The increase in omega-3 fatty acids introduced in the diet would be able to reduce anxiety and the production of cytokines, which are substances produced by the cells of the immune system, which promote inflammation.
Omega3 in the diet against anxiety and stress
It is the result of a clinical trial carried out on medical students: one group was given supplements based on omega-3 fatty acids for 3 months, while another group continued to feed on the same type of power supply, without further additions.
Well, the group of students who took the omega-3s showed a 20% reduction in assessment test scores for anxiety compared to the students in the control group, and a 14% reduction in interleukin-6 production. which is one of the main cytokines that promote inflammatory processes.
Omega 3 prevent anxiety even in healthy subjects
The result is even more surprising if we consider that it is obtained in a population of healthy subjects, that is, people who do not have an anxiety disorder and do not have inflammatory processes in place due to chronic diseases. This leaves great hopes for a possible positive effect even more relevant in patients who really have a problem related to anxiety or inflammatory pathologies in progress, particularly if they are elderly.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are among the key compounds that make up omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and are contained in high concentrations in fish oil. Previous research had already highlighted the positive effect of omega-3s in improving symptoms of depression .
In detail, 68 students enrolled in the first or second year of the medical school participated in the study, with an average age of about 23 years. The students were randomly divided into two groups. The first group was given capsules containing 2085 mg of EPA and 348 mg of DHA 3 times a day for 3 months; the second group was given capsules flavored with fish oil only 3 times a day for 3 months.
The EPA / DHA ratio of approximately 7: 1 was chosen because there is more evidence that EPA has a greater antidepressant and anti-inflammatory effect than DHA. The omega-3 supplementation, thus programmed, represents a quantity 4 or 5 times higher than that which is assumed with a daily portion of salmon.
The students were interviewed 6 times at set times and were subjected to blood tests, scheduled during periods of low stress, and during periods of high stress related to the conduct of the main university exams. The result was the same as previously described: students taking omega-3 reported lower scores on the assessment scales for anxiety (-20%) and lower production of proinflammatory cytokines, particularly interleukin-6 (-14 %).
According to the authors, it is still too early to derive the indication for supplementation with fish oil for the healthy population. However, it is strongly desirable to increase the consumption of omega-3s through a varied diet rich in foods that contain it in high quantities.
Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: A randomized controlled trial. Janice K. Kiecolt-Glaser, Martha A. Belury, Rebecca Andridge, William B. Malarkey and Ronald Glaser. Brain, Behavior and Immunity July 2011. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2011.07.229