Omega 3 - Fish Oil Allows Asthmatic Athletes to Catch Their Breath
EIB is a condition characterized by a temporary narrowing of the airway
passages in the lungs during and after exercise. EIB and asthma can both
cause symptoms such as breathlessness, wheezing, coughing, and chest
tightness. However, unlike typical asthma, EIB does not respond well to
medications used to prevent asthma attacks. The cause of EIB is not
completely understood, but may be related to the release of substances such
as histamine and leukotrienes that cause inflammation in the lungs.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are omega-3
fatty acids found in high concentrations in fish oil. When the balance
between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the body is disturbed,
inflammation can result. Omega-3 fatty acids can help keep inflammation in
check by decreasing inflammatory substances that come from the breakdown of
omega-6 fatty acids.
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The new study investigated the effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation
on measures of lung function and the production of inflammatory substances
in ten elite athletes with EIB. The average age of the athletes was 23
years. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either (1) 3.2
grams of EPA and 2.2 grams of DHA from fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) per
day, or (2) placebo for three weeks. After a two-week period without
treatment (washout period), the two groups switched treatments and remained
on the new treatment for another three weeks.
All participants took part in an exercise-challenge test at the beginning
of the study and at the end of each treatment period. The challenge
consisted of running on a treadmill until exhaustion. Lung function was
measured before, during, and after the exercise challenge. Blood and urine
samples were taken before and after the exercise challenge to test for the
presence of inflammatory substances in the body.
Lung function was significantly better, and levels of inflammatory markers
in the blood and urine were lower during treatment with omega-3 fatty acids
than during placebo treatment. The results of this study demonstrate that
supplementation with fatty acids from fish oil reduces the severity of EIB
in elite athletes. Fish oil should therefore be considered as part of the
overall treatment of this condition.
Healthnotes Newswire (July 22, 2004)-Fish oil supplementation effectively
treats a condition related to asthma called exercise-induced
bronchoconstriction (EIB) in highly trained athletes, according to a study
in the American Journal of Critical Care Medicine (2003;168:1181-9).
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