Fish Oil for a Healthy Gut
There is no doubt that fish oils are beneficial to human health, but many fish oil supplements miss the mark when it comes to formulation. Furthermore, some fish oil products that claim to benefit the gut microbiome are actually formulated more for brain health than gut health based on their omega-3 ratios. Fish oil is indispensable in natural medicine, but it has been severely underutilized for digestive and intestinal health.
A recent experimental study published in the Journal of Scientific Reports found that omega-3 supplementation increases microbial diversity, specifically Bifidobacterium, Akkermansia muciniphila, and Lactobacillus, and enhances the production of intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) – an endogenous antimicrobial peptide that suppresses E. coli, detoxifies LPS, and balances gut microbiota.1
The primary omega-3 fatty acids include eicosapentanoic acid (EPA), docosahexanoic acid (DHA), and docosapentanoic acid (DPA) – each with unique health benefits.
EPA is the most powerful omega-3 for supporting gut health and well-documented for its ability to protect intestinal mucosa and reduce oxidative damage in the gut.2 A recent experimental study published in the Journal of Scientific Reports found that EPA supplementation reduced levels of fecal calprotectin and improved mucosa production and goblet cell differentiation.3
DHA is most known for its beneficial impact on brain health. One of DHA’s most important roles is the modulation of an important part of phospholipid membranes, known as phosphatidylserine (PS). This substance promotes healthy signal conduction and protects neuronal survival not only to cells in the brains but also to neurons in the GI tract.4
DPA, also known as the “forgotten fatty acid”, is receiving more attention in the omega-3 family due to its unique ability to increase EPA and DHA tissue status, but it also supports a healthy gut by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines and macroscopic damage.5,6 Supplementation with DPA can also inhibit inflammatory cyclooxygenase (COX) pathways, resulting in healthier cells and tissues.7
PRMs, or pro-resolving mediators, are omega-3 derivatives that are responsible for terminating an inflammatory response and repairing damaged tissue through a process known as remediation.8 PRMs fall into four families: lipoxins, resolvins, protectins, and maresins. They resolve everyday inflammation by sequestering proinflammatory cytokines, clearing neutrophils and inflammatory debris, and increasing lymphatic removal of phagocytes following an inflammatory response.9
While the human body is able to convert omega-3’s to PRMs, the process is time-consuming and requires multiple steps to complete. Furthermore, it can be inhibited due to stress, disease, genetics, diet and lifestyle factors.10 Supplementation provides the body with an abundance of PRMs, so that remediation and tissue restoration can proceed quickly and without limitation.**