Copyright 2005 Jane Oelke
Essential fatty acids are number one recommendation for anyone who has, or wants to prevent common chronic diseases today, such diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. And they are very helpful in improving immune system function to increase energy and reverse some of damage seen in diseases such as lupus, fibromyalgia, and MS. What types of fat are in your diet?
If you have dry skin, stiffness, concentration problems, or hormonal imbalances you may be lacking in a type of fat that is essential to health. Essential fatty acids are those fats that body needs; yet cannot synthesize itself. Many types of fat are unhealthy fats, yet some are beneficial and necessary. In fact, cutting all fat from diet is actually harmful to health.
Essential fatty acids are needed to metabolize other types of fats that are not good for us. Saturated fat is a harmful fat that is found in many types of red meat and dairy foods. Yet, worse types of fats are partially hydrogenated oils found in snack foods. These types of fats, found in most processed foods, are converted to trans-fatty acids when heated, or oxidized. So when you make boxed cakes or brownies you create trans fats when you bake these partially hydrogenated oils that are included in mix so that box can sit on your shelf indefinitely. These are types of fat that increase cholesterol in arteries.
The good fats, called essential fatty acids, are important in many metabolic processes, including energy production. Since body cannot produce them, they must be consumed in diet to optimize health. The essential fatty acids are omega-3 (linoleic) and omega-6 (linolenic) polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Every cell in body is like a tiny factory, taking in raw materials from surrounding fluid and sending out various chemicals. Everything going into or coming out of cell has to pass through cell's membrane. The membrane depends on essential fatty acids to remain fluid and flexible. Without them, membrane becomes stiff and unable to do its job.
Essential fatty acids are also important to bring vital oxygen to muscle cells and they enable cells to more easily absorb nutrients needed for recuperation. In one study of 63 patients with fibromyalgia, essential fatty acid supplementation resulted in a 74% reduction in pain in patients after 1 month, and 85% after 3 months.