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Fish and inflammation

Posted May 03 2010 7:36am
Campy and Milo...



Race #6 was in the books on Sat. Wow, 6 races in 8 days! Karel's last race was yesterday (he finished!) and he is officially tired (I will be posting a short recap w/ pics tomorrow).
I have no idea how he stayed so tough day after day, but if his determination to finish these races speaks on behalf of his character, you better believe that he gives nothing but 100% no matter what he does. I am really happy to be married to one amazing Czech cyclist! Karel doesn't take anything for granted and he isn't one to complain. I know he has toughen me up over the past 4 years!!

After Karel's race in Dilworth NC on Sat, I made Karel and Christi dinner.
I always try to get Karel fish after his "hard" races in an effort to speed up the recovery process. Fish is not only healthy for the heart, but the inflammation-fighting effects of the omega-3 fatty acid's (found in fish) help lower C-reactive protein (inflammatory marker). Of course, us vegetarians miss out on the many healing properties found in fish but I would like to think that our high consumption of veggies and fruit puts us in a similar "healthy" category as far as keeping our immune system healthy. There are lots of research articles supporting vegetarianism and longevity so I think it would be silly for me to say that just because we don't eat fish doesn't mean that we can't receive similar health benefits from consuming a plant-based diet.
I found this excerpt on WebMD and thought I'd share it for my fish-eaters:
Researchers say an average daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids of about 0.6 grams, regardless of the fish source, appeared to be the optimal level to achieve the inflammation-fighting benefits and lower the risk of heart disease.

Three ounces of the following fish provide 1 gram of the omega-3 fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

* Herring, Pacific, 1.5 ounces cooked
* Salmon, chinook, 2 ounces cooked
* Salmon, Atlantic, 2.5 ounces cooked
* Oysters, Pacific, 2.5 ounces cooked
* Trout, rainbow, 3.5 ounces cooked
* Tuna, white, packed in water 4 ounces cooked

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least twice a week. Fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon.


A few weeks ago I went to a seminar, by the Jacksonville Dietetic Association, and Dr. Anne-Marie Chalmers gave a great talk about fish oil. She explained that many fish oil capsules do not contain the right ingredients to provide health benefits, nor are American's taking the right amount.
Here's her website (check out the Cookies in the upper corner-She gave some out at her talk and Karel LOVED them!!!):
Omega-Cure

To sum up her talk, there are different types of omega's:
Omega 3: Linolenic - flax, canola and soybean

Omega 6: Linoleic - corn, safflower oil, sesame oil, walnut oil, wheat germ oil, sunflower oil

Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation but some omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. The typical American diet tends to contain much more omega-6 compared to omega-3, with as much as 14 - 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids! The ratio should be in the range of 2:1 - 4:1, omega-6 to omega-3 so if you think about it, omega-3 supplementation is much more necessary than omega-6.

EPA (found in cod liver, herring, mackerel, salmon, menhaden and sardine, as well as in human breast milk - another reason, out of many, to breast feed) and DHA (mostly found in fish oil) are essential long chain fatty acids and must be consumed in the diet (the body can not manufacture them, that is why they are called "essential"). Our body can make a little DHA by consuming α-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed (and other seeds and nuts) but you would need to eat 1 cup of flax seed to equal the amount of 1 tsp EPA.

Without enough EPA, you may experience moodiness, depression, lack of focus and anxiety. However, with an emphasis on healthy omega-3 fats in your diet (EPA and DHA - NOT just ALA, which is found in walnuts) you will find yourself with less pain, less inflammation and a healthier heart.

According to Dr. Chambers, she suggests the following recommendations:
Anti inflammatory benefts: >2g/d EPA/DHA
Heart protection: > 1g/d EPA/DHA
Pain relief: > 3-4g/d EPA/DHA

She mentioned that a quality fish oil should not have a rancid smell or taste, which is typical of "cheap" fish oils. Also, she said to refrigerate or freeze to maintain freshness.
If you can not eat fish (around 3 ounces) 3x's per week, she suggests 2000-3500 mg EPA/DHA day in capsule form, which is equal to about 2-3 tsp liquid fish oil. She suggests to take with food and you don't need more than 5g/day (5000 mg/d).

As for vegetarians, there are algae-based omega-3 alternatives but the amount of omega's found in those capsules is very small, compared to actual fish. However, I'd like to think that with any "supplement", if your diet is lacking in that key nutrient, you should notice a difference once you supplement with a little, as compared to being deficient in that nutrient and continuing to be without it. I you can find a liquid algae omega-3 (EPA/DHA) I believe that would likely give you more bang for your buck as opposed to taking 10-20 capsules a day.

Something to think about.....
Did you know that there is a strong correlation between high sugar consumption and inflammation (not to mention obesity)? Due to too much processed sugar in the American diet (in addition to lack of physical activity), sugar is absorbed and the pancreas is forced to work overtime by releasing too much insulin, thus increasing inflammation in the body. Sure, inflammation can be a good thing (ex. when you get injured or cut yourself) but your best bet to reducing inflammation through the diet is decreasing your consumption of pro-inflammatory foods such as added sugar and focusing on anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits and veggies. Also, as you work on your anti-inflammatory diet, try to reduce your reliance of NSAID's (ibuprofen, asprin) after a hard workout and focus more on sleep, light exercise (active recovery after a hard workout), focusing on recovery nutrition (ex. whey protein, milk or yogurt mixed with healthy carbs) stretching and a gradual progression with your training/exercise load.

Dinner Sat night:
Talapia - cooked for 4-6 minutes (each side) on medium heat (covered) in a few tsp olive oil and sprinkled with lemon pepper
(Although I don't eat them very often, I had a yummy Veggie burger, cooked in oven)

Mashed Potatoes - 2 medium potatoes (without skin) cooked in a large pot (w/ water) until soft (around 20 min. on medium/high heat). I emptied the water and mashed w/ skim milk (about 1/3 cup) and 1 tbsp butter (after I emptied water when cooked) on low heat.

Beautiful salad - spinach, red peppers, cucumbers, apples, almonds, oranges, strawberries w/ balsamic dressing.

Although I don't drink, I am sure I can pull up some research articles of the health benefits of small consumption of beer and wine, to validate Karel wanting (and drinking a beer) a few times during Speed Week. :)


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