EFA’s, Turmeric, and NSAIDS

Let’s just get right to it. NSAIDs and aspirin block the conjugation of essential fatty acids in the body. Why does this matter? Well, many of us are already deficient in essential fatty acids (especially followers of the standard American diet). So if that’s the case than this idea gives weight to the negative impact of taking anti-inflammatory drugs.

Do you regularly rely on aspirin or ibuprofen? That just might be a sign that you need to better qualify your intake of essential fatty acids (EFAs) in order to improve your own anti-inflammatory pathways.

Let’s briefly discuss prostaglandins. These are lipid compounds that sorta behave like hormones. They’re converted from essential fatty acids in the body and are key in controlling the inflammatory response. Prostaglandins do other important things too like maintaining cellular communication and playing a big role in helping the body maintain homeostasis.

There is a lot of talk about “anti-inflammatory” agents but it’s important to realize that the body needs to be able to “inflame” too. It needs to do this in order to signal the healing response to a damaged area. This is when it’s time to bring down inflammation. Prostaglandins are important for both roles. Therefore essential fatty acids are important too.

Adulterated fats like vegetable oils and fried foods, are not functional for the formation of prostaglandins. This unfortunately is what most people are eating daily, often without realizing it. Eating processed foods makes this a bigger problem due to how these foods spike insulin. The insulin response causes yet another inflammatory burden on the body.

One of many lasting results of this food abuse is a body depleted in essential nutrients also required for the conversion of EFAs into prostaglandins. Among these nutrients are some pretty important ones I’m sure you’ve heard of including B6, Zinc, Magnesium, and amino acids respectively.

Enter NSAIDS. Because of the negative impact they have (starting with that prostaglandin response mentioned), a lot of prescription, anti-inflammatory drugs have been pulled off the market in the last 20 years after they were found to increase risk of stroke and heart attack.

But that’s not all. Over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs are known to have worrisome side effects too. Liver problems, kidney problems, elevated blood pressure, dizziness, ringing in the ears, and allergic reactions to name just a few.

Now let’s look at turmeric. Turmeric, a golden yellow spice used medicinally for literally thousands of years, does not block the conjugation of EFAs. It also is a natural COX-2 inhibitor just like NSAIDS.  Turmeric has a crazy amount of research behind it. It’s been shown to decrease the formation of inflammatory plaques that form in early Alzheimer’s disease. The polyphenols it contains are known cancer fighters. It is proven to be an effective treatment for elevated C-reactive protein, and therefore the inflammatory diseases that go with it, including arthritis and cardiovascular disease.

You can supplement with turmeric in pill form but there are lots of other ways to get it into your diet.  Lightly toasting in fat is believed to greatly increase the absorption of turmeric. It also will really deepen the flavor of dishes calling for turmeric. If you cook, give it a try! Toast this spice in a bit of ghee for about 5 minutes over low heat before adding it to a recipe.

Turmeric comes from the rhizome of the turmeric plant. The rhizome is dried and powdered for culinary and supplemental use.  

Here’s the bottom line. Reestablishing your essential fatty acids and using turmeric regularly is a far better choice for maintaining your health than keeping NSAIDS on hand for regular aches and pains.


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