvins, of which salmon, anchovies, sardines, mackerel and tuna are naturally rich."
As for quantities: «The minimum recommended intake is 2,5 g per day, with no differences between men and women, ”explains Dr. Barry Sears.