March 12, 2011

085 Eicosanoids and Inflammation [18 October 2010]

This week I will discuss another problem associated with Syndrome X – inflammation. People with insulin resistance frequently suffer pain and inflammation which may manifest as a variety of “itis” conditions like arthritis, colitis, asthma or psoriasis.

Eicosanoids are hormone like compounds, synthesized in our body from Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids (EFAs). There are 4 families of eicosanoids – prostaglandins, prostacyclins, thromboxanes and leukotrienes. These can be classed into Series One and Series Two (also known as COX-1 and COX-2). Series One Eicosanoids are anti-inflammatory – they reduce pain and inflammation, dilate blood vessels, enhance the immune system, dilate airways and prevent platelet aggregation. Series Two Eicosanoids are pro-inflammatory – increasing pain and inflammation, constricting blood vessels (increasing blood pressure), suppressing the immune system, constricting airways (think asthma) and promoting platelet aggregation (blood clotting). To be healthy we need both in balance but you can see that too much Series Two would be undesirable.

Series One are mostly synthesized from Omega 3 EFAs and Series Two from Omega 6s. Since a typical diet tends to be much higher in Omega 6s ( about 20:1), increasing Omega 3s by eating more fish or taking fish oil supplements will help balance the eicosanoid production. Secondly, the presence of excess insulin stimulates the conversion of the fatty acids to Series Two Eicosanoids; while glucagon (the hormone that balances insulin) encourages the conversion to Series One. Maintaining insulin levels at normal low levels is a safe and effective way to balance the eicosanoids and control inflammation.

The most effective way I know to safely lower insulin levels and reduce insulin resistance is with the Ideal Protein diet. Many people on this diet have experienced reduction of inflammation without the need for drugs. Another nice “side-effect” of a diet which helps you burn unwanted fat safely and easily.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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