This week I started a 12 week trial on the efficacy of omega-3s in lowering inflammation. The trial is being run by Dr. Christopher Gardner, our speaker for the July science cafe. Over the next 12 weeks, I’ll be detailing my experience so you’ll be able to put a human face to all these food studies. I’ll be posting weekly notes, hopefully without too much complaining.
And for those who are curious, I am getting no compensation for this study (other than access to my detailed bloodwork).
Background on the study:
Chief reason behind the study is heart disease. We’re used to the bad cholesterol to heart disease relation (LDL), but in recent years that view has changed slightly. Most experts think inflammation (moderate long term inflammation) has a significant role in heart disease (atherosclerosis) as well.
Well where does inflammation come from? It’s not from bumping your knee….its a long term situation. The symptoms are varied but most will sound familiar: high LDL, elevated triglycerides, high blood pressure, etc. Sources are poor diet, smoking, genetics, smoking, poor environmental health conditions, smoking.
Fast forward to Omega-3s. There are two different omega-3s in a typical diet: linolenic acid (found in flax, walnuts, soy) & EPA/DHA (found in fish). Through a complex (and not totally understood series of reactions), the omega-3s mimic hormones…the result reduces inflammation, coagulation, and they don’t trigger immune response…all very good things when considering heart disease.
On my initial screen, I came out with slightly elevated triglycerides, an indicator of some oxidative stress. Woo hoo…my stress may be the study’s gain. So I went to an hour long informational session. For the next 12 weeks, I will have to take pills at lunch and dinner (up to 12/day!) with either Fish Oil (EPA/DHA), Flax (linolenic acid), or a placebo (safflower oil). In addition, I can’t have any fish (shellfish included), flax, and reduce my intake of soy & walnuts. 12 WEEKS!
Day 1 was Tuesday. Went in for a quick blood draw, 20 ccs (BTW A normal blood draw is about 200ccs). Of course, nurse missed my vein, so I have a nice bruise to show for it. But another nurse came over and cleaned up the mess and I was on my way. I’m in the “clean out” phase, a 4 week period before I start to take pills. So far it hasn’t been too tough, but I’ll be aching for sushi soon I’m sure.