Our immune systems are made up of a complicated system of tissues, specialized cells and organs that protect our body’s from outside invaders like allergens, viruses and bacteria along with harmful insiders like toxins and infected cells. In some cases, the immune-system can turn on itself which results in autoimmune-damaging tissues which includes rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and systematic-lupus erythematosus. The way the body handles PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) is involved when it comes to all these conditions.

One of the protective actions that the immune-system uses is inflammation, which is a response to fight infectious agents or bacteria. When the inflammatory responses become excessive in cases such as rheumatoid arthritis or asthma, they often result in stiffness, pain, swelling, redness along with other symptoms. The inflammatory responses ae associated with breathing difficulties and wheezing in asthma, itchiness associated with eczema, inflammation of the kidney in nephritis.

Inflammation is a characteristic of many chronic diseases and develops in tissues like the lungs, connective tissue and blood-vessel walls partly to do with activities of the macrophages cells that play the role of protection by scavenging any unwanted particles, toxins and invading organism. However, a hostile side when it comes to macrophage activities is production of a pro-inflammatory substance that worsens a condition such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).

The Role Of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids In Inflammation

The PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) are precursors of the substances that either restrain or promote inflammation. In a group, the chemicals are known as eicosanoids. The more widespread of the eicosanoids come from arachidonic acid which is an omega-6 PUFA. These are the eicosanoids that stimulate blood-clotting which can translate into strokes or heart attacks as well as contributing to the formation of plaque in the walls of the blood vessels.

The PUFAs that are found in fish oils which are mainly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) counter-act and suppress the activities of the arachidonic %u201Cacid-derived%u201D eicosanoids. The EPA competes with the arachidonic acid when it comes to incorporating into the cell membranes. In this competition, it decreases the levels of arachidonic acids needed for eicosanoid production. EPA also generate an eicosanoid type which offers inflammatory activities that are less potent when compared to the type created from the arachidonic acids.

EPA also creates a substance known as resolvins that increases the pace of ending inflammation. For this reason, fish oil PUFAs oppose the inflammatory activities through decreasing the production of the inflammatory mediators, producing weaker eicosanoids and increasing the production of the substances that stop inflammation. For this reason, they decrease inflammatory symptoms in conditions such as atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

Recent evidence has suggested that fish-oil that produces resolvins offer anti-inflammatory characteristics for conditions like severe gum-disease. These findings suggest that the fish oil PUFAs may offer anti-inflammatory effects that are unique in certain types of disease conditions.

Both the type and amount of fatty acids in our diets influence the activity and growth of the immune cells. The majority of research focuses on DHA, EPA, ALA and GLA. When an imbalance occurs between the fatty acids produces immune system dysfunctions and inflammation. The latest research  suggests that supplementing with EFA%u2019s can assist in normalizing functions of our immune systems.