Omega-3 fats present in food like marine oils or seafood may reduce the risk of gastric inflammation, as it improves the benefits of the microorganisms that protect the human body against gastrointestinal diseases. These are the findings of new research led by Deanna Gibson, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada.
The research team analyzed the effects of omega-3 as well as omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in mice bearing the gastrointestinal bacteria that causes colitis, and concluded that the dietary fats influence health both in positive and negative ways. Dietary choices may prevent or contribute to the development of inflammatory bowel disease, of the inflammation of the colon known as colitis and of Crohn’s disease.
PUFAs in particular influence gut microbiota, a kind of microbe present in the intestine, which means that diets with higher levels of PUFAs, present, for example, in corn oil, have greater chances of causing intestinal damage, immune cell damage, and the production of harmful bacteria. A diet rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahezaenoic acid (DHA), on the other hand, increases the anti-inflammatory microbes that reduce immune cell damage and inflammation, and prevent damage caused by colitis.
The mice in the experiment developed sepsis, an inflammation that affects the whole body, caused by a severe infection. “While too much inflammation isn’t good in the context of autoimmune disease, we also need inflammation to survive against infections,” explained the main author Deanna Gibson.
“These observations suggest that excess ome-6 PUFA intakes may be harmful to gut health. Conversely, while omega-3 PUFA supplementation promotes beneficial microbes in the gut, thereby decreasing inflammation, this advantage under normal conditions may be problematic in the presence of harmful bacteria,” she explained.
However, they also observed that when the mice underwent a saturated fat-rich diet, supplemented with fish oil, the mice did not suffer from sepsis, which suggested that omega-3 PUFA supplementation with a diet high in saturated fat may be more protective to the gastrointestinal tract than a diet rich in omega-6 PUFAs.
Diet is one of the major concerns for inflammatory bowel disease patients, as it is known to influence the progression of the disease. A recent study established a correlation between the triplicate of the number of cases of Crohn’s disease among younger people and the consumption of both junk food and antibiotics.